While drama may be unattractive in other aspects of your life, a dash of it can be just what your home’s decor needs to spice things up. Fortunately, you don’t have to choose between drama and cents. At least one popular design element can deliver positive impact on your decor and your wallet: skylights.

 
Interior designers, architects, decorators and homeowners have been relying on skylights to add beauty, warmth, natural light and passive ventilation to interior designs for decades. Fortunately, advances in skylight design make them a cost-effective, green design element as well.

 
“Skylights … enliven a house dramatically while cutting down the need for artificial light,” notes the website ConsumerEnergyCenter.org. “They brighten up dark corners and let in lots of warmth. They can also provide much-needed ventilation.”
Less dependence on artificial light sources or powered ventilation can mean lower electric bills in summer. Plus, warm sun entering the home through a skylight in winter can reduce your heating bills, as well. In fact, EnergyStar.gov says that installing Energy Star-qualified skylights, windows and doors can shrink your home’s energy bill – and carbon footprint – by 7 to 15 percent over non-qualified products.

 
“Skylights convey drama, yet they’re a surprisingly cost-effective home improvement,” says Ross Vandermark, national product manager of Velux, manufacturers of the “No-Leak Skylight.” “Installing skylights can be less costly than buying new designer furniture or putting in new carpet. Plus, if your interior design cries out for natural light, it’s more practical and cost-effective to place skylights overhead than to add windows to a wall.”

 
Aesthetic benefits

 
By opening a room to the sky, skylights add a touch of drama to the interior design. They’re also an appealing solution for rooms where a traditional window might be problematic. 
For example, in a bath, a venting skylight makes it possible to enjoy natural light and fresh air without sacrificing privacy or living with frosted glass. Venting models are also popular in kitchens and laundry rooms to remove cooking odors and excess heat while brightening much-used work spaces. 

add%20drama%20and%20save%20cash
In other areas of the home,  affordable tubular skylights like Velux’s Sun Tunnel products make it possible to introduce natural light to hallways, closets, and other smaller or confined spaces. With the addition of a light kit, 24-hour illumination is available.
Overall, skylights are less limiting to a room’s design than a traditional window – all while admitting much more natural light. Many people completely overlook or under utilize the design potential of a ceiling. Skylights can turn that blank slate into a design statement that is both functional and beautiful. 

 
Practical value

 
Venting skylights can also offer a low-cost way to address indoor air quality by removing humidity, fumes and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) from your home through their natural chimney effect. In addition to helping improve indoor air quality, skylights allow you to turn off electric lights and save money on power bills.
Accessorizing with manual or solar-powered, remote-operated blinds that qualify for tax breaks, allows you to further incorporate skylights into a design theme. Plus, the blinds – which are available in a range of colors and patterns – enhance the efficiency of skylights by allowing you to control the amount of light or heat that enters or leaves a room.

 
“Few home improvements marry the dramatic design impact and energy saving boost that you get from adding skylights,” says Vandermark. “When it comes to redesigning a room, they’re truly the touch that elevates the look and feel of your decor.”
You can learn more about window and skylight energy efficiency at www.energystar.gov, and for independent agency information visit www.nfrc.org or www.efficientwindows.org.
IMAGE CAPTIONS:
——————————————-
Caption 1: Energy Star-qualified venting skylights, with decor-enhancing blinds, are cost-effective and attractive home upgrades that provide healthful natural light and passive ventilation.
Caption 2: Tubular Sun Tunnel skylights bring natural light to baths and other rooms as well as to smaller, hard-to-access-from-above areas like hallways and closets.
Posted in Market Updates | Leave a comment


A lot of things change when you become a parent. The shows you watch, the restaurants you go to and the concept of sleep as you once knew it all evolve when your family structure transforms from a “me” to a “we.” And increasingly, personal gadgets like smartphones are following the same trend.

“One day I looked at my phone and realized I had almost as many apps on it for my daughter as I did for myself,” says Kat Holmes, principal designer for Microsoft’s Windows Phone. “My smartphone had stopped being just mine.” In fact, a recent study conducted by Babycenter.com shows that 75 percent of moms regularly hand over their smartphone to their kids.

But even with smartphone use among kids on the rise, concerns remain over how to keep curious fingers from navigating where they shouldn’t. This concern is what inspired Kat and the team at Microsoft to build new parent-friendly features into the company’s latest Windows Phone products. The most notable is Kid’s Corner, a space within your phone just for kids where they only have access to the apps, games, music and videos selected for them. So you can hand your phone over and let them explore while your personal stuff is safe and password protected. Kid’s Corner also disables browsing, calling and purchasing, so you won’t have any surprises on your phone bill later.

In addition to working full-time at Microsoft, Kat is also a mother of two small kids so she’s familiar with the challenges of creating balance in a busy week. “Tech plays a role in helping our family stay connected – keeping track of our schedules, our to-dos and each other,” says Kat. “And yes, sometimes letting my kids watch a video on my phone gives me a few moments of quiet to catch my breath.”

We asked Kat for a few more tech tips for creating balance as you share your smartphone with your kids. 

*Partner with your kids to curate their mobile experience: To make mobile time fun, set aside time with your kids to choose new mobile content together, including new apps, music and videos. You’ll have peace of mind knowing what your kids are looking at, while giving them a sense that there is a space that’s just for them.

*Smartphones can be a simple way for kids to create and share: Smartphones aren’t just about apps, they’re also a way for kids to capture and share the world from their point of view.-”My kids like to make little video messages for me and post them for me to find later,” says Kat.-”They can’t accidentally send or upload photos from Kid’s Corner, so I know everything they make is just going to stay on my phone.” For other creative outlets with tech Kat suggests Kid’s Draw Free – an ad-free app that lets kids create and share their everyday masterpieces.

*Technology is more than entertainment, it can be educational too: A recent Qualcom survey found that 74 percent of parents have downloaded a mobile app for their kids. While many apps out there are solely for fun and entertainment, there are hundreds of great educational apps that can help kids hone their skills – everything from drawing to spelling to memorizing. A few of Kat’s favorites include:

Animal Memory – with pictures and sounds of wild animals and farm animals, this matching game helps kids hone their memory skills

Connect the Dots – this hand-drawing free app also teaches kids how to read the names of the pictures they’re drawing

*Turn that fighting into a lesson on sharing: As a mother of two, Kat has learned that sometimes one phone isn’t enough, noting, “With more than one kid in the room, it’s pretty common to have fights over whose turn it is. Try uploading a stop watch or timer like the Six Stop Watch app to your device and encourage your kids to engage in 5- to 10-minute increments, and then hand it over to the next in line.”

To learn more about the family-friendly features available on Windows Phone, including Kid’s Corner, visit windowsphone.com.

Posted in Market Updates | Leave a comment

One of the most sought-after career credentials in the tech industry is the Cisco Certified Network Associate (CCNA) Routing and Switching. Tech professionals with this certification take home salaries that are, on average, 16.7 percent higher than their uncertified peers, according to a Fairfield Research study. This certification acknowledges that someone is skilled to install, configure, operate and troubleshoot routed and switched networks.

“Studies show that chief information officers prefer Cisco Certified professionals because they are 42 percent more effective at resolving issues and decrease network downtime by 32 percent,” says Stephanie Kelly, corporate affairs business development for Cisco, citing results of an Employer Value of Cisco Certification and Training study. “Employers prefer to have someone they know is fully capable of handling a very technical, niche job.”

Despite the growing demand from employers and because certifications aren’t an industry or government mandate, some recent graduates and professionals try to play the odds and skip additional credentials due to the financial obstacle. Between study materials, pre-tests and exams, certifications can cost as much as $1,000. Now, select career colleges, like Westwood College, are pitching in by paying for their students’ exams to help attain a certification in their chosen field.

“We began running CCNA Routing and Switching review courses for students who passed courses offered through the Cisco Networking Academy. Students who took advantage of and successfully completed the review course were issued a voucher worth the cost of the exams,” says Dean Gouin, chief executive officer of Westwood College. “We know it takes a lot of work to achieve this credential and we believe it is important so we’ll continue to encourage our students to challenge themselves to do so.”

In addition to paying for the exams, Westwood, a nationally accredited on-campus and online career college, also covers the exam costs for medical assisting graduates to help them attain Certified Medical Assistants status. In addition to the actual exam, the college pays for practice exams and ensures all study materials are pre-purchased. Visit tech.westwood.edu for more information and behind-the-scenes footage about the college, and specific programs such as CCNA Routing and Switching.

To learn more about the Cisco Certified Network Associate Routing and Switching, visit learningnetwork.cisco.com. For more information on Certified Medical Assistants, visit the American Association of Medical Assistants at www.aama-ntl.org.

Posted in Market Updates | Leave a comment


We all yearn for moments like the Norman Rockwell illustration of a family sitting around the dining table, enjoying their meals, laughing and spending time together. Sometimes those moments seem like fairy tales in hectic lives filled with endless activities and deadlines. Yet researchers are learning more and more about the importance of family meals relating to good nutrition and better health. Family meals aren’t just good for your body; they’re good for the soul.

Researchers at Rutgers recently evaluated results from 68 previously published scientific reports that analyzed the association between children’s health and family mealtime. They looked at how the atmosphere or frequency of family meals correlated with the consumption of healthy foods versus unhealthy foods. Their review showed numerous benefits to children associated with having frequent family meals, including increased intake of fruits, vegetables, fiber, calcium-rich foods and vitamins. In addition, the more a family ate together, the less children consumed dietary components thought to be harmful to health.

Additional studies showed that:

* Supper can be a stress reliever for working moms. A 2008 Brigham Young University study of IBM workers found that sitting down to a family meal helped working moms reduce the tension and strain from long hours at the office.

* The family dinner table is a great setting for getting kids to try new foods. A 2003 study in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition showed that more exposure to new foods will teach kids to like different foods. Frequent family dinners provide the perfect opportunity to introduce a variety of healthy foods.

* It’s more budget-friendly to gather around the dinner table for a meal. The average cost for a meal in your kitchen is approximately $4.50 per person versus $8 per person outside the home. Do the math – eating in is better for your budget.

Making family meals happen in real time

Today’s over-scheduled lives may make it more difficult to get a meal on the table for family dinners, but there are many shortcuts you can take to reduce the stress and enjoy your time together. Many people are turning to companies like Kansas City Steak Company that provide ready-to-cook meals right to your door. From scrumptious ribs to succulent roasts, steaks, ground beef, poultry and seafood, family meal time is as easy as bake and serve.

“We find that more customers are seeking Bake and Serve Gourmet products so they can enjoy more time with family and friends and less time in the kitchen,” says Ed Scavuzzo, president of Kansas City Steak Company. “It’s never been easier to get a meal on the table without the fuss.”

But family meals can be as simple as ground beef patties, a salad and some fresh fruit. “It’s all about time spent sharing stories, sharing events of the day or just quiet time together,” says Scavuzzo. “The meals bring everyone to the table, but it’s family time that brings them back.”

Making family meals a priority

It’s easy to plan ahead for more family meals together. You can keep meals simple by sticking to nutritional basics and following a few tips:

* Purchase ready-made sauces, seasonings or marinades and add chicken, beef or seafood for a great main course.

* Cook on weekends and double the recipes. Roasts, soups and casseroles are great options to freeze, thaw and enjoy for a great, healthy family meal.

* Stock staples in your cupboard and freezer. Frozen meats and vegetables are easy to thaw and use at your convenience. Rice and pasta take just a few minutes and round out any meal.

* Fresh fruit and yogurt make healthy, flavorful desserts in just a few easy steps. Be sure to tuck away a sweet dessert or two for those special occasions.

The next time you reach for your car keys or the phone to order take-out, reach into your freezer and cupboard for meals that are good for your family and your soul.

Posted in Market Updates | Leave a comment

(BPT) – We live in a constantly connected society – more than half of adults in the U.S. own smartphones (75 percent in a recent survey actually admit to taking them in the bathroom). It comes as no surprise that integrating technology into the bathing space is one of the hottest trends in products and interior design. Gone are the days of blasting the TV from an adjacent room to catch the weather forecast, or eating up precious counter space with a docking station for your mobile device. It’s never been easier or more affordable to make your bathroom smarter – all while keeping your electronics safe. Consider these four ways to tech up your bathroom:

1. Watch TV on your mirrored cabinet.
 As you’re brushing your teeth or applying makeup, catch the traffic report or a recap of last night’s game on a TV integrated into your mirrored cabinet. While some cabinets have screens installed inside the cabinet itself, an in-mirror design lets you make full use of storage.

2. Shower out loud.
 This cool new gadget makes singing in the shower even better. The KOHLER Moxie showerhead + wireless speaker is the first of its kind to combine the delivery of water and music. It installs the same as a standard showerhead and syncs with your Bluetooth-enabled devices to stream music or your favorite podcast right into the shower for up to seven hours of play per charge. And when shower time is up, the magnetic wireless speaker can come with you, whether it’s elsewhere in the bathroom, the patio or the park. Kohler also sells colored speakers separately, making it easy for everyone in the family to have their own.

3. Immerse yourself in sound.
 After a long day or intense workout, a bath soak can relieve stress and soothe muscles. Couple warm water with sound therapy and you take relaxation to a new level. VibrAcoustic hydrotherapy, offered on six Kohler bathtub lines, captures the power of sound waves with four original music compositions that either slow your breathing and heart rate, or invigorate and rev you up for the day ahead. The premium sound quality from the bath actually allows it to double as an audio source, whether you play music from your MP3 player through an auxiliary cable or stream from your Bluetooth-enabled device.

4. Save water – with a push of a button.
 Making your bathroom smarter can also help you be smarter about water conservation. Digital showering systems control temperature and flow with a digital interface, which eliminates the need for manual valves and gives your shower a sleek, modern look. With conservation settings such as a pause feature and shower timer, it’s easy to save one of the earth’s most precious resources without sacrificing performance. Want to keep tabs on how much water your house as a whole is using? Explore mobile applications to help you track and save. For more ways to save water throughout your home, visit www.savewateramerica.com.

Posted in Market Updates | Leave a comment

Many people use just one word to describe lavish, luxurious homes filled with the latest interior design trends: unattainable.

These dream homes that appear on television programs and grace the pages of magazines are seen as projects that can only be executed by affluent homeowners who chase trends and change decor with every season. But, according to television design star Lisa LaPorta, with a practical approach, it’s easy to stay at the forefront of hot home design trends on any budget.

“Designer homes should be sources of inspiration and motivation,” LaPorta says. “When you’re researching home renovation and style, you should absolutely look to the most stylish and opulent examples. Then, once you know what you want, execute those ideas on a budget that works for you.” According to LaPorta, the best way to keep your home up to date with current trends is to change elements that have high impact, and are cost-effective.  

“It might seem obvious, but painting can truly transform a home from being 20 years outdated, to one on the cusp of modern decor,” she says. “Keep abreast of the design trends, but don’t forget to include your own personality.”

LaPorta advises homeowners to be introspective and look to their own personal sense of style to identify paint colors. Your wardrobe says a lot about you and can help guide color selection for your home, she states. Be confident in your choices and run with them. But, she cautions people to never choose a final color while at the paint or hardware store.

“Too often I see people choose colors on the spot at a paint store, only to go home and realize it looks completely different on the wall,” LaPorta says. “There’s a reason you’re allowed to take color chips home with you. You need to test them!”

She goes on to say that many people think color selection is the most important part of painting. Once they know what colors they want to use, it’s as simple as grabbing a paint brush and covering the wall, right? Wrong. In reality, choosing an inferior brush can have an enormous negative impact on the final result. LaPorta recommends using high-quality painting tools such as Purdy brushes and rollers for a flawless finish.  

The appearance of a finished painting project is very much dependent on the quality of the applicators used. “When you’re painting, the brush really does matter. A Purdy brush holds more paint, provides smooth, even coverage and vastly reduces brush marks on the wall.”

Once you have the perfect, trendy colors on the walls, it’s time to accessorize. LaPorta notes that many people have a tendency to overpopulate their rooms with too much furniture. Not only does this clutter the space, but it’s quite costly, as well. Instead, she recommends putting larger furniture pieces in a rotation to cut down on clutter.

“Design is cyclical,” LaPorta points out. “Eventually, the couch you bought in the ’70s will be popular again. But, that doesn’t mean it should be on display until that happens. Focus on a few pieces of large furniture and then chase the trends by purchasing smaller, less costly items such as throw pillows, rugs or inexpensive art and paintings. Then, as trends change and evolve, rotate the larger pieces into your decor.  You’ll save money, but still feel like your home is on-trend.

A fresh coat of paint and some new accessories can create dramatic change, but LaPorta also points out that simply changing the layout of a room can also make a big difference.

“Homeowners sometimes forget that rearranging furniture can completely change the appeal and feel of a space,” she says. “Step outside of the boundaries of your normal decorating style and see how you feel. Instead of having the television as the focal point of a living room, make the coffee table or fireplace the center. The best part is, it’s free. And if you don’t like how it looks, you can always change it back.”

These few simple design tips can help transform your home into a chic, trendy space that’s the envy of the neighborhood, all at a price tag you can afford.

Posted in Market Updates | Leave a comment


Your backyard is a space where you enjoy quality time with your family – from running around with your kids in the fall leaves to playing catch with your furry friend in the snow. It’s a place to escape, but remember accidents can happen anywhere at any time, and just like you childproof your house, you need to ensure your backyard is safe as well.

Keeping your backyard safe begins with your fence. A yard without a fence is a little like a house without walls. Fences help protect children from danger, keeping toddlers out of swimming pools, hot tubs and ponds or keeping them in the yard, away from busy traffic or strangers. Fences can also help keep your own pets in your yard, and other animals out. They can reduce your liability by preventing injuries to uninvited guests on your property, or damage or injury caused by escaped pets.

A good weekend project is making sure your fences and gates are functioning properly and are protected from rust, a destructive force that can render gate hardware useless or dangerous, says Jim Paterson, senior vice president of D&D Technologies, which manufactures gate latches and hinges made of ultra-strong engineering polymers. In our research, we found that when homeowners consider their fencing needs, rusty metal gate hardware that no longer functions properly or becomes a threat to children was their top concern. Rust-free and adjustable gate hardware is available.

Seasonal weather, ground settling and other factors can cause a gate to become misaligned over time and not function properly. It’s important to have gate hardware that can be easily adjusted to overcome this. TruClose self-closing, tension adjustable hinges are an ideal solution. Some models are vertically and horizontally adjustable as well.  Combined with D&D adjustable, locking gate latches will ensure your gate will always function properly.

Additional precautions to take when childproofing your backyard:

* Tighten and cover any protruding bolts on swing sets and do not attach ropes or cords, which could become strangulation hazards.

* Remove old tree stumps and rocks, level concrete footings to avoid tripping.

*Seal wooded items such as decks, swing sets and picnic tables before inclement weather sets in.

* Completely fence pool and spa areas with adjustable self-closing hinges like TruClose and self-latching gates, ensuring latches are out of the reach of children such as the Magnalatch Safety Gate Latch. Both products carry a lifetime warranty and are adjustable both vertically and horizontally for quick and easy adjustments.

* Eliminate access to lawn equipment and chemicals. Put these items completely out of the reach of children.

* Keep a first aid kit and a rescue kit for those backyards with water features easily accessible.

Your backyard can be one of the most exciting places for your children through the entire year. A little prevention along the way will keep it safe and provide wonderful memories for your family.

Look for D&D Technologies rust free gate hardware and child safety latches at www.ddtechglobal.com or under the Stanley Hardware brand through Lowe’s.

Posted in Market Updates | Leave a comment

(BPT) – Give Dad a break from his “to do” list and instead handle some of those easier DIY tasks for him. From simple fixes to bigger projects, sometimes all you need is the right tool at the right time to get the job done.

Here are some helpful ideas to get you started.

Fix that door that won’t stay open: Having a door that shuts when you want it to stay open can be a real annoyance. Try tightening the screws on the top door hinge with a power screwdriver like the new 360 Quick-Select from SKIL. This tool comes with 12 of the most commonly used screwdriver bits in a rotating compartment located at the front of the tool so you don’t have to put your project on hold to switch bits.

Put together a ready-to-assemble (RTA) piece of furniture: RTA furniture looks like an easy project in the store, but once you get it home it can quickly get the best of you. But with a little patience and the right tool, the project can provide self-satisfaction besides a new piece of furniture. In fact, using a power screwdriver can help eliminate frustration and get the project finished even faster, plus you’ll know each screw is secure to avoid anything falling apart later.

Give old furniture a new life: If the office desk is looking shabby (or maybe it’s a table or dresser), give it an easy makeover. Use sandpaper to take off old varnish and help the new paint adhere to the piece. Wipe off any dust with a clean dry cloth, then apply 1-2 coats of fresh paint with a brush, roller or spray can. Let the paint dry thoroughly then seal with a coat of Polyurethane for a protective finish.

Update ceiling fixtures: Most of us don’t realize how ceiling fixtures can quickly change the look of a room. Always turn the power to the circuit off before changing a fixture. Remove the old fixture by unscrewing the cover plate and disconnecting the electrical wires. Reconnect the new fixture according to the directions included in the box. Using a lightweight power screwdriver for this project will prevent your arms from getting tired while working above your head.

Day to day repairs: Keeping a power screwdriver in the kitchen drawer will let you make those little repairs as they happen. So when that drawer knob or towel bar comes loose again because the kids are forever pulling on them too hard, grab the power screwdriver out of the draw and get it fixed on the spot. Lithium ion batteries can stay charged for up to 18 months so the power screwdriver will be charged and ready when you need it.

SKIL Tools has all the tools you need to complete at-home projects whether you’re a beginner or have advanced skills. Visit www.SKILTools.com/360 for information on the new 360 Quick-Select, and take advantage of the Where to Buy feature.

Posted in Market Updates | Leave a comment

The kitchen and bathroom are at the top of most home remodeling project lists. But homeowners intent on remodeling should also consider investing in the exterior of their homes – maybe even start there.
 

That’s the advice of Sarah Susanka, one of the nation’s leading voices for redefining the  home, and author of the Not So Big House series, a collection of nine books focusing on home design, architecture and remodeling.
 
The reason for investing in the exterior is simple. The exterior should set the tone for your home’s interior look and feel. Also, first impressions really do count to the long-term value of a house, especially when it comes time to sell it.
 
“I firmly believe that the experience we have in living in our homes can have a profound impact on the way we look at life,” Susanka says. “That experience begins the moment we walk, bike or drive up to it, and extends through the transitions we make as we move between the landscape, the exterior and the interior of the home.”
 
The feeling of satisfaction that comes from making your house look good on the outside is experienced at many levels – from the colors and textures of your home to the quality of the materials used to build or remodel it, to the benefits of those materials in the long term, such as the character they lend, or the ease of maintenance they offer. The good news is that if you haven’t remodeled your house in a long time, there are a number of new, sustainable products that are helping homeowners create exteriors that are both beautiful and green, such as APEX siding and Integrity windows, both made with pultruded fiberglass, a tough, low-maintenance, sustainable material offering a rich selection of colors.
 
“A Not So Big House is not only built better rather than bigger,” adds Susanka. “It is also designed to be a good custodian of the planet’s resources. It’s built to last. Finding green products that also make it easy for homeowners to maintain the home is a big step toward true sustainability. If a house isn’t both beautiful and practical, no matter how green the materials used, it won’t live up to its sustainability goals. People only look after what they love, and beauty is a big part of that picture.”

Remodeling%20your%20home%3F%20Start%20from%20the%20outside%20in.

If you’re thinking about remodeling in the near future, here are several more ideas to make the most of your remodeling budget:
Create a master plan. Many homeowners cannot afford to do a complete remodeling. Most do it in chunks. Before you lift a hammer, hire an architect to create a master plan for your home, which will guide your remodeling efforts for years to come.
 
Connecting inside with outside. The interior and exterior of your home need to work together. They need to be integrated and harmonize with one another as you move from the surrounding landscape to the interior, or as you look out from inside your home to the garden beyond. To enhance this connection, think about the first impression you want to give a visitor. Do you want it to communicate comfort? Connectedness to the outdoors? Creativity? Or tradition? All these can be accomplished with thoughtful detailing of the home’s exterior, as well as landscaping.
 
Small changes; huge impact. Small changes to the exterior, such as adding another color to the exterior palette, adding texture such as stone, brick or lap siding, or framing the windows with wider trim boards, can have a huge impact on the look of your home, and make it feel both more expressive and more inviting.
 
Choose sustainable products. It’s important not only to the environment, but to the overall maintenance and longevity of your home. Consider remodeling your house with some of the new, high quality sustainable products that are entering the remodeling marketplace, such as APEX Siding, Susanka’s current favorite find, which is made from pultruded fiberglass, derived from sand.
 
Reduce maintenance and future repairs. Another key to remodeling is to use materials and building methods that are resistant to wear, tear and the elements (rain, sunlight), which reduce the likelihood of needing to make expensive repairs in the future, as well as reducing the amount of time spent on maintenance. Knowing that your home is well protected from the elements is an important part of the overall satisfaction with your home.
 
Mix it up. Many people are afraid to use more than one color on the exterior of their home. That’s why so many houses appear dull and lifeless. Consider using two colors of siding and a third color for your trim boards to add personality and vitality to the exterior. Products like Apex fiberglass siding and trim, and Integrity windows, for example, are available in a palette of rich and attractive colors. Also, consider adding a trim band, or belt line, below main level windows of your home, and using a contrasting color of siding below that band to help ground the house and connect it in with the surrounding landscape.
 
Invest in quality over quantity. Even with a limited budget, try to invest in high-quality products that will look good for the long haul, and will stand the tests of time, rather than buying lower-quality products that may offer the short term benefit of getting a greater share of your remodeling projects done, but which end up looking dilapidated and unattractive in short order. You’ll feel better about the integrity of your home by focusing a significant part of your budget on the bones and outer clothing of your home – the roof, siding, windows, electrical, plumbing and HVAC systems.
Posted in Market Updates | Leave a comment

The federal government is committed to safeguarding the online marketplace for the benefit and protection of both consumers and businesses. As a result, it has passed a new anti-spam law.

The website, www.fightspam.gc.ca contains information about the law as well as advice on how to protect yourself and your electronic devices from being attacked, and what you can do to fight spam under the new legislation. While on the site:

• Take the online spam quiz to test your knowledge of electronic threats.

• Read the information sheets to learn how to protect yourself or your business from spam and other electronic threats.

• Look at the Frequently Asked Questions section to learn more about the new anti-spam law.

The law targets various types of violations including:

• The sending of commercial electronic messages without express or implied consent;

• The installation of computer programs on another person’s computer system without express consent;

• False or misleading electronic representations used to promote products, services or business interests; and

• The unauthorized collection of electronic addresses and the collection of personal information by accessing a computer system in contravention of an Act of Parliament.

Posted in Market Updates | Leave a comment