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CITIZEN’S NEWS

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Many seniors are moving in with their adult children to help care for grandkids and provide some relief from a sagging economy.

Things to consider when building an in-law suite Perhaps thanks to a struggling economy and an unpredictable stock market that has resulted in many retirement nest eggs being decimated, more and more adult children are welcoming their aging parents into their homes. Such living situations have led to a growth in in-law suites. In fact, in 2010 the National Association of Home Builders found that 62 percent of builders surveyed were working on home modifications related to aging. In-law suites are often created by converting a room in the house, such as the basement or even a garage, into a livable suite. Such suites can benefit elderly relatives who might have been dealt an unforeseen financial blow. But in-law suites can also benefit younger homeowners who want to see their parents more. In addition, when older men and women move in with their adult children, they can provide some necessary relief from the escalating cost of daycare. But before building an in-law suite in their home, homeowners might want to heed the following tips. • Be certain it is legal. Making changes to your home may require a permit, particularly if your in-law suite will be an entirely new addition to your property and not just a strict room remodel. Contact your local zoning board to ensure the project is within your rights as a homeowner. • Consider the health of your inlaws when making plans. Many in-law suites are occupied by aging relatives who might not be able to get up and down stairs as easily as they used to. That makes accessibility of the suite a top priority. Typically, it’s best to locate in-law suites on the first floor, so relatives won’t find it difficult to get in and out of the suite. • Don’t overlook privacy. Just because your parents or in-laws will be moving in doesn’t mean they don’t

still value their privacy. Chances are your relatives will initially feel as though they are invading your space and your privacy, so be sure the suite affords adequate privacy to all members of the household. It might be best to build the suite so it has its own separate entrance from the rest of the home. The suite should also have its own full bathroom and, if possible, its own kitchen area so your in-laws can cook for themselves and entertain their own guests without feeling like a burden. A second kitchen is also something to discuss with a zoning board, as some locales prohibit having two complete kitchens in a single residence. • Tailor certain amenities to the elderly. If your in-laws are older, install certain amenities, such as grab bars in the shower and bathroom, during the initial construction so you won’t have to make changes down the road. Install easy-open drawers and make sure the suite has ample lighting. • Remember to install safety features. Safety features like fire, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors are a necessity. Make sure the alarms on each of these detectors are loud enough so elderly men and women who have hearing loss can hear them without issue. Make sure all walkways leading to the in-law suite have motion detecting lamps at night to reduce risk of falling. Also, if the suite will be a separate building from your house, such as a converted pool house or detached garage, install an intercom system that connects with the main house so your relatives can easily reach you in case of emergency. In-law suites are becoming more popular as a greater number of older adults are moving in with their adult children. Such suites can bring families closer together and prove beneficial for all parties involved.


Friday, September 28, 2012

CITIZEN’S NEWS

How to identify septic tank problems When septic systems are working properly, homeowners seldom give them any thought. However, if there is a problem with a septic system, things can get messy and expensive very quickly. The key to keeping septic systems running smoothly is prevention.

At the least, you may notice odors coming from the drains or toilets in your home. Or you may realize that sinks aren’t draining properly or toilets are not flushing with the right amount of power. At the worst, toilets and the septic tank itself may overflow.

Septic systems are installed in homes that do not have direct access to municipal sewer lines. Septic systems are typically found in rural homes or in towns that may not have the resources for extensive sewer piping.

Outdoors you could may notice soggy grass around the septic drain. Grass in one part of the leach field area may even be greener than in other areas. Each of these signs could indicate a septic system problem.

While a properly designed septic system can be troublefree, maintenance is still essential. Because septic systems tend to be out of sight and out of mind, homeowners can forget about them. But ignoring your septic system can cause problems in the future. How does a septic system work? Most septic systems have two main components: where the waste enters from the house and breaks down and a filtering system where the waste water exits into the ground. Waste travels from toilets and sinks to the septic tank, where natural bacteria help break down the waste. Then the remaining water flows out through a filter into the surrounding ground.

What causes problems? The main culprits in septic system problems are blockages that cause the system to overflow or back-up into the home. Septic tanks need to be pumped out at regular intervals. A professional inspection is also necessary. Flushing or putting difficult-to-degrade items into the system also can cause problems. Be sure to heed the following: • Do not flush non-biodegradable items down the toilet or sink drains. Cotton balls or plastic can clog the system. • Do not pour cooking oil or grease down the sink drain. • Limit the amount of food particles that enter the system.

Identifying problems

• Set up a regular maintenance schedule to keep the system working.

Septic system problems occur when waste doesn’t properly break down, leading to system backups.

• Advise guests as to what is and is not allowed to go down the drain. Those without septic systems may be unaware.

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