Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Fix Leaks Week in Durham

Leaky faucets and pipes cost you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars when not fixed. Not only do you pay for all the extra water slowly dripping down the drain, but the areas around the leak may also be damaged. Leaky joints can ruin ceilings, walls and carpets. Leaking roofs can potentially ruin the structural integrity of your home itself though this is a pretty extreme, and when applicable, fairly obvious.

Take a moment to look over your less obvious leak points (like the water heater) and another moment to really look at your shower, sink or bathtub. Craftsman Direct provides home maintenance checks. And this week, sponsored by the City of Durham, advice and displays are at local home improvement stores.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Caring for your home, caring for you.

Today we have a guest blogger, Sarah Parr, from the Florida Law firm of DeWitt Law, P.A. #CraftsmanDirect knows that home improvement, repair and remodeling projects are highly unlikely when homeowners are worried about possible foreclosure. Despite this, Craftsman Direct decided to accept and publish this guest blog because it can be considered as part of keeping your home healthy. Wood rot, leaky pipes and other household issues are physical aspects of your home's health. Mortgages are a financial aspect of home health, so we present Ms. Parr's  blog to you. Please note, the New York Times link begins with a brief advertisement, the information follows.

3 Ways Scam Artists Can Endanger Homeowners
By Sarah Parr

Mortgage relief scammers are some of the best scam artists in the United States in modern times. They profit from distressed homeowners who are behind on their mortgage payments and give them a false sense of security. To find clients, scam artists may sort through foreclosure filings at courthouses and government buildings and target areas known as centers of foreclosure activity. They may advertise by door-to-door solicitation, flyers on telephone poles or roadside signs or traditional web, radio and television advertising.
Homeowners might not have the time to research what forms a loan modification scam, so here are a few of the techniques scammers use when tricking people who are on the verge of foreclosure.

Charge ridiculous fees
A mortgage relief organization may ask for a steep upfront fee for access to the latest government program or access to aid from a recent mortgage settlement. The truth is, a homeowner doesn’t have to pay a cent to speak with a Housing and Urban Development (HUD) licensed housing counselor or to qualify for specific homeowner rescue government programs. Contact information for free housing counseling and information about government programs and mortgage relief settlements can be easily found online. Homeowners should also be cautious of scam artists who want the homeowner to pay the monthly mortgage to them and not to the mortgage provider.

Establish false trust
Scam artists will do anything to present themselves as dependable professionals. Non-attorneys increasingly pretend they are attorneys who offer loan modification services. Some law firms even pose as non-profit groups that offer loan workouts or “forensic loan audits.” As part of a forensic loan audit, a so-called non-profit group may offer the assistance of an attorney or another expert to review mortgage documents to determine if the lender abided by the law. No evidence exists to show that these audits aid homeowners in getting any kind of mortgage relief. Consumers should question law firms that only list loan modifications as their services.

Foreclosure rescuers” may also convince homeowners to transfer the title or sell his or her home to the company. The scam artist will convince them to stay in the home as renters and tell them they will be able to buy the home back later once they’re back on their feet financially. With the title in hand, the scam artist is able to evict the victims and claim the house.

Make shaky promises
Mortgage relief scam artists might promise a homeowner that a loan modification or foreclosure defense is guaranteed, especially if it’s handled by their company. A scam artist pretending to be a member of a legitimate organization approved by, or affiliated with, the government may also claim that a homeowner qualifies for a specific government program that aids in foreclosure defense or loan modifications. In reality, a quality foreclosure defense or loan modification is never certain, and access to certain government programs is only guaranteed for some borrowers.

Home owners who believe they might be the victim of a mortgage relief scam are urged to contact the Federal Trade Commission, their state Attorney General’s office or the Better Business Bureau.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Anything Up There? The importance of attics.

At #CraftsmanDirect.com we realize that it is far easier to with problems you do see, than those you do not. You look at your floors, ceilings, walls, bathrooms and kitchens on a daily basis so it's pretty obvious what you have and if you want to remodel, renovate or repair. Attics, however, can go unnoticed for long periods of time.

The attic is a key component of your home. It separates the roof from the living quarters and often a great deal of space is left under-utilized. Done properly, you can convert an attic into living quarters, a spare room, a study or storage space. At the very least, your attic should be adequately filled with insulation. Insulation, like everything else, eventually ages so it's important to maintain its integrity by adding more or replacing it on a regular basis. Ignoring attic upkeep will raise both your heating and cooling costs as heat seeps out in the winter and heat presses in during the summer.

#CraftsmanDirect.com can assess your attic and discuss options with you. Whether you want a full #AtticRemodel or just the #insulation kept up, CraftsmanDirect.com can do the job. At the same time, you might want to consider a whole house check-up. It's just like a physical, but for your home. Again, everything ages and the wiring and pipes are not usually out there staring you in the face. If they are, please call immediately! We can be reached at 919-612-9000 and www.CraftsmanDirect.com. Remember if you smell gas, please leave your home and promptly call your gas company's emergency number.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Understanding Window Basics, Part 2

Yesterday on #CraftsmanDirect, the blog, we discussed the glass portion of windows. Today we'll briefly overview #windowframes.

First of all, you may hear the term "casement" used. That is simply short-hand for where the opening/closing mechanism for your window is located. For example, if you slide your window up, you have side casements. However, if you have a hinged window that swings open with a hinge on the bottom then that is a side casement. What kind of casement you have is very closely linked to the type of window frame you have chosen.

Frames can be made of metal, composite materials (eg. particleboard), fiberglass, vinyl or wood. Aluminum window frames are low maintenance and quite strong, but also allow a great deal of heat to pass through. Composite and wood frames are fairly similar in their ability to provide decent window insulation, but the composite frames have more stability than plain wood given the addition of materials to bolster wood's tendencies to contract and expand. Fiberglass frames have the durability and ease of use of aluminum, but provide far better insulating qualities. Lastly, vinyl frames are similar to fiberglass. However, with vinyl the frame cavities must be insulated to yield the same results as fiberglass. Without the extra insulation, vinyl frames are durable but not as good as some others at keeping heat in or out.

Remember, installing good #windows can save you money on your heating and cooling bills as well as earn you tax credits! Contact CraftsmanDirect.com or call 919-612-9000 for a quote on #windows. #CraftsmanDirect can also deal with wood rot and help you choose a good replacement material. Also see Energy.gov for more complete information about window types and the requirements necessary to receive tax credits.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Tax Credits for Window Replacement

#CraftsmanDirect.com wants to help you both save money and understand #WindowReplacement.

#WindowReplacement not only reduces drafts which increases the efficiency of your home cooling and heating systems, but it can also award you tax credits for doing so! Your house looks better, works better and costs less.

Choosing the type of #window you want can quickly become over-whelming. There are choices to make on what type of material your window frame should be, what kind of opening mechanism you should have, whether to have single or double pane windows, and what--if anything--to glaze (or coat) your windows with! Moreover, the Department of Energy suggests using different combinations of these window aspects depending on what side of the house the windows are on.

Today we'll look at window glass.

Windows with 2 or more panes of glass are considered "insulated". In this situation the panes of glass form a sealed box in which different kinds of gases are placed, most commonly krypton or argon, that helps keep heat on the proper side of the glass (out or in). Sometimes no special gas is used and it's just a sealed pocket of normal air, but this allows in more heat.

Window glass is often "glazed", or coated with some sort of substance that can produce a multitude of effects. Color tints can do everything from reduce glare to impede heat transfer, depending on the color used. Tints can reduce a specific spectrum of light or control heat transfer. Tints that focus on reducing heat transfer and do not control the light spectrum are called "low-emissivity coatings." These are very expensive, but very effective. There are also reflective coatings that create a mirror finish, but those are best used on office buildings as light is blocked but not heat.

This is an extremely basic look at window glass. Glazing comes in many colors and is composed of a variety of substances that can be mixed and matched to create the most ideal situation of light and heat requirements. Talk to someone at CraftsmanDirect.com or call us at 919-612-9000 to discuss your window needs.

More information can be obtained at www.Energy.gov.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

NOW is the Right Time for Windows!

Do breezes come through your windows even when they are shut? Not good. This is #Window Week at #CraftsmanDirect. Not just a good time to call for a free estimate for window repair, replacement or installation but also an opportunity to learn what the trade jargon means. Sadly, double glazed windows do not usually come with glazed donuts.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Kitchen Remodel: Good for Kids, Treat for Parents

At #CraftsmanDirect we note both the last day of #NationalSchoolLunchWeek and #InternationalWomensDay!

Earlier, #CraftsmanDirect commented upon how #smartappliances are not yet a good buy for your money. However, if you must splurge on an item in your #kitchenremodel, you might want to consider the Samsung fridge with integrated #SodastreamWaterDispenser! A nice way to indulge and treat yourself right! Also can help the kids (and parents) cut down on the artificial ingredients of diet sodas and high sugar content of regular sodas by making carbonated water ready at hand and always chilled.

A good #KitchenRemodel by #CraftsmanDirect will incorporate all facets of your kitchen: #appliances, #layout, #cupboards, #counters, #color, #windows, #doors and #flooring.

Consider #CraftsmanDirect for your next #Remodel, #Renovation or #Repair. We're local with free quotes and a 2 year guaranty on work! Contact us at 919-612-9000 or www.CraftsmanDirect.com!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Kids, Kitchen and Porches

#CraftsmanDirect marks the winding down of #NationalSchoolLunchWeek by honoring #PorchDurham.org.
CraftsmanDirect.com is a locally owned and operated business with our handypeople living in various communities throughout the Triad and Triangle. I just happen to live in Durham. There are bound to be other excellent programs available to assist kids get proper nutrition, whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Please feel free to tell #CraftsmanDirect and our followoers if you have suggestions for how more people can get involved in this worthy cause.

People of all ages, in fact, require proper nutrition. There are many ways to #remodel a #kitchen to help you prepare healthier food: extend or free up counter space to accommodate a slow-cooker; get a stove that is conducive to pressure cooking; create cabinets and shelves to hold fresh ingredients or store spices. If there is something you want to do to make your life easier, #CraftsmanDirect suggests a #KitchenRemodel.

Now to enjoy your life and sit around in a pleasant environment, consider a #PorchRemodel! When the weather is right, it's nice to go sit on the porch after dinner and enjoy nature, companionship, games and maybe a drink. Ceiling fans provide welcome breezes and some temperature control and many models are suitable for outdoor use.

Indoors or out, #CraftsmanDirect is right here in your community to attend to any of your #handyman, #remodeling or #homeimprovement needs. Call us at 919-612-9000 or visit us at CraftsmanDirect.com!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

#KitchenRemodel: Smart appliances for smart eating?

#CraftsmanDirect knows that eating smart is a good idea. Smart appliances in your #KitchenRemodel not so much. Communication between devices is still poor and the price is still high.

Instead, #CraftsmanDirect suggests a good solid door in your #KitchenRemodel. Save energy and keep drafts from interfering with your cooking and dining experiences.

Cold drafts flowing onto your stove and oven force them to work harder to get to and maintain the desired temperature. Likewise, warm drafts onto your refrigerator cause it to run more to keep foods cool. Dining in a draft of any kind can be unpleasant with rare perfect weather exceptions.

Currently, investing in good #doors and #windows on a #kitchen #remodel will pay off far more than buying a smart appliance. Technology is changing far too fast at this time and the communication platforms are anything but integrated on today's very expensive smart appliances.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

#KitchenRemodel: Bring in the Color!

#CraftsmanDirect continues this #NationalSchoolBreakfastWeek with discussions about #KitchenRemodeling.

For a long time now, stainless steel appliances have been the standard in American #KitchenDecor. They are easy to clean, fit any color scheme and good looking. European makers never stopped producing colorful appliances and in the U.S. color is making a comeback. Whirlpool's newest top of the line comes in "White Ice". Read more at So-Long-Stainless-Whirlpool-Introduces-a-New-Finish-For-Premium-Kitchens.htm

Comfortable kitchens can be great places for happy moments and healthy eating. Family chatter about how everyone's day went or sharing intimate news or a cup of tea. While this particular color of the Amana Floral line causes a 70's flashback for me, it is worth considering adding some color to your next #kitchenRemodel.

#CraftsmanDirect can handle all aspects of your #KitchenRemodel: #KitchenIsland; #NewCupboardInstallation; #BreakfastBar; #KitchenSinks and even new #Windows!

What do you think? Time for more color or stick with the stainless?

Monday, March 4, 2013

CraftsmanDirect, Cooking and Childhood Health

#CraftsmanDirect understands that what you cook often depends upon how easy your kitchen is to use. Getting enough counter space in my home greatly increased the quality of healthy meals I made. With this week being National School Breakfast Week (see http://docs.schoolnutrition.org/), #CraftsmanDirect thought we'd discuss #KitchenRemodeling.

Did you know that the basic kitchen layout has been the same since the 1920s? The family matriarch, Lillian Gilbreth, upon whom the book (and movie) "Cheaper by the Dozen" was based did not even cook. However, both she and her husband were the pioneers of motion study; that is, how to do things most efficiently in the least amount of time. Based upon her scientific analysis of how many steps it took from counter to refrigerator to oven, the "most efficient" kitchen layout was designed and the basic premise has mostly stuck. (See Slate: modern kitchen for more.)

#CraftsmanDirect wants to know how your #kitchen feels. Is the flow of motion sensible? Do you have enough counter space? Cupboard space? Shelving space? Do people eat in your kitchen or in another room? Would you like a #BreakfastBar or #KitchenIsland? Do you love your kitchen but hate the color? Maybe the sink just has to go. A #KitchenRemodel can fix most, if not all, of these issues.

Visit our Pinterest page at Pinterest.com/CraftsmanDirect or Tumblr page at Tumblr.com/CraftsmanDirect to explore and comment on kitchen design and #homeimprovement in general. We also have a Facebook page and Twitter feed. Talk to us!