Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Entry for the Dog and Others!

I realize this is a REALLY nice deck and stairs–for Barney the dog–but shouldn’t they have been thinking about him in his old age–when he might need a ramp, a guard, a handrail or a mat?

This is just one example of the strange things that people do for their pets. In some instances these installations become rather easy points of entry for “others” besides the family dog.  Kicking in an opening like this is very easy, and if the doggie-door is in the house door, it is quite common to easily reach the locks on the inside from the doggie-door–much easier and quieter than breaking glass.

Of course dealing with Cujo once you have entered his trap is a whole nuther issue.

Van Hibberts, CMI

Certified Residential Building Code Inspector ICC-5319905
Florida-State Certified Master Home Inspector Lic. #HI 89
Certified Owens-Corning Roof Data Technician
Florida-Certified Wind Mitigation Inspector
WDO Certificate #JE190791 
InterNACHI #10071802
362 Gulf Breeze Parkway, #214
Gulf Breeze, Florida 32561
850.934.6800  (Office)                                          
850.485.3209  (Cell / Text Msg)  

"Looking Beyond The Obvious"

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Monday, April 27, 2015

Bathroom renovation thats fast, cheap and easy -- Its Got Potential Video

Erika goes at her upstairs bath... all by herself. What does this mean? You can definitely do it too. Get fast, cheap and easy ways to spruce up your space in this episode of Its Got Potential.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Angie’s List, Yelp and the Better Business Bureau

Because we live in an age where folks can vent their ill-founded outrage against service providers anonymously, instantly and globally with a few strokes on a computer keyboard, businessmen and women can now add “defamation” to “death and taxes” as a new “certainty”. And there is no shortage of online venues where these oh-so-put-upon umbrage mongers can grind their reputation-destroying axes, Angie’s List and yelp being two of the most popular venues. The Better Business Bureau is another.

A business person who finds his professionalism under assault on one of these sites by some thin-skinned yenta can be forgiven, perhaps, for wanting to defend himself forcefully via the response mechanism that most of these sites provide. In my experience, however, this is seldom a good idea because of a phenomenon that has come to be known as the Streisand Effect, after the well-known stage fright victim.

Ms. Streisand had sued a photographer who had taken aerial photographs of beachfront properties on the California coastline as part of a government project to document coastal erosion. One of the properties was hers and the suit sought suppression of the photograph of her property. You can guess what happened.
Prior to the filing of the suit, the photograph had only been downloaded six times. In the ensuing four weeks, over 400,000 internet users had visited the photographer’s site to gawk at the privacy-obsessed celebrity’s ostentatious crib.
In addition to calling unwelcome attention to the unflattering critique, a response almost never results in the removal of the slander and not infrequently provokes the critic into doubling down on the calumny, thus further exacerbating the situation.

As a business person, the result you want is for the false posting to be removed. And quickly. The rating sites, themselves, however, will rarely agree to remove a negative posting. That is, after all, their stock in trade. In the one instance that I am aware of that a site did remove a false critique, the offender quickly reposted it.

Fortunately, there’s a powerful tool available that provides near instant relief to affected professionals: the tort of defamation per se, which responds to false statements about an individual’s professionalism. Its power stems from the fact that the professional need not show damages. Damages are presumed.

The presumption of damages together with the fact that juries across the length and breadth of the nation have shown no reluctance whatsoever to returning massive verdicts in cases of defamation per se is, in my experience, the reason that these intemperate critics are so easily persuaded to remove their offensive postings.

By Joe Ferry, Atty.

Can be found at  

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

How to Build a Living Wall Vertical Garden - This Old House

Use pressure-treated lumber and galvanized planter boxes to erect a vertical garden filled with colorful greenery. (See below for a shopping list, tools, cut list, and plant guide.)

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Special Events Lure Visitors to Gulf Coast Year-Round

Anglers of all ages are welcome to compete in the Destin Fishing Rodeo.

Warm weather, emerald waters, and beaches so white that they dazzle the eyes are the major attractions for most visitors to the Florida and Alabama Gulf coasts. But the region also plays host to music festivals, wine tastings, fishing rodeos, and other special Gulf Coast events – some so big that folks regularly plan their vacations around them.

For example, more than one seafood lover has been known to mark his or her October calendar with the dates for the National Shrimp Festival. Celebrating its

44th year in 2015, the free event regularly attracts more than 250,000 visitors to Gulf Shores for four days of arts, crafts, live entertainment, and lots of food – including, of course, plenty of shrimp.
Another popular event that’s always a hot ticket is the Hangout Music Fest, also in Gulf Shores. The May festival regularly hosts national and international stars on its beachfront stages. This year’s headliners include Foo Fighters, Sam Smith, the Zac Brown Band, and Beck. In years past, appearances by the Dave Matthews Band, Jack White, Paul Simon, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, and other musical greats have made this a not-to-be-missed event.

Other Gulf Coast music festivals that regularly draw a crowd are the Highway 30A Songwriters Festival; the Seabreeze Jazz Festival and the Pepsi Gulf Coast Jam, both in Panama City Beach; and the Frank Brown International Songwriters Festival, held at different venues from Gulf Shores to Perdido Key.
The 10,000-seat Amphitheater at The Wharf in Orange Beach is another spot worth a special trip. It regularly schedules concerts by noted stars, including Three Dog Night, Dave Matthews Band, Florida-Georgia Line, Jimmy Buffett, and Luke Bryan.

Thousands of motorcycling enthusiasts choose to spend their vacation time at the Thunder Beach Spring and Autumn Rallies in Panama City Beach. The fun includes bike shows and parades, stunt riding demonstrations, beauty pageants, food, and live music.

Another spring event that always draws a crowd is the Sandestin Wine Festival. Held every April at
Sandestin’s Village of Baytowne Wharf, the festival celebrates its 29th year in 2015 with hundreds of wines from around the world. Festival guests also get to talk with top winemakers, learn how to pair foods and wines successfully, and buy their favorite wines at discounted prices.

Anglers come from all over the country to vie for prizes at the Destin Fishing Rodeo. The month-long competition has been a tradition in the “World’s Luckiest Fishing Village” since 1948. Just about every game fish is recognized with awards during the rodeo, which takes place in and around Destin Harbor every October. Also in October, the Destin Seafood Festival celebrates the city’s fishing heritage with good food, live entertainment, arts and crafts, and more at HarborWalk Village.

Located at the state line between Florida and Alabama, the iconic Flora-Bama Lounge and Oyster Bar offers live music daily and hosts special events all year long. Its New Year’s Day Polar Bear Dip usually attracts more than 1,000 people whose idea of a good time is a quick dip in the chilly Gulf of Mexico. And the annual Mulllet Toss, an April event that involves tossing frozen mullets from one state to the other for prize money, annually earns around $20,000 for local charities.

There’s always something going on at Bellingrath Gardens and Home, a 65-acre estate outside Mobile. Especially noteworthy is the Gardens’ Magic Christmas in Lights, when the grounds are ablaze nightly with more than three million lights and 1,000 fantasy displays. The light show generally stays up from the end of November through New Year’s Day. Another eagerly awaited attraction at the Gardens is fall’s spectacular Cascading Mum Display. Bellingrath also offers several popular activities for youngsters, including the annual Easter egg hunt, Kids’ Gulf Discovery Day, and the pre-Halloween children’s trick-or-treat party, Balloon Glow in the Gardens.

There’s a pirate invasion worth watching every summer in Fort Walton Beach when Billy Bowlegs and his dastardly crew come ashore to take over the city. In addition to pirate battles, the Billy Bowlegs Festival features Mardi Gras-style parades, fireworks, food, live entertainment, and lots of fun for the whole family.

Other special Gulf Coast events include weekly Fat Tuesday parades; the Thursday Red, White, and Blue Hero’s Fireworks presentations; and the free Rock the Docks Saturday concerts at Destin’s HarborWalk Village. Seaside, the picture-perfect town known for its pastel cottages and old-fashioned charm, is the site every February of the Seaside Half Marathon – 5K and 10K races featuring flat courses and ocean views. And Sandestin’s Village of Baytowne Wharf offers a free WednesdayNight Concert series that runs for most of the year, as well as special celebrations featuring live music, fireworks, food, and fun for all of the major holidays throughout the year.

Events Calendars on

Before heading to the beach on your next trip, check out the events in these locations:

Alabama Beaches

Gulf Shores events   ~   Orange Beach events

Florida Beaches

Northwest Florida

Destin events  ~ Fort Walton Beach events ~ Highway 30-a events   ~  Panama City Beach events  ~ Pensacola Beach events   ~   Perdido Key events

Forgotten Coast

Apalachicola events ~ Cape San Blas events  ~ Mexico Beach events  ~ St. George Island events

 by S. Lynne on March 15th, 2015

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Students Bring Virtual Reality into the Real World

At The Home Depot Technology Center at Georgia Tech, students are working with virtual reality to expand possibilities for shopping in the store. Find more behind-the-scenes stories at

Monday, April 13, 2015

Reseeding a Lawn, Kitchen Sink | Season 3, Episode 13

Landscape contractor Roger Cook re-seeds a damaged lawn for homeowner Mary Brintnall of Beverly, Massachusetts. Back in the loft, Roger, along with general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and host Kevin O'Connor ask, "What is it?" Then, Richard heads to the Detroit suburb of Sterling Heights, Michigan, to replace a kitchen sink.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Home Inspections - What Really Matters

Buying a home?  The process can be stressful.  A home inspection is supposed to give you peace of mind, but it often has the opposite effect.  You will be asked to absorb a lot of information over a short time.  This often includes a written report, checklist, photographs, environmental reports, and what the inspector himself says during the inspection.  All this combined with the seller's disclosure and what you notice yourself make the experience even more overwhelming.  What should you do?
Relax. Inspectors are professionals, and if yours is a member of InterNACHI, then you can trust that he/she is among the most highly trained in the industry. Most of your inspection will be related to maintenance recommendations and minor imperfections. These are good to know about.  However, the issues that really matter will fall into four categories:
  1. major defects:  An example of this would be a structural failure;
  2. things that lead to major defects: a small roof-flashing leak, for example;
  3. things that may hinder your ability to finance, legally occupy, or insure the home; and 
  4. safety hazards, such as an exposed, live buss bar at the electric panel.
Anything in these categories should be addressed.  Often, a serious problem can be corrected inexpensively to protect both life and property (especially in categories 2 and 4).
Most sellers are honest and are often surprised to learn of defects uncovered during an inspection.  Realize that sellers are under no obligation to repair everything mentioned in the report.  No home is perfect.  Keep things in perspective.  Do not kill your deal over things that do not matter.  It is inappropriate to demand that a seller address deferred maintenance, conditions already listed on the seller's disclosure, or nit-picky items.

From What Really Matters in a Home Inspection - InterNACHI

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Planning for Your Move

Moving Checklist

Task Notes
Planning—Before You Move
Obtain the brochure Ready to Move? and the booklet Your Rights and Responsibilities When You Move from the mover.
Ask for recommendations from neighbors, friends, and relatives regarding the mover.
Check with the Better Business Bureau regarding the mover.
Find out what the mover's responsibilities are for damages that may occur to your belongings.
Ask if the mover has a dispute settlement program.
Obtain estimates from at least three movers, and compare cost and all other services to be provided by the mover.  
Check to determine whether the interstate mover is registered with FMCSA, and has a USDOT number.
Find out how and when pickup and delivery of your household goods will occur.
Ask the mover how they can be contacted before the move, during the move, and after the move.
Adequately insure your belongings.
Moving Day
Be present to answer questions and give directions to the movers. Stay until they finish.
Accompany the movers as they inventory your household goods, and resolve any questions regarding the condition of materials being moved.
Carefully read the information on the estimate, order for service, bill of lading, inventory, and all other completed documents before you sign them.
Keep the bill of lading until your goods are delivered, the charges are paid, and any claims are settled.
Before the moving van leaves, take one final look throughout the house to make certain nothing has been left behind.
Give the driver directions to your new house.
Inform the driver and the moving company of where you can be reached during the move.
Delivery Day
Be present to answer any questions and give directions.
Pay the driver, according to the terms of your agreement, before your goods are unloaded.
Supervise unloading and unpacking of your goods.
Note on the inventory list all boxes or other items that are damaged before you sign any documents.

Download PDF Version of Moving Checklist

Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, Washington, DC 20590 • 1-800-832-5660 • TTY: 1-800-877-8339 • Field Office Contacts

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

HUD Home Store Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Consumers and the General Public

1. What is HUD?
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Please visit for additional information
2. Do I need a realtor to place a bid for me?
Yes, please contact a broker who is registered to bid with HUD.

3. How do I find a property to bid on?
Log onto to search for available HUD properties.

4. How can I obtain financing for my property?
Please contact a lender or mortgage broker

5. Do owner -occupants have a priority in bidding?
Yes, there is an initial owner - occupant period set aside at the beginning of the bid process.

6. What is the Good Neighbor Next Door (GNND) program?
The good neighbor next door program allows teachers, police officers, fire fighters and EMS personnel to purchase HUD properties that are located in a revitalization area for a 50% discount if they live in the property for 36 months.

More information is available online: 
7. What are my financing options?
You can use FHA or conventional financing to purchase a HUD
home. You may also purchase a property with cash.

8. How can I locate a home in a particular area?
(e.g. by zip code or state) You may conduct a search by visiting
9. What is a field service manager?
The Field Service Manager (FSM) is the HUD contractor responsible for
property maintenance and preservation services such as: inspecting the
property, securing the property, performing cosmetic enhancements/ repairs, and providing on-going maintenance.

10. What is an asset manager?
The HUD contractor responsible for marketing and selling HUD-owned properties.

11. I would like to report a problem with a HUD home in my neighborhood. Who do I contact?
Please contact the field service manager or the asset manager assigned to the property. You can find the asset manager by visiting and searching for the property by street address.

12. I am an investor. When can I bid on a HUD property?
During the exclusive listing period, bids may be submitted by Owner Occupants. At the conclusion of this exclusive listing priority period,
all general public bids will be accepted.

13. I am scheduled for closing and no one has contacted me. Who can answer my last minute questions?
Please contact the asset manager for the property being purchased.

14. Can I have the property reappraised and lower the price
of the home?
In accordance with Mortgagee Letter 2010-08, a second appraisal may not be ordered simply to support a purchase price that is higher than the value on the current appraisal.

A second appraisal can only be ordered to support a higher sales price if there are material deficiencies with the current appraisal. In such an instance, the Direct Endorsement underwriter is responsible for documenting and determining that material deficiencies exist with respect to the current  appraisal.

15. Can a buyer elect to use his or her own closing agent?
The purchaser can elect to choose any closing agent. However, if the purchaser elects not to use HUD’s closing agent to perform the closing, HUD will not pay for the closing agent to conduct the closing.
16. If I don’t like the home that I chose, can I decline the
The purchase of the property may be declined at any time, but may be subject to earnest money forfeiture.
17. What is the earnest money held for, and can I get it back?
Earnest Money is a deposit towards the purchase of real estate or publicly te
ndered government contract made by a buyer or registered contractor to demonstrate that he/she is serious about wanting to complete the purchase.
If the seller accepts the offer, the earnest money is held in escrow by the real estate broker or by a settlement or title company until closing and is then applied to the buyer's portion of the remaining costs. If the offer is rejected, the earnest money is usually returned, since no binding contract has been entered into. If the buyer retracts the offer or does not fulfill its obligations under the contract, the earnest money is forfeited.
18. When can I complete a home inspection on the property?
All purchasers are strongly encouraged to perform a walk through inspection at or near the date of your contract acceptance and, again, immediately PRIOR to closing. If a purchaser discovers a property condition that did not exist at the time of sale they must immediately notify HUD's property manager of the damage. 

The purchaser or agent should complete the Property Damage Report
and fax it to the appropriate fax number listed on the form. Reporting the damage does not guarantee the correction of the problem that has been discovered. The lack of written documentation describing property condition at contract acceptance, however, will preclude consideration for repairs or price adjustments in the event of subsequent damage. Each case will be looked at independently and a determination will be made as to whether the damage will be repaired (or not repaired) or, under some circumstances, credits given at closing.
The buyer assumes full responsibility for the property and its condition on the date of closing. HUD assumes no responsibility and will make no settlement for damages reported to HUD after the close of escrow.
19. Can I make repairs to the property if needed prior to purchase?
HUD properties are sold as - is with no warranty. No repairs should be performed on a property until after the new owner has taken possession of the property.
20. Does HUD give money for repairs to the property?
No. However, a home buyer may wish to utilize an FHA 203K streamline loan
to finance repairs on the property.
21. How much money do I have to put down on a home?
The answer depends on the type of financing being used. For FHA financed properties, the down payment is 3 ½ percent (3.5%) of the sales price.