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October 11, 2012


the cheshire herald, October 11, 2012


Fall Home Improvement 2012 Options Exist For You To Finance That Big Improvement Project


fter years of funny financing and few limitations on loans, banks and other lenders have tightened up their lending policies. As a result, homeowners considering a home improvement project might need to look elsewhere to secure financing. There are no certainties in the real estate markets. Though statistics suggest marked improvement in home sales over just a few months ago, many homeowners remain wary about selling their home to try to move up to something bigger and better. The National Association of Home Builders says many people are choosing to stay put in their homes and remodel or make renovations to transform the house into something more comfortable. While there are many worthwhile home renovation projects, the NAHB recommends projects that bring your home up to par with the neighbors. It doesn't pay to transform your home into the most expensive on the street, unless you plan to live there for the rest of your life. Real estate experts recommend that a remodeling investment increases the value of your house by no more than 10 to 15 percent above the median sales price in your neighborhood. When it comes time to finance a remodel or renovation, you may

not know where to start. Credit restrictions on home mortgages that have troubled many wouldbe buyers have also plagued individuals looking to finance home improvements. However, homeowners hoping to finance a project do have options, and not all of them require stellar credit ratings. * Borrow against a retirement plan. Many retirement plans, such as a 401(k), allow plan members to take out a portion of the savings to put toward a home loan. This does not mean you are taking money out of the account permanently. Rather, you are borrowing against yourself, with repayment necessary in a certain timeframe. Because these loans often offer very low interest rates, and essentially the interest is being paid back to you, they might be a good option for men and women who cannot secure a traditional loan. However, if you have been laid off, there may be a shorter repayment period. Also, the interest on these loans is not tax-deductible. * Borrow against other investments. CDs, bonds, or mutual funds can provide the collateral you need and earn you a lower interest rate. Fixed-income investments are more stable options to borrow against, as their value won't have a chance to decline. * Apply for a home equity

loan. Many people have heard of a home equity loan, and it is usually the first choice when borrowing funds for renovations. Essentially a home equity loan is taking out a second mortgage on your home to pay for the work you want to have done, which is based on the equity, or the difference between the home's fair market value and the outstanding balance of all liens on the property. The interest on these loans is tax-deductible, which can make this financing option quite popular. * Secure a home equity line of credit. A home equity line of credit, or HELOC, is another type of home equity loan. Instead of receiving a lump sum to use toward renovations like you would with a traditional home equity loan, a HELOC is sort of a credit card type scenario based on the equity in your home. You are given a line of credit, against which you can buy items. This is good for intermittent needs, when one large sum is not needed. HELOCs have a draw period, during which the borrower can use the credit, and a repayment period, during which it must be repaid. HELOCs generally have lower mortgage fees at the start and are generally subject to the same tax incentives as regular home equity loans. * Consider refinancing. Inter-

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est rates on mortgages are at historic lows. You may qualify to do a cash-out refinance, where you borrow against the value of your home and create an entirely new mortgage at the lower rate. Although you will start your mortgage all over from day 1 and have to pay closing fees, this type of refinancing can be more advantageous to homeowners with significant equity in their homes. * Apply for a governmentsponsored loan. The government may offer programs aimed at helping individuals who are underwater on their home loans borrow money to make necessary improvements. While the funding cannot be used to purchase luxury items, such as a swimming pool, it can be used for necessities. Residents of the United States

can explore FHA 203(k) refinance options and an FHA title 1 improvement loan. * Discuss financing with your contractor. Some contractors may offer financing. Keep in mind that the interest rates may be high, and it may be difficult to investigate the security of these types of loans. Many homeowners also look to credit cards to help finance some home renovation projects, but they should be used as a last resort. Credit cards typically come with high interest rates and, while they are good for some small projects, financing larger projects on a card may land you very deep in debt. Homeowners who choose to stay in their homes and make renovations have a host of options at their disposal to finance those projects.

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the cheshire herald, OctOber 11, 2012


Fall Home Improvement 2012 Follow Some Easy Steps To Ensure Your Home Has Curb Appeal


en and women who have tried to sell a home are likely familiar with the phrase "curb appeal." curb appeal is similar to getting ready for a big date, only you're not dressing yourself up to make a strong first impression. instead, improving curb appeal involves dressing your home up in the hopes it makes a strong first impression on prospective buyers, many of whom will have a strong opinion about the property before they even get out of their cars to have a look around. a home with strong curb appeal can entice buyers who are likely to believe that a home with a well-maintained exterior is likely to have an equally impressive interior. homeowners who want the process of selling their home to go smoothly can improve the property's curb appeal in a number of ways, many of which don't necessitate a substantial home improvement budget. * Clean up. the most effective way to improve curb appeal is to clean up the property. Many the driveway or walkways. if the scure your home. homeowners are savvy enough to boundary between your driveway * clean the gutters. leaves remove toys and other items from and lawn is not distinct, consider and sticks hanging from the gutthe yard before showing a home, installing edging materials such ters are a red flag to buyers, who but cleaning up goes beyond re- as stone or bricks. the edging tend to associate clogged gutters moving clutter from the property. can be level with the driveway with roof damage. clean the gutMake sure all hedges are trimmed or elevated, but keep in mind that ters thoroughly before putting and remove weeds, sticks, and elevated driveway edging can your home up for sale and keep other debris from any flower protect the lawn, preventing kids them clean throughout the selling beds. Lay mulch in the flower from riding their bicycles onto the process. if your property includes beds and garden, as mulch pre- lawn or cars from driving onto it. lots of trees, install guards to keep vents weed growth while helping adding edging is not a very dif- twigs and leaves out of the gutthe soil retain moisture, result- ficult do-it-yourself project. ters. ing in more attractive gardens to * Make the home accessible * Take to the trees. Many catch a buyer's eye. homeowners grow accustomed through the front door. Many * Get an "edge" on other sell- to overgrown trees around their homeowners enter their home ers. edging is another easy and property and may not notice that through a side door or through effective way to improve curb ap- low-hanging, unsightly branches their garage. if you fall into this Please call for corrections at 203-317-2308 - after 5 pm call 203-317-2282 peal. edge driveways, sidewalks, are hiding the home from view. category, keep in mind that proAd#:1253760 Pub:RJ Date:07/31/12 Day:TUE Size:3X4 Cust:LYON & BILLARD Last Edited and other walkways around the buyers want to see the house, spective buyers will be enterBy:JPROTO on 7/26/12 1:31 PM. Salesperson:319 Tag Line:SPADEA - TUES SPECIAL Color property, removing or trimming so take to the trees and trim any ing through the front door, so Info:FULL anything that is hanging over branches that hang too low or ob- make this area accessible. clear

any clutter, such as overgrown hedges, away from the front door, and consider upgrading the door handle to a more modern feature. in addition, make sure the lock on the front door doesn't stick, forcing the realtor and buyers to immediately struggle before entering the home. You want buyers and their real estate agents to get in and out of the home as smoothly as possible. * Make sure all plants, including flowers, are living. dehydrated or dead plants and flowers are eyesores, and they will give

buyers the impression that you didn't pay much attention to your property. Make sure all plants are alive and thriving and replace those that aren't. You can replant new flowers or plants or just use potted plants instead. When purchasing new plants, choose lowmaintenance varieties that appeal to buyers who want good vibrant plants but might not want to put in much work into the garden. When selling a home, homeowners can employ a number of tactics to improve their home's curb appeal.

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omeowners remodeling their kitchen can look beyond traditional appliances and add specialty tools that may save on space and upgrade room efficiency. Not every kitchen is equipped with a trash compactor or wine cooler, but many homeowners are seeing the benefits of rethinking what appliances are included in their kitchen layouts and looking beyond the range or dishwasher. Trash Compactor a trash compactor is a device that can be built into cabinetry or used as a stand-alone appliance wherever there is an available electrical outlet. compactors have advantages over traditional garbage pails and bags in the kitchen. they can hold a week or two of garbage in compressed form, reducing the need to take See SPRUCE, page 13

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the cheshire herald, OctOber 11, 2012


Fall Home Improvement 2012 Going Green Good For The Environment And Your Pocketbook


id you know that being green saves money, especially around the house? homeowners annually lose hundreds of dollars to inefficient appliances and a drafty home. Making simple changes can benefit the planet and your bottom line. appliances in your home as well as certain behaviors can have a considerable impact on how much energy is consumed. the energy information administration reports that the average home uses approximately 1,000 kilowatt hours (kwh) each month. Kwh is measured by multiplying the number of 1,000 watts of electricity used by the number of hours the device is in use. every appliance has a different measure of electricity usage. here are some examples of common appliances in the home and how much energy they consume in one hour, courtesy of bright hub: Electric clothes dryer: 6,000 watts Washing machine: 425 watts Refrigerator: 188 watts Dishwasher: 200 watts

Central AC: 6,000 watts Window AC: 1,300 watts Flat screen TV: 150 watts LCD TV: 213 watts Vacuum: 1,100 watts Freezer: 273 watts Water heater: 473 watts Toaster oven: 1,200 watts Coffeemaker: 1,200 watts Desktop computer: 95 watts DVD player: 25 watts Cable box: 20 watts Laptop: 50 watts Selecting energy-efficient appliances and using them in a conservative manner can reduce energy usage and the cost of your monthly utility bill. try to run high-wattage appliances during the evening or early-morning hours when energy rates may be reduced. also, if the weather will be warm, running these appliances during cooler hours prevents the home from heating up even more -- possibly requiring the additional use of an air conditioner. Unplug appliances when they're not in use to avoid vampire drain. Many appliances still draw a small amount of power even when turned off. also, be


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sure to properly insulate and position appliances so they can run at the highest level of efficiency. Energy audit You can request or hire individuals to conduct an energy audit or home energy assessment. according to the U.s. department of energy, the audit will assess how much energy your home consumes and evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient. if you prefer to do an energy audit yourself, you can look at a few key areas around the home where there may be air leaks or inefficient uses of energy. First, turn off any combustible appliances, such as water heaters and furnaces. Make sure the windows are closed, then turn on exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen to suck the air out of the rooms. Feel around outlets, doors, windows, baseboards, fireplaces, and attic hatches for any apparent leaks. Use a stick of incense to easily see the flow of air in the incense smoke. if any leaks are found, address each one. this generally involves recaulking or sealing around points of entry. the dOe says the potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home may range from five percent to 30 percent per year.

Additional steps there are other steps you can take to make a home more efficient. * Install solar panels to draw power from the sun. * Plant deciduous trees or bushes on the south- and westfacing areas of the home. the leaves will shade the home during the summer months and fall off to allow sunshine in during the winter months. * Plant bushes by the front door to act as a wind buffer. * Use skylights to add light and warmth from the sun to the home. * think about using motionactivated lights in the home. *install a new programmable thermostat.

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the cheshire herald, OctOber 11, 2012


Fall Home Improvement 2012 Choosing Right Time For Your Roof Repair Is A Key Decision t

here comes a time in many homeowners' lives when they're faced with the reality that a roof replacement is necessary. a roof can last between 15 and 30 years, and a person who owns an older home may find the lease has expired on the current roof. is there a particular time of year that is better for having a roof installed? it depends on different factors, including the availability of a roofing contractor. According to the site, the average cost of things, courtesy of the home buying institute, across the country one can expect to spend $18,000 on average to replace a roof with asphalt shingles. Use of other materials, like tile or metal will cost more than this. in general, those living in big cities tend to pay more than those in rural areas. because a roof replacement is expensive, it is something that some homeowners prefer to put off until it is absolutely neces-

sary. Others are interested in finding the best rate around and hiring reliable roofers for the job. it's important to note that there really is no season where roof replacements are off-limits. Most roofers can do the job effectively unless the temperature is below freezing or if there is significant rain in the forecast. In fact, planning a roofing job for the middle of the winter actually may work to a homeowner's advantage. this is typically a slow time of year for some roofers, and they may be anxious to get work this time of year and be willing to negotiate on price. there's also a good chance that the roofer will not be bogged down with other jobs, enabling the company to start on a home right away. some roofers prefer working in the colder weather to sizzling up on a roof under the hot sun at another time of year. Naturally the spring is a prime time of year for roofing projects. after the rainy season,

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next job or one being worked on concurrently. this may lead to corners being cut or less attention to detail. a person may be limited in their choices of roof installation during the summer. extreme temperatures can make working on the roof hazardous and uncomfortable for workers.



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the weather is generally comfortable and homeowners are thinking about the projects they will commence. a busy time of year for home improvement all around, homeowners may find that they have to compete with others for a good date to have a roof installed. they also may be paying top dollar for the work and materials that are in high demand. another thing to consider during the busy season is that a project may be rushed along in order to move on to the

For those who live in a climate where the temperatures generally cause the mercury to soar, choose a cooler time of year. Many homeowners opt to have a roof replacement in the autumn. the crisp weather and the decline in home-renovation projects overall can make this a prime time to contract with a quality roofer. if the roof is very much damaged, replacing it before the harsh, winter weather sets in can be advantageous. Some homeowners find they can get a discount on a roof installation if they bundle different renovations together. a contractor may offer a special on siding and roofing together. For those who have the funds, this may be the opportunity to get two jobs done at once. A roofing project is no small undertaking, and homeowners are wise to get several referrals and investigate a variety of companies before settling on one. review sites, such as angie's list, or simply word-of-mouth appraisals from friends and family members can help make choosing a roofer an easier decision.

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the cheshire herald, OctOber 11, 2012


Fall Home Improvement 2012 A Sure-Fire Way To Cut Down On Clutter Is To Build A Shed


any people find that space around a home is a precious commodity after years spent accumulating different things. the basement, attic, and garage are commonly used to store items that won't fit anywhere else. though spring cleaning is a great way to cut down on clutter, a storage shed makes a great place to put those items you can't bear to discard. sheds come in many shapes and sizes. ready-made sheds can be erected

on your property immediately, and some retailers will do so for an additional fee. the cost of a shed can vary greatly, from simple plastic sheds that cost roughly $100 to more customized sheds that cost $1,000 or more. after looking at many storage sheds from builders or prefabricated models, you may want to build one yourself. this way you can be sure it is customized to fit your yard, and is the right color and style, and made of secure

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and durable materials. While an adventurous project, shed building is typically within the skill set of the average homeowner. also, a shed can be built in a weekend or two, depending on how much time you can devote to the project. here's how to get started. * consult with your town, city, province, or municipality to find out the zoning laws regarding sheds. You may need a building permit if the shed will feature a permanent foundation or is larger than a certain size. storage sheds greater than 120 square feet generally require a permit. there also may be rules regarding how far away the shed must be from the property line or even the height of the structure. it pays to know this information in advance so you don't run into legal trouble after

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piece. Once they are delivered, sort through everything and mark whether the material is for the floor, walls or roof. If the shed will not be rooted to the ground but kept on skids or blocks, you will likely want to have some sort of base material, like rocks or gravel underneath to deter animals from making a home under the shed. * enlist the help of a friend and get building. Once you get into a groove, you may find that the shed building comes easy to you. but the work will go more quickly if you have a friend available to help you hold materials in place while you secure them. building a shed can be a rewarding do-ityourself project that saves you money and frees up space in your home.

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uilding codes are enforcing 'energy efficiency' in many parts of the world. a legally enforced building code specifies the community's acceptable level of safety, function, and comfort -- and some jurisdictions have mandated a requirement of 35 to 40 percent improvement. Many states are also steadily improving their 'sustainable practises' with advancements in insulation,

air infiltration, and window daylighting. Of equal value, the construction industry is now producing materials and methods that are even more efficient than mandated. so if you're building or renovating, be sure to follow the

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the project has begun. * Find a style of shed that you would like to emulate. drive around to different shed retailers or big box home improvement stores and peruse the stock. choose the features you like and mark them down. take photos of the ones you really like. * research available plans. You can purchase shed plans or have an architect draw them up, but that may be costly. there are also free shed plans online, some of which provide a list of necessary supplies. * Order your supplies and organize everything. a building materials center or a home improvement store may deliver all of your materials right to your home, saving you the hassle of going back and forth to get things piece by

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guidelines in your municipal building code. a savvy homeowner today knows that eco-responsibility pays dividends, some of them pretty quickly and others cumulatively, year after year. "replacing wood, for example, has so many spin off benefits," says todd blyth at Nudura, the manufacturers of an advanced version of the insulated concrete form (icF). "by building a house with concrete instead of wood framing you could immediately benefit by lower energy bills. You'd get to live in a stronger, more comfortable home, build equity for resale value, and throughout your lifetime, make a significant contribution to the good health of the planet." the Nudura system is highly rated due to its ability to deliver both energy efficiency and occupant comfort. this system for building concrete walls is in high demand across the United states and canada. "builders receive workplace benefits too," Blyth continued. "built like lego, the pre-assembled, interlocking blocks assure adherence to building code requirements; the icFs require less shipping space and manpower than other methods; and the construction time is much faster than building with wood. busy builders and eager homeowners benefit equally from this efficiency." the forms are designed with monolithic concrete sandwiched between two continuous layers of expanded polystyrene (ePs) foam. "the foam material isolates the concrete and significantly reduces the flow of heat through the wall," See CONCRETE, page 14

the cheshire herald, OctOber 11, 2012


Fall Home Improvement 2012 Forget About Inside And Focus On The Outside Of Your Home F

eel like cheating? Forget what the inside of your home looks like for just a bit and focus on your home's exterior. "the exterior of your home makes a lasting and daily impression on your friends and family, along with your neighbors," says Mark clement, professional contractor and host of MyFixitUplife home improvement radio show. "While the weather is good, my advice is to get outside and fix up problem areas, work on the landscaping and invest in products that make your home's exterior not only look great, but work great." clement, who is in the middle of an ongoing renovation of his 100-year-old home in Pennsylvania, recommends assessing your needs and then diving in on projects. "On the exterior of the home there are three big, critical areas i recommend people evaluate every year -- the roof, the windows and the entry door. those are key areas because, along with being visual focal points of the home, they help protect a house from severe weather. and, if you have problems with older windows, doors or roofing tiles, you're looking at higher energy bills and growing problems that can affect your wallet longterm." clement offers these recommendations for keeping your home exterior in top shape: Roofing Tips: 1. check your roof yearly (from a ladder or from a neighbor's home with binoculars) to determine the condition of your roof. look for problem areas, such as missing or broken shingles, along with roofing tiles that may be "flapping" in the wind. These are all indications that a new roof may be in your future. 2. don't forget to check the sides of your roof. the southern exposure weathers significantly faster than the other sides of the roof, so make sure to carefully examine this one. also, shallower pitches weather faster than steep-

er pitches. so again, if your roof has a shallow pitch -- like a shed dormer -- make certain you can clearly see it to get a true indication of the condition of your roof. 3. if you're in the market for a new roof, investigate polymer roofing tiles as a good option. these impact-resistant slate and shake tiles are man-made in a wide variety of colors. some tiles, like those from daVinci roofscapes(r) that clement chose for his home, have a 50year limited warranty and are ideal for all types of weather conditions, including hurricanes and hail.

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4. since the installation of a new roof exceeds the capabilities of most homeowners, make sure to research and hire a professional roofer. check to make sure your roofer is insured, licensed and certified. Ask for a written job estimate and references along with warranty information for both the roof you select and his installation services. Entry Door Tips: 1. if you can see light around your main entry door from the inside, the door is hard to close or lock, or the door itself is warped, it's time to consider a new door. 2. even if you can't see light,

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er replacing your entryway with a high-performance fiberglass door (which has four times more insulation than wood doors). You can also request features such as the tru-defense door system from therma-tru doors that features enhanced weatherstripping, corner seal pad, door bottom sweep and profiled sill that all work together to provide strength and stability in your entry door. Window Tips: 1. evaluate the functionality and decorative appeal of your current windows. if you have condensation between glass panes, the windows are hard to open or close, your energy bills are soaring or if there are drafts coming in around the window units, then it's time to seriously consider replacement windows. 2. Vinyl framed windows are the category of windows with the highest growth rate in the country.

air may be moving through gaps in the weather stripping at a surprising rate. On a very cold or hot day, hold the back of your hand an inch or so away from the bottom and perimeter of your door. if you can feel air moving or a significant cold spot, that's a signal your existing door could benefit from better sealing. 3. determine what role you would like an entry door to play on your home's exterior. do you want it to be a focal point with a splash of color? is it important that you have decorative glass in the door system? Will you need vented sidelites to allow more light and air into your home? search the web for "door designer" and "My saved door" online tools to help visualize how a new door will look on your home. 4. think about the weather conditions your home's door faces along with your energy bills. if either run to the extreme, consid-

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Fall Home Improvement 2012 Make Your Next Indoor Painting Project As Painless As Possible


ew home improvement projects can be as fun, satisfying and inexpensive as painting. the excitement of choosing a new color scheme and then watching your home transform makes painting a project the whole family can enjoy. by following a few simple tricks and tips you'll be painting like a professional before you know it. bercom, the painting experts behind revolutionary paint products like handy Paint trays and liners, offers an insider's perspective on how to make your next painting project as quick and pain-free as it is enjoyable. * Plan ahead. Planning is the first step to a successful paint job. before you start painting, stop by your local hardware or paint store, like lowe's or anywhere paints are sold, and pick up all your supplies including paint, paintbrushes, rollers, trays, pails, tape and drop cloths. look for new products on the market today that are long-overdue updates to traditional painting supplies. these next-generation supplies make painting a lot easier, and the time and materials they save you make them a worthwhile investment. to save even more time, take measurements beforehand and determine exactly how much paint you need to get the job done.

if you do this, you will not run out of supplies and end up having to make a trip back to the paint store in the middle of your project. * Use the magic formula. the condition of the wall will play a role in how much paint is required to complete your paint job. smooth, even surfaces generally require less paint than rougher surfaces. Make note of the wall surfaces when taking measurements. an easy formula for determining how much paint you need to purchase is: (wall height X wall width) number of walls X 300 = gallons of paint One gallon of paint covers about 350 square feet, so dividing by 300 will leave you the perfect amount of paint for touch-ups. * Let the paint do the work for you. For the best results, do not skimp on the paint. applying a thicker coat versus one that is stretched thin will save time and help you achieve professionallooking results on the first try. the handy Paint tray is convenient because it holds up to a gallon of paint, more than any paint tray on the market, so that you can keep working without having to frequently stop and re-fill the tray. * Prevent a mess by expecting one. Painting might be a fun home improvement job, but even the veteran painter expects a little

bit of a mess. Painters can reduce the stress of a mess by protecting floors with old bed sheets or canvas, and covering woodwork, glass and metal surfaces with painter's tape. Oftentimes, inexpensive plastic drop cloths seem like an effective way to protect your floor and furniture because you can simply throw them away when you are finished. However, cloth drop cloths tend to be easier to work with because they are more durable than plastic, are rip and puncture resistant, lay flat as you walk across them, and you can easily fold cloth around wall angles and doors without having to tape them to the ground. * Paint in the right order. Painting your room from top to bottom will help prevent annoying drips and splatters. For the best results, start by painting your ceilings, then move on to walls. after your walls, paint the woodwork. Save the floor for the very last. * Keep rolling along. always begin painting an interior surface by "cutting in" -- paint a two-inch wide strip along the edges with a paintbrush. When using a paintbrush, new-age paint containers, like the handy Paint Pail, are ideal tools. look for containers that have magnetic brush holders and adjustable straps that prevent

fatigue in your hand or can be strapped to your belt. after you have cut-in, use a roller to fill in your brushedon outline. While using a roller might seem simple, a few tricks can make it even easier and less messy. slowly dip the roller into your paint tray, and then roll it back and forth until it is completely and evenly coated with paint. then, run your roller across a washboard to remove excess paint. Painters love the handy Paint tray's built-in, sturdy wash-

board because it has deep ridges that remove excess and evenly distribute paint to rollers, preventing drips and splatters as a result. and, the next-generation trays come equipped with a magnetic brush holder that prevents paintbrushes from falling into the tray, which allows you to keep a brush and roller nearby at all times. * Make clean up quick and easy. like most projects, clean up is often the worst part of painting. choose a paint tray with disposSee CLEANUP, page 15

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Fall Home Improvement 2012 Follow These Tips Before Starting That Basement Remodel P

erhaps thanks to the growing popularity of home theaters, basement remodels are becoming more and more popular among the nation's homeowners. With advancements in television and home theater technology, it's no wonder homeowners are looking to make the most of their oft-ignored basements to enhance their home entertainment experience. but remodeling a basement involves more than simply throwing out the pingpong or pool table and replacing them with leather sofas and a big screen television. before doing anything with the basement, it's best to prepare the area to ensure the home theater experience is as enjoyable as possible. * Check for moisture. Nearly every basement has issues with moisture. Perhaps victims of floods or heavy rains, basements do not typically boast ideal living conditions, requiring work before homeowners and their families and friends can spend time in them knowing they're safe. Many times, fixing moisture inside a basement involves going outside the home, particularly to inspect gutters and the external surface area around the basement. Gutters and downspouts could be channeling water in the direction of the basement. if so, direct downspouts away from the home. surface area around the base-

ment could also be directing water toward the home. if that's the case, it might be a safe bet to consult a landscaper to determine if that area can be dug up and possibly made to slant away from the house. While this might seem time-consuming, it's worth it to ensure a home theater does not become a musty place where no one wants to spend signficant time. * Decide what to do with the ceilings. For those who really want to create a theater experience in their basement, the ceilings will likely need some work. Many basements have ceiling tiles, which create an ambience more suited to a basement than a theater. homeowners should consider replacing ceiling tiles with drywall. it's good to work on the ceiling before doing anything with the floors, as paint or debris from the drywall will likely drip or fall onto the floor, creating a mess that no one wants on his or her new floor. * Examine the walls. after working on the ceilings, the walls should be next on the list. home theaters tend to have dark walls like those in movie theaters, so if the walls are white, homeowners might want to paint them with a darker color. again, this should be done before doing anything with the floor to avoid stains or debris on any new flooring. if the walls need new drywall,

it's a good idea to plan a layout of the room once it's a finished product before hanging any new drywall. this will give a sense of which walls will need holes for cables and other cords, and holes can be cut in the dry wall accordingly once that layout has been determined. * Fix the floors. Oftentimes, basements are not carpeted, typically covered with a throw rug here or there and some linoleum tiles. however, for those hoping

to get a genuine theater experience in their basement, it's best to lay down some carpeting. Much like the walls, carpets should be a darker color to create an ambience more like that of a movie theater. if putting a refrigerator or bar area in the basement, avoid laying carpet down in that area as spills might stain the new carpet. Of course, before laying down any carpeting, homeowners must clear the room of everything that's removable. this should give ho-

meowners the chance to remove any clutter from the basement and decide what to keep or clear out of the basement. * Before buying any products, determine if they will fit. Chances are large products can fit through the doorways and into the basement. since many homeowners have pool tables and refrigerators in their basements already, it's highly likely that other big ticket items like large screen televisions and leather sofas will be able to fit through the doorways. however, for homeowners who have used their basement largely for storage, it's best to do some measurement before visiting the nearby electronics store and buying that big screen television. after all, there's no guarantee that 70-inch projection screen television or those leather armchairs can fit through the basement doorway. though homeowners will eventually find something they like that will fit, the doorway measurements might dictate that decision more than homeowners know.

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Fall Home Improvement 2012 Your Small Bathroom Doesn’t Have To Skimp On Amenities r

enovating bathrooms is half-bath on a main home level the bathroom appear more roomy. commonly at the top of or even a full bath, depending on For example, lay tile diagonally home improvement to-do lists. the home. by thinking creatively, to create the impression of space. though some rooms around the homeowners can maximize their A large mirror will reflect the house may remain timeless, bath- spaces and redo bathrooms in room back and make it appear rooms, like kitchens, show their ways that bring out their best as- much larger than it really is. * select lighter hues in paint age (and era) much more easily, sets. which could be why homeowners * When space is at a premium, colors and accessories. dark are always on the lookout for new it's best to look for fixtures and paints and fixtures could make ideas. items that fit with the scale of the room feel cramped. dark colalthough many people may the bathroom. although you may ors are generally used to make dream about creating a spa-type want a large vanity and cabinet in spaces feel more cozy. in a small oasis in their homes, not every- which to hide all of your toilet- bathroom, it may make the space one is lucky enough to have a ries, this simply may not be prac- feel claustrophobic. instead, think large bathroom, much less a large tical -- taking up most of the bath- light and bright and the room will budget for a full-scale renovation. room real estate. instead, look for instantly feel more airy. * Minimize wall hangings and small bathrooms are common, elegant pedestal sinks that have a particularly in older homes, but much smaller profile. They'll also keep fixtures smaller. Filling the they needn't force homeowners to help you control the clutter in the walls with knickknacks may concompromise on style when reno- bathroom because there won't be tribute to clutter and make the space appear closed in. Use decovating. anywhere to hide it. Ad#:1066304 Pub:RJ Date:07/16/08 Day:WED Size:2X9.75 Cust:SUPERIOR STONE Last rative items sparingly. small bathrooms may be a * Use optical illusions to make Edited By:BTRACY on 7/10/08 11:38 AM. Salesperson:116 Tag Line:SERVICE GUIDE Color * if possible, store towels in a Info: 1066304 - Composite closet outside of the bathroom. McMellon Woodcraft, Inc. this way you won't have to deDBA McMellon Associates, L.L.C. vote space inside the bathroom to 510 Cornwall Avenue, Cheshire, CT 06410 TAY OME HIS 203-272-5859 UMMER ITH OURa closet. AMILY! License 0674304 * While some people like the SUPERIOR STONE can help you reconnect with your family this summer with thought of a separate bath and a beautiful new patio, outdoor kitchen area, tranquil sitting areas, pool decking shower, in smaller bathrooms this and more. may not be possible. instead, look For the price of a typical vacation, you can create your own vacation spot and for a combined shower and bath, have many years of enjoyment in your own back yard for the same price. or select a walk-in shower with a much smaller profile. * Windows are often welcome in bathrooms because of the venART MCMELLON tilation they provide, but they Master Craftsman








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could be a hindrance in smaller bathrooms because they take up prime wall space. cover a window in a shower stall to free up space. Just be sure to install a venting fan to reduce moisture in the bathroom. * Maximize wall space if you need storage. Find cabinets that will fit beneath windows or be able to fit in thin areas between sinks and toilets. Over the toilet is prime area for cabinetry. * consider a frameless shower. this is a partitioned area of the bathroom that's set aside for

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Fall Home Improvement 2012 Refurbish Your Kitchen To Make It Accessible For All In Family a

comfortable yet more accessible and barrier-free home are the desired aims of universal design. a term coined in the 1980s by architect ron Mace, universal design is defined as "the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design." For the now aging baby boomer generation, which comprises about one-third of the U.s. population, universal design is just what the doctor ordered. American Hardwoods and Universal Design Universal design makes homes practical and user-friendly, and whether remodeling or buying, as these active, older adults contemplate future health and mobility issues, they want to remain in their homes and continue to live independently. to satisfy their desire for a warm, beautiful space, incorporating american hardwoods into the homes makes them attractive and inviting places in which to live. according to the american hardwood information center, (, and Gil thurm, executive vice president of the hardwood Manufacturers association, "when it comes to universal design, american hardwoods are the all-natural choice for sturdy, attractive and healthy design materials. the wide range of species -- oak, cherry, maple, and more -- provide a spectrum of colors and grain patterns to satisfy any decorating scheme." Kitchens and Bath Modern kitchens are much more than a place for food preparation. Now family gathering places, even centers to entertain guests, kitchens need to be comfortable, convenient and safe for everyone. Key to making a home barrier-free is the use of adjustable-height work areas and

unique cabinetry. Wall-mounted cabinets, for example, leave floor spaces clear and easy to clean. add an all-natural material like american hardwoods, and you have a healthy, beautiful kitchen as well. here are some design features to raise the level of convenience and usability for everyone: * Varied-height cabinets and countertops will accommodate multi-cook families, so parent and child may prepare a meal together. * Make components accessible whether standing or seated. * sliding drawers, rollout shelves and lazy susans make items easier to reach. * At the base of floor cabinets, keep the toe/kick space deep enough to accommodate wheelchairs. * lower cabinet doors and drawers will require reinforced hardware in case they are leaned on for support. * d-shaped or lever-style handles and magnetic touch-and-release cabinet doors are perfect for hands of any size or strength. * to allow full use of the cabinet door frame consider swingaway hinges. * Under-the-counter refrigerator drawers and other flexible appliances make a kitchen more ac-

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bound. similar universal design ideas can be applied when remodeling a bathroom: * Vary the height of vanities to lessen the need to crouch. * Provide seated users adequate under-the-sink knee space. * For additional storage, consider a cabinet on wheels, stored under the sink and movable. solid hardwood cabinets, vanities and flooring add a degree of elegance to the remodel. don't worry about water damage. today's water-resistant finishes form a watertight seal protecting the wood yet allowing it to expand and contract, normally.

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Fall Home Improvement 2012 Turn Pumpkins Into A Few Spirits Sure To Delight Partygoers h

alloween is a beloved holiday among adults and children alike. While the youngsters anxiously anticipate an afternoon spent trick-or-treating, adults often look forward to the myriad halloween parties that are an integral part of the frightening festivities. halloween hosts looking to serve up some spirits of a different kind this October 31 should consider adding some pumpkin to the party. Pumpkins play an

important role each halloween, so why not include them on the menu? Pumpkin Martini 3 parts absolut 100 proof vodka 1/2 part hiram Walker pumpkin spice liqueur splash maple syrup combine all ingredients over ice and shake. strain into martini glass, and garnish with a

cinnamon stick. Want to serve up some spirits with a little extra something? the following recipe for "Pumpkin" from a.J. rathbun's "Good spirits" (harvard common Press) not only incorporates pumpkin into the party, but once you

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cor and add a level of quality unmatched by other construction materials. With a host of species to choose from, major cabinet makers are embracing these ideas with special lines and features that blend the concepts to add function, comfort and beauty. Healthy Materials Hardwood floors are commonly found in universal design plans. Providing easy maneuverability for wheelchairs and mobile storage units, simple regular maintenance such as dust mopping, sweeping and vacuuming keep wood floors looking great. american hardwoods are also non-toxic and do not trap aller-

gens such as mold spores and dust, and are often recommended by doctors for individuals with allergies or asthma. A Perfect Match For those looking to add the functionality and comfort of universal design, a simple key word search, "universal home design," on any internet search engine is a great place to begin. then enjoy the best of both worlds by incorporating the timeless beauty and warmth of american hardwoods into your plan. learn more about solid american hardwood cabinetry, flooring, furniture and hardwood sustainability at the american hardwood information center at




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Fall Home Improvement 2012 With Cool Temps On The Way, Make Sure To Winterize Lawn


very weekend of the last few months you have spent mowing, weeding, edging, and

trimming your lawn so that it will look its best. in order to ensure your lawn makes a complete recovery after winter hibernation, you may want to spend the fall taking steps to help your lawn survive the winter months ahead. Winterizing a lawn varies depending on where you live and how harsh a typical winter is. there are certain key tasks to complete before you can rest for the winter season. * remove fallen leaves and debris. leaf cleanup is among the tasks homeowners dread the most. raking leaves can be arduous, but it is well

worth the effort. Fallen leaves can smother the grass and lead to dead spots and decay next season. Wait until the majority of the leaves have fallen from the trees before you begin to rake; otherwise, you could find yourself repeating the process throughout the fall. Mulched leaves can be added in small amounts to garden beds to provide rich organic material for next year's crop of flowers. be sure to pick up any twigs and other debris as well. additional debris can become trapped under snow and hinder grass growth when spring arrives. * cut your lawn short. Unless the season is unseasonably wet and warm, your lawn shouldn't grow too much in October and November. continue to cut your lawn until there is no visible growth for about two weeks. it pays to give it a short cut before frost arrives so that long piles of dead grass will not smother any

new growth in the spring. also, long grass tends to bend down upon itself, trapping moisture that can lead to fungal diseases like snow mold. * aerate the lawn. soil can be compacted over time, especially in yards that see heavy foot traffic. You can rent an aerator from a lawn supply store so that water and fertilizer can reach the soil. * Fertilize. Now is the time to give the lawn fresh food to overwinter and also replenish the strength of the root system. all summer long the lawn has been depleting the soil of nutrition, but autumn presents a great opportunity to strengthen those roots. consider a slow-release formula designed for winterizing that will feed the lawn all winter long. * edge the garden beds. take advantage of the cooler weather and slow-growing grass to reedge around flower beds. Even though the grass above the sur-

face of the soil will stop growing, the roots will remain viable and the lawn will still be sending out rhizomes and tillers to produce new grass blades in the spring. these can easily encroach on garden beds. edge now so you will have less work to do in the spring. * trim hedges and trees. if there are any overhanging tree branches or shrubbery blocking sunlight from reaching the lawn, cut back these areas once the foliage has thinned. take advantage of your town's leaf and twig pickup services. * seed bare patches. scour the lawn for bare patches and put down some seed in these areas. the cooler weather will enable the seeds to germinate without having to compete with weed growth. Once you have prepared your lawn for the winter you can bring in any lawn tools that need repair and have them set and packed away for the spring.

Spruce Up Your Kitchen With Everything From Wine Coolers To Dishwasher Drawers continued from page 3

out the trash. Plus, they will not become as odiferous as a regular pail. compactors also take up less space than a garbage pail and can look more aesthetically pleasing in the kitchen. Many compactors have filters and deodorizing holders inside the compactor. this will eliminate the smell that often results from decomposing foods and other debris. trash compactors can be especially handy for individuals who live in an apartment or where space is at a premium in the kitchen. The compactor will flatten the

garbage when a button or lever is pressed, reducing the volume of the trash. it may also be used with plastic and aluminum recylables. Wine Cooler chances are a wine cellar will not fit in the average house. But a wine refrigerator can keep wine at the right temperature and humidity for optimal enjoyment. Wine coolers are growing in popularity as more wine afficionados understand how the flavor of wine can benefit from proper storage. a refrigerator will hold wine bottles and insulate them from outside temperature fluctuations. they will also be handy and ready for use when the time

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comes. Drawer Dishwashers Most households are already equipped with a dishwasher, but the majority are single wash area models. it is well known that for a dishwasher to operate efficiently, the entire washer should be filled before running the cycle. For many people this can take days of dishes sitting soiled in the dishwasher. drawer dishwashers split the cleaning area into two unique zones. this enables a smaller load to be washed. however, this isn't the only advantage. drawer dishwashers can be more ergonomic, reducing the need for bending

over to load the washer. Furthermore, because the two drawers work independently of one another, one drawer can be used on a light cycle for minimally soiled dishes, while the other

runs for heavily dirtied dishes -all simultaneously. their unique look also makes drawer dishwashers coveted by homeowners simply from a design perspective.

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the cheshire herald, OctOber 11, 2012

Fall Home Improvement 2012 Keep Your Child’s Safety In Mind When Choosing A Costume


ressing up and engaging in role play is an important component of childhood learning and having fun. although costumes are regularly used in day care centers, schools and at home, they become the center of attention when halloween arrives. the practice of wearing costumes dates back at least 2,000 years to ancient europeans and celts. these cultures celebrated a holiday called samhain, which represented their new year. samhain fell on November 1 and marked the first day of winter after the summer harvest. these ancient people associated the winter with coldness, darkness and death and believed the day before samhain -- October 31 -- established a distorted boundary between the living and the dead. therefore, individuals wore costumes and masks to avoid being recognized by the ghosts that came out on the night of samhain. they would also place bowls of food outside of their homes to satisfy the ghosts and keep them from entering the home. although halloween has transformed more into a commercial holiday than one associated with death and the afterworld in the

literal sense, many adults and children continue to participate in the rituals that were set forth many years ago, most notably wearing costumes. Parents may want to ensure that the costumes their children wear are safe to help make halloween a day without injury. * create a cape that doesn't choke. a long cape can be stepped on and then tug at a child's neck. instead, make a cape that has arm loops to keep it in place instead of a tie around the neck. this way there never will be a choking hazard. * check makeup labeling. there are many safe halloween cosmetics on the market, but some should not be used around the eyes or mouth because allergic reactions could occur. double-check all ingredients lists and package warnings before using makeup on children, who tend to have more sensitive skin than adults. also, it is a good idea to do a test patch of the product. Put a small dab of the makeup in the crook of the inside of the child's elbow. Wait 24 hours and see if any itching or a rash forms. this could indicate an allergy to the product. * Keep eyes open. Masks are

popular components of halloween costumes, but some designs can obstruct vision or even impair breathing. Masks always should be comfortable to wear and offer good forward and peripheral views. * choose natural materials for costumes. buying a pre-made costume at the store may save you time and money, but there may be safer options if you construct a costume yourself. Many costumes are made overseas and may contain materials that are toxic or off-gas volatile organic chemicals (VOcs), particularly plastic and vinyl products. breathing in the fumes can be dangerous to young children. by making the costume yourself, you can control what fabrics and other materials are used. * Go organic. there are a number of companies that are now making halloween costumes from organic fabrics and recycled materials. a simple online search can give you a host of prospects for purchasing these costumes. * Make it visible. trick-ortreating at night can be, well, tricky. darkness can make it hard for drivers and other pedestrians to see costume-clad children. if going door-to-door will be hap-

pening at night, consider giving children glow sticks or flashlights to carry. There also are reflective tapes that can be attached to costumes that make them light up when lights shine on the tape. * avoid choking hazards. Many costumes come with small detailing or accessories that may be hazardous to young children. Youngsters who do not yet know what items should and should not

be put in their mouths should not wear costumes with removable or small detailing. also, avoid the use of fake teeth (such as vampire fangs) and fake blood or goo capsules that are meant to be bitten, so they won't be swallowed. halloween is meant to be a time of fun and adventure. ensuring costumes are safe for children can help make the day even more enjoyable for all involved.

Concrete Can Help You Save On Home Heating Costs continued from page 6

blyth explained. "it stabilizes the internal temperature from day to night fluctuations and provides a largely self-regulating environment. this faster method of construction creates a solid concrete wall." as a result, you will need less energy for mechanical heating and cooling, delivering cost

savings throughout the year. a home built with this concrete system stands to be stronger, provides greater safety, offers greater sound resistance -- and would be far less prone to mold, cold spots and drafts. insulated concrete forms ( are an option, so be sure to discuss this method with your builder.


Call today to schedule a consultation with our designer 1776 Meriden Rd., Wolcott

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the cheshire herald, October 11, 2012


Fall Home Improvement 2012 Adding A Room Or Doing Some Landscaping Can Add Value

continued from page 4

property taxes are the assessed value of your home and the property tax rate for where you live. In many cases, making improvements to the inside and outside of your home can result in higher taxes on your property. Many homeowners do not think about the tax man when they are about to renovate their home. But it is important to consider that home repairs -- even planting

a garden -- could lead to higher property taxes. Although the vast majority of repairs that most often affect taxes include major renovations, there are lesser known repairs that can catch even savvy homeowners by surprise. Here is a look at some of the renovations that could raise your property taxes. * Adding a room: Converting the garage into a bedroom or

adding on a new bathroom will increase your home's value and the property tax you'll pay on the home. Although tax assessors don't usually make surprise trips to your home to check for renovations indoors, they may peruse permits filed at the clerk's office and then investigate. Permits are the primary way assessors learn about improvements, so much so that some homeowners look to circumvent

permits when making renovations. But that can cause a number of problems down the line if and when you decide to sell. * Pools and outdoor structures: Changes to a home's exterior are some of the easiest to see and document. Permanent changes outdoors, such as the installation of a shed with a concrete floor, a deck, or a pool can definitely increase property taxes. * Landscaping: Hiring a pro-

fessional to do your lawn and plants can result in higher taxes. It's called "alteration of land improvement." Repaving a driveway or adding a new cement walkway may also increase your home's value and, subsequently, your property tax bill. * Fireplaces: The installation of a fireplace can also increase a home's value, leading to a higher tax bill as well.

Concentrate On Windows And Front Door To Improve The Look Of Your House continued from page 7

Why? These frames are extremely energy-efficient and some of the best have fusion-welded corners and multi-chambered construction. Plus, maintenance hassles are so low you'll forget the horrors of rotting frames, scraping, and repainting that come with wood windows. 3. Investigate your window options and stick with a national

manufacturer that can stand behind a long-term warranty. For his renovation project, Clement selected Simonton vinyl windows. The award-winning company impressed him with its 65-year history and return-on-investment with their ENERGY STAR qualified windows. 4. Remember that a thermallyefficient window is sealed tightest when it's locked. So, to keep your

energy bills lowers, don't just close your windows, make sure to lock them. Trim Tips: 1. If you have the opportunity to replace your entry door or windows, make sure to finish off the job with stylish window and door trim. Lightweight and easy to install, weather-resistant synthetic mouldings, shutters and entryway surrounds from Fypon(R) are a

definite do-it-yourself project for any homeowner. 2. Take an eagle's eye look at your home. Most houses have louvers placed high above the attic or garage space to allow ventilation in those areas. And, most houses have wooden louvers that can rot with time. Replacing louvers with insect-resistant and rotresistant synthetic louvers can improve the home's appearance

and functionality. 3. Wrap it up. Clement recommends that if you have unsightly porch posts you can easily transform them into showpiece parts of your home by using Column Wrap Kits. The decorative synthetic pieces can be installed in less than 15 minutes around existing structural posts and columns to give an upgraded look to any home.

The Crawl Space Might Be The Key To Making Sure Your Mold Problem Doesn’t Worsen

continued from page 9

better indoor air quality. Properly insulated crawl spaces control moisture and air seal, and

save on energy bills while improving occupant comfort. The United States Department of Energy suggests homeown-

Cleanup Should Be Easy After You Finish With Your Next Paint Job

continued from page 8

able liners, so when you are finished painting, clean up is as easy as throwing away the liner -- then you are instantly ready for your next paint project! Handy Paint Liners are made of recycled plas-

ers properly insulate the crawl space within their homes to protect from two main problems. Firstly, by maintaining an acceptable temperature within the crawl space during winter, homeowners can avoid cold, uncomfortable floors above. Secondly, removing

excess humidity in crawl spaces during the warmer summer months can decrease the chances of mold growth or buckling hardwood floors above. Spray foam insulation, like that available from innovators like Icynene, can help reduce the

likelihood of moisture gathering within crawl spaces. Left uninsulated, homeowners run the risk of compromising their home's durability and comfort not to mention possible unexpected repair costs. Moisture control information can be found at

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tic that is thick and durable, and can be used with all paints and stains. Plus, they snap into place so you don't have to worry about them shifting around and causing a spill.

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the cheshire herald, October 11, 2012

2012 Fall Home Improvement