Saturday, November 28, 2015

Florida Wind Mitigation Inspections... Significance for the Realtor Community

Six out of ten Florida homeowners already qualify for a discount on their homeowner's insurance policy without doing anything other than having an inspection and filing a Wind Mitigation Certificate with their current insurance company... What does that fact mean to the Realtor community?

Simple... You can improve your relationship with your clients by helping them save up to 40% on the cost of their homeowner's insurance policy.  Lower insurance costs on homes you have listed can be used as a unique selling point to attract buyers, while wind mitigation inspections performed in conjunction with a standard home inspection can over the lifetime of the certificate return much more than the cost of all inspection procedures performed.

Information gleaned from a wind mitigation inspection report performed during the listing process could alert the savvy Real Estate agent to conditions which could impinge the easy sale of a home and help screen the best listings, thus saving precious marketing resources.

Today the Realtor who is seeking every edge in an attempt to gain market share and provide the very best service to their clients would be wise to incorporate wind mitigation inspections into their checklist for both buyers and sellers.  It is a win-win solution you can't afford pass up.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

How to Use Ladders Safely

This Old House general contractor Tom Silva and TOH TV host Kevin O'Connor show the proper techniques for using all types of ladders.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Cost of Poor Workmanship | The Cambridge House, Episode 5 (2005)

Master carpenter Norm Abram shows Host Kevin O'Connor the newly discovered problems at the project house, most of them caused by the poor workmanship of a previous contractor. In the living room, one structural fix is already underway as general contractor Tom Silva prepares to install a flush frame beam made from LVLs that will carry the load of the second floor. Pest management expert Dan Fleicher shows Kevin the extent of the termite and carpenter ant damage, and suggests possible treatment options. Landscape contractor Roger Cook reveals the anatomy of new landscape walls; they'll be natural stone veneer over reinforced concrete. Kevin visits Six Moon Hill, a utopian neighborhood of modern houses created by The Architects Collaborative in 1948. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows Kevin one of the challenges he's facing in this minimalist modern house: no place to hide necessary ductwork.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Solar power generation

Solar power is a versatile means of generating electricity. It can be used for such purposes as heating water, heating and air conditioning homes and commercial buildings, and powering streetlights. Because sunlight is readily available almost everywhere and doesn't require fuel or a connection to a power grid (an interconnected network used to deliver electricity from suppliers to consumers), solar power is particularly useful for supplying power to remote areas and to some portable devices.

Solar power is used to generate large amounts of power on a utility scale and to supply individual residences and businesses with electricity. This report focuses mainly on utility-scale, commercial, and residential solar power.

Utility-scale solar power plants supply large amounts of electricity to the power grid along with traditional sources of power, such as coal and natural gas plants. Solar power plants typically generate several megawatts of power, comparable to small or medium coal- or gas-fired plants. Plants only now in the planning stages are expected to produce several hundred megawatts,[7] which would be comparable to a medium to large coal plant or nuclear plant.

Commercial solar power is used by business establishments, such as office buildings, warehouses, and retail stores, which are able to install large groups of solar panels known as photovoltaic (PV) arrays, on unused land, rooftops, or parking structures. These panels supplement the building's power supply, and, at times, may generate more electricity than the building consumes. Often, this excess power can be sold back to the local utility company.

Residential solar power is generated by homeowners who have solar panels installed on their roofs in order to provide power to their homes. This form of solar power is increasing in popularity. Residential solar power usually must be supplemented by traditional electricity from the power grid to provide additional electricity when the solar panels cannot meet energy needs, such as when it is nighttime or extremely cloudy.

Although some areas of the United States are better suited for solar power than others, solar energy can be harnessed in any geographic area because of the sun's vast reach. In 2009, California had by far the most solar power capacity at 1102 megawatts, followed by New Jersey with 128 megawatts.[8] Nearly all states in the United States receive more sunlight per square mile than Germany, the world's leading producer of solar energy.[9] Manufacturing of solar power equipment and components is located throughout the United States, with large plants in Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Oregon, California, Wisconsin, Tennessee, New Mexico, Colorado, Georgia, and Texas. Other large solar panel manufacturing facilities are planned to begin construction over the next few years in many states.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Wiremold: How to Install the Flat Screen TV Cord & Cable Power Kit

The Wiremold Flat Screen TV Cord and Cable Power Kit is easy to install. No electrician or hard wiring is required and installs in under 30 minutes.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Building Without Nails The Genius of Japanese Carpentry

We've heard of the genius "technology" used in ancient times to build towering monuments with nothing more than primitive tools like stones and ropes. The Egyptian pyramids of old is a great example.

Back in the far east, Japan had plenty to offer the ancient world as well when it came to resourceful inventions and crafts. Traditional Japanese Carpenters built houses, temples, and castles, without the use of nails, screws, or bolts.
In a documentary interviewing one of the few remaining practitioners of this seemingly lost art of carpentry, an old Japanese master craftsman exclaims "No bolts, no nails. It lasts longer!". Proudly claiming its effectiveness that no one would be able to argue against its success in the form of several majestic towering temples all over Japan still standing to this day.
After being subjected to harsh weather and clashes of changes in civilizations for well over a thousand years. But with the bold statement comes a clear understanding that the success to this art isn't because they designed it to withstand "against" nature, instead, it is all about being "with" nature.

Moving his livelihood to New York and sharing his art form of old Japanese wood working to the world, Isao Hanafusa, co-owner of Miya Shoji, has carved himself a unique niche in the competitive market of the furnishing industry.
Sought out and revered by New Yorkers wanting that embrace with nature in their interior decor with a style and durability in craftsmanship that can't be rivaled by most factory produced alternatives.

All furniture selections in Miya Shoji showrooms are hand crafted, even the types lumber used in all his crafts are hand selected by Hanafusa himself. Isao Hanafusa was a graduate of Industrial Revolution studies of which he states has produced countless wonders for the modern world, but its cold machinery has also tragically killed off individual talent that is supposed to reside in craftsmen.

To this day, he rejects criticisms of his methods being unnecessarily old fashioned, because with all the bold talk of technologically advanced tools and methods used in modern day construction work, the Hanafusa family believes a thousand years worth of talent refinement and mastery should not be thrown away in exchange for mass production convenience.

Nor is it going to back down from the contest that their crafts will last even longer than rigid concrete and metal structures for the simple fact they are not designed to resist against the force of mother nature, but to live with her.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

IKEA Hack Platform Bed DIY

his video shows you how to turn seven standard kitchen cabinets from IKEA into a platform bed with storage underneath. It's a perfect solution for anyone with limited closet or attic space. PLEASE BE SURE TO READ THIS ENTIRE DESCRIPTION BEFORE ASKING A QUESTION. I will do my best to answer every question that wasn't answered in the content.

The approximate cost of this project was $480, roughly broken down as follows:
$355 - Cabinets
$85 - Lumber
$40 - Paneling, carpet, knobs

I've had a number of questions about the specific cabinets used. Keep in mind, you can do this project with any brand or style as long as they are wall cabinets. For my cabinets, go to and look at their SEKTION wall cabinets. The cabinet sizes are shown in the video at 0:34. I selected the cheapest doors (Häggeby white).

NOTE: The smallest step is actually a TUTEMO open cabinet (IKEA article #802.783.53) laid on its side. This cabinet measures 9 x 14 3/4 x 15. It's not the exact size shown in my design, but it's the closest I could get.

The bed has been tested with three full-size adults and two dogs so I'm not worried about weight capacity of the bed, but please feel free to add support if you feel it is needed. The "steps" are a different situation, however. The cabinets alone are probably fine for pets or young children, but they will not last with the weight of adults and require additional support not shown in the video. I recommend doubling the thickness of the tops by sandwiching a solid wood or melamine shelf across the "step" cabinets, screwed from inside the cabinets into the shelf above using 1.25" screws (be sure to drill pilot holes). You can then lay paneling or carpet on top of that double-layer sandwich.

If you live in a rented apartment and are worried about drilling holes in the walls, think hard about building this bed. If you can't (or don't want to) spackle holes before moving out, should you really be considering such an aggressive DIY project?? You can certainly adapt my design to be free-standing; just make sure it is well-supported underneath. Keep in mind that the entire structure will need to be disassembled to move (so don't glue everything together!).

One minor detail that I omitted from the video: I installed four plastic furniture glides under every cabinet (one in each corner) to keep them off the floor by approximately 1/4". These will prevent the cabinets from scratching the floor, and prevent the doors from rubbing on the floor. If you have carpeting, you may need to build up the cabinets even higher to prevent the doors from rubbing on the carpet.

Several people have asked if this could be made free-standing so they don't have to attach it to the wall. If you want to structurally incorporate the cabinets in the design, as I've done here, I recommend attaching it to the wall because the wall provides a huge amount of stability. If you want to build a bed like this without attaching it to the walls, start with a freestanding bed frame such as
­waste-platform-bed/ and add the cabinets to enclose it.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Toll Brothers CEO: Housing comeback in 5th inning

With the four-year housing recovery in just the "fourth or fifth inning," the real estate market may take longer than expected to really fire on all cylinders again, said Doug Yearley, CEO of homebuilder Toll Brothers.

"Four years in, I would think the housing market would be further along. I think it means we're going to have a longer, slower recovery," he told CNBC's "Squawk Box" on Friday. He described the 2007 to 2011 period as the "worst housing depression we've ever seen."

While characterizing current housing conditions as "healthy," he said factors such as an improving economy and extremely low interest rates should be providing more juice to the real estate market.

Low borrowing costs have translated into historically favorable mortgage rates for homebuyers.

"[But] we don't worry about the Fed raising rates as long as it's done intelligently and slowly," Yearley said, adding the real estate market can handle mortgage rates of 4.5 percent. "I'll take a 4.5 percent rate in a better economy any day."

Appearing with Yearley on CNBC, Home Depot Chairman and CEO Craig Menear said the housing market has been more robust this year than he had expected, and that's leading to additional residential renovation and improvement projects.

"We're getting a tailwind from the housing environment that helps our business in terms of home value appreciation and housing turnover. Those are two key drivers of projects," said Menear.

"Both of those have been a little bit stronger than how we thought about as we planned 2015," he said, estimating turnover at about 5 percent and appreciation 4 to 5 percent.

With housing doing better, Menear said homeowners see improvement as an investment rather than an expense, which makes them more likely to take on projects or hire contractors.
Millennials want suburban life later: CEOs

Besides talking about housing as it relates to the economy, both CEOs said the notion of the "death of the suburbs" has been greatly overstated.

"Certainly more and more people are living in cities. But [in] the American Dream when you settle down and your kid hits kindergarten, most people are moving to the 'burbs," said Yearley.

Millennials, loosely defined as people born in the early 1980s through the late 1990s, "absolutely want to buy homes" in the suburbs, Menear agreed, saying his company's research shows it's "just a delayed purchase."

The trend of young people shunning the suburbs in favor of the hustle and bustle of city life has been well documented in dire predictions about the "reurbanization of America" from real estate billionaire Sam Zell and others in recent years.

But Yearley said millennials are getting married later and having families later. "Therefore they're moving to the 'burbs later."

Find out more about Toll Brothers at: