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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
Fax: 267-354-6800
email: tom@tomskiffington.com
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Tom's Blog

Q: Should the Architect and Contractor I Work with Have a “Vested” Interest in One Another?

March 19, 2013 5:42 pm

A: It does not hurt to have a situation where the architect and contractor already have an existing working relationship. In fact, such an association could benefit a project by ensuring the smooth integration between the design and implementation. In a residential project, there is sometimes a triangle of tension between the architect, the contractor and the homeowner in terms of finger pointing and assigning blame. There is greater coordination of efforts, and generally less stress, with a design/build firm where the architects and contractors are accustomed to working together and are knowledgeable about construction costs and can fit design plans and specifications to your budget.
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Heating with Oil? Mind ECC's Late Winter Safety Tips

March 18, 2013 5:40 pm

March 20 may be the first day of spring, but many parts of the country continue to face winter's wrath.

So as we look tentatively toward spring and the warmer weather it promises, the heating oil industry’s Energy Communications Council (ECC) wants homeowners remember a few important points to help stay warm and safe during extreme weather.

With that in mind, the ECC presents the following tips:
1. Make sure you have an adequate heating oil supply in case roads may be inaccessible for delivery. Consider automatic delivery, which allows retailers to use computerized systems signaling them when tank volumes are low and need to be refilled.
2. If consumers have an in-ground tank, ensure that fill pipes are clearly marked and readily accessible for oil heat delivery drivers. A thin wire stake with a colored flag inserted into the ground next to fill pipes can work well. The marker should be higher than the average snow cover depth for your area.
3. Keep heating vents clear and make sure carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are installed in your home. If a vent is obstructed, an appliance may malfunction and create a dangerous buildup of carbon monoxide.
4. If oil heat tanks are located behind a home or business, consumers should ensure that fence gates can be opened and there is a clear path for deliveries. A hundred foot heating oil hose can weigh more than 100 pounds.
5. For above-ground outdoor tanks, large amounts of debris, snow or ice sliding from roofs have the potential to damage heating fuel lines. Consumers should try to safely clear and debris, snow or ice buildup from the areas above their fuel lines, before damage occurs.
6. For a permanent solution to potential winter weather hazards, many oil heat dealers sell weatherproof enclosures for outdoor tanks.
7. After a storm passes and it is safe to do so, check the entire area for any damage to an outdoor oil heat tank. Immediately call your local heating oil dealer if you suspect that any hazards exist. Do not attempt repairs yourself.

More information is available at www.HeatingNews.org.
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Make Your Home Green and Beautiful

March 18, 2013 5:40 pm

(Family Features)—When it comes to improving your home, it's easier than ever to make eco-friendly choices that save you money, are better for the environment and make your home more beautiful. Here are a few easy ways you can go green all over the house.

Light it Up - As you make the switch from incandescent bulbs, it's important to look for a bulb that will not only conserve energy and save money, but that gives you the kind of illumination you want. Look for an alternative with even light distribution, such as 3M LED Advanced Light. It lights up a room as beautifully as you would expect, and lasts for 25 years, delivering energy efficiency without compromise. It uses one quarter of the energy used by an incandescent light bulb and can save you up to $140 worth of electricity over the bulb's lifetime. In addition, it contains no mercury and does not need special disposal. Learn more at www.3MLighting.com/LED.

Decorate with Recycled Materials - Whether you're a do-it-yourselfer or want to buy ready-made items, there are plenty of options that keep materials out of landfills. Look for furniture made from reclaimed wood, carpets made from recycled plastic, flooring made from sustainable resources such as bamboo or cork, and wallpaper made from managed timber sources. You can find glassware, dinner sets and accessories made from recycled glass, and textiles like curtains and blankets made from organic fibers.

Save Water with Style - Upgrading your water-using devices can help you use less water and save money. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says that products with the WaterSense or EnergyStar labels will cut down on your water usage. For example, replacing faucets and aerators with WaterSense models can save you an average of 700 gallons of water per year. Replacing your showerhead could save 2,900 gallons of water per year, and a new toilet could save you 13,000 gallons of water per year. Look for the EnergyStar label on dishwashers and washing machines -- they can use up to half as much water and 40 percent less energy.

Clean Green - Keep your home sparkling clean with eco-friendly cleaners and detergents. Look for products with plant-based ingredients and that are free from artificial chemicals, colors and fragrances. And learn to make your own cleaners, too. Baking soda and vinegar are natural products with a lot of cleaning power.

Making some green improvements around your house is easier than you think -- and the payoff is a beautiful home and a better environment.

Source: Family Features
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Money Matters: Lessons for Kids Age 7- 8

March 18, 2013 5:40 pm

Kids are full of curiosity, so it's only natural this curiosity would extend to money and finances. As kids approach ages seven and eight, they are in full learning mode and are interested in becoming more responsible for themselves. This is the perfect time begin bolstering their financial sensibility, if you haven’t already.

BMO Harris Bank recommends parents with kids in this age group start with these lessons:

Start saving. It's not uncommon for kids to receive money through either a small allowance or gifts, making it a great time to begin teaching the importance of saving money. Talk to your kids about what financial goals they have, such as buying a gift for a family member. Then, help them save small amounts of money toward it and track their progress. You may want to give a small reward each time a savings goal is reached.

After a larger amount is reached, you can go to the bank to open a savings account. Most kids think it's fun to come to the bank and for many of them it's the first time they've opened an account of any kind.

Learn the value of everyday items. Kids in this age group are ready to learn that everyday items, such as food, household items and toys, cost money. One of the best ways to teach this lesson is to use examples that are relevant to them. For example, if your son wants a new video game, you can help him find the cost and then figure out how much he needs to save to eventually purchase the game. It's also an opportunity to help your kids research the best bargains and in turn help them become smarter and more frugal with their money.

Spend monetary gifts responsibly. Whether it's a $20 gift or a $100 gift, you can use these amounts to teach kids the importance of dividing their money to achieve different financial goals. Instead of letting him or her spend 100 percent of the gift on toys, allow just 50 percent to be spent now, set aside 30 percent in a savings account and use 20 percent toward a charitable donation.

Consistent messages pay off

As a final point, it's important to provide kids with a consistent message about financial matters and setting an example on how to be responsible with money. Make sure both parents agree on the approach to speak and teach about money. Although parents may have different views about handling finances, with kids you need to make sure you are giving the same message.

Source: www.bmoharris.com
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Word of the Day

March 18, 2013 5:40 pm

Prepayment penalty. Fee charged by the lender when a borrower repays the loan early.
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Q: What Are the Specific Responsibilities of the Contractor vs. the Architect?

March 18, 2013 5:40 pm

A: Beyond having an architect create the design and the contractor implement it, both professionals have additional responsibilities. The contractor is responsible for pricing the project and ensuring that it is completed in a timely fashion. The architect is responsible for getting the construction drawing completed with proper specifications and architectural detail. Since many jurisdictions require architectural drawings to be reviewed to ensure the plans sufficiently meet local codes, the architect may also be responsible for applying for and securing the permits. Make sure that everyone, you included, understand who is responsible for what before work begins in your home.
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Word of the Day

March 15, 2013 3:30 pm

License. A privilege or right granted to a person by a state to operate as a real estate broker or salesperson.
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Q: Who Are the Professionals that Do Home Improvements?

March 15, 2013 3:30 pm

Q: Who Are the Professionals that Do Home Improvements?

A: They vary depending on the size and scope of your job. General contractors are companies or individuals who contract with you to manage all aspects of the project, including hiring and supervising subcontractors, obtaining building permits, and supplying materials and labor equipment needed to do the project. Specialty contractors, on the other hand, are mainly concerned with installing products, such as cabinets and fixtures. Architects design homes, additions, and major renovations. And design/build contractors basically offer one-stop service, providing design and construction services and overseeing a project from start to finish.
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Money Lessons for Kids Ages 5-6

March 15, 2013 3:30 pm

It's never too early to begin teaching your kids about money. Even kids as young as five and six can grasp basic financial concepts. Kids in this age group notice their parents writing checks, using an ATM or paying for purchases using cash. They may start mimicking this behavior during play and that's a great sign they are ready to begin learning about money.

BMO Harris Bank recommends introducing kids in this age group to three basic money concepts:

What is money? Start with explaining what money is and what coins and dollar bills look like. To avoid overwhelming your kids, you may want to stick with smaller denominations, such as $1, $5 and $10 bills. As they begin recognizing them, you can introduce them to the value of different money amounts.

Tip:
Use common household items such as a pack of gum, birthday candles or a toothbrush to illustrate how each item is assigned a different dollar amount.

What is its purpose? After your kids understand what money is, you can begin teaching them how it's used. Explain that when people want to buy things, such as a house, car, food and clothing, they need to use money. At this stage, you may also want to briefly introduce different payment methods, such as cash, check or credit card.

Tip: Take your kids on small shopping trips so they can see how money is used to buy everyday items such as food and household supplies.

Where does it come from? Kids in this age group are ready to learn how money is earned. If your kids ask where you are going, let them know you are going to work and that while there, you are earning money to buy them the things they need and want.

Tip: To reinforce the idea that you earn money at work, consider bringing your kids to your office for a short visit or having your family attend the next company picnic.

Source: www.bmoharris.com
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Tips on Planting the Right Tree in the Right Place

March 15, 2013 3:30 pm

Choosing what to plant, and where, in your yard should go beyond simple landscaping preferences. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) reminds customers to plant the "right tree, in the right place."

Even trees that are small when planted may grow to heights that can interfere with overhead distribution power lines and planting any type of tree near larger, higher-voltage transmission power lines should be avoided all together. Calling 811 before digging will also help customers plant trees in a location where roots won't interfere with underground electric and gas lines.

There are many benefits to planting trees: they keep homes cool by providing shade, enhance property values and clean the air. However, if the right tree is not planted in the right place, it can potentially damage electric and gas lines, causing power outages, gas leaks and other serious public safety concerns. In fact, more than 90 percent of tree-caused power outages come from healthy trees and branches that fall or grow into power lines.

Keep in mind the following tips for planting the right tree in the right place, especially if you are planting trees near distribution power lines:

• Only plant a tree near distribution power lines if it will grow to less than 25 feet at maturity. (This information is available at your local nursery.)

• Avoid planting any type of tree near larger and higher voltage transmission power lines; only use low-growing plants.

• Whenever homeowners or contractors are grading, installing sprinklers or planting a tree, PG&E urges them to call 811 at least two days before starting a project, to have underground gas and electric lines marked. For more information about USA visit www.call811.com.

• Keep all trees, equipment and people at least 10 feet away from power lines.

Source: www.pgecurrents.com
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