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Thomas Skiffington,  CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
Thomas Skiffington, CRS, GRI, CRB, ABR, ePro, CLHMS, SRES, RECS, CDPE, ECOBROKER
701 W. Market Street
Perkasie, PA 18944
Phone: 215-453-7883
Office Phone: 215-453-7653
Toll Free: 800-440-remax
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email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

Q: During Construction, Do I Have to Be Concerned with Building Codes and Permits?

October 14, 2013 5:33 pm

A:  Depending on how your contract is written with the home improvement professional, either you or the contractor will be responsible for securing government approval to perform most remodeling jobs.  Building codes set minimum public-safety standards for such things as building design and construction.  Codes vary from one state, county, city, and town to the next, but specialized codes generally exist for plumbing, electricity, and fire.  Each usually involves separate inspections and inspectors.  In addition, permits are generally required when any structural work is planned or the basic living space of a home is altered.  They generally cover new construction, repairs, alterations, demolition, and additions to a structure.  Some jurisdictions require permits to be posted in a visible spot on the premises while the work is being done.  Besides structural changes, permits also may be needed to cover the installation of foundations for tanks and equipment, as well as the construction or demolition of ducts, sprinkler systems, or standpipe systems.

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6 Winter Moving Tips and Tricks

October 11, 2013 7:18 pm

With the Farmers’ Almanac predicting winter to be piercing, bitterly and biting cold, two-thirds
of the country is bracing for a colder-than-normal season. Just the thought of having to move
house in these conditions sends a shiver down the spine, but as the housing market is on the
rebound and with Americans moving at least 8.2 times in their lifetime, the dreaded task of
relocating is one that many will be faced with during this cold winter.


Below are 6 tips and tricks for moving in the winter.

●Pack items as usual with one caveat. Make sure any temperature sensitive items
(plants, anything that can freeze, etc.) are well protected and kept from exposure. Most
trucks are not temperature controlled so special care and thought should be given to
protecting these items in transport if they will be in transit for long periods.


●Dress appropriately. You'll be back and forth, in and out of cold weather, and probably
breaking a sweat regardless. Wear layers that can be easily added or removed as your
temperature fluctuates throughout the day.

●Prepare for the elements. Icy sidewalks and steps, poor driving conditions and the
elements in general can make moving a box across the street a challenging adventure.
Be prepared with the proper attire and footwear, or even rock salt and sand to cover icy
areas. And don't forget to put down mats by the door of your home to help reduce the
dirt and snow tracked in.

●Monitor and be flexible. Some natural events cannot be avoided – and an unexpected
blizzard may force you to reschedule your move. Staying on top of the weather
forecasts and staying in communication with your moving company (or moving help)
will help you prepare for any last minute changes you might require, including
rescheduling a move in advance.

●Keep warmth within reach. Pack a separate box or bag of cold weather gear –
including extra blankets and warm clothing. Make sure to have your car checked if you
will be moving long distance so you can avoid any breakdowns in the frigid middle of
nowhere. And make sure to contact all the utility companies to ensure you'll have
properly functioning heat and hot water when you arrive at your new home. You don't
want to spend your first night shivering.


●Pack and organize extra early. The more organized you are, the more efficiently you
will complete your move. Why spend more time outside than necessary?

Source: http://www.flatrate.com
 

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Avoid the Flu: Tips for Keeping Employees and Business Healthy

October 11, 2013 7:18 pm

(BPT)—According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), last year's flu season began four weeks earlier than expected, resulting in the earliest flu season in a decade.

While the early arrival proved to be tough on families, it was especially difficult for small businesses and start-ups that rely on their staff to stay profitable and productive during the holidays and tax season.

The CDC estimates that each year the flu results in 75 million days of work absences and 200 million days of diminished productivity for businesses nationwide. Cumulatively, the flu costs businesses an estimated $6.2 billion in lost productivity each year, with small businesses proving to be no exception.

To keep your staff healthy and business booming, Sam's Club and the Sam's Club Pharmacy offer the following tips to avoid catching the flu this season:

Encourage employees to get immunized

  • Immunizations are a simple and effective way for adults and businesses to protect themselves from catching and spreading the flu. The CDC recommends getting an annual flu immunization as the first and most important step in protecting yourself against the flu.
  • Get immunized early and persuade your staff to do the same.
  • Encourage your staff to get immunized by taking them out for lunch and immunizations.
  • Find a location near you that administers the flu shot.

Stop the spread of germs

  • In addition to getting the flu immunization, simple daily measures can protect you and those around you from getting sick.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when coughing or sneezing.
  • Wash your hands regularly with soap and warm water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth to prevent the spread of germs.

Stay home when sick

  • If you or a staff member begins to exhibit flu-like symptoms, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from spreading the flu and infecting others.
  • If you are sick with a flu-like illness, the CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities.

Source: SamsClub.com/healthyliving.

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Simple Change Can Save Costly Engine Repairs

October 11, 2013 7:18 pm

Family Features--The sticker on your car's windshield serves as a constant reminder that every car eventually has to be taken to get its oil changed. Go too long and a bright red indicator light will also start demanding attention.

If you're ever tempted to ask if all of those oil changes are really necessary, consider the important work oil performs for your engine.

Keep your motor running

  • Motor oil lubricates and cools the moving parts in your car's engine. Without clean oil your engine's metal-on-metal components can grind against each other, causing extensive wear. So, not having clean oil and the proper amount of oil can have serious consequences.
  • Even if oil is present, there's no guarantee it will properly protect an engine against damage. If you decide to forego changing the oil according to your car's maintenance schedule, dirt, sludge and varnish can build up leading to serious damage or, even, an engine replacement.  

Take time for a change

  • Extended oil change intervals are the number one cause of sludge and varnish build up. Motor oil degrades over time due to heat, pressure and contamination. Check the owner's manual for the manufacturer's recommended oil change interval for your vehicle and remember, oil is the lifeblood of your engine.
  • Conventional oil changes leave as much as 10 to 20 percent of metal wear particulates, dust and other contaminants behind. Using an oil system cleaner a day before any routine oil change will provide a more complete cleaning of your oil system helping to eliminate out unwanted metals, gums and varnishes that can lead to oil contamination. One day prior to your next oil change, just add the oil change system cleaner, and then change the oil and filter. For more information about this, visit www.synergynusa.com.

Inspect for potential problems

  • Most cars are designed for easy oil change maintenance so if you don't change your own oil, take this product to your professional service installer. Those who like to do the job themselves should always pop open the hood and inspect the car for fluid levels and leakage, cracked or frayed belts and bulging hoses.
  • Next, inspect for broken or worn parts that can't be seen from above. For protection from other issues that can't be seen, add the oil change system cleaner a day before changing the oil. It frees sticky valves and lifters, cleans gum and varnish from internal parts, improves oil circulation, increases lubricity, reduces friction, restores engine performance, and improves fuel economy. After that, add Synergyn XTrA MPG Engine Treatment when you change your oil and filter and let your engine run for 20-30 minutes to let the engine treatment circulate in your car's oil system. Finally, don't forget to rotate the tires after every third oil change.
  • Visit any reputable auto repair garage or lube shop to have all of these inspections and maintenance tasks performed during your car's oil change. They'll also dispose of the dirty, used oil for you.

Source:  Synergyn

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Word of the Day

October 11, 2013 7:18 pm

Master plan. Long-range, comprehensive guide for the physical growth or development of a community.

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Q: What Is a Lease Option?

October 11, 2013 7:18 pm

A: It is an agreement between a renter and a landlord in which the renter signs a lease with an option to purchase the property.  The option only binds the seller; the tenant has a choice to make a purchase or not.

Lease options are common among buyers who would like to own a home but do not have enough money for the down payment and closing costs.  A lease option may also be attractive to tenants who are working to improve bad credit before approaching a lender for a home loan.  

Under this arrangement, the landlord agrees to give a renter an exclusive option to purchase the property.  The option price is usually determined at the outset, but not always, and the agreement states when the purchase should take place.

A portion of the rent is used to make the future down payment. Most lenders will accept the down payment if the rental payments exceed the market rent and a valid lease-purchase agreement is in effect.

Before you opt to do a lease option, find out as much as possible about how they work.  Have an attorney review any paperwork before you and the tenant sign on the dotted line.

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What a Home Inspection Can Do for You

October 11, 2013 7:18 pm

BPT—While giving a new $900,000 home a thorough going-over, Salt Lake City home inspector Kurt Salomon found a problem under the deck. The builder had cut corners, using the wrong kind of fasteners to secure the deck to the house. Yet, the municipal building official had approved the work.

"In some cases, a building inspector is not going to crawl underneath the deck looking at the hardware. A good home inspector will," says Salomon, past president of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Because it uncovers aspects of the home that are unsafe or not in working condition, an inspection is a must when buying a home, says J.J. Montanaro, a certified financial planner with USAA.

"You want surprises that come with homeownership to be happy surprises, not bad ones," Montanaro says. "A thorough home inspection by a certified professional can help ensure that's the case."

Salomon says an inspection of the house you want to buy helps identify not only safety concerns and failing structural elements but faulty mechanical systems and areas that soon may need maintenance.

You'll pay around $300 to $500 for an inspection, which can take two to three hours. The cost can vary based on your geographic region, and the size and age of the home. Requesting other services, such as septic and radon testing, will add to the fee.

"An inspection is money and time well-spent," Montanaro says. "If your inspector finds things that should be repaired, you can use that report as leverage to have them fixed or negotiate a lower price."

To help get the most from a home inspection, Salomon and Montanaro advice you to follow these steps:

Do your homework: Many contracts include a home-inspection deadline, so start shopping for an inspector when you qualify for a mortgage. This gives you time to find a qualified, professional inspector.

Look for the inspection clause: Before you sign a contract, make sure it includes a clause that makes your purchase contingent on the findings of an inspection with the inspector you choose. This can provide a way out of the contract if the inspector finds a major problem the homeowner won't address.

Make sure the clause is included even if the contract specifies an as-is sale, meaning the seller does not agree to make repairs. "If a seller's not willing to let you inspect the house, that's a big red flag," Montanaro says.

Hire a pro: Shop around. Ask friends, neighbors and real estate agents for recommendations. For help online, the American Society of Home Inspectors has a database of its certified inspectors. And the Department of Housing and Urban Development offers a list of 10 questions to ask inspectors.

Ask to see a sample report: Inspectors fill out reports, following checklists for different areas of a house. It should be clear and informative. Reports longer than 25 pages filled with lots of legal print — usually meant to protect the inspector against liabilities — raise a red flag. By the same token, a few pages aren't enough.

Accompany the inspector: Take notes and ask about maintenance issues you'll need to address, such as waterproofing the deck, caulking the siding, changing air filters and other matters.

Review the report: The inspector will send you a written report detailing his or her findings. Read it closely and ask questions to make sure you understand the condition of all areas of the home.

If your inspector finds a leaky roof, a faulty water heater or some other problem, you may have the right to ask the seller to correct it to your satisfaction or to lower the price. If the seller refuses, you may be able to break the contract without penalty.

If a seller agrees either to make the repairs or offer to lower the price, take the money and then fix the problems yourself.

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Choosing the Right Model for Your Small Business Dream

October 11, 2013 7:18 pm

Family Features—Millions toil away in their office cubicles, dreaming of owning their own piece of the American dream. Meanwhile, many entrepreneurial thinkers are using rough economic times as the catapult for making their small business dreams come true.

With so many types of business models available, it can be hard to determine which one is the best fit for you.

Brick and mortar

Commonly thought of as the most traditional of plans, this business model involves businesses housed in physical buildings from which they sell their products. One major advantage of brick and mortar businesses is the personal interaction typically achieved between consumer and owner. Due to the rising popularity of online shopping, many brick and mortar businesses are turning to the internet, combining a physical location with an online presence.

Bricks and clicks

The "bricks and clicks" model is typically used to describe a business with a both a retail and an online location. A major advantage of the brick and click model is it allows customers to see the product physically, coupled with the option to buy products with the convenience of a mouse click. One disadvantage of the brick and click model is the higher overhead required to run both a physical location and keep a website fresh and current.

Many examples of successful bricks and clicks businesses are retailers which, in particular, sell clothing and footwear. Local customers can go in to try on the wares physically and then purchase from the comfort of their own home.

Franchise

A franchise is a business model that involves two parties - a franchisor and a franchisee. Franchises are a good fit for those with an entrepreneurial spirit but who also may lack business experience and would benefit from the structure, support and guidance the franchise model provides. To become a franchisee, an entrepreneur pays a fee and/or shares the revenues of the business. Because a franchise is owned by a franchisor, the franchisee must follow set guidelines.

If you're trying to narrow down your options, knowing your location and community is essential. Some franchise opportunities, such as The UPS Store, specialize in building franchise opportunities in small towns and rural locations. As many of these areas are underserved in business, packing and shipping amenities, such franchise models deliver a sought-after service for other small businesses and citizens within the community. Having a clear understanding of your community's needs can ensure your new business venture is successful and profitable.

Direct sales

Without a physical retail structure, the direct sales model sells products through independent distributors who specialize in face-to-face experiences with the consumer. One main benefit of direct sales is the ability to sell without overhead or supply costs of running a facility. Many direct sales entrepreneurs purchase their products directly from the parent company piecemeal, so no additional storage space is needed to house the product.

Source:  The UPS Store

 

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Most Common Fall Home Improvements for Homeowners This Season

October 11, 2013 7:18 pm

With over half of all homeowners planning to make some type of improvement to their home this year, the question is, what exactly are they changing? Homeowners are choosing to wait until the high temperatures break and cooler weather hits to begin outdoor work, and home improvement companies are looking to unload new products to prepare for the new season, allowing homeowners to grab some great deals as autumn begins.

The most common fall home improvement projects include fencing, interior and exterior painting, window work, flooring, and roof repair, all of which are in preparation for the cold winter weather when home improvement projects are not at the top of your priority list. By getting these projects done before winter, you can put your home improvement projects to rest until spring without worrying about leaky roofs, cold air coming through cracks in the windows, and maintaining the value of your home with fencing and a fresh coat of paint.

"The cooler autumn temperatures make for the perfect time to focus more on the home and any remodeling projects," said Jeremy Floyd of Fence Center. "Such projects like adding in bamboo or aluminum fencing, not only increases your family's security, but the value of your home. Now that autumn is officially here, people are likely beginning to get these home improvement projects rolling."

According to Floyd:

  • Projects such as flooring, such as wood, can only be done during certain months of the year because certain types of flooring employ adhesives that need temperatures inside the home to be within a certain range, usually between 70 and 80 degrees. Attempting to employ these types of flooring in the winter can make it difficult for the flooring to dry and bond, which will prove problematic down the road.
  • Fall offers the perfect time to increase the security of your home, particularly for fencing, as the ground is not too hard to work with.
  • Painting provides a pungent scent and sometimes toxic fumes, making fall the perfect time for painting. Without the humidity, paint can dry quickly, keeping the aromas of the paint to a minimum.
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Word of the Day

October 11, 2013 7:18 pm

Master deed. Document that converts a parcel of land into a condominium subdivision.

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