Outsourcing Tax Preparation

What Are Tax Preparers?

A tax preparer is someone who will prepare, calculate and file your taxes. In some cases, the preparer can represent you if you’re facing an audit or if other problems arise. Some have a strong accounting background, while others may be very familiar with the law.

In short, a person who prepares taxes can have different roles and be known by different titles, such as:

Certified Public Accountant (CPA)

These professionals have passed an exam in their state, which qualifies them in accounting, and they must meet certain ethical standards of practice. A CPA not only prepares and files your tax return, but he or she may also help you with maximizing tax refunds and deductions for future returns. They might also help with other accounting needs you might have, and help you plan your financial future.

Tax Attorney or Lawyer

After completing their education and passing a state exam, attorneys may choose to specialize in different areas, including tax preparation and filing. A tax attorney may be especially helpful when there are complicated cases or you suspect you may need to legally defend yourself against the IRS or state tax department.

Enrolled Agent

These agents are licensed by the IRS directly, and have passed a comprehensive exam that qualifies them in tax planning and preparation. These agents also must complete continuing education every three years to hold onto their license.

The professionals listed above may represent you when talking to the IRS, and this could be helpful or — in complicated cases — necessary.

Other professionals, such as bookkeepers, consultants or advisors, may also be very knowledgeable or experienced in preparing and filing your return. However, they might have a few limits on being able to represent you.

Keep in mind that anyone who has applied and been granted a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) may file on your behalf. However, they cannot represent you when talking to the IRS.

Methods of Determining Tax Preparation Fees

The first factor in figuring out the cost of how much having your tax return prepared is investigating the various methods tax professionals use to determine the fees they charge.

Different tax accountants use different pricing methods for tax preparation. When you want to compare their rates, you could start by asking how they produce their fees. Alternatively, you can ask for an estimate of their tax services.

While some offer a free consultation, other accountants will only engage you when you’ve presented your tax situation to them. Since your summary may not be exact, the estimate may not reflect what you’ll end up paying.

Here are some of the methods tax professionals use in determining tax preparation fees:

1. Setting a Fee for Each Tax Schedule

With this method, there’s typically no room to negotiate the tax preparation fee. The fee is usually a flat rate that applies to each schedule or form. For a breakdown on the average cost of filing common forms, check out the following from the National Society of Accountants:

  • Form 1040 with Schedule A and state return: $273
  • Form 1040, non-itemized, with state return: $176
  • Schedule C (business activity): $184
  • Schedule D (gains and losses): $124
  • Schedule E (rental activity): $135
  • Schedule F (farm): $180

With the knowledge of these figures, you can properly estimate the cost of having your tax return prepared by a firm who bases their fees off of which forms you need filled out.

2. Fees Based on What They Charged the Previous Year

If you use the same service each year, you’re likely to get a matching rate. The cost of having your previous return prepared provides a good model for how much preparing your new return should cost. Your tax advisor will give you a similar price, as long as your taxes aren’t more complicated than in previous years.

3. Setting a Minimum Tax Preparation Fee

For returns that are fairly standard and aren’t too complicated, a tax professional may simply charge a minimum flat fee. They may then charge you an additional fee based on any hours worked over the usual hours other tax returns similar to yours require.

While the initial minimum fee may be low compared to some of the other methods in this list, be prepared for your final bill to potentially be a bit higher than the initial fee.

4. An Hourly Rate for Time Spent in Tax Preparation

If you approach a tax professional who charges by the hour, first find out how much time it’ll take to complete. Also, find out how much they charge by the hour. This will help determine whether you can afford their services or not. Some professionals have steep hourly tax preparation fees, sometimes charging hundreds per hour.

While such a high rate can easily make you think twice about working with such a firm, a high rate isn’t necessarily a bad thing when it comes to tax preparation.

A tax professional who charges a high hourly rate is likely to be an expert, and may only take a short amount of time to prepare your taxes. If the work takes a short amount of time to complete, you won’t be stuck with an immense bill.

Paid Software or Online-Subscription Services

While free tax programs might work for many people, you may prefer to purchase a tax-preparation-software product or use an online-subscription service. There are several reasons that a commercial product might be better for you:

Your taxes are too complex for many free options

You don’t want your private data collected

The up-selling pop-ups and ads in free products can be annoying

You don’t like the interface or bare-bones features of the free tax-prep versions

You are filing multiple returns for other taxpayers

Even if you start with a free option, it is smart to see what the providers charge for their paid products. You would want to know that in case your return needs a form not supported by the free version and you either must upgrade that product or start over.

In addition, you’ll want to consider the total cost of filing. For instance, OLT charges $7.95 for the federal return and between $7.95 and $9.95 for the state return. That total is less than other providers that charge nothing for the federal return and $19.95 or more for the state filing.

Tips for Cutting the Cost of Having Your Taxes Done

Many taxpayers stress about the size of their tax bills this time of year, but many more may be stressing about the size of the bill to calculate their tax bills. It now costs $188, on average, to have a tax preparer do a Form 1040, according to the National Society of Accountants. Itemize and add a state return, and the average rises to $294.

For many people, the struggle to find affordable, high-quality tax preparers is real, but experts say five things can help rein in the cost.

See if you can get free help

The IRS programs — Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) — provide free tax prep services generally to people who make $56,000 or less, have disabilities, are older than 60 or speak limited English. This can be a huge money-saver if you qualify.

Read the contract

“Typically, tax preparers that want a long-term relationship with you will have some type of an engagement letter. That will help you understand how the preparer’s fees work, and it may give you a heads-up on whether there will be charges for things such as extra copies of your return.

Preparers can’t base their fees on a percentage of your tax refund amount, and they can’t charge you a separate fee for having the IRS direct-deposit your refund.

Ask for a break if you need it

Negotiating tax-prep fees isn’t very common, but sometimes it’s OK to ask for a discount.

“If you’re having a bad year and you’ve been with somebody for a long time and something’s happened, somebody’s lost a job, you’ve lost a spouse, you’ve had something that’s out of the ordinary, I think there’s nothing wrong with calling your preparer and saying, ‘Look, this is the bind I’m in this year. Is there anything you can do for me?

The Qualifications of the Tax Professional

On average, a tax advisor who’s starting off will charge less than a high-quality, professional one. When it comes to your taxes, the stakes are extremely high. Any mistakes will likely lead to trouble from the IRS and require corrections, or could even incur penalties.

If you’re already the subject of an audit, then consider hiring experienced tax defense attorneys to help defend yourself from tax penalties and even criminal charges.

Chances are that you’d rather spend more on quality and have the task done correctly than save a few bucks on fees and then wind up spending your time and money later on fixing mistakes and paying penalties. Plus, you wouldn’t want to miss out on any deductions or credits that an inexperienced tax preparer may overlook.

Although paying less for quality services is ideal, paying a higher fee may be worthwhile in the end for your own peace of mind.

Exactly What Kind Of Eye Care Professionals

Most Common Eye Problems

More than 4.2 million Americans aged 40 years and older are either legally blind (having best-corrected visual acuity of 6/60 or worse (=20/200) in the better-seeing eye) or are with low vision (having best-corrected visual acuity less than 6/12 (<20/40) in the better-seeing eye, excluding those who were categorized as being blind).

The leading causes of blindness and low vision in the United States are primarily age-related eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, cataract, diabetic retinopathy, and glaucoma. Other common eye disorders include amblyopia and strabismus.

Age-Related Macular Degeneration

Macular degeneration, often called age-related macular degeneration (AMD), is an eye disorder associated with aging and results in damaging sharp and central vision. Central vision is needed for seeing objects clearly and for common daily tasks such as reading and driving. AMD affects the macula, the central part the retina that allows the eye to see fine details. There are two forms of AMD—wet and dry.

Wet AMD is when abnormal blood vessel behind the retina start to grow under the macula, ultimately leading to blood and fluid leakage. Bleeding, leaking, and scarring from these blood vessels cause damage and lead to rapid central vision loss. An early symptom of wet AMD is that straight lines appear wavy.

Dry AMD is when the macula thins overtime as part of aging process, gradually blurring central vision. The dry form is more common and accounts for 70–90% of cases of AMD and it progresses more slowly than the wet form. Over time, as less of the macula functions, central vision is gradually lost in the affected eye. Dry AMD generally affects both eyes. One of the most common early signs of dry AMD is drusen.

Drusen are tiny yellow or white deposits under the retina. They often are found in people aged 60 years and older. The presence of small drusen is normal and does not cause vision loss. However, the presence of large and more numerous drusen raises the risk of developing advanced dry AMD or wet AMD.

It is estimated that 1.8 million Americans aged 40 years and older are affected by AMD and an additional 7.3 million with large drusen are at substantial risk of developing AMD. The number of people with AMD is estimated to reach 2.95 million in 2020. AMD is the leading cause of permanent impairment of reading and fine or close-up vision among people aged 65 years and older.

Cataracts

Characterized by a cloudy, milky white lens in the eye, most cataracts are age-related and more common in people over 50 (but can develop at any age). Cataracts can be the result of injury, UV exposure, or protein deterioration over time; this is what causes the eye’s lens to cloud. If left untreated, cataracts can ultimately cause severe vision loss.

Treatment: Fortunately, cataracts are a common eye problem that can be treated through surgery. Whether surgery is needed depends on the degree of vision loss and whether it affects your quality of life and ability to function.

Keratoconus

Normally, the cornea (the clear outer lens of the eye) has a dome shape, like a ball. Sometimes, however, the collagen which holds the cornea in place becomes weak, causing the cornea to become cone shaped. This condition is called keratoconus. This can cause serious loss of vision if not treated early and quickly. Left untreated, many people will need a cornea transplant.

Treatment: Treatment usually starts with eyeglasses. Contact lenses, usually rigid gas permeable ones, may be recommended to strengthen the cornea and improve vision. In addition, cornea collagen crosslinking is often effective to help prevent progression, as well as intacs (implants placed under the surface of the cornea to reduce the cone shape and improve vision). A last resort is a cornea transplant.

Diabetic Retinopathy

Diabetic retinopathy occurs as a result of prolonged high blood sugar associated with types 1 and 2 diabetes and can cause blindness if left untreated. Too much blood sugar can alter the blood vessels in the back of the eye, preventing the retina from receiving the proper amount of nutrients it needs to maintain vision. Anyone with diabetes type 1 or type 2 is at risk of developing diabetic retinopathy. However, the type of diabetes a person has, how often their blood glucose fluctuates, how well they control their sugars, and how long they have had diabetes all affects his/her risk.

Treatment: In most cases, laser surgery can prevent significant vision loss associated with diabetic retinopathy. A procedure called laser photocoagulation can seal or destroy growing or leaking blood vessels in the retina.

Glaucoma

Glaucoma is a group of diseases that can damage the eye’s optic nerve and result in vision loss and blindness. Glaucoma occurs when the normal fluid pressure inside the eyes slowly rises. However, recent findings now show that glaucoma can occur with normal eye pressure. With early treatment, you can often protect your eyes against serious vision loss.

There are two major categories “open angle” and “closed angle” glaucoma. Open angle, is a chronic condition that progress slowly over long period of time without the person noticing vision loss until the disease is very advanced, that is why it is called “sneak thief of sight.” Angle closure can appear suddenly and is painful. Visual loss can progress quickly; however, the pain and discomfort lead patients to seek medical attention before permanent damage occurs.

Strabismus

Strabismus involves an imbalance in the positioning of the two eyes. Strabismus can cause the eyes to cross in (esotropia) or turn out (exotropia). Strabismus is caused by a lack of coordination between the eyes. As a result, the eyes look in different directions and do not focus simultaneously on a single point. In most cases of strabismus in children, the cause is unknown. In more than half of these cases, the problem is present at or shortly after birth (congenital strabismus). When the two eyes fail to focus on the same image, there is reduced or absent depth perception and the brain may learn to ignore the input from one eye, causing permanent vision loss in that eye (one type of amblyopia).

What You Need to Know About Blindness

If you’re partially blind, you have limited vision. For example, you may have blurry vision or the inability to distinguish the shapes of objects. Complete blindness means you can’t see at all.

Legal blindness refers to vision that’s highly compromised. What a person with regular vision can see from 200 feet away, a legally blind person can see from only 20 feet away.

Seek medical attention right away if you suddenly lose the ability to see. Have someone bring you to the emergency room for treatment. Don’t wait for your vision to return.

Depending on the cause of your blindness, immediate treatment may increase your chances for restoring your vision. Treatment may involve surgery or medication.

What are the symptoms of blindness?

If you’re completely blind, you see nothing. If you’re partially blind, you might experience the following symptoms:

  • Cloudy vision
  • An inability to see shapes
  • Seeing only shadows
  • Poor night vision
  • Tunnel vision

What causes blindness?

The following eye diseases and conditions can cause blindness:

  • Glaucoma refers to different eye conditions that can damage your optic nerve, which carries visual information from your eyes to your brain.
  • Macular degeneration destroys the part of your eye that enables you to see details. It usually affects older adults.
  • Cataracts cause cloudy vision. They’re more common in older people.
  • A lazy eye can make it difficult to see details. It may lead to vision loss.
  • Optic neuritis is inflammation that can cause temporary or permanent vision loss.
  • Retinitis pigmentosa refers to damage of the retina. It leads to blindness only in rare cases.
  • Tumors that affect the retina or optic nerve can also cause blindness.

How is blindness treated?

In some cases of vision impairment, one or more of the following may help restore vision:

  • eyeglasses
  • contact lenses
  • surgery
  • medication

If you experience partial blindness that can’t be corrected, your doctor will provide guidance on how to function with limited vision. For example, you can use a magnifying glass to read, increase the text size on your computer, and use audio clocks and audiobooks.

Complete blindness requires approaching life in a new way and learning new skills. For example, you may need to learn how to:

  • read Braille
  • use a guide dog
  • organize your home so you can easily find things and stay safe
  • fold money in distinct ways to distinguish bill amounts

You can also consider getting some adaptive products, like a specialized smartphone, color identifier, and accessible cookware. There’s even adaptive sporting equipment, like sensory soccer balls.

How To Provide The Proper Care To Control Snake

How to Get Rid of Snakes Naturally

Most North American snakes are non-poisonous and good for our gardens, feasting on many of the pests that dig up our yards and damage our plants. However, that’s little consolation if you’re afraid of snakes or just plain don’t want them around your family and pets. If you’ve seen snakes around your home, and you’d like to get rid of them, try these natural methods.

Tall grass, brush piles, and stacks of junk are the perfect habitat for mice, rats, and insects, which makes them the perfect habitat for snakes, too. Eliminate these spots from your yard, and the snakes are likely to go elsewhere

Snakes eat moles, voles, mice, rats, crickets, slugs and a whole range of insects. If you have a known problem with any of these pests, work to correct it, so your yard is no longer an easy source of food.

Snakes will snatch eggs out of a chicken coop and bunnies out of a hutch, so if you have small backyard animals, know that snakes view them as another easy source of food. Take pains to secure your animal enclosures against predators, so snakes have one less reason to hang around your yard.

Some things to consider:

Wrap the entire cage in hardware cloth (including the floor).

Cover any vents in the wall or roof with hardware cloth.

Keep the door closed at all times, so they don’t have an easy point of entry.

Repair/replace damaged boards, roofing material, and hardware cloth swiftly, so there aren’t any vulnerabilities.

Snakes

What are snakes?

There are more than 3,000 species of snakes worldwide, and these reptiles are one of the most feared on the planet. However, in nature, snakes are incredibly beneficial by feeding on a variety of smaller animals, including rodents, and helping to control their populations.

The dry, hot desert climate and throughout allows these cold-blooded animals to thrive. Being cold-blooded means that their body temperature mimics the temperature outside. When the weather is warm, snakes are active, and when the weather is cold, they hibernate because they are unable to digest food

Are snakes dangerous?

Other species like the corn snake and night snake are less of a threat. Even though they will bite when defending themselves, their venom is not strong enough to cause health problems in people. Due to the large number of dangerous venomous snakes in our area, if you are bitten by a snake and you are unsure of its species, it’s a good idea to seek medical attention.

Another problem with having snakes on your property is the emotional toll it can take. Many people have a phobia of these slithering reptiles, and for good reason! Snakes hide out of sight, and people often come into contact with them accidentally. It can be very stressful knowing that snakes are on your property and not know when or where you may come across one.

Why do I have a snake problem?

Snakes are a significant problem for property owners in our area because they thrive in the hot weather. If your yard provides snakes with a lot of places to hide and abundant sources of food, it will be more attractive to these reptiles.

Snake bites

What to do while you’re waiting for help

Do

stay calm, most snake bites in the UK are not serious and can be treated

keep the part of your body that was bitten as still as you can

lie in the recovery position if you can

take paracetamol for any pain

try to remember the colour and pattern of the snake to tell the doctor

take off any jewellery and loosen clothes near the bite, in case it swells

Don’t

do not go near the snake, or try to catch or kill it

do not try to suck or cut the poison (venom) out of the bite

do not tie anything tightly round the part of the body where the bite is

do not take aspirin or ibuprofen, as they can make bleeding worse

What happens at the hospital

You will usually need to stay in hospital for at least 24 hours if you have been bitten by a snake. The bite will be cleaned and bandaged. You may be given an injection to help protect you from tetanus.

If you were bitten by a poisonous (venomous) snake you will be treated with a medicine to fight the venom. This is given through a thin tube into a vein, called a drip.

The adder is the only venomous snake, but you should get all snake bites checked as soon as possible. Telling the doctors the colour and pattern of the snake that bit you could help them treat it.

Snakes Information

Some snakes can benefit the yard and garden. Snakes are one of nature’s most efficient mousetraps, killing and eating a variety of rodent pests. While snakes will not eliminate pests, they do help keep their numbers in check. Some harmless snakes (such as king snakes and coachwhips) eat other snakes, including poisonous ones.

Although you wouldn’t want a poisonous snake around your home, snake venom can be beneficial in developing a variety of human medicines. Researchers are conducting studies using snake venom to develop treatments for blood and heart problems. Snake venom also is being investigated for controlling some types of harmful bacteria.

Snake Biology

Snakes are ectotherms, meaning they control their body temperature by absorbing or giving off heat. Because their body temperature is affected by environmental temperatures and varies with surrounding conditions, snakes become inactive during very hot and very cold times of day and seasons. During periods of inactivity, snakes can go for several weeks without eating

Because they are cold-blooded, snakes must rely on their behavior to regulate body temperature. During the hot part of the day, snakes move to shaded areas. On cool days, they sun themselves in warm, open areas. Snakes often seek out paved roads, where they are attracted by heat from the road surface.

Because snakes have a backbone, they are classified as vertebrates. Among other vertebrates like fish, mammals, birds and people, the snake’s skeletal system is unique. Snake bones are very light and the skeleton is highly flexible. The lower jaw and skull are connected by a piece of stretchy material (ligament) that allows the snake to open its mouth very wide and move each jaw independently. Thus, snakes can swallow prey much larger than their head by “walking” their mouth around the food from side to side in a forward movement.

Snake Repellent: How to Get Rid of Snakes

Home owners are often faced with hard-to-manage pests, and perhaps the most difficult to deal with are snakes. Proper snake control isn’t the easiest of tasks: you need a basic knowledge of snake repellent application as well how to effectively employ snake traps and snake fencing. What’s more, there are also natural snake control options (in the form of all natural snake repellents and snake deterring animals) for you to consider.

In this guide, we’ll delve into how you can keep snakes away with the help of snake repellent, snake traps, snake poison, natural snake repellent, snake fences, and much more.

How to Get Rid of Snakes

Snakes are an integral (and often unavoidable) part of rural or recently rural environments. They cause very few problems and, aside from their venomous representatives, do not generally represent a threat to humans or their pets.

In fact, snakes are effective in managing populations of several other common pests, especially mice and certain types of insects. Even so, many home-owners consider it unsettling to know that their property is home to one or more snake species.

Evaluate Your Situation & Eliminate Hiding Places

If you’ve come across a snake in your house, chances are that you’ll find more on your property. It’s therefore important to actively search for areas that are attractive to snakes. This initial assessment will allow you to eliminate or minimize any snake habitat around your home (places where snakes can find food and shelter).

Truck Tires Defects

How Buying Commercial Truck Tires Can Save You Money

Commercial truck tires in order to be chosen carefully because they are acustomed on trucks that are utilized in businesses or commercial purposes. The actual truckers exert extra effort in the quest to find the right ones for their trucks.

Buying quality tires preserves money general health last longer and are more durable than inexpensive added wheels. This means you do not have to keep buying new tires every time inferior tires break in. Buying more often is more than buying expensive ones now but not buying again for years after who seem to.

Inferior tires may be cheaper but once it breaks down, it will cost you through buying expensive tires primarily. Commercial trucks often carry important loads and but if your truck breaks down, you might not be capable of making that important delivery, thus, making you lose money and clients as good. This would be bad for business and will often make you lose well over the price expensive auto. Quality tires can enhance the performance of the truck and will often make deliveries on time or even earlier.

Expensive truck tires produces your travel smoother because it has better treads. Quality tires have better rolling resistance which is why you reduce the use of acceleration when traveling time, anyone save cash on fuel also. Remember that fuel pricing is very unpredictable and often on fuel is every driver’s dream come genuine.

Tips for Buying The Right Commercial Truck Tires

Tips for Buying The Right Commercial Truck TiresIn trucking operations, one of the most critical purchases is often taken for granted – the type of commercial truck tires to install. Truck tires are not all the same and making the right choice can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars per truck, while just buying the same brand or model of tire or making the wrong choice can cost you that much – or more.

With so many options in commercial truck tires to choose from, how do you know which is right? Have your on-the-road needs, routes, driving conditions or loads changed since the last set of tires you purchased?

1- Choose based on route and driving application.

Tires are designed to operate with specific applications in mind. There are specific tread designs, rubber compounds, and tire construction for long haul routes, regional routes, urban settings, and on/off road needs. If a tire is being used in the wrong application it will not perform as you may need and can possibly prematurely wear. For example, if tires designed for long haul are used in an urban setting the tread will prematurely scrub off.

2- Check the weight rating.

This might seem obvious, but don’t overlook it. Make sure your tires have a weight rating compatible with your truck and load.

3- Get a warranty.

Whenever possible, make sure the tires you get are backed by warranties. That’s extra insurance against manufacturer defects and helps guarantee you get plenty of years of usage out of your new truck tire purchase.  Most major brands guarantee 7 years and 3 retreads.

4- Sometimes a retread is the right answer.

If your current tires are only showing some signs of wear and the casings are in good shape, you might not need new tires at all. Modern tire retreading is safe, effective, and has an extremely favorable ROI. You can get a retread for less than half what a new tire costs while restoring your current tires. !

5- Never buy used except in true emergencies.

The cost/benefit ratio on used tires just isn’t there. You don’t know how the tire was utilized by the previous owner or under what conditions they were ran.. They could even fail at critical moments, leaving you stranded. If there’s been a blowout and there’s no choice but to buy used, do what you have to do – but swap them out for new or retreaded as soon as possible.

PERFORMING QUALITY INSPECTION

After you’ve done the initial due diligence, you can proceed to examine the details of truck’s overall quality. Here are some of the finer points to inspect when it comes to buying a quality used truck.

CHECK THE OIL

As part of your quality inspection, check the existing oil situation. This includes looking at the current oil levels as well the condition of the oil. Both the engine and transmission oil status can be a further indicator of the overall health and condition of the truck.

LOOK FOR BODY RUST

Continue inspecting the vehicle’s quality by looking for rust on the exterior surfaces as well as within the structure of the vehicle. Check the doorframes and other parts for signs of structural rust. This could indicate the vehicle hasn’t been well-maintained and may not have much life left.

When examining the surface for rust, look for raised spots on the paint. If you find these patches, especially on the roof, they may indicate rust underneath.

LOOK FOR BODY DAMAGE

This may seem obvious, but don’t overlook any possible body damage. To avoid missing any deficiencies, be sure to only inspect the truck outdoors and in daylight.

CONSIDER THE TRUCK’S MILEAGE

The truck’s mileage can also be a good indicator of the overall quality of the vehicle when considered with other factors. Knowing the engine model can help indicate at which mileage point an engine rebuild may be required.

When looking at the mileage you’ll want to consider your own use for the truck. If you’re planning on driving frequently over long distances, it may make more sense to look for a truck with lower mileage.

However, a vehicle with high mileage doesn’t necessarily remove it from the running. If the truck has been consistently well cared for, it may still have a lot of life left in it.

INSPECT THE TIRE TREAD

When purchasing a used truck, it’s easy to overlook certain parts because you may become focused on mechanical issues and maintenance history. But don’t forget to look at the tires during your own inspection. As part of your thorough research, remember to examine the tread left on the tires. Find out:

  • How many miles have been put on the current tires
  • When they should be due for replacement.

Without taking this into consideration ahead of time, it could mean yet another upcoming investment you’ll need to make when buying a used truck.

Assessing the mechanical operation

Once you’ve inspected the quality of the truck, including its exterior and interior condition, you’ll want to get to know it from a mechanical and operational standpoint. You’ll need to be clear on what your primary use for the truck will be and find the right match. Use these steps to assist you in the assessment.

SELECT THE BEST AXLE LAYOUT

Consider the type of axle layouts and configurations that are available. Depending on the load you’re carrying, there are different layouts that are more appropriate for each scenario:

Are you hauling goods long distances throughout difficult terrain?

Or are you making shorter more frequent trips?

If you’re uncertain, consult an expert to make the right purchase for your needs.

DETERMINE THE RIGHT HORSEPOWER AND TOWING CAPACITY

Another important consideration for your specific needs is the amount of engine horsepower and towing capacity the truck has. If you’re towing construction equipment such as excavators, then you won’t require the same power as you would need for long-distance commercial trailer towing. Be sure to inquire specifically about the truck’s capacity and if it will meet your own towing requirements.

CONSIDER TRANSMISSION TYPES

Commercial trucks are available in both automatic and manual transmissions, which could be yet another decision to make. It may come down to a personal preference. Take into consideration the transmission type and what you’ll be most comfortable with before moving on your used truck purchase.

ASK AN EXPERT

If you don’t feel comfortable assessing the mechanics and quality of the truck on your own, it’s a good idea to bring in a certified truck mechanic. As an expert, the truck mechanic will be able to point out things you may have overlooked. A mechanic will also be able to make recommendations about the specs of the truck to meet your needs.

Want to Lift Your Truck or Jeep? Here are Some Things to Keep in Mind

Truck and Jeep drivers tend to get lift kits for a couple reasons. The first reason being the driver is a serious and extreme off-roader who will be trekking through rough terrain quite a bit, the other reason is that they like the agressive look. Lift kits can be really beneficial and good looking, however there is a lot to consider when adding one to your vehicle. If you plan on adding a lift kit to your truck or SUV, check out some must know dos and don’ts below.

Basic Dos and Don’ts of Lift Kits

  • Do get a new lift kit from a reputable company like Mopar.
  • Don’t purchase a lift kit used or without doing research on the company/brand before hand.
  • Do get the kit professionally installed.
  • Don’t try to figure out how to install it on your own, especially if you have never done it before.
  • Do make sure you do your research so you purchase the right kit, size, and so on.
  • Don’t buy the first kit you find or skip the research to know which size fits your needs (one-inch being the smallest), which kit fits your vehicle, and what type of kit is best for you.

Things to Keep in Mind

Aside from the dos and don’ts there are many things to keep in mind when searching for the ideal lift kit and having it installed. First of all, a lift kit is more than just a mechanism to make your truck higher. Usually with a lift you need new tires and wheels, sometimes a new suspension, and always you need someone to recalibrate your vehicle’s computer.

Also, a lift kit will likely affect the drive of your vehicle. The higher you go, the rougher the ride, so expect the ride to be not as smooth.

Lifting and adding new tires, no matter how low or high, will affect your fuel economy. If you are one of those people that already complain about your truck or SUV being bad on gas, you may want to reconsider getting a lift kit.

Finally, keep in mind lift kits aren’t cheap! Between the kit, the parts, the wheels and tires, and any other parts it will cost you likely over $2,000. Not to mention, you need to consider time and labor it will take a service employee to modify your vehicle.

We are not trying to discourage you from getting a lift kit. Lift kits can be extremely beneficial to someone who off-roads through rough terrain and they can look awesome. Just make sure to keep in mind the dos and don’ts, and get a good kit installed by a professional when you go to do it!

Practical Tips For Home Renovation

Renovating a House: The Ultimate Guide

Considering renovating a house? Don’t start until you have read our complete guide, covering everything from finding and buying a project to putting the final flourishes to the decorating scheme

Renovating a house can be both exciting and daunting — not to mention the potential for making a profit that it offers. From discovering original features hidden under years worth of dust or the chance to put your own stamp on something — or perhaps the best route to getting a bigger house in a better area than you would otherwise be able to afford.

The success of renovating a house relies on being prepared for what lies ahead and, to a certain degree, an expectation that there will be some surprises in store.

Renovating a house can bring about a set of issues that will need to be resolved before your dream home can emerge — and these issues tend to involve hidden costs. Being aware of these and having a step-by-step plan of action should mean the project remains on schedule and budget.

A schedule of works is essential to anyone renovating a house. It basically outlines every single job that needs to be done from start to finish of a project, in the right order. Ideally you also want to include who is doing what and how much it will cost on the list.

Home renovation guide

How to avoid common mistakes

Whether you’re intending to renovate your home to make it more comfortable or increase its value, careful planning is required. As renovations, no matter how big or small, require attention to detail, here are a few tips to get you off to a good start.

Set your renovation goals

Consider what you want to achieve with your renovations. If you’re renovating due to your family growing in size then you may be thinking about adding a bedroom or perhaps increasing living space. Renovations can increase the value of your property too. If this is the goal of your reno you’ll need to carefully research which areas to focus on as some add more value than others.

Get lots of inspiration

Make sure you have a clear idea of what you want before you start getting quotes and choosing materials. If you know you want to redo your kitchen or bathroom, but aren’t sure what style you want, you can always get great ideas from home design magazines or use Pinterest.

Make a detailed plan

Creating a detailed plan is essential to the success of your renovation project. While some costs will be dependent on which contractor you choose, there are some things you’ll need to decide on beforehand, including your budget and preferred materials and finishes. Saving or splurging on tiles, taps and bathroom inclusions can make the difference between an economical or over-the-top bathroom renovation.

Compare quotes

Get quotes from a few different contractors before making a decision to renovate anything in your home. This stage is usually a reality check and gives you a chance to stop and think through your options. Compare quotes and make sure you’re getting a good deal. Check the contractor’s reputation and ask plenty of questions to ensure that everything you require is included in the quote and there are no hidden costs you might incur.

Project Planning; Home Structure

Before beginning a home renovation project, there are basic preliminary steps which must be taken. Before even formulating a renovation design plan, you must be knowledgeable about and understand important structural features of the home.

The preceding chapter provided an overview of house structure basics. It is vital to clearly understand the structure of your home before beginning any renovation project that will alter the structure in any way. Therefore, a review of that information as well as other aspects of house structure is important.

Since many renovation plans call for moving or removing walls and making changes to the building services such as plumbing, electrical, and HVAC, it is important you know details about each. A load-bearing wall, for instance, cannot simply be removed. By mapping out the structure of your home and service systems within it, you will have a better grasp about the feasibility of a project, and how much work will be required to complete it.

REVIEW OF THE STRUCTURE OF YOUR HOME

The framing of your home is the foundation, floors, walls, and roof which all tie together to form a solid structure. These are the actual boards which make up the floor joists, wall studs, and roof trusses or rafters.

There are two types of framing used in home construction as noted in chapter 1 – platform framing and balloon framing:

Platform framing – the style of framing used in most modern construction projects. For each story of the structure, wall studs extend from a bottom plate at the floor (or foundation) to the top plate which is either attached to floor joists of the next story, or roof trusses. The floor structures for each story are platforms that extend to the perimeter of the house. Because each story has its own support structure, this style framing is much less complicated when making alterations.

Balloon framing – commonly found in older homes; consisting of wall studs that extend from the foundation to the roof structure – even multiple story structures. The first story rests on the foundation; second and third story levels are supported by 1X4 ribbons set in notches in the stud walls.

A Beginner’s Guide To Managing A Remodel

Browsing photos and ideas can be a fun part of creating your dream room. But making your designs a reality also takes smart planning and organization. Project management is an essential part of remodeling, and there’s nothing like the feeling of implementing a plan to create something new and beautiful. These tips can help you achieve your desired results.

Become a list writer. Making lists is key when it comes to project management. It’s the only way to properly organize your thoughts and prevent any details from being forgotten.

The most important list is your scope of work, or specifications, document. This is basically a detailed list of everything to be done, from start to finish. If you’re dealing with one main builder who’s organizing all the work, then you’ll need to make sure he or she gets a copy, so the goals are clear and all the information is provided.

Make sure you’re all on the same page. If you’re coordinating separate subcontractors (cabinetmaker, plumber, electrician), then it would be worth indicating who’s responsible for each task. Give a complete copy of the specifications to all of them, so they’re all aware of what everyone is doing. Discuss the specifications with your subcontractors since they may be able to provide help and advice. A schedule is also useful, so you can keep track of progress and everyone knows who’s going to be on-site on which day.

With prior knowledge that a partition wall will feature some lighting, for instance, the builders will know to leave the stud frame open for the electrician to run the wires through before it’s boarded up and plastered over. Trying to feed wires through after the fact is much harder, takes longer and risks unnecessary damage.

DIY Home Renovation Guide

If you have decided to tackle a DIY home renovation, half the challenge is just getting started. With solid planning and preparation your home renovation can become a financial and personal triumph.

Get inspired – this is your home, after all! Start window shopping in furniture, homeware and design stores, and think about finishes and looks that really grab your attention. Peruse your local bookstore, pore over interior design glossies or pick up copies of local and international interior magazines

Revamping your castle can significantly improve your lifestyle and save money in the long run. It may mean you can stay put and avoid the costly upheaval of moving house. It can also build your home’s equity, particularly when it comes to kitchen and bathroom renovations.

DIY Home Renovation Guide will take you through the process of planning, budgeting and checking local building legislation and requirements

We also have some hands-on DIY renovation tips and advice to keep you safe during your home’s transformation:

Create your home renovation budget

DIY renovation project management

Hands-on home renovation tips

Renovation safety plan and survival guide

DIY home renovation checklist

Know The Work Of The Trenchless Pipe Replace

Things to know about sewer line bellies

When it comes to the various components in a home plumbing system, few play as central a role as your main sewer line. The sewer line acts as a conduct from your home to your city’s sewer main, usually located beneath the road in front of a house. Waste water flows out of your home through the sewer pipe en route to the municipal waste treatment plant.

If anything should go wrong with your sewer line, your entire home’s plumbing system may be affected. One of the most frequent issues affecting sewer lines comes in the form of sewer line bellies. If you would like to improve your knowledge of this common problem, keep reading. This article outlines four things to know about sewer line bellies.

Sewer line bellies impede the flow of waste

A residential plumbing system contains no pumps or other mechanical parts responsible for pushing waste to the city sewer main. Instead, gravity alone ensures the proper flow of waste out of your home. In order to facilitate flow, the sewer pipe leads out of your home at a sloping angle. Ideally, the sewer line should have an angle of ¼ inchfor every foot of pipe.

A sewer line belly involves part of the sewer line sagging downward, taking on a curved shape which impedes the natural flow of waste. Not only does the waste water no longer have the benefit of flowing downhill all the way to the sewer main, but it also has to move upward along the second half of the curve.

In some cases, the pressure of the water flowing out of your home may provide sufficient force to push past a sewer line belly. Yet over time, debris tends to build up along the base of the belly. This build-up makes it harder for waste to move through the sewer line. Eventually you may begin experiencing sewage backups inside of your home.

Sewer line bellies usually have natural causes

Most home sewer lines start off with a correct angle. Yet as the years go by, those pipes often develop bellies as the result of shifting soil. As dirt compacts beneath the sewer line, it will sag downward into any void spaces that form. A variety of natural causes can lead to sewer bellies, including tree root growth, excessive soil hydration, earthquakes, and even normal seasonal temperature fluctuations.

Proper installation techniques prevent sewer bellies

While the factors that lead to sewer bellies tend occur naturally, well-installed sewer lines can often resist such forces. To begin with, contractors should thoroughly compact the soil before installing the sewer line. Compaction minimizes the likelihood of soil-density changes leaving the pipe under-supported.

An equally important tactic involves installing a bedding material in the trench before placing the pipe. Sand makes the best choice for a bedding material, although gravel can also be effective. Unlike soil, sand will not compact over time. As a result, the base of the sewer pipe should maintain a decent level of support.

Many sewer belly diagnoses are incorrect

Contractors often use video inspection technology to diagnose sewer bellies. Unfortunately, less experienced plumbers often misinterpret what they see. Noticing a dip in the water level at a certain place in the pipe, they assume they have found a sewer belly. Instead, your pipe may suffer from the problem known as channeling.

Channeling happens when the bottom of a sewer line erodes, leading to low spots. In extreme cases, the bottom of the pipe may even disappear entirely. The issue here has nothing to do with slope, and everything to do with corrosion and wear. Repairing channeling, therefore, requires a much different repair procedure than repairing a sewer belly.

Sewer Line Belly vs. Channeling – Why the confusion?

The issue lies with the company performing the video inspection. At first glance, both conditions may have the same symptom – the camera going underwater during a sewer video inspection. However, only after thorough investigation with a jetter can the problem be properly diagnosed.

In conclusion, a belly in a sewer line and channeling are easily confused. We have found that when our customers mention they have a belly in their sewer line, 99% of the time the line is channeled instead. Since a sewer line belly is accompanied by an issue with the pipe’s slope, conventional replacement is the only repair option.  However, channeling differs in that the pipe’s slope (in most cases) remains functional. This means that channeling may be repaired by trenchless pipelining, saving you time, money, headaches and the mess associated with conventional replacement.

How Can a Sag in a Gravity Sewer Line Be Fixed?

Many homeowners do not realize the intricate piping that moves sewage waste from their structure to a municipal sewage pipeline. Most sewer lines use gravity as a method of moving waste water and solids down a pipe. However, sewer lines can develop problems, such as sagging. Sagging is repairable, although it can be costly based on the repair method chosen.

Sewer Line Design

Sewer lines use positive slopes to take advantage of gravity’s force pulling waste water and solids away from a building. Typically, a sewer pipe is installed at an angle that ensures a 1/4-inch fall for each foot of piping length. In fact, the slope can be as small as 1/8 inch, if the installation is limited in space, although this is not a preferable spacing.

Sewer Line Sag Identification

A sewer line sag is also known as a belly. This sag generates a negative slope along the pipe’s length, creating a pooling area for water and waste. Typically, sags are caused by improper soil compaction, as well as soil shifting. The pipe becomes unstable, slowly sagging with the soil’s movement.

Dig and Replace

The old-fashioned method of repairing a sag is digging and replacing. A contractor digs down into the soil until he reaches the sag. The contractor replaces the section and fills the trench. On average, a dig-and-replace process can cost about $50 to $60 for each foot. However, many factors can increase the price, including the piping’s depth and moving above ground structures.

Trenchless Technology

Newer piping replacement methods have been devised over the years, including trenchless techniques, costing about $40 to $80 per piping foot. In-line expansion is a trenchless method that uses the older pipe to guide a new pipe into place. An expansion head pushes the old pipe forward while pulling the new pipe in from behind, negating the need to dig. Soil is compacted as the expansion head moves forward, creating a solid area for the new pipe to remain at a positive slope. Another method is sliplining. This technique slips a smaller pipe within the old pipe. After the new pipe is positioned, the old pipe slides away and is discarded.

The typical causes of belly in sewer line systems

There are several reasons why bellies occur in sewer lines. One of the most obvious is poor planning. When your house was first built, the original plumbing company may not have bedded the line properly. The plumbing company should have used crushed stone or sand underneath the pipe to protect it from settling. Without proper bedding, your pipes can sag and bellies can form. In many municipalities a crushed stone bed is required by plumbing code.

A failure to follow plumbing plans can cause a belly in sewer lines

Another reason a belly in a sewer line system can occur is if the original plumber failed to check the finished grade, or to follow sewer pipe plans. Grade is important to your sewer lines, because lines need to slope downwards in order to use gravity. If the slope is not great enough, the pipe cannot properly remove waste from the home. Planning is an important part of successful plumbing design and installation. When unprofessional plumbers fail to follow plans, problems like this arise. Line levels, torpedo levels, or laser levels, are some of the tools used to prevent this problem during drain pipe installation.

Apartment Kitchen Remodeling

How can I save money on my kitchen remodel?

Did you know that remodeling your kitchen is one of the best ways to add value to your home? It’s the most lived-in room of the home, so it’s important to keep it up to date, for your own satisfaction as well as for any potential buyers. The downside, however, is that kitchen remodeling can also be incredibly expensive. So how do you maximize your home’s value on a budget? We’re glad you asked. Here are some easy and affordable solutions to revamp the look of your kitchen for far less than a costly remodel.

Reface existing cabinets

Hands down, this is the easiest way to give your kitchen an inexpensive yet dramatic makeover. If your cabinet drawers and doors are in good shape and don’t need to be replaced, you can save thousands of dollars by simply refacing them. It can be a tedious project once you get started, but within a week, your kitchen will look refreshingly new. Here are a few tips if you plan on refacing your kitchen cabinets on your own:

  • First of all, ensure that your cabinets can be refaced. You can only reface cabinet faces that are real wood or made from MDF board—laminate doors can not be refaced.
  • Prep all cabinet faces to be painted by sanding them first with 220-grit sandpaper.
  • Choose a darker stain than your existing cabinets. You can use a gel-stain, latex, or oil-based, but regardless of the type you choose, it’s very important to buy a top-quality paint, since the paint is what will make the most difference in your kitchen. Gel-based stains produce a robust color, since the gel sits on “top” of the wood, versus other types of stains, which permeate into the wood fibers—thus losing some of that deep, rich color.
  • An oil paint with a semi-gloss gives a more polished, professional look.
  • Consider buying a spray gun. They’re inexpensive, relatively easy to use, and can be found at any home hardware store. For around $150 you can buy a quality spray-gun and an air compressor—compared to the cost of brand-new cabinets, which could run you close to the $15,000 mark. If you choose latex paint, you may have to thin out your paint with distilled water; if it’s oil-based, you will want to use a compatible thinner, so check the can for more details.
  • Remove all of your doors and spray or brush-paint them flat for the best results. You can actually construct your own “painting station” by easily installing two screws into a board to lay the cabinet flat and allow you to paint both sides. If you’re unable to lay your cabinet doors flat, you can hang the doors from a ladder with wire to paint or spray them, but be on the lookout for more paint runs if you choose that method.
  • To save yourself time, simply brush-paint the boxes of the cabinet instead of spraying them—they don’t get as much visibility as the cabinet doors.
  • Finish your refacing with a clear coat for a polished, even gloss.

Go with ready-to-assemble cabinets.

The biggest cost in a kitchen remodel is new cabinets. The most expensive option is going custom, for which the cabinetry is designed, built and installed to specifically fit your space. Exotic woods, ornate details and period styles will add to the cost and delivery time but result in a one-of-a-kind kitchen. Custom cabinets can cost $10,000 to $60,000, as cabinets can range from $250 to $1,500 per linear foot.

Keep existing cabinets if possible.

If your cabinets are good quality and you like the style, resurfacing is a great option. It’s amazing how color can transform a kitchen and a few coats of paint can give life to a once-drab space. Resurfacing and painting make for the most cost-effective option, but ensure that you take the steps needed to get a beautiful finish.

Appliances.

Be practical and look for energy-efficient appliances with warranties—arguably, you’ll use appliances more than other features in your kitchen. But be sure to maintain a balance between what you spend on appliances and cabinets. If you choose appliances first without considering cabinets/hardware, countertops or other features, you can box yourself into a floor plan and end up without enough money to spend on other features.

But be careful which appliances you spend on. For example, a refrigerator may need replaced in 15 years or sooner, but a cooktop will last longer. Spend there. If you have children and dirty dishes are a way of life, invest in a quality dishwasher or dishwasher drawers that make your life easier.

Across the board, stainless steel is the most popular choice and what buyers look for in a home.

Do things in the right order

This is a common mistake I see, and it can cost money and time on your project. And, even worse, it may limit your options, especially as it comes to your flooring choices. Generally, you first demo everything down to the floor and then you build it back up…from the flooring up. So you install your flooring, then you cabinets, then countertop, then backsplash and finally molding and painting. When you skip steps, things don’t come out as well, and they need to be redone. That costs extra money and extra time.

A very common mistake I see is when people can’t afford to do the whole kitchen at once, so they do it in piecemeal. This is fine…as long as you do it in the right order and plan ahead. Too many times I’ve seen homeowners do the cabinets and countertops first…and then the flooring two years later when they can afford it. The problem with this is that often there is not enough room for hardwood floors (which are 3/4″ thick) or tile for that matter (which comes out to a similar height when you factor is a mud job or backer board. You see this makes the cabinets too low. So the new flooring creates a weird height difference and makes the cabinets feel and look too low. Worse than this, the dishwasher won’t fit (or will get locked in). And the stove becomes higher than the countertop. Plan ahead. If you’re going to do this, add 3/4″ plywood underneath the cabinets so that everything will be properly aligned when you add the flooring.

Add new trim

Even if you hire someone to make custom trim for your kitchen, you’ll still save thousands of dollars by using your existing cabinets—and you’ll see just how drastically a change in trim can revamp your kitchen’s look. Adding crown molding trim or under-trim can transform your box cabinets with the look of custom built-ins—and if your cabinets have a lot of space at the top, adding crown trim will draw the eye upward and make your kitchen look bigger. Plus, with newer trends of mixing wood colors, it’s not as important to have uniform color anymore, so you may even save money by mixing wood trim color.

Use your existing kitchen layout

If you’re happy with your kitchen layout and are just craving a fresh update, work with your contractor or kitchen builder to maintain as much of your current layout as possible for a huge cost savings. Moving the actual layout of a kitchen—such as moving the position of an oven or a sink or a wall—will involve changing wires and plumbing, at much higher costs.

Does A Residential Painting Really Have To Look At Your Home To Give You An Estimate

How do you fix cracked wall paint?

Flaking paint occurs when cracked paint begins peeling off its original substrate. In its early stages, the problem appears as hairline cracks in the paint, but will worsen over time if the problem is not fixed, causing larger pieces of coatings to chip off. Paint cracking on walls, ceilings, and exterior surfaces happens due to a variety of causes, one of the most common being poor preparation of a surface prior to painting. Painting over cracked paint is a bad idea; it is important to remove any flakes from the surface before repainting.

Why Does Paint Crack and Flake?

  • Poor surface preparation, especially when the paint is applied to bare wood without priming, or to previously coated surfaces that show signs of cracking or flaking paint.
  • Using low-quality paint, as it may have inadequate adhesion and/or flexibility.
  • Spreading paint too thin during application.
  • Paint becoming brittle with age, failing to expand and contract with temperature and humidity changes.

Note: A more uncommon version of paint cracking is mud cracking, which is when paint cracks when drying due to too-thick application or extremely dry painting conditions.

How to Fix Cracked or Flaking Paint

  • If cracking does not go down to the substrate: Remove the loose or flaking paint with a scraper or wire brush, sand the area to feather the edges, prime any bare spots, and repaint the surface.
  • If cracking goes down to the substrate: Remove as much of the existing paint as possible. Methods for removal could include scraping, sanding, using a heat gun, abrasive blasting, etc. Once most of the paint is removed and surface is smooth and even, prime, and repaint with a quality latex paint.

Why do cracks occur on walls?

Here are a few common reasons:

  • Contraction and expansion: The materials (paint, plaster) that make up your wall contract and expand because of fluctuations in humidity levels and temperature changes. This is usually a problem if the wall is within a room that is periodically air-conditioned or it faces the afternoon sun quite a bit. The movement of contraction and expansion can cause hairline cracks to appear.
  • Low quality paint: Inferior quality paint results in poor paint adhesion on your wall, which leads to cracks over time. In addition, using different paints for each paint coat can also cause cracks on the wall.
  • There’s no way around it! Keep your paint consistent and use a high-quality product. It might hurt a little now, but it’s better than suffering for it down the road.
  • Impatience during plasterwork: Sometimes, patience is the best way to go. Not letting cement plaster completely dry before applying paint is actually quite a common factor attributed to cracks. So put on some Netflix and chill out! It’ll be better than buying new paint to redo your walls.
  • Poor paint job: Painting an entire house can be a huge amount of work, and it can be tempting to rush through it. But mistakes like missing out layers, or not letting previous layers completely dry can hamper your overall efforts. A good paint job takes time, so plan around it!

How to Remove Old, Cracked Paint

  • The first will be to clean out all the old damaged paint and plaster that has come loose.
  • The second step is to resurface the damaged area. I call this floating the wall or ceiling. This sometimes requires several applications of sheetrock compound which I will also refer to as MUD.
  • The last step will be to sand to a finish and apply a couple of coats of primer/ sealer.

The final outcome will depend on the amount of care put into a relatively easy job. The problem comes with having the patience to take your time and do a good job of it. Read on for detailed descriptions of each of these steps.

Prevent the onset of paint cracking and flaking:

  • Improperly prepped surfaces, like wood or brick, may harbor moisture that can make it hard for paint to adhere to walls. Avoid poor paint adhesion by properly cleaning and prepping walls, wood and brick surfaces before painting.
  • Use the correct primer for the project. Alkyd primer is a high-adhesion paint-primer, popular with building professionals. This kind of priming-liquid can adhere to many different materials, including metal, masonry, and wood. It is also useful for priming pre-painted surfaces, and builders who plan to apply oil-based paints over latex sub coats should always consider using alkyd primers on the latex first.
  • Do not dilute paint by adding too much thinner.
  • Do not apply overly thin layers of paint to walls and other surfaces.
  • If the weather conditions are too hot or too cold when paint is applied, this could lead to eventual cracking or flaking. Always apply paint when favorable weather conditions prevail.

Repairing a Plaster Wall Crack

Press gently on the wall near the crack to see if it gives.

If it’s easy to press down or if the wall flexes at all, the plaster has likely come apart from the lath.This requires reattaching the two together and cannot be fixed by a simple patch job. Contact a professional for help.

Widen the crack using a putty knife if it’s less than 1⁄4 inch (6.4 mm) wide.

It sounds counterproductive but scoring (lightly scratching) the crack creates a wider surface for the joint compound to more easily adhere to.

Spread a coat of joint compound over the crack.

Do so with a 4 in (10 cm) taping knife. Use a setting-type compound instead of drywall compound as it is stronger and can affix to plaster more securely. Apply in thin layers. Dampening the crack before applying the compound will remove any loose particles and help the compound hold better.

Press fiberglass mesh tape firmly into the wet compound over the crack. Cut the strips to size with scissors. This self-adhesive tape will prevent the crack from growing. Let dry. For the setting-type compound to dry thoroughly, your room should be between 55 and 70 °F (13 and 21 °C).

Apply 3 layers of compound over the taped area.

Let each coat dry completely in between. With each additional layer, extend the compound another 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) outside the previous layer’s edges. Your last layer should extend 12 inches (30 cm) beyond the original area. Lightly sand each layer with a fine sandpaper to remove bumps in between coats. Use a feathering technique when applying the compound. With the knife at a 70-degree angle, start at the center and pull the knife to the outside edges of each coat, increasing pressure the further away from the middle you get.

Paint over the patched area to match the rest of the wall.

If you can see a raised section where you did your repair, sand it flush to the wall before painting so it blends seamlessly. It’s smart to wait at least 24 hours prior to painting to ensure the compound is completely dry.

Self Representation In Immigration Lawyer Cases

The always necessary immigration lawyer

An immigration lawyer is the perfect ally of the immigrant. These professionals invest between 7 to 8 years to acquire the experience necessary to provide suitable counsel. Besides, they know American immigration laws in depth. These can be complicated and difficult to understand by those who wish to obtain a Green Card or a Work Visa.

They are also specialized lawyers who adapt to their environment and who are up to date on any political changes that may take place.

Thus, relying on an expert immigration lawyer helps to avoid problems, mistakes and issues that could hurt the immigrant. They can also guide the immigrant in order to take advantage of any changes to the legislation that could be advantageous to them.

Sometimes, applicants may fill their own documents and records, but this is not often the case. There are specific procedures that require legal representation.

Never fall for the publicity of a law firm or of a private lawyer

A website, a TV or yellow pages add will not show you everything you need to know about a lawyer or how trustworthy they are. Publicity is, doubtlessly, an excellent strategy, but the client must make sure that they know their lawyer first. Make an appointment, make questions, and make sure to be certain of their skills and competency to take up your case.

Immigration Lawyer

If you are confronted with an immigration problem, you quickly become aware of how complicated United States immigration law can be. Depending upon the problem, resolving it can take a significant amount of time, effort, and funds. A qualified immigration attorney can provide you with the information and assistance that you need to quickly and satisfactorily resolve your immigration issue, with a minimum of stress and worry, and at a reasonable cost.

Law Firm can help you with nearly all immigration matters, from temporary visas, both family-based and business-based, green cards, family-based immigration, marriage-based immigration to citizenship applications and fiance visas

Immigration Overview

Many applicants dealing with immigration matters do not realize that immigration lawyers do more than fill out forms. You can harm your case by handling things yourself, and you may not get a second chance. Immigration law is complex, and the way in which it is applied to a specific case can be complicated and nuanced.

Temporary Visas

More than 40 non-immigrant or temporary visas permit foreign nationals to come into the country for a specific purpose and a set period of time. A visitor traveling into the U.S. on a certain visa needs to meet the visa requirements. Sometimes a foreign national can change from one status to another. For example, a person who is here on a tourist visa will need to change their non-immigrant status through USCIS if they decide that they want to go to college in the U.S. There are certain non-immigrant visas that prevent you from applying for a change of status, which may be something to consider if you want to have this option. An immigration attorney can advise you on whether and how to change your status.

Green Cards

Immigrant visas and green cards may be based on employment in the U.S. or on a family relationship to a U.S. citizen or a green card holder. In the family-based visa category, for example, visas for immediate relatives may be obtained by spouses, children under age 21, parents, and adopted orphans of U.S. citizens who are a minimum age of 21. There is no limit on the number of these visas that can be granted in a certain year. Visas based on family relationships can be acquired by the unmarried children of citizens older than age 21 and their minor children, spouses or minor children or unmarried older children of legal permanent residents, siblings of U.S. citizens and their underage children if the citizen is at least age 21, and married children of U.S. citizens and their children or spouses.

IMMIGRATION LAW FIRM

provide the following core services:

As immigration lawyers, we advise you about the right type of immigration applications for you and your family that have the best chance of success or have the fastest government processing times.

immigration lawyers prepare your immigration applications so that they have the best chance of success.

immigration lawyers in Canada are your legal representatives with the government throughout the process.

immigration lawyers prepare you for interviews during the application process and at the border entry point.

Do you want to apply for permanent residency?

A permanent resident is allowed to stay and work in any job for the rest of their life. A new immigrant is required to become a permanent resident before they can become a citizen after 3 to 4 years.

Steps to apply for visa for permanent residency in Canada if you do not have a family

For most people who do not have close family members, they will apply for permanent residence in one of two ways.

You can make a permanent resident application through a provincial government program called a “PNP” – Provincial Nominee Program. Each province has the power to select immigrants and each province has their own requirements.

You can apply for permanent residency through the Express Entry program of the Federal government.

What is “Express Entry”?

If you are not applying through a Provincial program, then you are likely going to apply through the express entry system of the federal government. There are two steps that need to be done to assess if you will be given permanent residency through the Express Entry system.

Immigration Help

I need to know which immigration forms to use.

that’s the US Citizenship and Immigration Services website. On the left side of the screen is a “Find it Fast” box.  Click the drop-down menus to find out which forms you need. If you’re still not sure which forms you need, you might need to get help from an immigration lawyer or another person who’s authorized to help you.

I need help filling out my immigration forms.

Anyone can help you put your information into your immigration forms.  What’s important is that this person – a friend, your pastor, a teacher, a relative – should only write or translate what you tell him to.  Your helper cannot give you advice on what to say.  That can cause problems for you later.  If you need advice, be sure you’re getting it from the people authorized by the U.S. government to help you.

Who can help me fill out my forms?

A lawyer or an accredited representative from the list kept by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) can help you. Getting help from someone who’s not qualified to give you legal advice – like a notario – can be worse than not getting any help.  Sometimes, even advice from a friend who means well can hurt your immigration status. If you need advice or help, get it from someone who is authorized by the U.S. government to help you.

I need to find out if USCIS has my forms.

You will get a receipt from USCIS when you turn in your paperwork. Keep it! It proves that USCIS received your application or petition. You will need the receipt to check on the status of your application.

I need someone to talk to USCIS for me. USCIS calls this “representing” me.

You can talk on your own behalf. You may not need someone to represent you. It’s not required. If you want someone to represent you, you need someone who’s authorized by USCIS to represent you. Only lawyers and accredited representatives may charge a fee to help you.

Things You Should Know Before Hiring a US Immigration Lawyer

Looking for a good U.S. immigration lawyer is not always an easy task. Although there are a myriad immigration attorneys you can choose from in America, knowing who to hire is often a difficult decision.

That in mind, here’s what you should know before choosing a U.S. immigration lawyer to represent your case. The more you know about how to hire an attorney, the easier it will be to make the right decision if you need help filing for naturalization, filing a family based petition or fighting for your rights as an immigrant.

While hiring an experienced attorney to handle immigration matters is recommended, working with a professional is not a requirement if you believe you can represent yourself in front of the authorities.

There are many people who come to the U.S. and choose to represent themselves in immigration cases. Sometimes they succeed and sometimes they do not. In any case, if you prefer not to hire a U.S. immigration lawyer, you should know that you don’t legally have to.

Hiring a non attorney to assist with your paperwork is an option

If you’re not comfortable with the idea of hiring a lawyer, but need assistance, you have the option of hiring a non-attorney. Paralegals, immigration consultants and other professionals working in the immigration field may be able to help you with certain matters, like type your paperwork.

Posted inLegal

Pros to Refinancing Home Renovation Loans

How To Plan A Renovation (Without Going Crazy)

Back on the subject of renovations!

After we revealed our new renovation project a little while ago, quite a few of you wrote and asked that we share our planning process for the renovation… That totally surprised me because let’s be honest, the planning stage isn’t the sexiest stage, and I had wondered whether you guys would want me to HURRY UP and share the house all made over. If you’re one of those people, you’ll be happy to know that it’s all coming together fairly quickly, with Ben and the team ploughing on to create something really cool. I’ll be sharing the plans and progress with you shortly, but in the meantime, for those of you who asked I present you… the ins and outs of planning a renovation! Let me first start by saying that obviously, every renovation is different, which is what makes it so fun (and challenging!). So what I’m sharing here is the process we used to plan our renovation, and I think they apply to most renovations!

WORK OUT A BUDGET

The first place to start when planning your renovation is… BUDGET! How much money you want to spend will determine what you are able to do – are you simply doing a general pretty up with a new coat of paint, or are you doing a full-blown remodel? When we started, the first thing we did was work out how much money we could afford to spend, factoring the cost of the property and how much we had/wanted to borrow. Because we are doing a full remodel, with a new level and a complete overhaul, straight away we knew that the budget would be tight, and we would be doing everything we could to create bespoke-inspired style on a budget. That’s the bit I’m most inspired to share with you!

GATHER INSPIRATION

Now, the fun part! Time to put together some ideas for how you want your space to look and feel once it’s done. To do this, we spent time putting together ideas and pulling imagery that reflected both the structural elements we wanted to see as well as the decor. My main focus at first was the decor but it was really great to be guided by Ben through the structural things like space and orientation. I created some mood boards and have added to them throughout the process, adding DIYs, landscaping ideas and pretty much everything that inspires me.

CREATE & REFINE YOUR SCOPE

The next thing we did was to refine the ideas into actual elements that we wanted to see, designing the space and the elements that would be in it. This became a bit of a wish list for the house, which is essentially a scope of works. At this point, it’s a good idea to get an idea of the broad costs associated with your plans, and one way to do that is to get in touch with a builder or consult an online guide. For us, the original scope came in over budget (hello renovating!) so we tweaked some of the things we wanted and focused on our key priorities like light, space and yield. This stage will often be a process of going back and forth but it’s worth it to get it right

DESIGN THE SPACE

Once you’ve finalised your scope, it’s time for design! Depending on the project, you might need detailed drawings like layouts and cross-sections. You can develop drawings for using an architect, but that said, depending on the scale of your renovation you don’t always need drawings. The bigger and more complex the project the more you should consider drawings. A builder can often do a renovation for you without them just going by eye and communication – although in this case you often won’t get the perfect finish (but it might be worth it if your money is tight). Luckily for us, Ben and his team created drawings for the new design in literally no time, admittedly taking the headache/cost out of the process and meaning we could condense this stage into just a few days.  They created plans (flat layouts) and elevations of the whole house and even sketch up (real life) models of the outside, bathrooms and kitchen/living/dining space in a very short amount of time.  *You may have to submit your drawings to the council/authorities at this stage, something we didn’t have to do because the house had an existing approval on it – something that was both a blessing and a curse

How To Start Your House Renovation

Are you thinking of renovating or extending your home but don’t know where to start? Or perhaps you are looking at purchasing a new property and you’re not sure whether you will be able to turn it into your dream home? Envisaging the fantastic possibilities is exciting. But, even if you have built before, working out where to start with a house renovation can be daunting.

Check whether there are any restrictions on development

This is a very important threshold question.  A regulatory restriction on changing the look of, or extending, the property can turn house renovation plans on their head.  It is better to know whether there are any regulatory restrictions from the outset, so you don’t end up wasting time and money on a project that will not be permitted.

Visit your local Council offices and talk to one of the Council planners about what you can and can’t do under the relevant planning scheme.  We also recommend that you talk to an officer from the Council’s building department, as in some cases there are building restrictions that you need to be aware of.  For example, we recently completed a renovation where the owner was not aware that there was a set back restriction under the building regulations – which the Council’s planning department had (unhelpfully) failed to mention because it was dealt with by the building department.

Are there any restrictions on the property’s title?

Check the property’s title to check whether any restrictions on development have been registered on it.  For example, a restrictive covenant that places restrictions on building material or on the size of the floor plan.  Also, check for easements that might affect the size and layout of an extension.

If you are planning a ground floor extension, are any relevant reports available?

Check whether any preliminary reports, such as soil tests and contour surveys, have already been prepared.  The results from these reports can have a significant effect on the design and cost of a ground floor extension.  For example, if the property is on poor quality soil, the foundations may need to go deeper than normal.

Preparing Your Home and Yourself for Major Renovations

You’re smart to have decided to contract out your major home project. Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom, building an addition, or totally remodeling your home are all jobs that extend far beyond the skill level of most homeowners

If you have ever survived an arduous do-it-yourself project, finding a contractor may give you a sense of relief, as you envision yourself telling the contractor what to do and then having it magically done for you.

But while your physical labor will be minimal, a different kind of work is involved: preparing yourself, preparing your home, and dealing with your contractor. Let this guide ease your home’s transition into a gorgeous sanctuary that you will love for many years to come.

There is a season for everything, and some seasons are better than others for major remodeling projects. For most exterior house projects, such as painting or deck-building, temperate seasons such as late spring, summer, and early fall are best. For roofing projects, the middle of the summer provides the longest stretch of dry weather. Interior projects can be done at any time of year, as they are independent of the weather.

Should You Stay or Should You Go?

The timeline for building that addition is eight weeks. The timeline for your once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe: eight weeks. Like peanut butter and chocolate, they just go together, right?

Things to Know Before Starting a Home Renovation

You might be thinking of renovating your home by doing it yourself or hiring an interior design firm like Interiors Remembered, Inc. to tackle the project for you. Either way, there are some things you should consider and be prepared for before starting your renovation.

What Exactly are You Renovating?

The first thing to think about before you start your home renovation is what exactly you want to upgrade. It could be a few different things such as making the rooms more functional, knocking down walls for a bigger area, or just need an updated look.

Freely Express Your Ideas

This is YOUR renovation. Always clarify exactly what you want and ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable moving forward. Start by setting goals and making a list of things you want to achieve, any questions you have, and how to properly move forward.

Know What to Expect Next

Another benefit of working with a firm on your home’s renovation is that they are pros, they have done this before and know what to expect next in the plan.

Don’t Be Scared!

We understand that you might be afraid to jump into such a big project like renovating your home. But now is the time to plan what you want and tackle it, without fear! If you are working with our interior design firm, you are in good hands! We will help you navigate through the entire process, from talking to you about what you want, planning on how to turn your vision into reality, and all of the steps it will take, especially your timeline and budget.

Things to Consider Before Borrowing For Your Home Renovation Project

Home renovation projects can easily snowball, and there are multiple ways out there to finance the undertaking. To help you assess the financial viability of your remodelling project, below we discuss why you might find borrowing for a renovation project helpful, as well as some precautions before you knock on the bank’s door.

Renovation loans can boost your returns

Aside from enabling people to get one step closer to their dream homes, renovation loans can also help investor-minded homeowners to boost the returns on their home remodeling projects. This is especially true if the property was bought at a depressed value for some reason (old, flooded, burnt, etc.), and needs a face-lift to prepare for a fix-and-flip.

you will probably run out of money even before you notice any difference. Effectively, you are unlikely to recoup any meaningful returns because your property probably looks the same, and it can only sell for about the same price that you purchased it for. Considering the time and effort you put towards the renovation and the transaction costs, this sounds like a bad deal.

Watch out for interest costs that eat out your returns

However, borrowing to do a larger-scale project isn’t always the best idea, especially if your property is already functional and the nature of the renovation is for luxury. This is because renovation tends to have a diminishing marginal return as the project gets more expensive. For example, let’s say you can do either a S$30,000 or a S$50,000 kitchen renovation project. If you are financing the project with 100% loan, then the total interest costs you will incur are S$2,269 and S$3,782, respectively, with a difference of S$1,513 in incremental interest cost

However, you should carefully investigate whether a S$50,000 kitchen can recoup more profit than a S$30,000 one to justify the S$1,500 cost. This is because high-end features and functionalities become more personalised, and a potential buyer may not value certain things like expensive materials and built-in dishwashers in the first place. Your buyer will pay you more than your cost if and only if the renovation work is at least as good as (if not better than) what they would’ve done on their own anyway.