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Improvements & Security

• Be very, very careful picking somebody to remodel your home. Do not hire people who drop fliers off in your mailbox, or who ring your doorbell and tell you your roof or gutters need fixing.

• For a minor renovation job, take recommendations for a remodeler from friends and neighbors. For a major renovation job, anything above $10,000, get recommendations from the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) or the Remodelors Council of the National Association of Home Builders.

• Ask candidates for your remodeling job for the last 10 homes they've worked on, a description of what they did, the dates they started those jobs, the dates the jobs were completed, and how to contact each owner.

• Ask what kind of insurance each contractor carries. Protect yourself by hiring people who have a current certificate of insurance or by making sure you have enough liability coverage in your homeowner's policy in case someone who's uninsured is hurt on your property.

•Don't sign a standard builders supply house contract for a remodeling job. Instead, consider using a contract from the American Institute of Architects (AIA).

•Get subcontractors to waive their right to place a lien on your home if they aren't paid by the contractor.

•Never agree to any contract that calls for a large payment up front. Devise with the contractor a reasonable timeline and pay schedule, under which the contractor is paid as work is completed. In the contract, include penalties against the contractor for failing to complete the job on time.

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HELOCs Make A Comeback

For the first time since the real estate bubble, your ability to borrow against the value of your home is returning. This is significant because over the last 8 years, there was almost no home equity line of credit (HELOC) activity and almost no second mortgage activity. But now we ...

A Look At The Nest Thermostat

A former Apple executive has given the lowly programmable thermostat in your home a high-tech makeover. The Nest Learning Thermostat is the brainchild of Tony Fadell, who had a role in the design of the iPod and iPhone, according to  The Los Angeles Times. What can the Nest thermostat do ...

Solar Panel Installation Guide

Is your power bill getting too costly? Now may be the time to consider installing solar at your home. Residential solar installations are expected to be up 50% year over year. A small number of states where laws are favorable to solar account for a big chunk of that growth: ...

Safeguard Your Home During Summer Vacation

We're on the cusp of summer vacation. Do you want to let criminals know you're not home? I've talked in the past about so many ways we let our guard down and make ourselves susceptible to criminals, especially in the summer. Fortunately, there are some basic precautions you can take ...

Comcast Home Security Drops The Ball Big-Time

When you're paying for a home alarm system, you have every reason to expect that it will work, right? Not if you're with Comcast for home security, apparently! Wait until you hear this story out of KPRC TV in Houston. Here's a closer look at a Comcast home security system ...

How To Shop For Home Security Systems

The burglar alarm industry is one that has a lot of honest companies, but there are also scamsters out there that you've got to look out for. Nothing makes you feel more invaded than coming home to a break-in. Burglar alarm salespeople often read local police reports and may show ...

How To Pick A Home Contractor

Right now, renovating a home is much, much easier than it had been during the real estate bubble. So how do you pick a contractor? I recall back during the bubble how often I'd get calls from homeowners complaining they couldn't get a call back from contractors. The frenzy around ...

Cheaper Temporary Housing Is Coming

Modern engineering has come up with a solution to deliver cheap temporary housing quickly in the wake of natural disasters. Reaction Housing's Exo is a portable, easy-to-assemble temporary house. It has a base and a dome and it sleeps 4 adults. The thing weighs less than 400 pounds. A single ...

Scam alert: Burglar alarm robocalls

Scam alert: Burglar alarm robocalls

Ever gotten that robocall advertising a free in-home security system? Here's how to tell the real companies from the burglar alarm scamsters.

6 Ways To Cut Home Energy Costs

Utility bills can make up a significant portion of a family’s monthly budget. With a little planning, research, and work, you can cut your home's energy consumption by a substantial amount. With Earth Day next week, here are 6 ways to get the job done. Improve your HVAC's Efficiency HVAC ...

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