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Bathroom Remodeling Homecheck

Your bathroom is where you prep to start your day and where you wind down at the end of the day.

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Your bathroom is where you prep to start your day and where you wind down at the end of the day. From a nice hot shower to an at home spa, the bathroom is an important room in every home and to our daily lives. However, it can be the room most overlooked when it comes to decoration and/or remodeling. It shouldn't be. According to Contractors.com, remodeling your bathroom can yield an 80-90% return in the value of your home. Adding a new bathroom can also easily give you a 90% return in the value of your home. Improving this room can, therefore, be a savvy investment in your property. But it can be more than just a wise investment. Updating your bathroom can make this at home retreat more inviting and invigorating. Take the time to make a bright, friendly room to jump start your busy work day, and a calm, peaceful room to help you wind down in your own do-it-yourself spa retreat. Below, we provide some hints and tips for your bathroom makeover. Whether just changing a few decorations or completing a major remodel, we hope you will find something beneficial for your bathroom remodeling project.

Part I: Decoration Makeover & Small Remodel - This decoration makeover includes simple, do-it-yourself solutions for a quick update. Many of these changes could be done in one to two days. Some of these remodel items may take longer.

Make a Plan - The fist step to any decoration makeover or remodel is to set out a plan for the project.

  • Determine your budget and time. Both will help determine what you can do. You may need to consider doing the project in stages or altering your original ideas. Planning ahead will help make certain you do not end up with an unusable bathroom for weeks or even months!
  • Consider what the bathroom is lacking such as do you have enough functional space, storage space, lighting, etc.
  • Does the room have any items that need updating? This can anything from the toilet to the outdated wallpaper on the walls.
  • What do you envision for the space? Do you want a Zen retreat or a homey B&B feel to the room. Consider what you want the completed room to look like. Do you have anything in there that fits this idea now? Or will it be better to start from scratch?
  • How much experience do you have with remodeling. Are you limited to painting the walls and changing hardware? If some of your ideas seem over your head, you may want to consider hiring a contractor, plumber or electrician. For more information about a major remodel projects, see below.
  • Finally, if you want a change but are drawing a blank with ideas, consider hiring an interior designer. Some people are hesitant about hiring an interior designer because they think they have to use them all the way through. But indeed you can work with them to make a project plan and project manage the remodel yourself. Or you can also hire them to follow the entire project from start to finish.

Cabinets and Storage - You may want to replace or add to your existing bathroom cabinets.

  • Changing a mirror to a medicine cabinet can help add space above your sink.
  • Adding cabinets can help you store essentials for the bathroom from towels to extra soaps and supplies. There are many styles of cabinets available.
  • You can get stand alone cabinets or wall cabinets that fit above a sink or toilet that provide quite a bit of extra space. You can also consider changing your sink cabinet. A new design can offer an updated look and add more storage space to your bathroom. **You may wan to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!

Walls - Is the paint or old wallpaper making the room too dark, out of date, or showing damage or spots from mildew?

  • Determine your new color scheme or theme for the room before painting or wallpaper goes up.
  • Give a fresh coat of paint on the walls! Wash the walls down first and check for mildew. Any light mildew will need sanding and bleaching. Then clean the entire surface to be painted with TSP solution. Although a bit shiner, you may want to consider a satin or even semi-gloss paint as these will make your walls easier to clean and more resistant to constant cleaning. Just keep in mind, the more glossy paint will show imperfections in the wall itself.
  • If you decide to wallpaper a bathroom, keep in mind the moisture content of the room. Also consider how often you may be cleaning certain walls near a sink or bathtub.
  • Consider combining a new coat of paint with a wallpapered trim!

Lighting - Again, how bright is the space? Is it too dark or too bright and harsh?

  • Replacing the light fixtures can help you add more soft light in your bathroom. Try to avoid glaring harsh lights as these can be very unappealing.
  • Consider two light switch options for the room: one to soft light for general use and the other to brighter light for applying makeup, etc.
  • Consider adding a solar tube or skylight for more natural lighting in the room. **You may want to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!

Windows - If your bathroom has a window, consider if there are any updates needed to the window when coming up with your redesign plan.

  • If an older window, you might consider replacing the window with a newer one. Or you may want to add additional windows or change the style to bring in more natural light. **You may want to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!
  • Does the window give enough privacy? You may want to consider updating blinds, curtains or frosting the window to provide more privacy to your bathroom.

Fan - If you have any problems with mildew or don't already have a fan, you may want to consider adding one to the room.

  • Many fans now include overhead lights and can add a more welcoming feature to the room than the loud eye-sores of past models.

Shower Curtain or Door - You can brighten your bathroom by changing your shower curtain or door.

  • Replacing an older shower curtain is a cheap way to help update the decor of your bathroom.
  • Installing a bath/shower door can help lighten the space of the room. This can also help make cleaning easier and cut down on mildew or damp spots if this has been a problem. Many times shower curtains will let condensed water sit or runoff the corners of your tub or shower. A well sealed bath/shower door can help.

Hardware - Changing out your old hardware can be one of the easiest updates to the bathroom.

  • Add a new towel rack or completely change the set to start a new color scheme with a brushed nickel, bronze etc.
  • You can add a spa feel to your bathroom by adding little upgrades like heated towel racks!

Faucet - Updating your sink faucets can help give the bathroom a facelift.

  • Sink faucets can be relatively easy to change out. If uncertain, take a class at a hardware store or hire a professional.
  • Changing the faucets in your bathtub can be a littler trickier. However, again a class or professional can help with this change.
  • If you have a showerhead, this can also be changed out to complete your new look and perhaps add a more spa like feel to the room.

Sink & Countertop - You may want to replace or refinish your sink.

  • If you are already replacing your sink cabinet you may replace the sink at the same time if you get an all-inclusive unit.
  • Consider adding another sink if you have the space. Many new vanities include a two sink option.
  • You may also consider changing the countertop if the sink itself is fine. There are many styles of laminate to choose from or you may change the template completely with a new cabinet.

Mirrors - A mirror is an essential item to every bathroom.

  • Consider updating your mirror if crackled or out of style.
  • How do you use your mirror? You may want to consider mirrors that hinge out to provide angles or depth when needed or one that offers different strengths of magnification.
  • Mirrors can also be decorative items! Mirrored sconces or tiles on the wall can help to give a dark corner light or a narrow space depth.

Refinishing & Liners - Refinishing or lining your tub can be a great way to make it look new once again.

  • You can refinish your own tub, but you will need a respirator, spray gun, sander, chemical cleaners and will need to also purchase an acrylic top coat. The actual refinishing product can be purchased as a kit. Keep in mind that there will be a 30-60 minute wait between about three coats of acrylic and a 24 hour set time. Needless to say, this will be a time consuming project that will take patience, clear ventilation, patience, time, and patience. **You may want to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!
  • Another option is inserting a bathtub or shower liner. This is a task you can do by yourself with some careful planning and a few extra helping hands. There are also many dealers offering liners and installation for reasonable rates. **You may want to consider hiring a contractor for this type of work!

Tiling - Does your tiling need replacing? If you have the time and skill, this can be a great update to any bathroom.

  • Again, consider your timeline, budget and skill before taking on a task of this magnitude. Consider a deep clean. Giving your tile a good clean can help breathe new life into them. Some also find it beneficial to selectively replace specific tiles and re-grout lines rather than replacing the whole wall.
  • Consider this option if you are on a tight budget.
  • Make arrangements to be without your bathtub for a while if you plan to retile this area. Although the tiles and grout may set at specific times, you may need longer to work it out if taking it on as a do-it-yourself project.
  • If tiling/retiling a floor, consider how you are going to move the toilet and sink/sink cabinet or if you are going to tile around them.
  • Be patient with any tiling project, take it slow as this is something that should last a long time.

Vinyl Flooring - If tile flooring is not for you, you may want to consider replacing your existing vinyl flooring with an updated vinyl.

  • As with tile flooring, consider your timeline, budget and skill before taking on this task.
  • Consider how you are going to move the toilet, and sink/sink cabinet or if you are going to tile around them.
  • Again, consider taking a class at a local hardware store or hiring a professional if uncomfortable with this kind of work.

Part II: Major Remodel - This makeover includes major structural changes and updates. You may be more likely to need professional help. Also, this type of remodel may include obtaining specific building permits from your city or county.

Make a Plan - The fist step to any major remodel is to create a plan for the project.

  • Determine your budget and time. Planning ahead will prevent unforeseen expenses and help you obtain better estimates from professionals you may need to hire for the project.
  • You may need to get a building permit for some of your changes, especially if you are making major structural changes to the room.
  • Consider what the bathroom is lacking such as do you have enough functional space, storage space, lighting, etc.
  • Does the room have any items that need updating? This can anything from the plumbing to the sink fixtures. What do you envision for the space? Do you want a Zen retreat or a homey B&B feel to the room. Consider what you want the completed room to look like. Do you have anything in there that fits this idea now? Or will it be better to start from scratch?
  • How much experience do you have with remodeling. Are there some aspects of this remodel that you are confident you can complete on your own? Perhaps you don't want to install the sink but have no problem putting in the tile backsplash. Mixing contracted work with do-it-yourself work can be a great way to save money if you have the time.
  • You may want to consult with an interior designer for a major remodel project. They could bring up considerations for the space you may not have thought about.
  • What kind of professional help will you need? Will you need a general contractor, electrician or plumber? Often times even a general contractor may hire out certain tasks (i.e. electrical work) under their supervision. If you know what tasks will need to be done then you will have a better idea of who will need to be hired on to help.

Hire a Contractor - With a major remodel you will very likely need professional help.

  • Interview several contractors and get estimates from each. Ask questions and be bold enough to ask why estimate are different - i.e. if they are using different materials, this is good to know in advance!
  • Many contractors will help obtain the necessary permits for your project. Check and see if any you are interviewing will help with this process. Avoid any contractors who say this or that permit, "isn't really needed."
  • Check to see if the contractor will be sub-contracting certain aspects of your project such as plumbing, electrical, tiling, etc.
  • Find out what they expect from you in getting sub-contractors access to work site, etc. For even more information, please see our article How to Hire a Contractor: Working as a Team on Your Next Home Project.

Permits - Many overhaul projects that effect the structure of your home will need permits from the city or county.

  • If you are removing or adding any walls this may be affected by local or state building codes.
  • You may not be aware of all the aspects in your project that may need a permit. Check with your contractor or if you are doing it alone, check with your local government for guidance.

Cabinets and Storage - You may want to replace or add to your existing bathroom cabinets.

  • Adding cabinets can help you store essentials for the bathroom from towels to extra soaps and supplies. With a major remodel you may have the opportunity to include built-in wall cabinets/closets in your new bathroom. Otherwise, there are many styles of cabinets available. You can get stand alone cabinets or wall cabinets that fit above a sink or toilet that provide quite a bit of extra space.
  • You can also consider changing your sink cabinet. A new design can offer a updated look and add more storage space to your bathroom.

Walls - Do you have room to expand your space?

  • Taking down a wall to add space can do wonders for a small bathroom.
  • Think outside the box. Replace a dividing wall with glass blocks to allow more light throughout the bathroom. Insert small alcoves within the walls to add little retreats for mirrors, candles and other decorative items to make the space more inviting. Some redesigns are using tiles on the walls as a protective "wainscoting" design. Other designs include half walls to offer definition of space without enclosing it. The possibilities can be endless.

Lighting - How bright is the space? Is it too dark or too harsh?

  • Replacing the light fixtures can help you add more soft light in your bathroom. Try to avoid glaring harsh lights as these can be very unappealing.
  • Consider getting an electrician to add light switches. Add one for soft, every day light and another for brighter, utilitarian light for applying makeup, etc.
  • With the help of an electrician you can add recessed lighting, track lighting, or other design lighting updates.

Windows - If your bathroom has a window, consider if there are any updates needed to the window when planning your redesign.

  • If an older window, you might consider replacing the window with a newer one. You can add a special feature like stained or frosted glass. Or consider built in blinds for a combo of extra privacy and easy cleaning. You may also consider making the window larger or adding an additional window to the room.
  • Consider adding a solar tube or skylight for more natural lighting in the room.

Fan - If you have any problems with mildew or don't already have a fan, you may want to consider adding one in the room.

  • Many fans now include overhead lights and can add a more welcoming feature to the room than the loud eye-sores of past models.
  • Consider working with an electrician to get a more powerful fan with more options and better ability to clear moisture from the room.

Shower Door - You can brighten your bathroom by changing to a shower door.

  • Installing a bath/shower door can help lighten the space of the room. This can also help make cleaning easier and cut down on mildew or damp spots if this has been a problem. Many times shower curtains will let condensed water sit or runoff the corners of your tub or shower. A well sealed bath/shower door can help.
  • Another alternative to a shower door is using glass blocks or a tiled wall to separate the shower from the larger room. This adds a decorative feature and more light for the room overall.

Faucet - Updating your faucets can help give the bathroom a facelift.

  • Sink faucets can be relatively easy to change out.
  • Changing the faucets in your bathtub and the showerhead can help complete a new look for you bathroom.
  • If remodeling an older home, a major remodel may be a good time to consider reviewing the pipes and improving water pressure and usage. There are many water saving devices available now that can still offer a good amount of water pressure.

Sink & Countertop - You may want to replace or refinish your sink.

  • If you are already replacing your sink cabinet you may replace the sink at the same time if you get an all-inclusive unit.
  • Consider adding another sink if you have the space. Many new vanities include a two sink option.
  • You may also consider changing the countertop if the sink itself is fine. There are many styles of laminate to choose from or you may change the template completely with a new cabinet.

Refinishing & Liners - Refinishing or lining your tub can be a great way to make it look new once again.

  • Refinishing your tub is an alternative to replacing or lining it. This process will need at least a 24 hour set time. This should be considered if working with more than one professional as work will have to be suspended as the acrylic is applied and sets.
  • Another option is inserting a bathtub or shower liner. Many companies offer the liner and installation for a reasonable cost.

Tiling - Finish your spa retreat with professional tiling.

A major remodel is a great time to get the bathtub, shower, floor and even walls all done at once.

If you want to keep the old tiling, consider this a time to get damaged tiles replaced and grout redone.

New Big Items - A major remodel may also include getting a new bathtub, toilet, sink or custom made shower.

  • If you are doing a different style design you may want to consider changing some or all of your big items.
  • If you are updating an older home, this would be a great time to get a more efficient toilet or better fixtures to aid with water pressure.
  • This is your own spa, maybe it is time to replace that old bathtub with a jetted one!
  • A custom built shower can offer a neat new design and multiple shower spray option for a more spa-like experience.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are considering a small or large remodel, the short list above makes it obvious the possibilities are endless. In both cases, make certain to plan ahead and really consider how you want your new bathroom to function and feel. Have fun, get carried away, and then look at what you can turn into a reality. Get help from the professionals whether it be an interior designer or a general contractor. Or get in your hours at your local home improvement store's classes and put your patience and creativity to the test. Either way, the best part of a bathroom remodel is that once it is done, you can reap your rewards by enjoying your mini spa retreat everyday!

New Home Warranty

Make sure you fully understand terms and conditions.

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Q. About six months ago we bought a new home and the builder provided a one year home warranty. Recently we discovered a defect, but when we contacted the builder, he said that because we did not discover the defect during the final walk-through that it would not be covered under the warranty. Is this common practice?

A. No, this is definitely not common practice. Most builders will repair defects that are found at any time during the warranty period, provided that they are covered by the terms of the warranty, and are obviously the fault of the builder. Read your warranty contract carefully to see if you are indeed bound by the condition your builder is citing. He may be counting on the fact that you have not thoroughly read the contract. In any event, you may want to seek the advice of an attorney. When inspecting a new home, I always advise my clients to discuss the terms of the home warranty with the builder before closing, and to make sure that they fully understand those terms and conditions.

Eco-Friendly Home Improvement Tips

Every day people are looking for ways that they can make a difference.

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With all of the environmental problems our world is facing today, every day people are looking for ways that they can make a difference. Earth conscious individuals everywhere are recycling their paper, plastic and glass, purchasing hybrid and electric cars but what more can people do in their day-to-day lives to make a difference? When it comes to earth-friendly home improvement measures, you'd be surprised at the amount of "small stuff" you can do that really adds up in a big way. Here are a few of my favorite eco-friendly home improvement tips.

1.) Change a Light Bulb, Change the World: One of the smallest things you can do with one of the biggest potential impacts is changing one, single light bulb in your home from an incandescent to a compact fluorescent light bulb (CFL). According to the U.S. Department of Energy, if every American home replaced just one bulb, we could save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes for a year. That translates into savings of over $600 million in annual energy costs. Additionally, by changing just one light bulb, we could prevent the release of greenhouse gases equivalent to emissions of over 800,000 cars! That's incredible! While CFLs do cost a bit more up front, they last up to 10 times longer and produce about 75% less heat. The best part is, you don't need to buy all new lighting! CFLs can be used in most standard light fixtures. While the impact of every American switching one light bulb to a CFL is staggering, why not change a couple? It's recommended that a CFL be installed into any fixture that is used for more than 15 minutes at a time, including fixtures in the living room, bedroom and kitchen.

2.) Paint The Town Green: If you have a painting project on your list of "to-dos," consider using low or no VOC paints. VOC's (Volatile Organic Compounds) are low level toxic emissions that are released into the air during the painting process and sometimes, for years afterward. While zero VOC paints are ideal, these can cost on average, about $30 a gallon. If you are on a budget, low VOC paints are a suitable option, costing about the same as a regular gallon of paint. Many of these low and zero VOC paints are also odor free, which is a plus. You can also purchase low and no VOC stains and varnishes for your woodworking projects.

3.) If You Build It Green, They Will Come: When it comes to purchasing furniture for your home or apartment, it’s a good idea to be thorough when shopping around. I'm not just talking about shopping for the best price - I'm talking about shopping for the "greenest" manufacturer! Take bedroom furniture manufacturer, Lifestyle Solutions, for example. Lifestyle Solutions has its manufacturing process certified for compliance by the International Tropical Timber Organization (ITTO) guidelines for sustainable management of tropical forests. Every single product they produce is constructed from plantation-grown imported hardwood to help ensure a sustainable use of timber. Bedroom furniture manufacturer Vaughan-Bassett on the other hand, employs a One For Program, in which the company replaces every tree used in the manufacturing process, with a new one. By shopping with a more earth-friendly company, you feel especially good about your investment - and let’s face it, good furniture is definitely an investment.

4.) Clean Living: When you clean, have you ever stopped to look at the bevy of chemicals found in most household cleaning solutions? I always go by the mantra of "if you can't pronounce it, it can't be good." By using natural cleaning products, you eliminate both direct contact with your skin and you help the environment at the same time. Since most conventional dish and laundry detergents are petroleum based (non-renewable resource), with fragrance that contain phthalates (potentially harmful chemicals), you should try and use "fragrance-free" products and cleaning products with a citrus-oil base. Home-made concoctions are also great ways to clean a more eco-friendly way. Remove stains by soaking fabrics in water mixed with borax, lemon juice, hydrogen peroxide, washing soda or white vinegar. Baking soda can be used in place of traditional cleanser for cleaning countertops and stovetops. Try adding one-quarter cup of white vinegar or a tablespoon of lemon juice to a spray water bottle and clean your windows. By taking a pot of boiling water and flushing it down your drains, you help prevent drains from clogging. If your drain is already clogged, try a mixture of baking soda and vinegar. Sprinkle one fourth cup of baking soda into the offending drain and then pour a cup of vinegar, letting it sit for 15 minutes. Flush it out with boiling water and repeat as necessary. When it comes to the day to day tasks and basic home improvement, there are plenty of eco-friendly ways that you can make a difference. While some of these things might take some extra time and cost a little more money, it's probably worth it in the long run. More information at: http://www.BedroomFurniture.com

Decorating on a Budget

A few ideas for decorating without a lot of money.

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For some of us, there comes a point in our lives when we look around our dwelling and realize the college student look has to go. Others of us look around and see an eclectic mix of sad and worn hand-me-down furniture. And a few of us are just, well, bored with the décor we have had for the last five years.

To redecorate your home, you don't need to spend a whole lot of cash. Granted, a major remodel, such as a kitchen or bathroom, will be a whole different story (and an article to come later this year). However, any space in your home can be given a fresh look with easy do-it-yourself projects at minimal cost.

 

Décor Ideas for Any Room:

Use What Ya Got - Many times we become so accustomed to seeing things in the same place we don't consider their potential in another area or room of the home. Rearranging furniture and décor can give any space a new look.

  • Consider how you use the space first, do you find some rooms are used all the time and others hardly at all? Frequently used spaces can easily become cluttered. Perhaps there is something you can move to a less used space to bring new purpose to that area. Convert a scarcely used nook to a game table or move a small bookshelf and add a lamp next to that comfy chair no one ever seems to sit in. Think outside the "box" of your previous layout.
  • Similar to the point above, consider some of your larger pieces of furniture. Moving a piece out of the room into another may help free up space in one and redefine another.
  • What is the flow of your rooms? Do pathways from one doorway to the next make sense? Perhaps everyone seems to be ducking in front of the couch to get by the TV when there is room to move the couch away from the wall. Contrary to popular belief, the couch does not need to go against the wall!
  • Take established pieces and reinvent them. No, the modular sofa does not have to be one formal island in the center of the room. Break it up and add lights, or end tables to help recharge the room.
  • Besides furniture, consider what you have hanging on the wall as well. Do you have old paintings that no longer appeal to you or the space? Do you have new photos that you can't seem to find a place for? If you are rearranging furniture, take pictures off the wall first, you don't want to be boxed in with idea to leave wall space for this or that. Afterwards, look at the new blank walls and consider the possibilities. If you are not rearranging furniture, still take the pictures down. Leave them down for a couple days and come back to look at the room as fresh as possible - what do you really miss being up there, what would you like to add, or perhaps, do you prefer a more blank, uncluttered wall?

Color Me New - A splash of paint can go a long way! Repainting walls can be a lot of fun and the best part is that if you don't like it you can just paint over it! Of course today there are great programs at the do-it-yourself stores that help you customize colors and paint styles before you begin. And painting doesn't have to stop at the walls!

  • Repainting the ceiling can help to brighten a room considerably.
  • If you have old painted trim, you may want to consider splashing on a fresh coat of paint or changing the color altogether.
  • Painting old furniture can reinvent it and is something kids can get involved with if redecorating their own room.
  • There are paint sets out there to help repaint anything with a surface. You can give any end table, lamp or bookshelf a new antiqued look. For example, we had some white metal dining room chandeliers that clashed with our house, it was easy to dismantle them and paint them with a rusted look and this saved us buying chandeliers that would otherwise have cost $200 a piece! I admit, we did this with the thought that we would replace them "down the road," but since their makeover they have stopped being an eyesore and we have even received compliments on them - most didn't realize they were painted until we said something!

It's ALIVE! - Plants can do wonders for the home. Some believe that you should have a plant in every room. Large potted plants can help give life to blank corners or help set up the outline of a nice path throughout a room. Smaller potted plants can add color to the window or shelf. It must be admitted that although nice idea, not all of us have a green thumb and lack of light may doom some of our green friends from the beginning. Many of the silk plants these days look very real, however, they are not for everyone. Another alternative is fresh cut flowers. Get enough small vases and one bunch can be used throughout the home and greet you everywhere from the bedroom to the kitchen.

Instant Relatives - "Instant relatives" is a phrase my friend uses for the photos of people in the new frames you buy. If you bought a frame 6 months to a year ago and still have those "instant relatives" you don't know staring at you, then you have just found one of the easiest home décor projects! If you don’t have new frames, they are an inexpensive way to help any room. And remember, all the frames on one wall don't always have to match; sometimes the mix match look of your décor is what can give it personality! Once you have some frames you like, fill them with memories or art you enjoy having around you. Today it is easy to enlarge photographs and add effects to them. Enlarge one of your favorite photos of Scotland or collage your last family vacation. Fill the frames with photos of family, friends, vacation scenery, art prints, artwork by the kids, favorite postcards or cards, the list can be endless if you let your imagination run with it; make it fun!

Facelift Under $20 - Many times just adding a few small pieces can help a space. At many department stores you can find: candles, sconces, mirrors, frames, framed art, plaque art, photo holders, statues, ornate boxes, pillows, table runners, etc. Any of these smaller items can be combined to add a unique design to your space. Also, many department stores package themed art (southwest, modern, Victorian, African, etc.) to help you create the design for the space you want. These series often go on sale as one design set makes way for another, leaving you a chance to find some great decorations with a little planning and patience.

Oh Just Hang It! - The softness of fabric in a room can make a major mood change. Drapes are one of the easiest ways to change the look of a space. You can get drapes relatively cheap these days. I have both purchased and made my own drapes and consider it a draw. I was able to get better fabric quality when making my own, but the time and headache (I'm not a sewing expert) did cancel out some of the ease of just buying them. Others have been smarter than me and buy a fabric they want, simply seem the edges and then hang them freely over the curtain rods. Another consideration would be bamboo or roman blinds, some find these a more colorful and cheaper alternative to standard blinds.

Camouflage the Old - Covering up what you already have can be a great alternative to buying new furniture. Covers for sofas, tables and chairs can help you bring new colors and patterns into your room. Again, you can make these items yourself or purchase them in the store. Unless you a proficient with the sewing machine, it may be easier to purchase some of these items. Sometimes even cushions and pillows can help cover up worn spots or add color to a drab space. While we are covering things up, you may also consider to use rugs to cover up and change the pattern/color or old floors. Especially for older hard wood floors or pergo, this can be a great way to spiff up your room.

The Finer Details - Another detail that can be changed on a small scale but effect a room on a large scale is your hardware and fixtures. Changing the hardware on cabinets can reinvent your kitchen or bathroom. You can also replace fixtures such as light casings, towel holders, toiletry and soap holders, etc. Changing these items can help change the room from modern to antique or vice versa (just for example). Many department stores sell fixture sets that can be a quick and easy facelift to any bathroom.

Just Say No to Clutter - Finally, one of the most effective ways to redecorate your home is to get rid of clutter. This doesn't just mean picking up bits of paper. This can also mean getting items to help you organize. Many stores offer beautiful baskets, tins or other containers that can be used to organize your madness. Adding a bit of shelving, a chest, a large basket or an ottoman that opens up for storage are just a few ways you can change the look of the room and give yourself storage space. Changing a room from cluttered to organized can have a dramatic effect on the décor and overall feel of the space.

Conclusion

Redecorating your home on a low budget can include inventive use of what you already have to inexpensive updates to your room such as paints or wall hangings. Obviously we have only touched a few methods here. Hopefully this list helps you think outside the box and consider other ways you may utilize the spaces in your home. Still want to see more? Check out a few of our suggested links on the right. Happy decorating!

Further Reading

About.com

If you long for a beautiful home, you have come to the right place! Learn about home decorating, get tips for projects, find directions for how-to's, and advice from About Guide to Interior Decorating, Coral Nafie. Take a look!

Behr.com

Get interior design ideas from dozens of articles and hundreds of images.

BHG.com

Join us for truly inspiring decorating ideas, easy projects, step-by-step how-tos, practical home improvement tips, remodeling ideas, and home plans -- from Better Homes and Gardens family of magazines.

CountryLiving.com

Home decorating ideas, craft projects, home accents, renovation tips and more country style from Country Living magazine.

Do-It-Yourself.com

Decorating and painting is a key ingredient to a beautiful home. Before you begin decorating or re-decorating your home, learn more about painting techniques and preparation, selecting paint colors and finishes, decorating and designing trends, and interior décor, accents and furnishings. Home decorating has never been easier!

HGTV.com

Learn more about decorating and interior design ideas, projects and how-to from videos on Home & Garden Television.

KatieBrownHomeWorkshop.com

This is the official website for Katie Brown and the Katie Brown Workshop. It is the place to shop and buy Katie Brown books and provides information regarding lifestyle and domestic guru, Katie Brown and answers any questions you have about Katie Brown’s books, products, columns, Podcasts, or her televisions shows including the Katie Brown Workshop on Public Television.

MarthaStewart.com

Different ideas from her show and magazines.

RealSimple.com

Magazine and TV show about simplifying your life. Includes home solutions, meals, special features.

How to Become a Home Inspector

Home inspectors must have a good knowledge of homes, and drive to learn more.

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Owning a home is a popular investment. As with any investment the buyer wants to be certain there are no problems with the home. It is also beneficial to be aware in advance of any flaws that may need to be corrected. Thus enters the profession of home inspection. Home inspectors are usually hired by the home buyer, realtor or mortgage brokers to review the home to be purchased. They are asked to do a thorough check of the indoor and outdoor condition of the home. This invaluable home check is a type ofinsurance for the home buyer and money lender. They gain detailed information about the quality and condition of their investment. So how does one become a home inspector? Home inspection is an involved career that requires self motivation, great people skills and small business acumen. If you ever wondered how to become a home inspector then read on and review the links provided for a quick guide to this growing career. Part I: What It Takes There are many skills one must have to be a home inspector. Some may assume that one need only a knowledge of homes and home repair andmaintenance to work in this field. Home inspection requires a great deal more. It is true, home inspectors must have a good knowledge of homes but they must also have the drive to learn more if they want to have the most up-to-date information for their clients. Home inspectors must also be very good with people. Home inspection requires a great deal of customer service. They should expect daily interaction with clients, realtors, lenders, and even other inspectors. Finally, home inspection is most often a small business. Home inspectors are either starting their own small business or joining another small business in the area. Each of these skills deserve a closer look and further explanation. But first, it will help to map out a typical day in the life of a home inspector. A typical day for a home inspector does not follow the an 8 to 5 schedule. Instead home inspections may take place after normal work hours and even on the weekends. It usually depends on what works best for the client. When scheduling an inspection, most home inspectors encourage the client to be present at the time of the inspection so that they may follow the inspector through the process. This is especially the case when the client is the home buyer. On the scheduled day, after a short introduction with the clients, the inspector begins to assess the home. As the inspector reviews and takes notes, they also point out good and questionable details to the client. Because the client is with them during the inspection they may ask questions and get clarification about what may be done to fix problems or how to adopt better preventive maintenance. Home inspectors always prepare a report for the client and will often remind them that whatever they point out during the review will be in more detail in the report later. A good inspector will do all the easily accessible indoor and outdoor inspection with the clients. After this they usually inspect the roof, attic, under the house and other hard to reach places on their own. Once the inspection is over the inspector will wrap up with the clients and arrange to send them or their realtor the final report. Nowadays, most inspectors take their notes and enter them into computer programs to give good, detailed reports to their clients within in 24-48 hours. This quick turn around time is important as an offer for a home may be waiting for the results of the inspection to close. After this inspection the inspector may not have time to run back to the office or run the notes through on the laptop; thus it is imperative they took good notes. Instead they may leave one inspection directly for another. At the end of the day they may finally get the chance to sit down, review notes and polish final reports. So what does the inspector review and place in the report? Home inspection is a thorough review of a home. It requires knowledge of homes and home maintenance and repair. Usually those entering the home inspection field either have a background as a home professional, i.e. contractor, plumber, electrician, or they are already a good all around handyman, i.e. their relatives actually trust their help on home repairs! But to become a home inspector they must continue their education and round out their knowledge of the home. The areas they will investigate (and therefore must have knowledge of) include: Foundation: i.e. spotting structural defects and damage Plumbing: i.e. pipes, fixtures and corrosion Electrical: i.e. grounding, fuses and breakers Roofing: i.e. roofing materials, draining systems and detecting leaks Equipment: i.e. stoves, furnaces, and air conditioners Interior: i.e. cabinets, fire places, and doors & windows Exterior: i.e. patio, decks, driveway and walkways The above list is only a brief review but illustrates the broad range of knowledge the home inspector must have. To inspect all of these items they must be a sort of jack-of-all-trades. The home inspector must be able to review the construction and wear on a home with a critical eye. They must understand enough to be a little bit of everyone: plumber, electrician, carpenter, maintenance mechanic, roofer, contractor and mason; to name a few. Having the knowledge is the first step, being able communicate that knowledge to clients is another necessity for home inspectors. One must be a "people person" and a great communicator to enter the home inspection business. Home inspectors work with a diverse clientele. Most of the clients are home buyers, and as homes vary in price and personality, so do the people buying them. Many times the clients accompany the home inspector through the review of the home. During the inspection, the home inspector gives initial impressions of the state of the home. The clients often have questions and want further explanations. Inspectors should expect this and be patient when clarifying their information. A rapport with the client also makes the long process, usually over an hour, go by more quickly. And although the inspector knows their stuff, they will also want their relaxed personality to convey this to the client who may be anxious about their potential home. Besides the home buyer, home inspectors will also work with realtors and home sellers. Here they face the pressures of pleasing their client with their professionalism but not holding back when their critical eye may see something the seller did not expect. This may be harder customer service as it is never an easy task to tell the client bad news. Finally, home inspectors may work with other professionals such as lawyers. A knowledgeable home inspector may include expert witness testimony as a service to the professional community. But opportunities as an expert witness only come to those who can communicate their knowledge clearly. Being a good communicator and a "people person" will help the home inspector in this predominantly small business field. Most home inspection businesses are small companies run by an individual or a small group of individuals. The flexible hours and little overhead make this an ideal small business to start. If one individual wants to set up their small business, most states make this easy to accomplish. However, many states do have regulations for home inspectors to follow (see links listed below for detailed information for your state). The benefits of the small business, setting your own schedule, determining your pay, etc. also come with a cost. The small business owner must be self motivated. There are times when the work day will easily stretch past the 8 hour norm. Small business owners must be willing to promote themselves and get their name out there. The small business owner is their own boss, marketing manager, project planner, secretary, and sometimes accountant. If a home inspector joins a firm, these are generally small businesses as well. Here staff may not do everything, however, as in all small businesses, it works best when everyone is willing to do a little more than their usual workload for the well being of the company. The perks of these smaller business groups is that they often have their employees best interests at heart and will work hard to make a good working environment for everyone. Small business has a different culture than most jobs and the home inspecting profession fits well into this group; anyone interested in the home inspection trade should be aware of everything a small business has to offer. Home inspection is an involved career. It has variable workdays with new people and places every day. Home inspectors are interested in learning about homes and all their components. They take time to learn the details and are patient when sharing and explaining that information with clients. Home inspectors can work with a diverse audience and may even have the communication skills to be an expert witness. They are self motivated small business owners and/or members. To them, the benefits and rewards are greater than any of the challenges a small business may offer. All these traits together are the basic skills one needs to be a home inspector. Now, how does one get the well-rounded education and connections they need to start? Check out Part II of our article to find out Where to Start. Part II: Where to Start A career as a home inspector is sounding like the perfect fit for your lifestyle and business preference. You are handy around the house or already have some education in one of the home professional fields. To you, homes are a playground with all kinds of potential. But now where do you go? To become a home inspector you will want to start with classes. After taking a class there are many home inspection associations out there to join. Finally, you will want to decide if you want to start your own business or if you want to join a firm in your area. Then you will be ready to tackle your first client! But first, where do you go to learn the home inspection trade? There are many associations and companies that offer home inspector training. Most have correspondence courses by video/mail or Internet. These classes vary, but sites that do list cost show average prices over $1000 for a complete course. Many of these groups also offer smaller programs to learn or review specific areas of home inspection. These are useful to those with some starting background or home inspectors already in the field that want to increase their specific knowledge. Specialized courses for home inspectors already in the field may be used as continuing education credits which is required by most organizations. These continuing education courses also help inspectors expand their services. For example some inspectors may choose to include commercial inspections or learn more about becoming an expert witness (to learn more about continuing education see our links below). Some organizations do have in person classes available, depending on location. Many of these classes are geared towards the adult learner who may be working around another full time job. Most of these training programs come with a comprehensive test and more information about state specific rules. Another great benefit about a lot of these programs is that they include small business and general customer service overviews. Students learn how to start and promote their business. Often, information for creating professional relationships with realtors and others in the real estate business are included. This may prove to be extremely helpful to those starting home inspection as their own small business. Finally, these programs often demystify the process of writing clear reports for clients. They may also cover the various types of software and tools available to the home inspector writing reports. These classes are great in training future home inspectors about how to inspect, where to find clients, how to set up the business and what tools are available to make their trade easier. With the class taken and exams passed, the home inspector will want to look at joining a professional organization. Home Inspection associations offer membership benefits to those in the career. To join, home inspectors must usually show some competence in the field. They may either do this by providing their state license (if their state requires it) and/or taking an exam. Most associations do have a means of reviewing the inspectors that join (see our list of membership links below). Home inspectors must adhere to the 'Standards of Practice' for the organization. By providing clear guidelines to follow, these associations protect the home inspector, consumer and the profession. Many consumers are looking for home inspectors that belong to one or more organizations because the high standards these groups expect for their members. In this way, membership may be used as a positive advertising tool. Once a member, it is usually required that inspectors keep their knowledge updated through continuing education. Most associations offer continuing education classes and seminars for their members. Besides educational opportunities, these organizations also offer newsletters, discussion forums, example cases and other materials to aid the home inspector. Finally, many associations have local chapters. Through these local groups home inspectors may connect with others in the profession. Some associations offer mentorship programs through local chapters as well. Thus, home inspector associations offer training, professional guidelines, aids, and local connections. Home inspection is traditionally a small business and it is up to the inspector as to how much of the business they want to control alone. To start a one person small business is possible for the home inspection career. However, this takes self discipline and direction. There are also requirements and rules that must be followed in each state. Contacting the local Better Business Bureau is a good start. But also a small business class or contacting a lawyer will help clarify the paperwork and process of starting a small business. Another option is to buy into a home inspection franchise (see business aid links for examples).After they have a good foothold, some home inspectors may hire a small staff that can help with scheduling, reporting and bookkeeping. As the business grows the home inspector may start a small firm and hire on other inspectors. Some inspectors prefer to start with a firm already in place. These smaller groups offer guidance and mentorship for those new to home inspection. When set up as a company, they may also offer the individual legal protection under the business name rather then having their own personal name at risk. Traditionally a small business, it is up to the home inspector to find what kind of small business works best for them. Once an interest is established the road to becoming a home inspector is clear. One must first educate themselves about running home checks, writing reports, and working with clients. Joining a home inspection association will help further the home inspectors education, resources and connections. One of the toughest choices for the new home inspector would be if they want to start under the guidance of another in a small firm or if they want to start out on their own. Once these steps are taken the home inspector may take on the first clients and begin their career. Conclusion A home inspector is a well rounded individual who is both flexible and knowledgeable. They are jack-of-all-trades around the house and are dedicated to continuing their education to know the latest about their field. Home Inspectors are great communicators and enjoy working with various people in a job that changes daily. They have the dedication and interest in working in a small business. After testing their knowledge, they usually join an association with a good 'Standards of Practice' they agree to follow. The 'Standards of Practice' provides clear guidelines to follow, thus protecting the home inspector, consumer and the profession. The finally decision of the home inspector will be if they want to start their own small business or join another firm already started in their area. Whichever they choose they enter it understanding the great benefits and hardships of a small business. Home inspection is fast growing career with many benefits and challenges. If contemplating the career, take some time to look over the links provided for Training, Membership Information, State Regulations, Continuing Education, Small Business Aid. Home Inspection Training Allied Home Inspection www.homeinspectioncourse.com The course is available online or through traditional correspondence. The textbook used in Allied's course is one of the most comprehensive texts available. It covers the inspection process from start to finish (including quizzes at the end of each chapter, an inspection checklist for each topic and a glossary). This book can be used as an inspector's guide in the field. In addition, Allied's course provides supplemental reading which will reveal dozens of special techniques used by professional home inspectors, what they look for and the inspection methods they use. Allied's Home Inspection Course has 13 comprehensive lessons which provide "hands on" instruction. ASHI School of Home Inspection www.ashi.org/inspectors/training.asp ASHI [American Society of Home Inspectors] has created several educational opportunities for prospective home inspectors to learn about the profession and gain the skills and knowledge necessary to become a competent home inspector. Depending on your learning style and preference, you can take courses from the convenience of your home, your local community college or through one of ASHI's endorsed independent training schools throughout the United States. Certified Inspection Training, Inc. www.certifiedinspectiontraining.com Certified Inspection Training, Inc, successfully teaches people how to become home inspectors and just as importantly, how to set up and run their own home inspection business. Classes include: a stand alone Home Study Course, a 3-Day Course combined with the Home Study Course, a one day Structural Pests and Dry Rot Class and a Home Study Pests and Dry Rot Course. The class training is professional and intensive, with study both in the classroom and most importantly, in the field with hands-on practice. HE - A Better School of Building Inspection www.hometraining.com HE - A Better School of Building Inspection (a leader in home inspection training materials) has trained hundreds of home inspectors across North America with home study, live instruction, a combination of both, and advanced coursework on commercial inspections and new construction inspections. We are nationally recognized and affiliates of ASHI, NAHI, FABI, and CREIA. Our training is also accepted in many of the states which currently require licensing or continuing education of home inspectors. Our coursework is also approved by Allen Insurance Group and FREA (home inspector errors and omissions insurers) as an approved training affiliate. Come visit our site to learn more about our videos, live instruction, inspection report disks, tools, etc. Also, check out our Weekly Internet Specials. Home Inspection Institute of America www.inspecthomes.com The Home Inspection Institute of America provides expert home inspection training courses, home inspection certification, home inspection continuing education, top-notch inspection products, and a wealth of information for home inspectors and home buyers. Inspection Support Services Inc. www.inspectsupport.com/courses.htm Inspection Support Services offers the following courses along with other home inspection training courses and and a number seminars including Defect Recognition and Report Writing for both residential and light commercial properties. For further information contact us with your training needs - we will be glad to help you! InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. www.inspectamerica.com/Home_Inspector_Training/ InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. offers a home inspector training program for persons interested in entering the home inspection business, as well as for home inspectors who are interested in improving their home inspection service skills and receiving feedback on their home inspection techniques. Home inspector training is also available for persons with a casual or related interest, such as real estate agents, appraisers, mortgage lenders, real estate attorneys, etc., who are interested in learning more about the home inspection business. Our home inspector program can help make you more knowledgeable and proficient in your own business. Our program is also available to home owners who want to know more about the ins and outs of their home. ________________________________ Click here for more links on Continuing Education for Home Inspectors. ________________________________ Inspection Training Associates www.home-inspect.com ITA offers the most complete home inspection training available, with licensed home inspection schools nationwide. Our specialty inspection classes offer specific training on the largest variety of inspection topics. In 1987, ITA founded North America’s first licensed home inspection school, and today we continue to help thousands of people create successful home inspection businesses. ITA has more experience than any other home inspection training school and is backed by Kaplan Professional Schools, one of the world's largest providers of career education. Our instructors are the voices and experts of the profession – many have served as past or present officers of the leading professional associations in the industry. NACHI's Inspector University www.nachi.org/education.htm NACHI [National Association of Certified Home Inspectors] Education today launched the first part of its on-line home inspector education program. The initial published course concentrates on the NACHI Standards of Practice and how they should implemented. There are several non-scoring quizzes built into the system which allow the student to evaluate their understanding of the material presented. Many of the questions written for this course have been added to the SOP exam database, which is the final exam for this course (its completion is an existing membership requirement). National Institute of Building Inspectors® www.nibi.com The National Institute of Building Inspectors® (NIBI®) has provided educational and training programs for the home inspection industry and related professions since 1987. NIBI evolved from training programs developed for the HouseMaster® franchise system, and is recognized as one of the oldest and most experienced home inspection training institutes. While continuing its affiliation with HouseMaster, NIBI offers training for the entire home inspection profession and has developed an enviable reputation for raising inspection standards and increasing awareness of the need for formal home inspection training. Professional Home Inspection Institute www.homeinspectionschool.biz At PHII we have devoted our efforts into creating the best at-home course in the nation. Rather than give you thick books full of information you don't need, or endless hours of video tapes with no interaction, we provide an easy-to-master, interactive course you can complete in just a few weeks with the help of your home computer! We also offer a variety of additional hands-on training opportunities to give new inspectors the experience they need. Professional Inspection Training Institute www.homeinspectiontraining.net We understand that choosing the right Home Inspection school is an important decision. We want to assist you in making a decision that will meet your personal and financial goals. At the Professional Inspection Training Institute, we provide the training that you need to learn the "hottest" growth profession of the decade - home inspection. Our advanced Home Inspection Training is designed to give you in-depth knowledge on current Home Inspection practices, while our hands-on technical instruction will acquaint you with building systems and construction. Cash in on the growing demand for Professional Home Inspectors by training with the Industry Leaders! Thompson Education Direct www.educationdirect.com/inspector/ There are certain skills you need to begin a career in home inspection. The Education Direct Home Inspector training program helps you develop them quickly and conveniently. You’ll learn about: Construction methods; Inspection standards and building codes and regulations; Interior and exterior inspections; Inspecting electric, heating, air conditioning, and plumbing systems; Starting your own Home Inspection business. And you’ll learn it all at home – no classroom needed! This Education Direct distance learning program is like having your own personal Home Inspector school! More Links Home Inspection Membership American Association of Home Inspectors www.aahi.com The American Association of Home Inspectors Inc. is a professional membership organization of "Certified Home Inspectors"TM nationwide. AAHITM was organized in 1989 by the American Institute of Home Inspectors, who has been training home inspectors since 1981. AAHITM is the only National Association that certifies Home Inspectors using a Certification Mark granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (Reg. No. 1,662,100) in 1991. The Certification Mark is to be used to certify certain person or persons that have met the education and/or experience criteria as set forth by AAHITM . Current members of AAHITM are granted the right to use this Registered Certification Mark. AAHITM is the Nation’s leading Home Inspectors Association and is not controlled by a group of selected inspectors and does not require sponsorship or approval by your competition for membership. AAHITM has members in 48 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. American Society of Home Inspectors www.ashi.org The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) Web site is your most valuable source of information about home inspection. Home buyers, sellers, real estate professionals and home inspectors alike recognize our resources, educational programs, our Standards and Ethics and our newest program, the ASHI Experience as models of professionalism and superior customer service. We welcome you and invite you to join us in shaping the future of the home inspection profession. For 28 years, ASHI has provided home inspectors with the best in education, resources and professional networking opportunities. Increase your chances of success and join ASHI today. Foundation of Real Estate Appraisers www.frea.com The Foundation of Real Estate Appraisers (FREA) was founded in 1991 to fill a gap in the market for appraiser continuing education. At the time, obtaining education was expensive and difficult. It involved earning a designation that required thousands of dollars in classes from an association, and years of subservient service to someone who was already designated. FREA began offering continuing education classes in the San Diego area and within a few months had more than 150 instructors teaching classes all over the country. In 1996 FREA created a home inspection division, offering the same benefits to home inspectors as they had been offering to appraisers, including low cost E&O insurance. Due to the large numbers of members, FREA has substantial buying power with insurance companies, helping to keep the program strong while other insurance providers have fallen by the wayside. Housing Inspection Foundation http://iami.org/hif.htm The Housing Inspection Foundation (HIF) is an organization of professionals dedicated to the promotion and development of Home Inspection. The Housing Inspection Foundation was created to provide members with Information, Education, Standards, Ethics, and Professional Recognition. The Home Inspection industry is the fastest growing profession today. This creates new opportunities for those who are involved in the real estate, construction or environmental fields that are willing to learn how to perform this vital services, including Home Inspectors, Building Inspectors, Real Estate Professionals, Construction Inspectors, Remodeling Contractors, etc. National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers www.nabie.org National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers, a chartered affinity group of the National Society of Professional Engineers. Since 1989, the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers has worked to establish the highest standards for the building and home inspection industry and to verify the qualifications of individuals offering these services. As an organization, NABIE strives to protect the integrity of the home and building inspection industry, and thus, the general public. We review legislation, examine court cases, and monitor relevant government activities in all states. We interface with affiliated real estate associations and commissions, state engineering boards and other standard setting organizations. National Association of Certified Home Inspectors www.nachi.org The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) is the world's largest, most elite non-profit inspection association. Our home buying clients enjoy the HI Experience™ only NACHI Certified Inspectors can provide. Our inspectors have all successfully passed NACHI's Inspector Examination, taken a Standards of Practice Quiz, completed a Code of Ethics Course, adhere to Standards of Practice, abide by a Code of Ethics, attend required continuing education courses, and are NACHI Certified. NACHI...the very best home inspectors. National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. www.nahi.org The National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI) was established in 1987 as a nonprofit association to promote and develop the home inspection industry. The mission of the National Association of Home Inspectors is to promote excellence and professionalism in the Home Inspection industry; to provide a standards of practice and a code of ethics; to educate its members; and to inform the public of the benefits and scope of a professional home inspection. NAHI now has over 1900 members in 49 U.S. states and Canada. By working together to develop and maintain standards of excellence, NAHI members benefit from professional development and the exchange of ideas through continuing education and seminars. Information and support are available for members regarding their business and inspection practices and service to their clients. NAHI's promotional activities educate the public and promote the importance of a reputable home inspection as an integral part of the residential real estate transaction. A national referral service helps consumers find facts about the industry and NAHI standards, and unites NAHI members with new clients. National Institute of Building Inspectors www.nibi.com The National Institute of Building Inspectors® (NIBI®) has provided educational and training programs for the home inspection industry and related professions since 1987. NIBI evolved from training programs developed for the HouseMaster® franchise system, and is recognized as one of the oldest and most experienced home inspection training institutes. While continuing its affiliation with HouseMaster, NIBI offers training for the entire home inspection profession and has developed an enviable reputation for raising inspection standards and increasing awareness of the need for formal home inspection training. NIBI offers conventional Classroom Courses at its dedicated Training Center and distance learning programs through its Online Campus. Both educational programs have been approved by the major home inspection associations and many states as meeting the requirements for membership, licensing, and/or continuing education. NIBI Certified Inspectors are required to not only complete educational courses and field training work, but must also participate in a yearly re-certification program. Being NIBI Certified is indeed the mark of home inspection professionalism! When home buyers are ready to make that home buying decision, they should insist on a Certified NIBI Inspector for their home inspection, and buy with confidence. Organization of Real Estate Professionals www.orep.org OREP specializes in placing errors and omissions insurance for real estate appraisers, home inspectors, real estate agents/brokers, mortgage field service professionals, mortgage brokers and others. OREP offers the lowest rates on appraiser's insurance with same day coverage & confirmation (most cases). Society of Professional Real Estate Inspectors www.sprei.org The Society of Professional Real Estate Inspectors is a national educational organization dedicated to providing the highest level of educational achievement for home/building inspectors. Anyone who is interested in improving his or her skills as an inspector is welcomed to join the Society of Professional Real Estate Inspectors. SPREI does not require past experience or background in the inspection profession. All that is required in becoming a member is a willingness to apply ones self to self-education. By simply filling out the application form and submitting the low annual fee, you will start yourself on the way to becoming an educated and informed real estate inspector. STATE SPECIFIC Arkansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors www.ark-homeinspectors.com The Arkansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors (AAREI) is an Arkansas-wide association of professional Home Inspectors. It was founded in 1992 to: Provide a forum for home inspectors to exchange experiences and to enhance the technical knowledge of its members. Promote excellence in the Home Inspection industry in Arkansas. Provide a source of information about home inspection services for the home buying public. To maintain awareness of the laws and regulations which affect the home inspection industry in Arkansas. California Real Estate Inspection Association www.creia.org The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) is a voluntary, nonprofit public-benefit organization of real estate inspectors. Founded in 1976, CREIA provides education, training and support services to its members and the real estate community. CREIA's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice are recognized by the California Business and Professions Codes and are considered the standard of care by the real estate industry and legal profession in the state. CREIA Inspector Members have successfully passed a comprehensive written examination on the myriad of systems and components in the construction and maintenance of residential dwellings. CREIA's educational mission is to expand the technical knowledge of its members through continuing education. Inspector members must complete a minimum 30 hours of continuing education annually. Educational credits are obtained through monthly chapter educational meetings, chapter toolbox seminars, CAMP, state conferences in the spring and fall, and other CREIA approved sources. CREIA membership activities and programs encourage the sharing of experience and knowledge resulting in betterment of the real estate profession and the consumer public, which it serves. Connecticut Association of Home Inspectors www.ct-inspectors.com CAHI is the largest independent home inspector organization in the state. View our "members" directory above to find the most extensive list of licensed home inspectors in Connecticut. CAHI provides top quality monthly and special continuing educational seminars that meet the minimum requirements as set forth by the CT. Home Inspection Licensing Board. Our seminars provide inspectors with information about techniques and components from the past and present including new innovations and technologies that may be found in homes today. CAHI's mission is to educate the home inspector with valuable and pertinent information, the tools that will make them the best home inspectors in the marketplace. Florida Association of Building Inspectors, Inc. www.fabi.org Florida Association of Building Inspectors, Inc. has promoted professionalism in the industry through qualifying their members to assure the public’s confidence. Applicants to FABI must pass a written examination, have their inspection report reviewed and show proof of a required number of inspections in order to qualify for membership. They must also adhere to FABI’s Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics and earn continuing education credits by attending regular seminars/workshops to maintain their membership and keep their proficiencies current. Through its growing membership, FABI maintains an active Ethics Committee to ensure compliance of the Association’s ethical, moral and industry standards. Georgia Association of Home Inspectors www.gahi.com GAHI has promoted higher standards for professional home inspectors since its inception in 1989. Since the State of Georgia does not license home inspectors, GAHI’s membership requirements, the most stringent in the country, fill this void. The organization requires all members to be certified in the One & Two Family Code (IRC / CABO), carry the appropriate level of insurance and posses a business license. Not only does this better equip the home inspector to conduct new construction inspections, but it also sharpens skills for inspecting existing homes. Kentucky Real Estate Inspection Association, Inc. www.kreia.org The Kentucky Real Estate Inspection Association, Inc. (KREIA) was formed in 1992. Its purpose is to promote excellence within the real estate inspection industry by providing and promoting the following: Promote Customer Service through our Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Promote and maintain high standards of conduct for its members. Provide its members with education and training opportunities to enhance their professionalism. Provide and promote the KREIA Certification Program to and for our members. Maryland Association of Home Inspectors www.mdahi.org Our goal is to provide you with useful information about our organization that we hope makes it easier for you to do business with our members. Maryland Association of Home Inspectors has been serving the Real Estate community since 1995. We specialize providing a source of the best qualified and reputable Maryland home inspectors. At this site, you will discover what area each member provide home inspection services, and to contact them. Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors http://mshi.org Since 1979, the Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors has set a high Standard of Excellence within the inspection industry. Membership in this not-for-profit society of private, licensed, fee-paid home inspectors encourages continuing education and improvement of performance. MSHI is the only Minnesota organization that offers its members continuing education on a monthly basis. Nevada Association of Certified Real Estate Inspectors www.nacrei.org The Nevada Association of Certified Real Estate Inspectors is an organization formed for and by the Certified Real Estate Inspectors of Nevada. Representing the Certified Inspectors of Structures in Nevada and boasting membership of over 50% of the active inspectors in Northern Nevada, NACREI has been recognized to be a viable source of information and training for inspectors as well as a voice to the Division of Real Estate in Nevada. Working with the various entities involved in the legislative process and other areas we have been successful in maintaining our mission statement of Promoting the Professionalism, Integrity, and Qualifications of Professional Home Inspectors in the State of Nevada, as well as becoming, as State of Nevada Certified Inspectors, an important party in the transaction of Real Estate. With membership being open to all State of Nevada Certified Inspectors of Structures, NACREI invites you to join the ranks of our organization and share the success of our labors, as have the others in our membership. Associate memberships are available as well. Southern Nevada Association of Professional Property Inspectors www.snappi.org SNAPPI is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for its inspector/members and working to inform and educate the public about the benefits of home inspections. We also work with our state officials to reform state law and administrative codes to reflect changing market conditions, industry trends and the needs of our clients, the home buyer. New York State Association Of Home Inspectors www.nysahi.com The New York State Association Of Home Inspectors (NYSAHI) provides this site as a tool to help New York State Home Inspectors stay current with the changing face of home inspector regulation in our state. Our industry is changing. It is evolving from a unregulated service industry to a licensed profession. As recently as ten to fifteen years ago the concept of a home inspection being part of the home buying process was a new one in many parts of the country. Now, about half the states in the union have some form of home inspector regulation. The New York State legislature passed the "Home Inspector Professional Licensing Act" in the 2004 legislative session and Governor Pataki signed it into law on August 12, 2004. This law is set to take effect December 31, 2005. Home inspectors are encouraged to use the links on this page to educate themselves about home inspector licensing in our state to help in preparing for, and prospering in, this new regulated environment. North Carolina Licensed Home Inspector Association www.nclhia.com As of October, 1996, all home inspections in North Carolina must be performed by a North Carolina-licensed home inspector. Licensure is accomplished by meeting stringent requirements set by the State of North Carolina and passing a comprehensive examination. Continuing education is required each year in order to keep this license in force. Being licensed by the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board, and adherence to the North Carolina Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are the only legal requirements for performing a home inspection in North Carolina. The North Carolina Licensed Home Inspector Association (NCLHIA) was formed in 1997 to provide a professional organization for all home inspectors licensed in North Carolina. Pennsylvania Home Inspectors Coalition http://phic.info The Pennsylvania Home Inspectors Coalition (PHIC) represents the two nationally recognized inspection organizations that have offered verifiable proof of compliance with ACT 114, so that the Coalition can act as the eyes and ears of the Home Inspection profession within this State. Because of the new Home Inspection Law, which went into effect 12/20/01, ASHI® and NAHI™ Chapter Presidents and Vice Presidents came together to form a coalition to reflect each Chapter membership’s point of view. In turn, this can be communicated to the Coalition so that the Coalition will act as the one voice for the home inspection profession in Pennsylvania Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors www.tarei.com The Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors (TAREI) is a statewide professional organization formed in 1977 with a current membership of over 750 inspectors and related professionals. TAREI promotes a professional code of ethics for its members, reviews and upgrades minimum standards, provides recommendations to the Texas Real Estate Commission, and conducts statewide continuing education programs for all inspectors. Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors www.wahigroup.com In 1994, home inspectors throughout Wisconsin began meeting monthly to improve skills and to discuss with other inspectors what they had learned during the conduct of home inspections. In early 1995, we established our name as the Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors, Incorporated (WAHI). Our goal is to improve the competency of home inspectors through training and professional interaction. Our monthly education programs focus on home inspections as well as industry concerns. Currently, we have over 350 members and many of them are members of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI). Our members include engineers, builders, electricians, building tradesmen, journeymen, basement specialists, etc. Each of them is involved with the home inspection industry in one way or another. Back to Main Menu State License for Home Inspectors (N/A = state does not current require licensure) Alabama Building Commission www.bc.state.al.us/HI%20Menu.htm Alaska Department of Commerce www.dced.state.ak.us/occ/home.htm Arizona State Board of Technical Registration www.btr.state.az.us/AZ%20Ashi%20Standards.htm Arkansas Home Inspector Registration Board www.sosweb.state.ar.us/ar_rules/rule_final/198.00.03-003F.pdf California N/A - www.commerce.ca.gov/state/ttca/ttca_business_display.jsp?path=Permits+&+Licenses&childPath=License+Handbook Colorado N/A - www.colorado.gov/colorado/permits.html Connecticut Dept of Consumer Protection www.dcp.state.ct.us/licensing/professions.htm Delaware N/A - http://dpr.delaware.gov/default.shtml Florida N/A - www.stateofflorida.com/Portal/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=25 Georgia N/A - www.sos.state.ga.us/plb/ Hawaii N/A - www.hawaii.gov/dcca/areas/pvl/ Idaho N/A - www.state.id.us/business/licensing.html Illinois Division of Banks & Real Estate www.obre.state.il.us/realest/homeinspect.htm Indiana Professional Licensing Agency www.in.gov/pla/bandc/home/ Iowa N/A - www.state.ia.us/government/com/prof/home.html Kansas N/A - www.accesskansas.org/operating/operating-resources/index.html Kentucky N/A - http://hbc.ppr.ky.gov/generalinformation.htm Louisiana State Board of Home Inspectors www.lsbhi.info/LSBHIweb.nsf/Home?OpenForm Maine N/A - www.maine.gov/portal/business/professions.html Maryland Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing www.dllr.state.md.us/license/real_est_app/reareq.htm Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure www.mass.gov/dpl/boards/hi/index.htm Michigan N/A - www.michigan.gov/statelicensesearch/0,1607,7-180-24786_24814-81259--,00.html Minnesota N/A - www.state.mn.us/cgi-bin/portal/mn/jsp/ Mississippi Home Inspector Board www.mrec.state.ms.us/default.asp?siteid=3 Missouri N/A - www.state.mo.us/mo/business.htm Montana N/A - http://discoveringmontana.com/dli/bsd/bc/index.asp Nebraska N/A - www.nebraska.gov/business/html/342/index.phtml Nevada Real Estate Division www.red.state.nv.us/insp_licreq.htm New Hampshire N/A - www.nhes.state.nh.us/elmi/licertreg.htm New Jersey License & Certification Guide www.state.nj.us/commerce/CEG_LCI/html/licguid.html New Mexico N/A - www.rld.state.nm.us/Division%20&%20Proffessions.htm New York State Division of Licensing Services www.dos.state.ny.us/lcns/licensing.html North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board www.nchilb.com/OSFM/Engineering/HILB/NCHILB.asp North Dakota N/A - www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/agecon/market/ec752-4w.htm Ohio N/A - http://ohio.gov/ Oklahoma Department of Health www.health.state.ok.us/program/ol/info.html#home Oregon Construction Contractors Board http://egov.oregon.gov/CCB/home_inspectors.shtml Pennsylvania Home Inspection Coalition http://phic.info/ Rhode Island Contractors Registration Board www.crb.state.ri.us/docs/hilawsfinal.pdf South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/ResidentialBuilders/ South Dakota Real Estate Commission www.state.sd.us/sdrec/home_inspect/homeinspections.htm Tennessee N/A - www.state.tn.us/commerce/boards/contractors/hinspcontractor.html Texas Real Estate Commission www.trec.state.tx.us/inspector/default.asp Utah N/A - www.dopl.utah.gov/directory.html Vermont N/A - www.vermont.gov/doing_business/profession.html Virginia Department of Business Assistance www.dba.state.va.us/frameset.asp?URL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Edpor%2Evirginia%2Egov Washington N/A - www.dol.wa.gov/main/biglist.htm West Virginia N/A - www.business4wv.com/Public/content/DynamicContent.asp?pagename=licensesearch&Type=Regulatory Wisconsin License, Permit & Registration Service www.wisconsin.gov/state/app/ Wyoming N/A - http://plboards.state.wy.us/ For a more detailed summary, check out these two great resources: American Society of Home Inspectors www.ashi.org/inspectors/state.asp HE-School of Home Inspection www.hometraining.com/certif.htm Home Inspection Institute of America www.inspecthomes.com/regulate.htm Back to Main Menu Continuing Education for Home Inspectors Certified Inspection Training, Inc. www.certifiedinspectiontraining.com/continuing_education.html Classes are held in many areas of the country twice each year. Please check the "Calendar" page for dates and locations. Classes are held on the West Coast in most instances. These classes are approved for Continuing Education credits by many states including the State of Oregon. The Certification Classes are approved for up to 10 education points to sit for the Oregon Certification Tests. Plus you also get 3 "Ride-Along" points. Please check with your state to determine existing requirements. HE - School of Building Inspection www.hometraining.com/continuingEducation.htm Quality Continuing Education Hours MRC's (ASHI), CEU's (NAHI), or State Continuing Education Hours A Better School of Building Inspection offers high-quality material to help you earn your continuing education requirements. With our material you get your hours and get something out of them too!!! By purchasing our 4-Point Residential Inspection Home Study Package, you help reduce the cost of obtaining continuing education hours and get them done when it fits your schedule better. Home Inspection Institute of America, Inc. www.inspecthomes.org/cont_education.htm Continuing education courses on topics of concern and interest to home inspectors are offered at the Institute at various points throughout the year. Schedules will be posted on this site. The courses are submitted to various membership organizations and state licensing boards for appropriate recognition. Attendees receive a Certificate of Attendance at the end of each course, detailing the credit earned. Infinity Schools Continuing Education www.infinityschools.com/HomeInspection.asp Our complete line of training products includes textbook based training modules, resource manuals, and cutting edge CD-ROM And Video Training products, all developed in cooperation with educators, instructional designers, and technical artists, along with extensive research and contributions from home inspectors across North America, specifically to be the premiere education and training program for home inspectors. InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. www.inspectamerica.com/Home_Inspector_Training/ InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. offers a home inspector training program for persons interested in entering the home inspection business, as well as for home inspectors who are interested in improving their home inspection service skills and receiving feedback on their home inspection techniques. Home inspector training is also available for persons with a casual or related interest, such as real estate agents, appraisers, mortgage lenders, real estate attorneys, etc., who are interested in learning more about the home inspection business. Our home inspector program can help make you more knowledgeable and proficient in your own business. Our program is also available to home owners who want to know more about the ins and outs of their home. Inspection Support Services www.inspectsupport.com/courses.htm Inspection Support Services offers the following courses along with other home inspection training courses and and a number seminars including Defect Recognition and Report Writing for both residential and light commercial properties. For further information contact us with your training needs - we will be glad to help you! Inspection Training Associates www.home-inspect.com/courses/cehomestudy.asp Need Continuing Education credits, or just need to study up on a specific area in home inspection? Now you can take individual 8 hour home study courses on the inspection topic(s) of your choice! Each correspondence course includes an on-line final exam*, which you are required to pass with a 70% or better grade to receive CE credit. [Also includes other specialty inspection courses on this site.] National Institute of Building Inspectors www.nibi.com The National Institute of Building Inspectors® (NIBI®) has provided educational and training programs for the home inspection industry and related professions since 1987. NIBI evolved from training programs developed for the HouseMaster® franchise system, and is recognized as one of the oldest and most experienced home inspection training institutes. While continuing its affiliation with HouseMaster, NIBI offers training for the entire home inspection profession and has developed an enviable reputation for raising inspection standards and increasing awareness of the need for formal home inspection training. Professional Inspection Training Institute www.homeinspectiontraining.net/docs/conted.asp The Professional Inspection Training Institute offers the following 2 day, 1-day and 1/2 day continuing education courses in the inspection field: EIFS & Stucco Inspections, Electrical Inspections, Foundation & Structural Defects, Mold, Mildew & Moisture Intrusion, Radon Testing & Protocols, Sales & Marketing Seminar, Heat Pump Inspections, Carbon Monoxide & Improper Venting Back to Main Menu Small Business Aids All Business - Champions of Small Business www.allbusiness.com American Home Inspectors Training Institute Start-Up Packages www.ahit.com/products/packages/startup_pkgs.htm Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org Business.gov www.business.gov Business Owners' Idea Cafe www.businessownersideacafe.com Entrepreneur.com Solutions for Growing Businesses www.entrepreneur.com IRS Small Business/Self-Employed www.creditreport.org/get-the-most-out-of-the-irs/ More Business.com www.morebusiness.com National Association of Certified Home Inspectors - Business Success Tips www.nachi.org/success_tips.htm SCORE Counselors to America's Small Business www.score.org Small Business Administration www.sba.gov FRANCHISES AmeriSpec www.amerispecfranchise.com If you're looking to start your own home inspection franchise, you've come to the right place! AmeriSpec offers the best home inspection franchise opportunities available in North America. With over 350 independently owned and operated businesses that conduct over 150,000 inspections annually, AmeriSpec's 17 years of experience provide us with the know-how to offer the best training, support, and tools to get your franchise off the ground fast. A Pro Home Inspection www.a-pro.net/business.html With an annual potential of over 6 million transactions (translated into an estimated $1.8 billion in home inspection fees) the home inspection business is booming. In fact, Money Magazine has rated our industry as one of the "Top Ten Highest Income Home Businesses, and Entrepreneur Magazine calls home inspection "one of the best opportunities…" And now, you can turn that boom into a successful career! Joining the A-Pro® Home Inspection team can literally change your life. You’ll enjoy greater independence, as well as the personal and financial rewards of owning and operating your own home inspection business. National Property Inspections, Inc. www.npiweb.com/subpages/buildYourFuture.html Looking for the blueprints to build a successful home inspection business? Then National Property Inspections is the right opportunity for you. Go ahead--compare us to the competition. In fact, we want you to. Because we're confident that when you measure our franchise business package, including start-up costs, tools, home inspection training, and support, you'll agree that NPI is the right home inspection franchise to help you build your future. Pillar to Post www.pillartopost.com/franchise/index.cfm if you are looking for a business opportunity with an industry leader in a growing field, Pillar To Post® is the answer. You do not have to be an engineer or building contractor to succeed. What you really need is an ability and willingness to work with people. The most successful home inspectors are those who are able to develop strong trust with the real estate professionals who will refer clients to them, as well as with home buyers and sellers. That's why we focus on technical skills and marketing in our initial two-week training program and in our ongoing training and upgrading efforts. World Inspection Network www.winfranchise.com Join World Inspection Network (WIN) as we build a World-Class Brand in the billion-dollar home inspection industry. When you become a home inspector as a WIN franchise owner, the freedom, flexibility and financial rewards of running your own business can be yours. The home inspection industry continues to demonstrate strong growth and has already proven to be an integral part of the real estate transaction process. Over the past decade there has been a steady increase in the overall volume of home sales and the percentage of homes inspected, confirming that the home inspection business is a high demand service in a solid industry. As a WIN home inspector, you will share information with home buyers and sellers by giving them the knowledge and confidence they need to make an informed decision on one of life's biggest investments.

Bankruptcy Law 101

This is the article that no one hopes to need and we would prefer not to write.

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As of December 2007, bankruptcy filings are up 28% from last year and are expected to increase in 2008 due to the combined factors of high household debt and rising mortgage costs. American Bankruptcy Institute

This is the article that no one hopes to need and we would prefer not to write. The word 'bankruptcy' is weighed down by such doomsday words as failure, defeat, impoverishment...well, you're getting the depressing idea. However, it is not 'the end of the world' to declare bankruptcy. Instead of running away from this topic, it is time to demystify bankruptcy with a little 'Bankruptcy 101.'

What is bankruptcy?

For most people, bankruptcy is a way to get a fresh start after acquiring too much debt. Most individuals who file for bankruptcy will file under Chapter 7 or Chapter 13. Depending on which is filed, one may get most of their debt erased or work out a workable solution with lenders to pay off existing debt.

Are bankruptcy laws determined by Federal or State government?

Bankruptcy laws are made by the Federal government. States can pass laws that protect the "lender and debtor relationship" but they cannot regulate how a bankruptcy is processed or if it is to be granted.

Can all debts be erased?

No. Whichever type of bankruptcy is filed, there are certain debts that cannot be erased at all. These include alimony, child support, most student loans and legal judgments against fraud or criminal negligence such as a drunk driving accident. Some taxes may be erased, but not all. In fact, taxes have their own set of bankruptcy rules.

Do I need a lawyer?

When filing for bankruptcy it is important to find a bankruptcy lawyer who can help you navigate the process. Bankruptcy lawyers specialize in this area of law and are familiar with the distinct differences and effects of the process; they can be your greatest ally in a tough, seemingly bureaucratic system.

How long will bankruptcy effect my credit?

Bankruptcy will stay on your credit report for 10 years. There are ways to improve your credit rating and make yourself more appealing to lenders. For more information on this, check out this useful website: www.lifeafterbankruptcy.com. It is not an easy road back and those filing for bankruptcy should have a realistic expectation to work hard at their future spending practices.

Do I have to do debt counseling?

Yes. Under the new bankruptcy act passed in October 2005, it is now required that all persons applying for bankruptcy meet with a government qualified debt counselor first. After one has successfully filed for bankruptcy, the debtor must again meet with a counselor before the bankruptcy file will be closed.

What is Chapter 7 bankruptcy? (In a nutshell)

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is also known as a "liquidation of debt." A person can file for Chapter 7 every 8 years. This usually involves the liquidation of property to pay back debts. An appointed trustee sells all secured, non-exempt property for the debtor and distributes money raised among the lenders. Unsecured debts, such as credit card bills and most medical bills can be erased. This may mean the loss of secure debts such as a home. However, most states do have protections for debtors in place to insure they may keep life necessities such as clothing and some furniture. Retirement funds such as IRA's are also protected and debtors may keep these as well. After the changes to bankruptcy law in October 2005, many debtors may not get approved for Chapter 7 and be required instead to apply for Chapter 13. In short, if you still have an income and make more than the median for a household of your size in your state you may have to file for Chapter 13. To find out if you should be filing for Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, you can use a mean calculator like the one at legalconsumer.com. Again, this is where consulting a lawyer becomes very important.

What is Chapter 13 bankruptcy? (In a nutshell)

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is also known as a "reorganization of debt" or the "wage earners' plan." One can file for Chapter 13 more often as long as any previous filings are already closed. This is the bankruptcy for those trying to a find a way to get out of debt but still expect to pay off some of their debt. Generally speaking, if you still have a source of income and could make payments, just not the high ones you have now, you can be restructured into a debt payment plan under Chapter 13. This is the most likely to be used to try to stop a mortgage foreclosure. In this scenario, you can keep the house, car and more than you could under Chapter 7. There are limits to the amount of debt that can be restructured. If one is above those limits they would file under Chapter 11, however, the average American Joe/Jane is not in this category.

More Resources
US Department of Justice - US Trustee Program
www.usdoj.gov/ust/
A complete listing of approved credit counseling agencies is available through links on this Web page. [Listed by state.] www.usdoj.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/cc_approved.htm
A complete listing of approved providers of financial management instructional courses is available through links on this Web page. [Listed by state.] www.usdoj.gov/ust/eo/bapcpa/ccde/de_approved.htm

American Bankruptcy Institute
www.abiworld.org
The American Bankruptcy Institute is the largest multi-disciplinary, non-partisan organization dedicated to research and education on matters related to insolvency. ABI was founded in 1982 to provide Congress and the public with unbiased analysis of bankruptcy issues.

Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005
www.govtrack.us/congress/bill.xpd?bill=s109-256

Bankruptcy Action
www.bankruptcyaction.com
The objective of this website is to provide the person, thinking about filing bankruptcy, the information he or she needs to make an informed decision.

Lawyers Listings
www.lawyerslistings.com/about.shtm
Our mission is to present to the Internet community an easy-to-use site in which to search for law firms and individual lawyers.

Life After Bankruptcy
www.lifeafterbankruptcy.com
On this website you'll discover everything I did to recover so quickly...and many other bankruptcy recovery and credit repair strategies you'll find nowhere else.

NOLO Bankruptcy Library
www.nolo.com
Nolo is your legal companion, empowering you and saving you money whenever the law touches your work, life or finances.

US Courts - Bankruptcy Basics
www.uscourts.gov/bankruptcycourts/bankruptcybasics.html 
Bankruptcy Basics provides basic information to debtors, creditors, court personnel, the media, and the general public on different aspects of the federal bankruptcy laws.

What can you do to prevent Bankruptcy?

  1. Continue to take care of essential bills first: mortgage/rent, taxes, child support, and utility bills.
  2. Eliminate frivolous expenditures. No more department store credit cards, cable TV, magazine and newspaper subscriptions, etc. Be honest about what you can live without with for a while. 
  3. If you own your home, consider a home equity loan to get rid of high rate debts such as credit cards.
  4. Watch your credit report. Close unused accounts, check for errors and resolve any questions with lenders immediately.
  5. Know the warning signs: -Are you using credit cards to pay off bills or credit cards? -Are you borrowing against unprotected debt? i.e. Are you borrowing from a credit card to pay the mortgage? When you see you are bouncing debt around and not making any headway, it is a good time to look at credit counseling.
  6. Warning about credit counseling: If you choose to do debt consolidation recognize that it will effect your credit score. Also, make sure you understand how the payments will work and if you can really make the payment - sometimes they are set too high!
  7. Avoid aggressive lenders. If you begin to get offers for loans that sound too good to be true - they are! There has been a big push to penalize aggressive lenders who only help people acquire more debt. However, they are still out there and you should be a careful shopper of any loans you take.