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    The Power of Three: Home care across three generations – Citizentribune - November 19, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    If you have almost any kind of home repair, find a member of the Brewer family of Morristown.

    It all started with Mike Brewer, 67, who has worked in the heating and air business since 1973 with Mitchell-Hodge Electric and has run his own business, York of Morristown, for five and a half years. Then, son Chris expanded into the concrete business, followed by grandson Christian into household remodeling.

    Given their breadth of experience, one could call all three, at one time or another, to get repairs done on their house.

    Ive worked for other companies since 1973, but Ive had my own business for five and a half years, Mike said. Chris worked for in the 90s, then branched out to learn the concrete business. My grandson worked for me two or three years back, then he evidently didnt like it here, so he decided to go on into construction.

    Since COVID-19 happened this year, Brewer has been busier than ever.

    People have found that theyre stuck inside, he said. They want heat and they want air. Instead of going on vacation, people are spending their money for home improvement. That means a lot. Ive been extremely busy this summer. If you dont need heat or air, the phone doesnt ring.

    Im trying to get that business lull out of there, he said

    Hes stayed busy, Mikes wife Linda said.

    Brewer said that he has a couple of guys who helps install new units.

    Ive got three people who helps install, he said.

    In addition to working with Mitchell-Hodge Electric, Mike worked for Hodge Electric and was a plant maintenance worker at Lear Corporation for more than 22 years before retiring and opening York of Morristown.

    Im skilled in heating and air, a skilled electrician and gas piping. I have a lot of things that I can do and dont advertise unless theyre called for. The service aspect is completely different than the installing of the unit. I can make and install the ductwork. I dont ask someone to do something I wouldnt do, Mike said. If I ask them to do it, Ive done it.

    Mike learned at the feet of Luke Mitchell.

    Luke was a good man to work for and hed give you the shirt off his back. Hed give you a job to do. (For example) if you had a two-ton unit, you had two days and thats all you had.

    If you werent done in two days, hed want to know why. It didnt matter if it was an attic, crawl space or what. Back then, everything was all metal. There was no flex. All of your off lines were metal and you had to tile that in under the house, but you just had two days. There were just two of us who done it and we have it done. Now, with flex, it takes these guys three or four days, he said. I dont know why, it should be quicker, but people dont push like they used to. I dont push people.

    I believe you get a better job when you dont push people, Mike said. You want it done right and thats the main key to me. That has gotten me more work. Treating the customer right, treating them and their homes with respect instead of just going in and cutting up. You look for ways to do it as easy as possible doing the least amount of damage. I think that attitude will bring you more work and it always has.

    With a heat pump, there is a misconception that it costs more to heat than to cool.

    I stress cleaning a unit and keeping the filter changed, Mike said. Cleaning is so very important to the life of the unit. A good way to keep the unit clean is to change the air filter when one gets their electric bill. Some people get their bills in the middle of the month, but it doesnt matter as long as the filter is changed or checked monthly.

    With the modern energy efficient thermostats, temperature control has become a science.

    Some of the modern thermostats have a red light that comes on to tell people to change their filters, he said. If you go through the process of getting the light off there, then youve gone through the process of changing the filter.

    Once a year service also extends the life of a heat pump.

    I have some customers who do it in the spring, some in the fall, Mike said. It really needs to be done in the spring when the air conditioning season starts. The chemicals you use on your coils needs to wash off. You dont want to blow water into your ducts.

    York of Morristown is a member of the Better Business Bureau, York Heat Pumps are some of the best on the market, with a 10-year parts and labor warranty. York also has the Good Housekeeping Seal.

    I dont have to do the hard sell, Im already within 60 percent since I was referred by a friend, Mike said. Anytime during the day and night when a unit is down, I make a call. You cant leave somebody down. If youve sold a unit and they depend on you, you just cannot leave them down. I dont believe in that. I come when they ask me to come.

    Mike tries to put those buying units from him at the top of the list, as far as service goes, even working in customers who he services their equipment and is down.

    If youre down, Im going to do my best to get to you that day, he said. I also put priorities on age, if one is older or if they have younger children, than I try to take care of them that day.

    Chris Brewer

    I learned the business and worked in Blount County for a little while, but it wasnt for me.

    Chris got into the concrete business in 1998 and hasnt slowed down since.

    I met a man in Maryville who was needing help, Chris said. He told me that day, Im going to give you five years to get out of this, Im going to whup your butt if youre not out of this in five years. Here it is 20 years later and Im still doing it.

    Chris credits Walt Brown for helping him to learn the ins and outs of concrete.

    He did any big commercial from the Tri-Cities to Atlanta, all the way to Charlotte, North Carolina and Nashville, we did everything downtown, the convention center, Smokies Stadium, Gatlinburg Convention Center. Weve done a lot of huge projects through the years. Ive put down a couple of hundred thousand yards of concrete over these years.

    Chris does 90% of his work himself, from excavation, prep and form and finishing. He only brings in help when he has to put concrete on the ground. He has been working on his own for four years and has not had anyone to help him.

    Its getting to the point where Im going to have to get the help, Chris said. You have to have work coming in behind you so you can pay these guys. Once you take someone, not only are they helping you out, theyre family. Not only are you paying them, you are taking care of their bills, their food and their babies formula and diapers. If you dont have work coming in and keep them on the payroll, what are they going to do? Whos to say what this next years going to hold? It could blow up for me and Id have to hire 10 men.

    Chris said that it take a special breed to work concrete.

    Anymore, you cant find anyone who wants to work, Chris said. Especially, a small business like myself. Thats another reason why I dont overbook, I dont know if I can find anybody to help. Then you get these guys who dont know what theyre doing, demanding $13-$14 per hour.

    If I had the right type of finishers, Im like dad in that Im not going to ask someone to do something I wouldnt do, while I still can. I need somebody who I can point to a job and tell them to get it started, so I can go sell jobs or get with a new employee who is green like I was. I had to learn on my own, sit back and watch these guys with 15-30 years experience. Walt would pull me to the side every now and then and ask Hey, do you understand what is going on? and explain the process.

    Chris said it took years of putting concrete on the ground and researching the product to get where he is today.

    When you finish concrete, 90 percent come into a place and finish, he said. You get it ready, you buy the materials. Im a turnkey, from prepping to site prep, excavation to cleanup of the site, I do it all. When I sell a job, I try to leave my job site the way it was, if not better. Thats kind of hard to do when youre in construction, especially a dirty job like this.

    If you can appease the customers from the get-go, that extra step will take you a long way, Chris said.

    Christian Brewer, Mr. Bs Home Improvement

    Unlike Chris, Christian deals with interior improvements, in particular kitchen and bathroom remodels.

    Ive been on my own for two years, Christian said. The first time I did it was with Dad (Chris).

    Christian got into home remodeling by accident.

    I was suspended from high school, he said. He took me to work and I realized that I didnt want to do concrete!

    Christian joined the military after high school and learned his work ethic from the military.

    It seems hereditary, which is a good thing, but the military got me straightened out, Christian said. When I got back, I worked for my grandfather in 2017. Its not that I didnt enjoy it, I wanted to do something that no one else was doing. I got into construction working for a Morristown company.

    Christian started working on a subdivision in Jefferson City.

    We did a little bit of everything, we laid tile, sheetrock, framing, some roofing, he said. Thats when I realized that there are no tile guys, anywhere. They had only one and he never showed up. The guy who taught me to do tile worked for the same company. Every once in a while, theyd have to do the tile. I got tired of working for them and not getting paid what youre worth. I decided to go out on my own and got into tile work.

    Christian has done a lot of interior remodeling, including roll-in showers for veterans.

    Thats where I really got into it and word got out, he said.

    Christian critiques every job to see where he can improve.

    I do mostly tile work, but I do just about anything, as long as it doesnt involve concrete, he said. Then Ill tell them to call Chris.

    All three help each other with business contacts because, after all, they are family.

    You have a guy who can build it, a guy who can do the heating and air and a guy who can do all of the concrete work, Mike said. You have everything you need, but the plumbing, and I can do that, too, but I dont push that.

    Mike and Linda will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in May.

    She hadnt killed me yet, but shes threatened several times, Mike said.

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    The Power of Three: Home care across three generations - Citizentribune

    When Should You Call For A Free Roof Inspection? – - November 15, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Posted: Nov 13, 2020 / 08:54 AM EST / Updated: Nov 13, 2020 / 08:55 AM EST

    It is that time of year when the hot summer of North Carolina is slowly drifting away and cooler days are ahead of us. As the weather changes North Carolinians see more rain, more hurricanes start to roll through and North Carolinians are more aware of their leaking drains, leaking roofs and more.

    Your home is your most important investment because its where you and your family live. The roof is what protects your home from the elements, and it is important to make sure that you have a quality roof over head. It is always better to address issues while they are still manageable, rather than letting damages get out of hand and potentially cause damage to other areas of your home. Roofs should be inspected twice per year and after any major storm event. Harbeck Roofing & Remodeling offers complimentary no obligation roof inspections to ensure that your home is in peak condition. Here are 5 signs that you should call today for a free roof inspection.

    When there are shingles missing from your roof, it is very important to call for a roof inspection. Missing shingles allow a way for water to get into your home. They can also cause a zipper effect in future storms where you can lose more shingles and have more extensive damage.

    Wind can cause shingles to lift, crease, or break over time. This can allow wind driven rain to infiltrate the underlayment of the roof, which can cause more damage in the future. Lifted shingles need to be addressed before they become a more serious issue.

    Ridge vent can be prone to lifting in the wind due to major storm events or improper installation. Ridge vent is key to proper attic and home ventilation, but lifting ridge vent can allow water to enter your home with wind driven rain and cause interior damage. If you notice that your ridge vent is lifting, you need to call for an inspection.

    Leaks are always a sign of a problem. Not only are leaks inconvenient, but they can also cause expensive interior damage to your home. Leaks can be caused by a number of factors and it is important to get them checked out before they cause more damage to the home.

    Excessive amounts of granules running off your roof into gutters, driveways, or yards is a sign that your roof is past its lifespan. Degranulation of shingles causes your roof to lose water shedding capabilities and can potentially allow water to penetrate through the raw fiberglass matting remaining. This is typically a sign that your roof is due for replacement.

    Harbeck Roofing wants to make sure that your homes are protected before winter storms hit so that during this holiday season you dont need to be concerned about your roof. If you are interested in receiving your free consultation head on over to:

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    When Should You Call For A Free Roof Inspection? -

    ABOUT REAL ESTATE: How to get home-improvement items on the ‘cheap’ – Sarasota Herald-Tribune - October 23, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    David W. Myers| Kings Feature Syndicate

    There are several ways to save money when launching a new construction or remodeling job. One of the best is to shop at the "ReStores" that are operated by the nation's largest not-for-profit housing group, Habitat for Humanity.

    DEAR MR. MYERS: I recently heard that one of my favorite charities, Habitat for Humanity, also operates several retail stores that offer some good bargains in things like construction materials, appliances and other home-improvement items. Is this true? If so, how can I find a store near me?

    ANSWER: Habitat for Humanity, which has built more than 300,000 homes for low- and moderate-income persons in the U.S. and rehabilitated countless more, is one of my favorite non-profit groups too. And yes, it's true: Most of the group's so-called "Habitat ReStores" sell a variety of construction and home-improvement items, from lumber and paint to furniture and appliances.

    Items sold at the ReStores are typically donated by local retailers, builders, contractors and individuals - which allows Habitat to sell the items at a deep discount to what you would normally pay. Money from the sales is used to build or rehab even more homes, usually in the same general area where the stores are located.

    Some of the items at the stores are brand-new, while others are used but in good condition. Donations come in often but on an unscheduled basis, which means the items you want might not be available today but that you could find a large selection of them a week or two from now.

    The best way to find the nearest ReStore is to visit Habitat for Humanity's internet web site ( and then enter your ZIP code in the box marked "Search for Affiliates/ReStores." Or, you can contact the nearest office of Habitat and ask for the phone number of the store that is closest to you.

    * * *

    DEAR MR. MYERS: My wife and I have been interviewing several real estate agents to sell our home. Two of the agents want a 90-day sale agreement, another wants a four-month deal, and two others say that they won't market our property unless we sign a contract for six months! How long should a typical sales agreement last?

    ANSWER: I usually tell sellers to insist on a 90-day listing contract. That's typically enough time for a good agent to market the property effectively, but also allows the seller to release the salesperson without paying a commission if the agent hasn't found a buyer when the three-month time frame is up.

    Of course, sales in many parts of the country remain slow. Although I would still never sign a six-month agreement with an agent, might consider a four-month term if sales in my particular area were softening and I was unusually impressed with the agent's skills and proposed marketing plan.

    With sales cooling as the market heads into its usual autumn and winter doldrums, even some of the best agents need a few extra weeks to properly market a home and then shepherd the deal through to closing day

    * * *

    DEAR MR. MYERS: I want to buy my first house, so I am following your recent advice to have the property inspected by a professional. What does a professional inspector look for?

    ANSWER: According to the American Society of Home Inspectors - a trade association that represents more than 3,000 certified inspectors across the nation - a typical inspector's report should cover the condition of the home's heating system, its central air-conditioning system, and its insulation.

    The inspector should also review the roof, the home's attic, all of its walls, the windows and doors, and its foundation and basement too.

    You can find more information at the association's web site,

    Our booklet, "Straight Talk about Living Trusts," explains how even low- and middle-income homeowners can now reap the same benefits that creating an inexpensive trust once provided only to the wealthiest families. For a copy, send $4 and a self-addressed, stamped envelope to D. Myers/Trust, P.O. Box 4405, Culver City, CA 90231-4405. Net proceeds will be donated to the American Red Cross. Send questions to that same address, and we'll try to respond in a future column.

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    ABOUT REAL ESTATE: How to get home-improvement items on the 'cheap' - Sarasota Herald-Tribune

    In Beetlejuice, Haunting Is Another Kind of Quarantine – - April 22, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Geffen/Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock


    "I'm just so glad we're spending our vacation at home," newlywed Barbara Maitland (Geena Davis) declares at the beginning of Tim Burton's 1988 horror-comedy Beetlejuice. She means it, too. This isn't someone who's making the best of a bad situation: She likes the house she shares with Adam (Alec Baldwin); she's happy with the way they've decorated it; she seems to be really into cleaning; and there's a model of the town they live in sitting in the attic waiting to be tinkered with. The Maitlands have what so many of us wish for: the time and space to sit around the house, pursuing little side projects and hanging out with a significant other. Or, I should say, they have what so many of us wished for. But things look different on the other side.

    After dying in an accident, the Maitlands find themselves haunting their home. Though it takes a moment to get used to, it's not all that different from vacation mode. There are small issuesBarbara can't use the vacuum cleaner because it's in the garage, and any time they step out of the house they fall into a Dali-esque purgatorybut for the most part, it's fine. They adjust to the new normal. That is, until the house gets sold to the Deetzes, New Yorkers fleeing the city who have big plans for remodeling. The arrival of the home's new owners, coupled with the realization that they'll be haunting their home for 125 years, troubles the deceased couple's extended vacation. But Beetlejuice isn't a cautionary tale about being careful (or at least specific) about what you wish for. The real problem posed by the film comes down to process: To get the Deetzes out, the Maitlands have to learn new skills, follow a complex set of rules for the recently deceased, and navigate a labyrinthine afterlife casework system. Dying is no big deal; it's the bureaucracy that'll kill you.

    Beetlejuice consistently surprises with what it chooses to emphasize and what it treats as commonplace. The film repeatedly makes the point that death is the least strange aspect of the Maitlands' journey. For instance, Burton gives the film's idyllic set-up a foreboding gloss: In the opening moments, as the camera soars over the town, the streets are completely empty. It looks like Adam's modelor like Dustin Hoffman and the crew from Outbreak already came through. Seconds later, a spider climbs across buildings on the actual model, and Adam gently plucks it from the structure, coos at it amiablyand throws it out the window. I don't know anything about spiders that wasn't covered in Charlotte's Web, but this seems a bit intense.

    Delia Deetz (Catherine O'Hara), meanwhile, has very little trouble adjusting to the idea that there are ghosts in the house, but she simply cannot abide their taste. "They're in there?" she asks when her goth stepdaughter Lydia (Winona Rider) tells her the Maitlands are in the attic. "They must live like animals!" Minutes later she's reminding Lydia of a life lesson that seems to precede their extraordinary circumstances: "You have got to take the upper hand in all situations, or peoplewhether they're dead or alivewill walk all over you." The key to navigating the world in Beetlejuice, then, is to know the rulesor make up your own. And that's especially clear with the introduction of the titular character (Michael Keaton), who must be invoked three times to be released. He's not vanquished until Barbara decides she's can, in fact, go into the Dali desert and ride a sandsnake into the house. To best the bureaucratic strangeness of life and afterlife, you have to know when to follow the rules and when to rely on your own inventiveness.

    Geffen/Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

    As is the case with many horror-comedies (including Death Becomes Her, which we revisited earlier this week), piercing the veil between life and death has an effect not unlike pulling back the curtain on the Wizard of Oz: it exposes the small but consequential untruths we've glommed onto because we think we need them to survive. In Beetlejuice, one untruth is that the living know how to live. When Adam asks Lydia how she's able to see dead people, she replies that she's read the whole Handbook for the Recently Deceased. "It says, 'Live people ignore the strange and unusual.'" The Deetzes are presented as the otherworldly intruders in the home, rather than the ghosts who walk the halls. In this world, it's the living who are haunting their own lives.

    The opportunity presented by the filmand by the Maitlands' staycation, to which they happily returnis the chance to pay attention to the strange and unusual, and to treat it like a part of the fabric of every day: to be present in the strangeness, even while absent from lifemetaphysically or otherwise.

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    In Beetlejuice, Haunting Is Another Kind of Quarantine -

    Pod People: San Antonio-based Podcasts That Can Help You While Away the Time in Quarantine – San Antonio Current - March 28, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Theres never been a better time to plug into free content. If cabin fever has you doing some impromptu remodeling or long-put-off yard work, podcasts make perfect companions. These local RSS feeds let us listen in on diverse San Antonians who at least sound like theyre all in the same room.

    All My Hexes

    All My Hexes is an actual-play tabletop gaming podcast that makes out-of-this-world horror feel very close to home even eerily quaint at times. Listeners can join four quirky investigators as they role-play their way through weird happenings in the fictional oil-boom town of Hext, Texas the kind of town where you can blink and miss it if youre driving down the highway. Game master and writer Bernetta McFergus has been professionally running RPGs in San Antonio for years, but the idea for Hext came from her experience ghost hunting throughout South Texas. By using the Monster of the Week ruleset which involves much fewer dice rolls than Dungeons & Dragons the show feels less like a game and more like an improvised radio play. Right now, the Hext gang is releasing bonus weekly episodes of a previously Patreon-exclusive storyline while they get a virtual table set-up for their next adventure. New episodes drop Wednesdays and are available at Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher and other podcatchers.

    Comedia A Go-GoPresents Public Axis

    You know those twisted conversations you have with only your closest friends that end up being really funny in a way that can never see the light of day? Comedia A Go-Go members Larry Garza, Jess Castro and Regan Arevalos have done something like that every third Friday of the month in front of a live audience at Blind Tiger Comedy Club and recorded it. The result is Public Axis, a roundtable discussion podcast featuring guest comedians, filmmakers and various artists spinning out unfiltered thoughts on nerdtastic subjects in pop culture, video games, science news and nostalgia. Naturally, new recordings arent happening right now, but CAGG has yet to release a handful of their latest shows. The casts are available at Apple Podcasts, Stitcher and other major podcatchers, with new episodes exclusively at The Problem Attic

    It stands to reason that interesting people have interesting problems. Thats the premise of comedian Zach Dicksons recently launched The Problem Attic, which he calls the worst advice podcast ever. At some point in each episode, Dickson asks his guests mostly Texan comedians and other entertainment personalities whats wrong with them, which inevitably leads to copious tangents and first-hand accounts of bad decisions. Are lessons learned? Maybe. But as Dickson says: Its the problem attic, not an answer cellar. Dickson has been releasing two episodes a week since February 5 and shows no signs of slowing, so this pod should make for perfect binging. No set release schedule. Available at Apple Podcasts, YouTube, Spotify, Stitcher and other major podcatchers.

    Willful Ignorance Podcast

    If youve ever wanted insight into the world of stand-up, the Willful Ignorance Podcast lets you sink into a virtual couch and chill with some of the funniest people in Texas. Joshua Cabaza and George Anthonys wide range of guest comic offer insights into the funny biz, and the two have worked together to bring even more laughs to the Lone Star State. Their video sketch collabs led them to found a recurring film competition Battle of the Sketches, in which they pit entries against each other in a live Battle Royale tour of U.S. cities, including a final round sponsored by Alamo Drafthouse in Austin. Their YouTube channel FMCW Studios also showcases a plethora of sketch comedy, including animated web series Blair and the Bear. New episodes on Thursdays. Available at Apple Podcasts, YouTube, SoundCloud and other major podcatchers.

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    Pod People: San Antonio-based Podcasts That Can Help You While Away the Time in Quarantine - San Antonio Current

    Rosie on the House: Buying or selling? What to expect from home inspection – Green Valley News - March 5, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    You finally got an offer on your house and the buyer had a home inspection done. But the report says that several items may not be up to standards or are in need of repair or replacing.

    So, what do you do? You have been informed about items or issues in your home that you did not know about; or maybe you did know about them but havent had the time or know-how to fix them. And do you really have to replace your old water heater or dishwasher for the buyer?

    Most real estate agents representing buyers recommend having a home inspection before completing a sale. They do it, of course, to protect the buyer from unknown or undisclosed issues and to give them a better understanding of the home they are about to buy.

    Home inspection reports are based on a visual inspection of the property as observed at the time of the inspection. It should state what items are in need of immediate major repair and any recommendations to correct, monitor or evaluate by appropriate persons. A report might state the condition of the water heater tank or the roof and make a prediction that it is near the end of use. It may also advise that issues be further reviewed by a qualified and licensed contractor.

    If you dont agree with what a home inspector found, you can have your own inspector come in to give a second opinion. Remember to have a qualified licensed Arizona home inspector so that the report has validity.

    You also have to discern significant structural problems mentioned in the report from the aesthetic issues. The report may mention appliances or operating components in the home that may need replacing. But what is much more important is any significant findings, like cracks in the foundation. Little cracks in a wall mean there has been some settling, which is common, but when all the doors in the hallway stick or dont latch or the door frames are out of square, that could mean a more significant and troubling foundation problem.

    Another issue might be remodeling that may not measure up to the building code or workmanship standards. Thats why its always important before starting a big project in your house to get permits when the work involves structural modifications, electricity, gas lines or changes in water lines, as well as additions to the floor plan. And always use a licensed and qualified contractor. Sometimes a home inspector may question those types of situations and if you dont have the proper documentation on who did the work, you may be saying goodbye to this buyer.

    I always recommend checking with the appropriate building department and do a history check to verify all remodeling was done with a building permit, then get a list of the licensed contractors who completed the work.

    Reports can talk about whether some situations dont meet general building and safety standards, and it's usually best to upgrade those areas. That often becomes the buyers responsibility.

    Remember, as the seller, you must reveal everything you know about your home. However, you dont have to fix anything but the warrantied items in the homes and your Realtor knows what these are.

    Other common problems we see in home inspections:

    Not enough attic insulation

    Lack of GFIC outlets (ground fault interrupter circuits)

    Peeling exterior paint

    Roof repair or replacement

    Generally speaking, no house is perfect, and the home inspectors report is not a work list for the buyer. If the inspection turns up problems, most buyers and sellers end up getting them fixed before escrow or including money in the final settlement of the sale to pay for the new roof or rusty water heater.

    For more do-it-yourself tips, go to An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program, heard locally from 8 to 11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) in Tucson and from 7 to 10 a.m. on KGVY-AM (1080) and -FM (100.7) in Green Valley. Call 888-767-4348.

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    Rosie on the House: Buying or selling? What to expect from home inspection - Green Valley News

    Home builder confidence high, but cost and availability of homes are issues | – Mississippi Business Journal - February 25, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder


    The current mood of home builders in Mississippi and across the country is better now than it has been since the Great Recession, said David Saulters, immediate past president of the Home Builders Association of Mississippi (HBAM) and owner of Sigma Companies and RE-MAX Real Estate Partners in Hattiesburg.

    It took a long time for the construction business to make it through the Great Recession, Saulters said.

    According to the National Association of Homebuilders (NAHB), builder confidence is at an all-time high. However, in both Mississippi and the rest of the country, there is a lack of inventory, particularly when it comes to affordable housing.

    I see that from the real estate side of my business, Saulters said. The question is, Can builders deliver homes that are affordable for the buyer and still profitable for the builders to be able to make a living? The cost of materials and labor has moved up and home prices have moved up, too, but not enough to have an adequate margin for builders.

    Risks builders take include constructing spec houses that either dont sell or sell slowly. Another factor can be homes failing to appraise for the sales price needed to allow builders an adequate profit margin.

    Custom homes have done pretty well, but I dont think consumers understand the risks builders take with spec houses, he said. Not only does the builder take risks from the selling standpoint, but the warranties require builders stand behind the homes structural items for six years.

    Saulters said Hattiesburg is a super market for homes. Petal in Forrest County, as well as Oak Grove in Lamar County, have traditionally done well, but now so are Sumrall and Purvis.

    Finding an adequate skilled labor force continues to be a challenge for homebuilders, said HBAM Executive Vice President Jimmie B. Reynolds.

    There is definitely a shortage of construction workers, Reynolds said. There are more jobs than people to fill those jobs. From comments Gov. Tate Reeves has made, he is focused on that. One of governors big things is workforce development and we want to be a big part of that. The leadership in the legislature also knows there is a shortage.

    One strategy for filling the need now and in the future is to introduce young people to careers in the building trades such as electrical, plumbing, masonry and carpentry. Reynolds said it is important to get past the mindset that everyone needs to attend a four-year college.

    There are incredible opportunities for lifetime careers for young people to go into the construction trades, and we want to make sure that public schools are providing educational opportunities to show students what good-paying jobs are out there for them, Reynolds said. There is great money to made without graduating from a four-year college or university with a large amount of student loan debt.

    Home builders want to protect the public by preventing unscrupulous people from taking advantages of consumers. Reynolds said one way to do this is to make sure home builders are licensed and meet minimum requirements set by the state.

    The Mississippi State Board of Contractors requirements set minimum standards, he said. We encourage the public to use licensed and insured contractors and builders.

    But it is important to prevent onerous legislation that raises costs for builders and buyers. Reynolds is at the Mississippi Legislature on a regular basis monitoring legislation that would impact the home building industry.

    Right now, the strong economy has created a good environment for home builders, Reynolds said. But it is important to keep track of regulatory changes.

    Our association has a lot to offer builders. There are many benefits to being a member of the association. A lot of times folks dont realize HBAM and NAHB are all about advocacy, working really hard every day to make sure to look out for the home building industry and the consumer.

    Nationally, there is an affordability issue which is partly related to government regulations, said Kenneth Estes, owner, Estes Building & Remodeling, Tupelo, president of the Homebuilders and Remodeling Association of Northeast Mississippi, a HBAM state representative, and immediate past chairman of the Area 8 region of NAHB.

    The president has tried to ease some of the regulatory burden, Estes said. He has gone back and reversed some of the laws President Obama put in effect. NAHB has estimated that out of the average cost of a new home, 25 to 30 percent is some form of local, state or national regulations.

    One example he gave is the standards dictating toilets use less water. Estes said there is a proposal to lower it once again from the current standard, which would drive up construction costs even more. Another proposal would require attic insulation in some climate zones go up from R-30 to R-49. While more energy efficient, it might take 15 years to recover the costs in energy saving. Estes said this would be a cost difficult to pass on to buyers.

    Other proposals he thinks would unnecessarily drive up costs are requiring mandatory electric car charging stations in all residential construction, and mandatory air testing for tightness in all duct work.

    There is no appraisal value for that, Estes said. It is just an expense the builders would have to incur and try to pass on to the consumer. NAHB is working to combat those changes.

    Estes agrees home building is healthy overall. The economy continues to grow in Mississippi and the nation, and people are still building new homes across the nation.

    There are some pockets doing better than others, Estes said. You always have that even in a down economy. The market in Tupelo is pretty good, although still not back to pre-Recession levels. Right now, in Tupelo there is still a lot of residential construction and commercial construction is very hot.

    Estes agrees with others in HBAM that there are major issues with workforce availability.

    In recent years locally, Ive probably averaged a phone call a month from someone wanting a job in construction, Estes said. I havent had a call in ten months from anyone asking for a job. The phone is ringing off the hook with people wanting jobs bid, but there is not enough labor force to get the jobs done. It takes longer to get onto jobs once you get them bid because of the lack of labor.


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    Home builder confidence high, but cost and availability of homes are issues | - Mississippi Business Journal

    Spring edition of In Wheeling magazine focuses on the renovation of older homes – WTRF - February 22, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    WHEELING, W. Va. (WTRF) Architect and designer Elena DAngelo, originally of Rome, has brought her old-world style to Wheeling, while creating spaces tailored to modern families.She says in Europe, they never tear down and build new.

    We just believe in preservation and restoration so we try to blend in the new with the old, she said.

    Shes currently working on a 1937 two-story frame home at 306 Jefferson Avenue, Wheeling, where she loves the woodwork and the clean square lines.

    She says Americans watch home renovation shows and believe we can do it ourselves, but thats often not accurate.

    Even the professionals get surprised, finding decades and layers of wall coverings and paint.

    Elenas company, Advanced Design, and Remodeling discovered one paint with a glassy surface that cant be painted over.

    It just dries and peels right back off, said Debbie Wilkinson, painter and creative advisor. So weve had to do some research and weve had to talk and weve had to figure out how to work with tha surface.

    Elena leaves one piece of her artwork in every house she rehabs, usually painted on a door.And she says an open floor plan doesnt work in every house.

    Like every European woman, I think that the house is the mirror of your personality, so if somebody steps in my house, I dont want that person to see the mess in the sink, she said. So that kitchen needs a door!

    She prefers hard floors to carpets all through the house, with one exception.

    I do carpet the bedrooms because I believe it brings warmth to the room because, you know, when you wake up in the morning, you dont want to put your feet on the icy floor, she explained.

    They say Elena is not a house flipper looking for a quick turnaround.

    She walks into a place and she enhances the design of the house, said Wilkinson.

    She sees the modern familys desire for extra spaces like a man cave or a home office.

    In the house on Jefferson Avenue, she created rooms in a charming unfinished attic.

    And we add rooms in the basement that can be used for a gym or a family room, Wilkinson noted.

    They believe a house should be hospitable to guests, all the way down to the floor.

    I always think its not very nice when people come to visit and the homeowner tells them to take their shoes off so they dont get the carpet dirty, Elena said.

    She said the house on Jefferson Avenue will be finished by early March.

    Go here to read the rest:
    Spring edition of In Wheeling magazine focuses on the renovation of older homes - WTRF

    Making it in the Magic Valley: 12 local organizations that found success and give back – Twin Falls Times-News - February 10, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    The Magic Valley Area Humanitarian Center blossoms during its first year

    Volunteers work Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, at the Magic Valley Area Humanitarian Center in Rupert.

    RUPERT The Magic Valley Area Humanitarian Center is a non-profit volunteer-based organization that uses donations of supplies, time and labor to help people in need with school supplies, hygiene kits and supplies for newborns, along with handcrafted quilts, sleeping mats for those experiencing homelessness and learning games for youth or people who experienced a stroke.

    Leslie Garner, Ruperts special projects manager, nominated the nonprofit. Volunteers come together to give of their time, talents and resources to care for those in need, she wrote in her nomination.

    The Magic Valley Area Humanitarian Center President Becky Schow said the number of regular volunteers that come to lend their time and talents to the project has doubled since the center opened 10 months ago.

    Its easy to understand why people love to come into the center because they know the person who will receive the items really needs the help, she said.

    From left, Becky Schow, Sally * and Kathy Duncan have a photo taken Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, at the Magic Valley Area Humanitarian Center in Rupert.

    The center networks with about 35 organizations across the region, including schools, nursing homes, domestic violence and homeless shelters, among others to provide supplies.

    Basically, people want to help people, she said. People want to help their neighbors and they know they are making a difference.

    Rupert really benefits from having such a quality organization in the city, Rupert Mayor Mike Brown said.

    But, Rupert isnt the only place to benefit, he said. The benefits extend all over the Magic Valley and Idaho.

    The Magic Valley Area Humanitarian Center sits Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in Rupert.

    Along with all the products they are delivering to people in need, they are providing people with the opportunity to help others, Brown said.

    It makes you feel good when you are able to help someone else, he said. I really commend those folks for doing this.

    People are often hooked when they come into the center, which is clean and bright and nicely stocked with project materials, Schow said.

    People with all types of skill sets are able to help with the various steps of each project.

    People come into the center and they love how it makes them feel, Schow said. Its a win-win situation whether people are receiving the items or serving and volunteering. Its just an incredible happy space.

    About: The Magic Valley Area Humanitarian Center is a non-profit organization that helps people in need with handcrafted items and kits that are made by community volunteers.

    Years in the Magic Valley: The organization opened its doors in March 2019

    Number of regular volunteers: 70

    Interesting fact: The center logged 29,750 service hours by volunteers through Jan. 23, 2020.

    Community contributions: The center networks with about 35 organizations across the Magic Valley that help people in need and provides a variety of items and kits to make peoples lives a little easier. The center also provides an opportunity for volunteers to get involved and help others.

    Former owners, Kirt and Carol Martin, left, talk with new owners, Jennifer and Arthur Reece, on Jan. 23 at Snake River Grill in Hagerman. The Reeces say they will continue to use Chef Martin's menu and recipes.

    HAGERMAN Chef Kirt Martin says his dedication to local growers, fish farms and wineries has kept Snake River Grill customers happy for a quarter of a century.

    Now, the Cordon Bleu-educated chef is giving up his grill at the south end of Hagerman to teach culinary arts and food science at Hagerman High School.

    The Hagerman Valley, known as the banana belt of Idaho, grows a unique variety of food from melons and wine grapes to sturgeon and alligator.

    Its my Shangri-La, Martin said. I dont take any of this for granted.

    Former owners Kirt and Carol Martin, left, pose for a portrait with new owners Jennifer and Arthur Reece on Jan. 23 at Snake River Grill in Hagerman.

    He plans to inspire his students at the high school many of whom were raised on microwaved meals with the same appreciation for fresh food and community.

    These kids are a sponge, absorbing what hes teaching, Gooding County Commissioner Mark Bolduc said. Kirt is showing them how to get fresh ingredients and how to cook them. I think people are becoming more and more interested in knowing where their food comes from.

    Bolduc and Judy Osborne, treasurer of the Hagerman Valley Chamber of Commerce, say they are happy to have Martin and his wife, Carol, stay in Hagerman.

    Snake River Grill supports the whole economy of the valley, Bolduc, a business owner and real estate agent, said.

    Part of the dining area sits closed during morning hours Jan. 23 at Snake River Grill in Hagerman. Snake River Grill has been selected as one of the businesses featured for the Making it in the Magic Valley award.

    The Martins have been great supporters of everything in the valley, he said. They are very enthusiastic about life in general.

    Meanwhile, Arthur and Jennifer Reece, the new owners of the Snake River Grill, plan to continue Martins focus on buying local.

    Theyre keeping the same crew and the same recipes, Martin said.

    About: Snake River Grill is a family restaurant serving customers from Twin Falls to Boise.

    Years in the Magic Valley: 25 years

    Number of employees: 23

    Interesting fact: After a quarter-century at Snake River Grill, Chef Kirt Martin has sold his business to teach food science and culinary arts at Hagerman High School.

    Community contribution: Snake River Grill's menu includes as many locally grown products as possible. "Fresh is what we strive for," Chef Kirt Martin said.

    Vice President of Customer Experience Retha Nesmith poses for a portrait Jan. 24 at Plant Therapy. The company was founded nine years ago and now has 100 employees, most of whom work in Twin Falls.

    TWIN FALLS Plant Therapy is growing like a weed.

    The essential oils company opened in Twin Falls in 2011. Since then its been named Idahos fastest growing company and the 31st fastest growing business in the country.

    Essential oils are extracted from plants. Theyre basically a concentrated, bottled version of the aromatic chemicals within plants. Some say that using essential oils as a form of aromatherapy, or rubbing them on the skin, can help with a wide variety of ailments.

    They have a lot of different therapeutic benefits, said Plant Therapy Vice President of Customer Experience Retha Nesmith.

    Nesmith said essential oils can relieve anxiety, depression, insomnia and pain.

    Products sit for sale Jan. 20 at Plant Therapy inTwin Falls. Plant Therapy develops and manufactures its products here.

    Peppermint essential oils are typically said to increase energy. Lavender is thought of as a stress reliever. Sandalwood can help with focus. Plant Therapy sources some of its peppermint and lavender essential oils from Idaho.

    Our oils come from all over the world, Nesmith said.

    Plant Therapy isnt the first essential oils company. But Nesmith said part of the business success is due to finding a unique sales niche.

    Essential oils are often sold as part of multi-level marketing efforts. Plant Therapy sells its products directly to consumers.

    We were one of the first direct-to-consumer essential oils companies, Nesmith said.

    Plant Therapy continues to grow fast. The Twin Falls-based company has 100 employees, and four retail stores in Idaho.

    The company is planning a major launch of 30 broad-spectrum CBD products sometime in the next few months, as well as new lotions.

    LeeAnn Cline is the Times-News ambassador to the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. She said Plant Therapy does a lot to give back to the Magic Valley.

    Their contributions to the community go above and beyond, Cline said. You will see a Plant Therapy team volunteering their time at all the local charitable and fundraising events. Theyre always smiling and always willing to help.

    Nesmith said that charitable streak comes from the top.

    Chris (Jones, the owner,) is just one of the most charitable people I know, she said. She noted that Plant Therapy has helped build wells and an orphanage in Africa, and that company employees participate in trash clean up days.

    About: Plant Therapy makes essential oils strongly scented liquids extracted from plants and used primarily for aromatherapy and sells them directly to consumers.

    Years in the Magic Valley: 9

    Number of employees: 100, mostly in Twin Falls, but also in Boise.

    Interesting fact: Plant Therapy uses lavender and peppermint grown in Idaho in some of its oils.

    Community contribution: Company employees often volunteer at local charitable and fundraising events, and help pick up trash.

    Children play outside Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, at the Boys and Girls Club of the Magic Valley in Rupert.

    RUPERT The Boys & Girls Clubs of Magic Valley in Rupert opened in the summer of 2018. The programs continued growth allowed the program to expand to a third location at Heyburn Elementary School this year.

    Community partnerships with the Minidoka County School District and the city of Rupert allowed the program to easily expand, said Lindsey Westburg, the groups executive director.

    The response in the community to this program has been tremendous, Rupert Mayor Mike Brown said. We knew we needed something like this but we didnt know how much we needed it.

    Yeliah Juarez picks up her snack Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, at the Boys and Girls Club of the Magic Valley in Rupert.

    The club offers after school and summer activities along with kindergarten. Activities include homework help, learning about healthy lifestyles, art, snacks and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) program, along with community service and leadership activities.

    They have provided much-needed youth programming, Leslie Garner, the citys special projects manager, wrote in nominating the group. The B&G Club provides a structured environment while offering a safe alternative to latch-key kids. They have assisted in educational excellence.

    The Rupert program serves students at Rupert, Heyburn, Paul and Acequia schools, with the school district providing busing for students to the locations. Parents pick their students up from the club.

    Brown commends the school districts commitment to the program because the busing allows the program to serve children in several communities.

    The club is a safety net for the community, Westburg said. The organization has been in southern Idaho for 25 years.

    Children hang outside Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, at the Boys and Girls Club of the Magic Valley in Rupert.

    Brown said one of the best parts of the program is that it serves children regardless of their familys ability to pay.

    After school programs are offered free of charge and summer programs have a nominal fee. There is an annual $20 membership fee, and scholarships are available.

    The program serves children ages 5 to 18 years old and provides an opportunity for them to build relationships with caring mentors and learn the benefits of community service, Westburg said.

    We are always working hard to figure out how to serve more kids and serve them the best we can, she said.

    About: The Boys & Girls Clubs of Magic Valley in Rupert operates in three locations at Rupert Elementary School, 323 First St. and Heyburn Elementary School. The organization offers kindergarten classes along with after school programs for youth ages 5 to 18 years old.

    Years in the Magic Valley: Establish summer 2018, Boys & Girls Clubs of Magic Valley have been in the area for 25 years

    Number of employees: 25

    Interesting fact: The Rupert program was made possible through a community partnership with the city of Rupert and the Minidoka County School District.

    Community contributions: It provides a safe space for children during non-school hours where they can build relationships with caring mentors where they can feel empowered and build character through community service.

    TWIN FALLS When Koto Brewing Co. owner Shane Cook visited Twin Falls for a weekend from his native Salt Lake City 14 years ago, he fell in love with the community right away. The smaller city also gave him new opportunities in the restaurant business.

    I would never dare to open my own place in Salt Lake, Cook said. But the community support here its the reason I moved here.

    After just more than a year, Koto earned this years Making it in the Magic Valley award for a Twin Falls small employer.

    Cook opened Twin Falls Sandwich Co. in 2012. A few years later, he set his sights on another venture: A brewery and restaurant.

    Pierre Tusow, head brewer fills a keg Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, at Koto Brewing Company in downtown Twin Falls.

    The right spot was just down the street from Sandwich Co. downtown. But the building, which was nearly 100 years old, required quite a bit of restorative work before it could start brewing and hosting guests.

    It was a six-month project that turned into a year and a half, Cook said. Once we started tearing into it, we had to start replacing all of the plumbing, all of the electrical.

    Koto officially opened on Dec. 7, 2018. The revitalization came just after the rest of the downtown underwent its massive renovation.

    Nathan Murray, the director of economic development for the City of Twin Falls who nominated Koto for this honor, said Cooks efforts with both of his businesses have been key in the recent growth downtown.

    Shane was one of the early investors that helped begin the renaissance of downtown Twin Falls with the establishment of the Twin Falls Sandwich Co., Murray said in his nomination. His most recent venture, Koto Brewing Company, has also been a success and brought vibrancy to the local nightlife.

    Koto Brewing Company currently has 11 beers on tap Thursday, Jan. 23, 2020, in downtown Twin Falls.

    Cook has home-brewed for more than 20 years, but he put the chief brewing duties in the hands of his friend, Pierre Tusow. Koto uses almost exclusively ingredients from Idaho.

    He does it much better than I do, Cook said. But between the two of us, it was a no-brainer. Its definitely something the community needs, a place to hang out.

    On top of its food and drinks, Koto has acted as an all-purpose entertainment hub downtown. Once-a-month events include a trivia night in partnership with the Magic Valley Young Professionals and stand-up comedians. The comedians come from all across the country.

    When there isnt trivia or comedy going on, Koto hosts its share of live music.

    Cook said Twin Falls has taken good care of Koto so far in its short history, and he wants the company to be a positive in the community. Having a place where people can gather and share ideas is great for locals.

    Read more:
    Making it in the Magic Valley: 12 local organizations that found success and give back - Twin Falls Times-News

    Paul Davis offers tips to recognize and prevent ice dams on structures and damage mitigation – North Forty News - January 14, 2020 by Mr HomeBuilder

    Patrick McCarty


    With recent severe, freezing, and wet weather, plus fluctuating indoor and outdoor temperatures, Paul Davis Restoration of Fort Collins, a leading provider of fire and water damage clean up and restoration services is providing consumers with the following tips for recognizing and removing ice dams from homes and businesses, and damage mitigation.

    Ice dams can form when a roof that is warmer than the eaves causes snow on the roof to melt, the water to flow down to the colder eaves, and re-freeze. As this cycle repeats, ice can back up or dam under shingles, allowing water to accumulate behind it. The water can leak through the roof and cause serious damage to walls, insulation, ceilings, and painted surfaces inside the home or office that may only get worse over time. However, there are some relatively simple steps one can take to prevent ice dams:

    Ice dams are caused by the interaction of many factors:

    Ice and snowmelt at 35F. Liquid water freezes at 32F. Minor temperature differentials can lead to major problems.Layered roof systems such as shakes or shingles do not keep outstanding water. They require a continuous, uninterrupted slope to shed water.

    Attics are warmer than the outside air because heat leaks from the heated portion of the structure up into the attic. Heavy snow cover effectively insulates the attic from cold outside air, allowing the temperature to rise even higher.When an ice dam forms and as layer after layer of meltwater refreezes, the ice dam can grow with liquid water pooling behind it under the snow. Soon, this water is deep enough to seep between shingles and into the attic or wall cavities. Ice dams are sometimes one to two feet thick. Secondary ice dams often form around vents and skylights.

    One of the best methods of protection against ice dams is a properly designed cold roof. Minimizing heat gain in the attic while maximizing attic ventilation with outside air is one of the best ways to reach this goal. Attics can gain heat in two main ways with conduction due to inadequate insulation; and convection caused by warm air leaking through gaps, usually around plumbing, wiring, ducts, and vents. Try to reduce the conductive heat gain by increasing the insulation levels in the structure.

    Convective heat gain can be minimized by meticulously caulking and sealing even the smallest penetrations through the ceiling, as well as carefully installing gaskets around attic entrances. Although some heat gain is inevitable, when the attic ventilation is adequate, the temperature will not reach levels that cause extensive melting. A cold roof is easy to achieve with properly designed new construction. Reaching the same goal in older homes may be both difficult and expensive.

    Proper insulation is the key attic spaces need to be kept cool so that the roof stays cold. Ideally, attics should have 12 of insulation.Seal areas where heat can escape into the attic. Likely spots include areas around chimneys, around electrical components such as junction boxes and ceiling fans, plumbing vents, and any other passages through the attic floor.Ventilation Less important than insulation but still a factor in preventing ice dams, proper ventilation will allow any heat that does enter the attic to exit the space and be replaced by cold outside air.There are a few ways to mitigate ice dams. However, it is recommended that you call a professional. On serious ice dams that are presenting leaks, technicians will break up the ice first, so that the necessary repair work can be performed immediately. In an ice-dammed area that has been leaking, repairing any water damage would come first. Shoring up the area with added flashing and ice and water shield underlayment is recommended before reapplying the shingles. Also, a heat cable system can be installed into the gutter and also clipped onto the shingles over the soffit. If an ice dam has already caused damage to the home or commercial building, it is critical to have the entire structure inspected by a restoration professional who is certified from The Institute of Inspection, Cleaning, Restoration Certification (IICRC).

    Unfortunately, obvious damage may be just the tip of the iceberg. The worst effects of ice dams are often hidden, caused by moisture trapped inside walls or floors. This damage is seldom discovered until months after all the snow has melted. The property owner may rarely make the connection between the damage found and their ice dam of the previous winter. Besides the cost of restoration, hidden damage can make future ice damming more severe, waste energy, and even create serious health risks for building occupants. Visit the local office website

    For more than 50 years, Paul Davis Restoration Inc. has restored residential and commercial properties damaged by fire, water, mold, storms, and disasters. The experts at Paul Davis understand the complex process of recovering from property damage and provide complete services; there is no need for the expense and confusion of hiring multiple contractors. Paul Davis is a one-stop-shop for disaster damage and restoration. Paul Davis Restoration has more than 300 independently owned franchises in the United States and Canada. The professionals at Paul Davis are certified in emergency restoration, reconstruction, and remodeling. For more information, visit the website at

    The rest is here:
    Paul Davis offers tips to recognize and prevent ice dams on structures and damage mitigation - North Forty News

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