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Recent Posts

    I am a little put out because it seems in just the last 4 to 6 weeks I have gotten a lot more mail and phone calls dealing with bad contractors. A good housing market can drive less than qualified people out into the service field looking to make an easy, fast buck by doing shoddy work on unsuspecting homeowners. These folks are either doing poor quality work or just flat out doing no work and running with the money. Either way, people are getting ripped off. Finding a qualified professional doesn’t have to be a difficult task. Here are some guidelines for you to follow to make the selection process easier, and your decision a better, informed decision. - Employ a contractor with an established business in your area. Ask for and check references from past customers. By going back 5 years or more you can get a better picture of the company’s work, longevity in the community, and customer service. - Contact the state or local licensing agencies to ensure that your contractor meets all licensing requirements. While the state of Georgia does not require a licensed contractor for work costing under $2,500, a licensed contractor is preferable. - Check with the Office of Consumer Affairs and the Better Business Bureau to ensure there are no adverse files on record for your contractor. - Ask to see a copy of the contractor’s certification of insurance. Fake documentation is easy to come by so make sure you call the insurance company to verify the coverage. The company should carry worker’s comp, property damage and personal liability insurance. - If you solicit bids from different companies be sure they are bidding on the same scope and quality of work. If your project involves more than the changing of a light bulb you should also get a written contract from your remodeler. A well written contract is essential. - Be sure the contract includes the contractor’s name, address, phone number and license number. - Detail not only what the contractor will do, but what they will not do as well. - A detailed list of materials for the project should be included on the contract including size, color, model, brand name and product. - The start date and completion date should be included. One more thing before you get to work. Make sure all financial terms are understood and spelled out in the contract, including total price, payment schedule, and any cancellation penalty. A warranty covering materials and workmanship for a minimum of one year should also be written into the contract. Whew. I know that sounds like a lot of work but by putting the effort in up front, your project will run smoother and you will be able to enjoy the process. One more note. If you have an uneasy feeling about working a specific contractor, then don’t. You are going to spend a lot of money sprucing up your home. You should have a good working relationship with your contractor.  This should be fun. Enjoy your new look home… >>More from Dave Baker
  •   Think you know everything about your house? Here are 5 Things you absolutely have to know if you are a home owner…. Of all the things that have appeared in my newsletters over the years, this is the most requested one to repeat. So I am. Print it, put it on your bulletin board and remember it. 5 Things every home owner absolutely has to know. - How do you shut off the water. There is a water shut-off at your house, and there is one at the street. Find them both and know how to use them. Any plumbing problem becomes less a problem the second you cut off the water. Water shut-off is your first go-to when you have a water issue. Note - the cut-off at the street might require a special key. Get one (at any big box store) and know how to use it (not that difficult)!  - Know where your hvac on/off switch is. The switch is generally found near the furnace and it usually resembles a light switch. Cutting off your hvac system can keep smoke from spreading via the ductwork through your home. - How to shut down your electrical system. Know where the main breaker is - it could be in the circuit box or it could be a disconnect outside. Older boxes may require turning off each breaker individually. Know how yours works and where it is located. This is also probably where you can find your breakers to restore the power to an area where the breaker has been tripped. - Where is the fire? You should have working smoke detectors located in EVERY sleeping room, plus in hallways and gathering rooms. Having them in mechanical rooms is a good plan as well. Newer detectors will sync up with each other so when one goes off, they all will go off. - How do I get out. Every resident in a house has to know the best, and second best way out of every room in the house. Escape plans need to include rope ladders where applicable. They also need to be practiced, at least once a year. As people (children and adults) age their skill sets change. What was once an easy rope ladder climb for mom or dad now may be too much.  Adapt. >>More from Dave Baker
  • Q - Can you please run over the steps for getting a new roof to replace one with hail damage one more time? Frank in Dunwoody. A – The issue with bogus roofers (wildcat roofers, Chuck in a truck roofers, what have you) is how they operate. They will drive up to your house and tell you that you have hail damage to your shingles. (They claim they can tell by looking at a metal vent on your roof and seeing if it is dented. Once they find one in a neighborhood they pretty much assume all the houses will be that way.) They will tell you that your insurance company will write you a check for a new roof (which they will if you deserve one) and that they will be happy to do the work.  They will often also not give you a written estimate, rather telling you that they will be happy to do the work for the same amount as the insurance check. (What a coincidence). Here’s the problem. While you may very well get a new roof installed you are taking a huge chance. Does the company have insurance and workman’s comp? Their telling you ‘yes’ isn’t good enough. You need to see documentation. What if you have a problem? Your chances of getting any customer service out of your wildcat roofer are marginal at best. Does the roof come with a warranty or guarantee? Who will be around to do that work? Your best bet is to get three estimates for a new roof, in writing. Get and check references from 5 years ago. Check insurance and workers comp paper work. Make sure you getting the correct shingle. Remember, just because they found the problem doesn’t mean they have any rights to fix the problem. Do your homework. You have plenty of time to do this, your roof is not going to fall in or suddenly start leaking. You have time to make an informed choice. Use it and do so. Then warn your neighbors. Be on the lookout. Be alert. >>More from Dave Baker
  • Q – I know this isn’t a cooking show, but I hear you talking about natural gas a lot. We purchased a gas grill earlier this spring and are enjoying it immensely. Is there any maintenance that is required as we cook through the summer? Stephanie in Smyrna A – If you think the summer has been hot for you, how about your gas grill? At this time of year your gas grill needs a little tlc to keep producing at a high level. Here are a few things you can do: - Keep it clean. The cooking grids can be easily cleaned by covering them with a layer of aluminum foil and heating the grill on high for 10 to 15 minutes. The baked on food will turn to a fine white powder which can be easily brushed away. A wire brush on a regular basis will also do a good job. - Inspect cast iron grates for rusting. Re-place if necessary. - Check the burners for clogging. You can often remove whatever is clogging a burner with a pipe cleaner. - Keep your briquettes, rocks, or coals clean of food and grease. A buildup may lead to a fire. - Keep your grill covered to protect it from the elements. You can purchase generic grill covers in a variety of shapes at your local hardware store. - Check the hoses for cracks and holes, and make sure there are no kinks or bends in the hosing. A sign that you may have a hose issue is if you catch a whiff of gas around the grill when it is not in use. - Don’t use too much vinegar in your potato salad. There you go. When do we eat? >>More from Dave Baker
  • Q – We have a 1970’s house and are planning on having major work done that will include new windows, some siding repair, replacing some pillars in the front of the house, a new roof, and the exterior painting of the house. Which order should we do get the work done? Patty in Alpharetta A – Congratulations on up-dating your home!  I usually like to work from the top down, but in this case I would modify that a bit. First you should get all the construction work done. Fix, but don’t paint the new siding. Install the windows, patch any brick or concrete work that may need to be patched, fix the pillars – do all that first. Put your house back together first before you move on. Then, when your house is all back together, get the roofers out to roof, the gutter guys (could be the roofers) out to gutter, then the painters out to paint. Doing it that way keeps any one group from setting up their equipment on top of someone else’s stuff i.e. you don’t want the roofers leaning their ladders against your newly painted house. Fix the house in whatever order you choose, then finish the house from the top down. Then enjoy your new home! >>More from Dave Baker 
  • You’ve been sitting on it since the middle of April, but now it’s time to take another look at it. Your patio furniture isn’t what it used to be, but you can make it look good as new…  Thank goodness for my neighbors. Although they are nice people, I use them as a barometer for my home repair. When their grass looks like it needs cutting, I cut mine. When their garage door looks like it needs paint, I paint mine. You get the idea. So last weekend when we were invited over for bar-b-que, I noticed that their metal deck furniture looked as if it had seen its better days. So when I got home, you guessed it – I decided mine was ready for some refurbishing. Fortunately, refinishing your metal deck/patio furniture is easier than you think, and it will make a world of difference when it comes to enjoying your backyard. Here is the play by play on making your metal furniture look spiffy again: - Remove all the rubber tips from the legs and cushions. - Wash and rinse the furniture thoroughly using a mild detergent. - With a wire brush, scrape off all the rust and the loose flakes of paint. If you have places with paint ‘bubbling’ up on the furniture use a screwdriver to remove the bump, then wire brush it clean. - Once you are done with the scraping, use a commercial rust remover to remove all the rust. - Now the fun part. Paint or spray with rust-resistant paint. If the furniture is really corroded, you may want to use a rust-resistant primer first. Note – you don’t have to use black. What were once 4 black chairs and 2 black end tables on my deck are now 2 red chairs, two yellow chairs and two tables with a color that is something in the blue family, I think. - Now just let it dry – up to 24 hours for each coat depending on weather and paint instructions. Then replace rubber tips and cushions and bingo – new patio/deck furniture. If you take the time to do proper preparation, your job may well last a couple, three years. And at 105 hamburgers and hot dogs per year, that is a lot backyard enjoyment!  >> More from Dave Baker
  • 5 Things, the Reader’s Write Part IV - 5 more home remedies sent in by you… - For splinter removal, pour a drop of Elmer’s Glue-All over the splinter and let dry. When you peel the dried glue off your skin the splinter will stick to the glue. - A spray of Formula 401 will drop any bee, wasp, hornet or yellow jacket that gets into your house. - To cure a skin blemish cover it with honey and a band-air and let sit overnight. The honey kills the bacteria, keeps the skin sterile and speeds healing. If you attract ants, spray them with Formula 401. - Colgate toothpaste makes a great salve for burns. Don’t you wonder how that got discovered? - Next time your dog comes into the house wet, rub it down with any dryer sheet, like Bounce. It will instantly make your dog smell spring time fresh. It will also get him beat up by all the other neighborhood dogs. Keep those e-mails coming! >> More from Dave Baker
  • Q – In our crawlspace we have insulation up between the floor joists. Bits of the fiberglass insulation are starting to drop here and there, not a bunch, but it is noticeable.  It’s an older home. Should I have a company come out and remove it all and re-do it? Ann – Douglasville A – You can. Or you can do it yourself. Removing and installing insulation from the floor joists in your crawlspace ranks as one of the easier DIY projects lurking around your home. What you will need: long pants, long sleeved shirt, hat, gloves, mask and trash bags. The insulation may look harmless, but it is fiberglass which means it does have glass in it. It will irritate your skin if you come in contact with it, especially over an extended period of time. Simply pull it down and bag it. Most trash companies will accept cellulose and fiberglass insulation with their regular pick-up. You may want to call to verify. If not, your county landfill will. Now go to a big box store and get some rolls of new batt insulation. Take them into your crawlspace and unroll them between the joists and Viola! You are an insulation contractor. Your big box store will sell you metal wire that you can easily place between the joists every 6 ft. or so to help hold the insulation in place. Roll out the new insulation paper side up and you are done. If you aren’t happy with the way your crawlspace feels, or if it has a water leak, or foul moldy smell you may want to up-grade the air space in your crawl by having it encapsulated. Although it will be a little pricier, it will greatly improve the air in your house. Good luck! >> More from Dave Baker
  • Q – We live in an all brick house with wood windows. We have the exterior washed every spring. Is there anything else we should be paying attention to as far as washing the exterior? Jan – Ellenwood A – Washing your house every year is a great step in the right direction. There are a couple other things you need to stay on top of though. You have wood windows. You need to have them painted every 3-4 years’ish. This will help keep the wood from rotting – which is the job of paint. It looks nice yes, but it is there to protect the wood. That would also go for your eaves, fascia, or anything else that is made from wood on the exterior of your home. A place you really want to check is behind your gutters. Rain water can get behind the gutters and rot the wood which will result in eventual gutter failure. Get your roof examined (for free) too and you will be good to go!
  • Q – I am in the process of buying a new air conditioner. My current system is a 3 ton unit and it seems to run a long time to cool the house when it is especially hot outside. Would getting a bigger unit, i.e. more tonnage be a more practical option? Steve in Decatur A – One would think so. A larger unit would produce more cool air faster thus shortening the run time of the unit and saving you money on your energy bill. However one would be wrong. While a larger unit would kick out more cool air over a shorter run time that would not really be good for your house. The main function of your a/c unit is to reduce the amount of humidity in your home which makes it much more comfortable to live in. Shortening its run time will not remove enough humidity to make your house comfortable. In fact, it will be just the opposite. Your house will feel cool, but it will be a clammy and yuck feeling. Ever been in a cave? That would be your home. So when your hvac company comes out to size your house for the correct size unit (and every new install should come with an hvac company coming to your home to do a size calculation) you should get the correct size unit to keep your house cool and your humidity levels low. Also, as a quick note – your system will run for a long time when it is 95 degrees outside and your thermostat is set for 78 degrees. Figure your a/c can only cool the outside air by about 17 degrees and you will see the work it is doing.

News

  • It's been a major distraction for drivers on Florida’s Turnpike in Osceola County. They don't know if she has a home, but a dog, whom some are now calling Ozzy, certainly has a lot of people watching out for her. >> Read more trending news  Dispatchers at the turnpike’s Traffic Management Center have spent months doing everything they can to catch the dog before she or a driver gets hurt. On Friday, Florida Turnpike officials said she was captured. She is very calm and quiet. There's a whole team of people watching hundreds of cameras along the turnpike and keeping an eye out for anything that may be dangerous for drivers. But consistently since May, in one particular part of the road, they kept seeing the same dog over and over. Road Ranger Jonathon Hester patrols a stretch of the turnpike near the Yeehaw Junction. “Our No. 1 job is safety,' Hester said. He's usually routing drivers around wrecks or helping with a flat tire. But lately, he's been determined to find the furry fugitive. 'This one has just evaded us for a long time and we keep trying to find him,” Hester said. For about two months, dispatchers were seeing the yellow Labrador between mile markers 196 and 205 on the turnpike, headed southbound. 'And just kind of runs up and down the roadway. It's a big distraction for the motorists driving by,” Hester said. “People see it and slam on their brakes.' Officials said they have no idea where she came from. 'It's possible it could've come from a vehicle crash,” Hester said. “A motorist could've been traveling with this dog, and crashed and the dog got scared and ran away.' Because she's been living on the road in Osceola County, they have affectionately named her Ozzy. Osceola County Animal Control let Hester borrow a trap in an effort to catch Ozzy. Now that the dog is caught, they plan to scan Ozzy for a chip to see if she has a home. If not, Ozzy may be up for adoption.
  • The Jacksonville Game Center has been burglarized twice in less than a month with thieves making off with nearly $10,000 worth of Magic the Gathering cards.  >> Read more trending news  Store owners told Action News Jax that both times, the thieves busted through a wall to get in. Hector Ortiz is a regular at the game center. Action News Jax caught up with him as customers and staff were preparing for their Friday night Magic the Gathering tournament. “The place is pretty packed, we have anywhere from 20-plus players,” Ortiz said. “It’s like a second home. A lot of people come to get away from issues.” So, when these crimes occur, Ortiz said the customers take it as a personal attack. “The first time it happened was really heartbreaking,” Ortiz said. Action News Jax first reported three weeks ago when thieves busted a hole in the wall to take more than $5,000 rare Magic the Gathering cards. The owner said they came back again overnight Friday. Surveillance video showed the glow of their flashlights. The owner said this time, they left another hole in the wall and stole more than $3,000 in those same, valuable cards.  He said they busted through the wall at the restaurant next door. Friday, Hunan Wok had a board up in the window where the thieves broke their glass to get in.Ortiz had a message for the thieves. “Just grow up,” Ortiz said. “It’s not necessary. You’re attacking us for a quick buck. Just go out there and get a job, man.
  • A woman is in jail facing felony charges after Clayton County authorities said she allegedly sneaked a firecracker into a courtroom and threatened to blow up the place.  >> Read more trending news  Whitney Jefferies, 32, was arrested Monday night after a judge saw the threat the woman allegedly posted on social media, Channel 2 Action News reported.  Judge Michael Garrett said Jefferies was in the front row in his courtroom. He told Channel 2 she seemed agitated that it was taking so long for her case to be called.  Later, he saw a video she posted on her social media page in which she held up a firecracker and said she was going to blow the courtroom apart, the news station reported.  It is not clear how Jefferies got the firecracker into the courtroom, and Clayton County Sheriff Victor Hill has not commented on the situation. Deputies went to Jefferies’ condo in Morrow to arrest her, Channel 2 reported. Nobody answered when agents first knocked on her door, according to the news station.However, deputies realized someone was inside the home when a pizza was delivered to the house later that evening, Channel 2 reported.  Deputies went back to Jefferies’ door and brought her out in handcuffs, the news station reported.  Jefferies was booked into the Clayton jail, where she remains held on a $35,000 bond. She face three charges, including making terroristic threats and possession of a destructive device.
  • A Charlotte, North Carolina woman and her Australian boyfriend were murdered while they were traveling the world, officials said. >> Read more trending news  Chynna Deese, 24, and her boyfriend, Lucas Fowler, 23, were found shot and killed on a remote western Canadian highway Monday near their broken down van, WSOC-TV reported. Officials said they were exploring Canadian national parks and heading to Alaska. Police said this does not appear connected to any other crimes. Friday night, WSOC-TV interviewed Chynna's mother Sheila Deese, who said despite not knowing how her daughter died, she's comforted in knowing her daughter and Fowler were together until the end. 'It is a love story, a southern girl goes out of the country, meets this Australian and they were just the same personality,' Sheila Deese said. Canadian Police said they don't know if Deese and Fowler were targeted or if this was random. They said they are working with the FBI to find the couple's killer. 
  • A 77-year-old convicted murderer who was released from prison after being deemed 'too old' to kill again was convicted this week of fatally stabbing a Maine woman. >> Read more trending news  Albert Flick was found guilty Wednesday of killing 48-year-old Kimberly Dobbie in July 2018 outside a Lewiston laundromat. The attack happened in front of Dobbie's 11-year-old twin boys. 'I'm glad the verdict is done and over and I'm glad he'll never be able to walk the streets again,' said Dobbie's friend James Lipps, NBC News reported. This is Flick's second murder conviction. Flick was convicted in the 1979 death of his wife, Sandra. Similar to Dobbie's death, Flick stabbed his wife as her daughter watched, CNN reported. Flick was sentenced to 25 years in prison for the 1979 murder. He was released and was released in 2000 after 21 years for good behavior, The Washington Post reported.  By 2010, when he was in his late 60s, Flick had been convicted of assaulting two other women. Despite his record, the judge in the 2010 case sentenced him to four years. “At some point Mr. Flick is going to age out of his capacity to engage in this conduct,” Maine Superior Court Justice Robert E. Crowley said, according to the Portland Press Herald. “And incarcerating him beyond the time that he ages out doesn’t seem to me to make good sense.” Judge Crowley retired in 2010. He hasn't responded to media requests for comment. Flick is scheduled for sentencing August 9. He faces 25 years to life behind bars. “I firmly believe this could have been prevented,” Elsie Clement, whose mother was stabbed to death by Flick in 1979, told the Press Herald last year of Dobbie's death. “There is no reason this man should have been on the streets in the first place, no reason.”
  • Public school students in New Hampshire will be provided with free menstrual products thanks to the passage of a new law. SB 142, signed into law Wednesday by Gov. Chris Sununu, will require public schools to provide feminine hygiene products in women’s and gender-neutral bathrooms in high schools and middle schools starting January 1, The Concord Monitor reported.  >> Read more trending news  “This legislation is about equality and dignity,” Sununu said. “SB 142 will help ensure young women in New Hampshire public schools will have the freedom to learn without disruption – and free of shame, or fear of stigma.” The idea for the law came from 17-year-old Caroline Dillon, a high school student in Rochester, N.H. The high schooler was inspired to act after learning in U.S. History class about 'period poverty,' where those who can't afford feminine hygiene products miss work or school during menstruation. “It was sad to think about,” Dillon told The Monitor. “Girls in middle and high school would never dream of telling somebody that they have to miss school or use socks because they can’t pay for pads.” Dillon approached state Sen. Martha Hennessey with her idea, and Hennesey became a main sponsor of the bill. Educating some lawmakers was initially awkward, Dillon said. Most lawmakers are men, and wanted to avoid words like 'menstruation,' 'tampon' and 'feminine hygiene products,' The Monitor reported. “They would say ‘the thing’ or just try to avoid saying it all together,” Dillon said. “I would say to them, ‘If this makes you uncomfortable, think about how uncomfortable it is to be in this situation yourself. If you can't really picture it yourself, think about any woman in your life: your mom, your daughter, your aunt – think about how uncomfortable she feels – you are in the position to make it so these women don’t have to feel that way.’ ”  Dillon's efforts were ultimately successful. Funding for the new measure will come from school districts' budgets, according to CNN. Districts can partner with nonprofit organizations to provide the feminine hygiene products. Opponents of the bill said its amounts to an unconstitutional unfunded mandate,  USA Today reported. Similar laws currently exist in New York, Illinois and California.