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When it comes to buying a home in the Keys, there’s nothing more stressful than all the unknowns. Will it really have the space you need once the furniture is moved-in? Will it be right for your lifestyle and family? Is it really as convenient to shopping, work, and the kids’ school as you think it is?

These are all legitimate concerns, but perhaps the largest, and most important, is the condition of the home itself. Sure, it looks nice. There’s no water stains on the ceiling or big cracks running along the exterior which clearly shows problems with the foundation. And, the interior doesn’t show any signs of problems. 

But that might be due to the fact potential or coming problems are hiding, waiting to be uncovered. And, that’s what happened to a couple who put their home on the market. The sellers were surprised to learn the roof needed to be replaced, although there were no signs it needed repair, according to an article in AOL Real Estate.

The Importance of a Home Inspection

The above example is a great one, but only a single instance out of hundreds where the home inspection uncovered a problem. And, if you’re in a contract to purchase a home, it’s great to know precisely what’s around the corner.

That’s the whole purpose of a home inspection--to inspect the property to find potential and existing problems which could be a deal breaker.  

What to Expect in a Home Inspection

A home inspection is a great way to learn what is and what isn’t right with the property and here’s what you can expect from the service:

  • Detection or uncovering mold and dampness. A home inspector will look for mold, mildew, and other health hazards, such as asbestos. In addition, they locate the source of the growth or dampness.
  • The condition of the roof will be assessed. Because this is such a big expense, as well as a safety concern, the roof will be examined for potential problems as well as anything which might need attention immediately.
  • Give the plumbing a test run. A home inspector will carefully check the plumbing to ensure its not only in working condition, but in good condition.
  • The appliances will also be tested by the inspector. Each one will be tested for operation, as well as smoke detectors, and other safety devices.
  • The home’s electrical system and foundation will also be given a thorough once over to make sure each is in good condition.

Lastly, a home inspector will look for pests and alert you to their presence or possible causeways into the home. When it comes down to it, a home inspector is more than worth the time and money.

Change Your Finances By Changing Your Attitude

If you need to turn your financial situation around, you may be depressed about what you don't currently have. Instead of focusing on the negatives, you can help yourself learn how to save and begin improving your finances immediately. Before you can even think about changing how you manage your finances, you need to manage your attitude so that you don't get too wrapped up in financial considerations and neglect other important areas of your life.

Your physical and mental health are important considerations when you're trying to improve your finances. Many people get stressed out looking at the number of bills they have to pay. They push themselves harder than they are physically capable of in order to resolve financial problems. For example, some people may take a second--or even a third--job, leaving little time for family, while others exhaust themselves trying to get credit so that they can use it to pay off other loans. Other people may spend all their spare time going over their accounts, reading about financial management or looking into options for saving money.

Getting out of balance in this manner is both physically and mentally unhealthy. Physically, you'll tire yourself out and make yourself sick--and if you end up in the hospital you'll have more financial problems on top of your health problems.  Mentally, focusing too much on finances, especially if you focus on how much money you need and don't have, can leave you feeling depressed and powerless. You won't be able to make very many positive changes if you're feeling down, angry or upset about your current financial situation.

Try to schedule time for your financial management activities. Limit your study of your finances to the scheduled times so that you aren't thinking about finances 24 hours a day. Doing this can really help you stay in balance and avoid feeling overwhelmed or depressed.

Approach financial management in a way that you enjoy. The more you focus on negatives, the more you'll dread your financial management sessions, and that will interfere with  being able to resolve financial problems and move on. Instead, you need to make financial management fun. Allow yourself time to dream every day. Think about your financial goals and what you will do with the extra money you're going to save.

On a more practical level, the best way to keep yourself motivated to improve your finances is to set up a rewards account for yourself. Reward yourself every time you get a paycheck by depositing $5 to $25 in this account. Do this before you do anything else so that you can keep yourself motivated. You may want to use your rewards money to buy yourself a small present once in a while instead of saving for larger rewards all the time.

There's plenty of practical things you can do to improve your finances, but none of them will help you until you change your attitude. Approach your finances with a relaxed, open-minded attitude and you will soon be eager to try new ideas and create more prosperity for yourself.

Choosing Appropriate and Reliable Home Contractors

Though it may be tempting to choose the first home contractor that seems competent or likeable, your home improvement project will have a much higher chance for success if you take the time to do your homework first. There are several things to consider before hiring someone who will be "hands-on" inside your home. Read on for a few ideas on what to look for.

First and foremost, you will want to find a contractor who specializes in the particular job that you wish to accomplish. Many contractors are capable of doing multiple chores, but you will often find that their expertise lies in one area. Ask about previous jobs they have performed to ensure that they have actual experience doing similar jobs to the one that you will be hiring them for. Ask friends and co-workers for referrals if necessary.

After narrowing your search down to a handful of qualified contractors, research their reputation and see if there are any consumer complaints with organizations such as the Better Business Bureau. Keep in mind that some homeowners will file unjust complaints, so follow the documentation and see if the issues were later resolved after initial complaints. In addition, do not hesitate to simply ask your preferred contractor about any problems on file that you become aware of. There are often suitable explanations of what may have gone wrong.

Ask to see licenses from your chosen contractor, including state or city requirements for conducting business in your area. Some locations may require additional certifications for some jobs, such as electrical or dealing with hazardous materials. Make sure the license is current and ask for a photocopy of it.

You will want to hire a contractor who carries insurance, not only on their work but liability insurance on any worker that they hire who will be on your property. You do not want to get the surprise of being sued for a worker who is injured while performing the job. Also, ask if the contractor is bonded. Not all will be, due to the expense of getting bonded, but decide if the lower quote offered by an unbonded contractor is worth the potential risk.

Get specific quotes for your job in writing. Make sure that the contract covers everything needed from start to finish, and makes an allowance for cost overruns. It needs to be clear who will be responsible if the project goes over budget, and how the project will be completed if you do not agree on rising costs. Also, put a time commitment in writing for how long it will take for completion, as well as what the penalties will be if the job takes longer than promised. This can include discounts for each day that the project is delayed.

Compare the quotes that you get with other contractors who may be competing for your business. If a second or third quote comes in considerably less, do not hesitate to ask your chosen contractor for a price reduction or for other compensations such as upgraded materials or extra touches.

Taking the time to do these things beforehand can significantly reduce the risk of problems in your home improvement projects. The entire experience can be enjoyable and satisfying for everyone involved, so do your homework and then reap the benefits for years to come.


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