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Home Improvement TV Shows

When it comes to home improvement projects, visual examples can teach volumes. Thus enters home improvement television.

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When it comes to home improvement projects, visual examples can teach volumes. Thus enters home improvement television. These TV shows have been around for over two decades and recently there has been an increase in the number of these shows available. However, viewers be savvy, some of the new shows are more interested in entertainment than thorough craftsmanship. Loosely grouped, there are two styles of home improvement television: Classic - shows based on a model that details and examines craftsmanship and the tools craftsmen use; and Entertaining - shows that focus on the entertaining their audience with quick flashy project run-throughs that end in "before and after" snapshots. What follows is a quick review and guide to some popular home improvement television shows and their web sites. ________________________________ Contents: Introduction Part I: Professional Home Improvement Television - Web Site Summaries & Links Part II: Entertaining Home Improvement Television - Web Site Summaries & Links Conclusion & More Programs ________________________________ Part I: Classic Home Improvement Television The Classic home improvement television shows are based on a more traditional model of a television show that concentrates on craftsmanship and itemizes the details for many of the toughest home improvement projects. Viewers gain confidence that they can build the home they want or remodel that old home with personality. These educational programs are some of the longest running home improvement television shows; perhaps the classic model speaks for their longevity. The formula for these shows usually includes: knowledgeable host or hosts, experienced and professional crews, the best or the latest tools and/or materials and finally, a large project that spans over many episodes. This Old House is probably one of the most famous and longest running of the home improvement shows (this year is the show's 25th anniversary!). This program covers two major projects every year. During the larger projects, smaller projects are shown in detail and the latest tools and materials are examined. This Old House encourages homeowners to be creative and see the potential in their property. However, this program still utilizes the use of professional crews. This should not be lost on the viewer; if you are tackling a whole home makeover, it is best not to do it alone. Even the hosts of this show bring in outside experts to show them particular stages of the project. This Old House does demystify the renovation process and provides the homeowner with an inside look to what contractors, electricians, plumbers, and other building professionals do for various home improvement projects. This program gives the homeowner the confidence to hire and work with professional craftsmen on their dream home. Whereas This Old House examines home improvement on the larger scale, its recent counterpart, Ask This Old House, has the smaller do-it-yourself projects in mind. Most of the same crew from This Old House run this show as well: general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, and landscape contractor Roger Cook. Here they showcase their individual strengths and use the host of both shows, Kevin O'Connor, as their Guinea Pig and/or punch line. The jokes can be rather quirky and there a few groaners mixed in; however, the information that comes from this show is professional, thorough and easy to follow. The main scheme of the show is to answer questions that come from their viewers. They may answer questions in their studio or as a house call. The house call really illustrates how one may become a do-it-yourselfer as these gentlemen always make the homeowners get their hands dirty. Many times the homeowner does most of the project or completes it themselves after the foundation and technique are covered. This show also takes time to showcase the latest tools and materials. The short segment of 'What Is It?' challenges all the hosts to identify odd tools that can be used in home repair/improvement (enter the quirky jokes). Overall, this classic program gives homeowners a real thorough run-through on some common home repairs and improvements. Another show that uses the classic method approach to home improvement is Hometime. This show again tackles larger projects and showcases individual aspects of those projects. Viewers are encouraged to try home improvement projects but educate themselves first. Projects are covered in detail with tools and materials discussed. The techniques for completing the project are covered in detail as well. This serves to give the viewer a good knowledge base. There are only two aspects for viewers to keep in mind about this program. First, many of these projects work with a professional crew; however, the crew is not showcased. Instead the hosts spotlight most of the projects themselves. Many tasks highlighted can be completed by individual homeowners. However, because the professional crews are not as highlighted, some viewers might be mislead about the amount of work they will have to complete on their own. Second, viewer questions and projects are not answered individually. Instead, viewers may send in videos of projects they have completed which may or may not have been inspired by the show. Neither of these aspects are detrimental to the knowledge provided by this program. Hometime has been around for 19 years, it obviously has a format that works for educating viewers about home improvement. Home Again, hosted by Bob Vila, is another classic program that examines craftsmanship in home improvement. Similar to This Old House, which Bob Vila hosted from 1979-1989, this program covers roughly two major projects per season. Parts of the projects are shown in greater detail to showcase craftsmanship and/or technique. The professional crews that complete the large projects are at the forefront and the various specialists are interviewed throughout the show to help explain why they do a tasks a certain way, use this particular material, etc. This show again strives to educate the homeowner and encourage them to think of the possibilities for their home. As quoted from Bob Vila's site, he encourages the homeowner by letting them know, "You CAN build what you want. You CAN revive an older house to suit your personality. You CAN give your family more space. You CAN express your individuality through color and style…as long as you have the knowledge to use what works!" Thus, this show provides both knowledge and encouragement to the homeowner looking for home improvement help. These are only a few examples of the Classic home improvement shows on television. These shows are aimed at educating the viewer in the use of tools, types of materials available and the nitty-gitty facts about how to get some complex tasks done. It would be difficult to cover all the shows here. At the end of this article is included a list of more home improvement television shows and their web sites, take time to check them out and you might find a new favorite! Classic Home Improvement: Web Site Summaries & Links Same order as article. This Old House www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/ This show has been around for 25 years. On the main site you may see current or classic projects where the crew has worked on renovating and building homes inside and out. This show is not about quick fixes and flashy facades. Instead this show details good craftsmanship and the latest materials on the market to renovate a home meant to last. The web site does have web cams of current projects in the making. To check one out click here. Ask This Old House www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/tvprograms/asktoh A fun offshoot of This Old House is Ask This Old House. Although the humor is a bit quirky, there is great information for small home improvements and repairs. The show is great if you can catch it. Like all the other home improvement shows you can use the web site to get more detailed information about certain products or services highlighted in the show. However, if you want to look at the detailed how to information, you will have to subscribe to the magazine. Have a question of your own? You may send a question directly to them online. This question may be answered on the television show or in the magazine. Hometime www.hometime.com This site has project advice, information about the show and a variety of products to help you with all your project needs. Also find lists of vendors and their contact information for materials you see used on the show. The how-to tutorials on the web site are basic, however, they do offer more free information than many of the other home improvement shows. Check out the archives to find past episodes that relate to your own projects. Copies of programs can be bought and usually cover one individual tutorial or the whole series related to construction of one house project. This show is interested in the thorough education of its viewers and avoids quick fixes. However do not expect individual attention to your particular project; this show does illustrate how projects (i.e. tiling a bathroom) are done but does not tackle individual, viewer submitted homes/projects. There is a chance to submit video of your own projects as examples of creative improvements and modeling; to find out more click here. Home Again www.bobvila.com/BVTV/HomeAgain/ This web site provides a summary of each project. Also included are materials used and information to find vendors. A selection of video clips are available online to view segments of the show. These video clips are some of the most thorough and helpful out there on the web. It is a great way to catch bits of the show you missed. The entire project on video is available for purchase as well. Check around to the rest of Bob Vila's site, he showcases other programs he has done such as his Guide to Historic Homes of America on A&E and Restore America on HGTV. Also, his site gives great home improvement information all around and is worth the exploration. Part II: Entertaining Home Improvement Television Entertaining home improvement shows have followed the trend in reality television. They are fast paced and include someone who is real (for lack of better definition); a real homeowner who has asked for help. The projects vary in size from one room or area of the home to the entire house itself. These shows strive to be different from the other shows causing some pretty wild and exciting projects. However, attention to details are not the strong point; in fact some shows are in such a hurry to meet the show deadline that the craftsmanship for the project can suffer. However, these shows do offer splashes of ideas and push viewers to be creative, to keep thinking "outside the box." Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a great example of entertaining home improvement. In this show the entire home and landscaping is made over. Professional crews have one week to makeover a home for deserving families that really need drastic improvements to their home because of a major life event. The show provides small hints on topics such as how to improve space or what can kind of add-ons can be done on certain homes. Each member of the design team takes the viewer through their area of the home and explains why certain things were done to improve the home. Most of the show covers the design aspect rather then the nitty-gritty of how the space was remodeled, walls taken out, etc. This show entertains the viewers showing them what home improvement can accomplish but it does little to give an actual foundation in any home improvement projects they may encounter. Another extreme makeover style show is Monster House. This show truly aims to push home improvement to the extreme. These homes are changed by a team into stylized theme homes; not theme parks, but pretty close! Those who volunteer to be on the show want a drastic remodel to their boring home. Be careful what you ask for! They get a home based off an interest or passion of theirs. This may include a roman villa retreat, a jurassic find or maybe even treating their dog to the ultimate doghouse! This show doesn't show too much on how too. There are a lot of ideas and you do get to watch some of the challenges the crew faces working on the home and with each other. An added bonus is the teams that work on the house vary. The teams must work together and under the time limit in order to receive prizes of their own. Entertaining to say the least! Home "improvement" is up to the viewer to decide. One of the most popular home improvement shows (and considered one of the reasons there are so many of theses shows today) is Trading Spaces. This show isn't traditional home improvement that learns how to fix plumbing or update wiring in an old home. This show is all about the surface elements. In the show two neighbors agree to renovate one room in the others home. With a limit in budget and time it is a mad dash to make renovations and add stylish design. One guest designer directs the project room for each house. Under their guidance, decorative and improvement features are added to the space. Sometimes there is a larger home improvement project involved, such as new flooring or counter tops. However, there is little detailed guidance to these projects and the neighborly teams just "go for it" as there is more concern for deadlines and looks than craftsmanship built to last. There are good aspects to this show as it has encouraged viewers to try new things and view their living space potential rather than limitations. The entertainment value is definitely there as the before and after on these projects are highly entertaining and the reactions of the homeowners are priceless. Finally, another example of an entertaining home improvement show is While You Where Out. In this program a family member sends a loved one away while they secretly renovate a part of the house for them. Like Trading Spaces, this show is more about design than classic home improvement. However, here the designers really look to please the family rather than shock them. In this way the homeowners really do a get a home improvement to their living space. However, due to budget and time constraints, many projects are done on the surface. Additions to the room that require intensive remodeling can unfortunately be rushed and given rough surface treatment. An extra human element is added to this show when loved ones must answer questions correctly to gain extra features for the redesign. This entertaining show can give viewers ideas but some of the rushed means-to-an-end should be viewed with caution. Entertaining home improvement shows have found a niche on television. They are fast paced and a final project is revealed for viewers in an hour or less. These shows do not illustrate traditional home improvement projects. They often cut corners or do surface fixes that are more concerned with appearance than lasting craftsmanship. Viewers should be careful not to be tricked into the "simplicity" of home improvement projects. However, these programs do offer encouragement to homeowners looking at tackling home improvement projects. In fact, these shows really encourage viewers to consider splashing their personality on the property they own. Homeowners are told not be afraid to try something new and push the conventional ideas they may have of what a home should look like. Entertaining Home Improvement: Web Site Summaries & Links Same order as article. Descriptions from show web site. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition http://abc.go.com/primetime/xtremehome/ Put together one very run-down house, a deserving family, several opinionated designers, seven days and what do you get? The answer is Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. The show's successful first season garnered an Emmy nomination for Outstanding Reality Program. As this ratings-rich reality series enters its second season, each self-contained episode features a race against time on a project that would ordinarily take at least four months to achieve, involving a team of designers, contractors and several hundred workers who have just seven days to totally rebuild an entire house — every single room, plus the exterior and landscaping. Monster House http://dsc.discovery.com/fansites/monsterhouse/ So. Tired of that same old living room? Well, you could slap a little paint on the walls, maybe. Or jazz things up with a brand-new throw rug. You might even slipcover that chewed-up old couch. Or ... you could call in Steve Watson and theMonster House crew. Sure, you and your family will have to move into an RV for a week and look on as a bunch of strangers tear apart everything you know and thought you didn't love. But remember: They have talents galore, sensitivity to your interests and an unlimited budget. Trading Spaces http://tlc.discovery.com/fansites/tradingspaces/ Ever sit in someone's home and wonder what would happen if you stripped, ripped and painted as you pleased? Find out during this one-of-a-kind decorating show when two sets of neighbors swap keys to transform a room in each other's home. They have two days, a set budget, and they're not allowed back into their own homes until the moment of truth. This is how-to with a neighborly twist. While You Where Out http://tlc.discovery.com/fansites/wywo/ ... a homeowner sneakily sends his or her partner, parent or roommate out of town for a couple of days as While You Were Out host Evan Farmer brings in a talented designer and two handy persons to work around the clock to create a new look for an indoor or outdoor space. Meanwhile, TLC surreptitiously videotapes the absent party during their getaway, gaining fodder for the pop-quiz portions of the show. Prizes are awarded based on the answers that could enhance the finished project — or not, depending on whether the at-home partner can correctly predict the answers of the partner who's "out." All of which leads to the big surprise at the end of each show, when the stunning transformation is revealed and the homeowner announces, "Look what happened While You Were Out!" Conclusion There are many home improvement television programs on the air these days. There are the classic style programs that concentrate on craftsmanship and the tools used for various home improvement projects. And there are the entertaining home improvement shows that showcase the human experience related to home projects. These entertainment programs show possibilities but relatively little know-how detail. Whichever style you prefer, there is plenty out there to choose from. If you still can't find enough there are now entire cable networks dedicated to the how-to market. These channels have plenty of home related programs to choose from. Before tackling the next home improvement project, sitting on the sofa watching TV might actually be a good place to start for education and inspiration! More Home Improvement Programs to Check Out (Descriptions provided by show web sites) American Home www.hgtv.com/hgtv/shows_hah05 American Home 2005 showcases innovations for the home that are so new they almost haven't happened yet. See the latest products and ideas, from materials to floor plans to appliances. Meet the builders, architects, designers and other experts who are setting the trends in the home industry. Before & After www.hgtv.com/hgtv/shows_baa Hosted by Pat Simpson, each episode profiles major home remodeling projects from start to finish. Past projects include turning a cramped 1950s concrete block home into a spacious New England summer home; adding a second story to a suburban ranch home from the '70s; and adding a wraparound deck to a '60s split-level. Before & After is all about turning eyesores into eye-openers. Do It Yourself Network TV www.diynet.com Again, for those of you that have cable, this station has a lot of different do-it-yourself projects and improvements for the house. Easily find all the shows that have aired pertaining to your project; you may even see when a particular project will air again. A lot of the show details from materials to individual steps are available online. For a complete list of shows go here: www.diynetwork.com/diy/pac_ctnt/text/0,2019,DIY_14161_16823,00.html DIY to the Rescue www.hgtv.com/hgtv/shows_dttr Got in over your head with a home improvement project? DIY to the Rescue can help finish the job! This special presentation from one of our sister networks, DIY Do It Yourself Network, brings in a team of experts to help real homeowners finish a problem project in around 48 hours. Fix It Up! www.hgtv.com/hgtv/shows_fix Do it yourself is the motto here, with a program that covers a wide range of self-help home projects. Topics range from tiling, refinishing projects and deck additions to landscaping and lawn care--and everything in between that today's do-it-yourself homeowner needs to know about. The early episodes are hosted by Pat Simpson and Amanda Rosseter, while newer episodes are hosted by Pat Simpson and Jodi Marks. Houselift http://home.discovery.com/fansites/houselift/houselift.html Houselift is a home remodeling show with a brand-new perspective — the homeowner's. Paul Hochman, the Today Show's gear expert, and his wife Tricia and their two children experience the fun, excitement, terror and tribulations every homeowner faces when they live through a major home construction project. Unvarnished, and with a healthy mix of humor and how-to, Houselift demystifies the home renovation process by putting Paul in the middle of the job. Each show features a key conflict and lots of learning for those considering a foray into this expensive, but ultimately rewarding, territory. Included in the mix are financial advisers, real estate agents, concrete experts and even a marriage counselor, who help Paul and Tricia through the process. Fun, engaging and educational, Houselift is a hit, literally in the making. In a Fix http://home.discovery.com/tuneins/inafix.html We know they mean well, those do-it-yourselfers. But what is that old saying about good intentions? The In A Fix team selects a home repair project that has gone terribly, shockingly wrong — gaping holes in ceilings and gutted kitchens. With a complicit spouse, In a Fix stages a dramatic "intervention" on the family handyman or woman in desperate need of help. During the hour, they not only fix the problem, they up the ante — a small fix becomes a major re-do. Michael Holigan's Your New Home www.michaelholigan.com Michael Holigan’s Your New House, seen on broadcast stations and cable by more than 2 million viewers every week. We promote tips and advice on how to build, buy and remodel the home through our TV show...serve as a source of expert advice and information for consumers on topics relating to: New home construction, The purchase and financing of new and existing homes, The purchase and financing of manufactured homes, Residential remodeling, Home improvement Renovate My Family http://www.fox.com/renovatemyfamily/ Hosted by best-selling author Jay McGraw, RENOVATE MY FAMILY is not just a home-improvement show - it's a life improvement program that visits families who have encountered some challenges along the way. Sell This House www.aetv.com/tv/shows/sell_this_house/ SELL THIS HOUSE™ gets inside the mind of the buyer and the heart of the seller with real life experiences and great advice on how to prepare your house for the market. Each week features homeowners desperate to sell and prospective buyers secretly videotaped as they express their observations upon first seeing the house. Enter a real estate and home decoration expert who recommends changes. In the end, the house is transformed (on a budget) and the buyers are brought back. Will the house sell? For how much? To whom? You'll learn the answers as participants experience the ups and downs of SELL THIS HOUSE™. Surprise by Design http://home.discovery.com/fansites/surprisebydesign/surprisebydesign.html As the saying goes, it takes two to tango. It also takes two — and a few willing friends and family members, if you want to get technical — when you've got a $2,500 budget and just one day to surprise someone with a redecorating or landscape project. That's where our dynamic design team of Rebecca Cole, Robert Verdi and Peter Gurski comes in. Toolbelt Diva http://media.home.discovery.com/fansites/toolbeltdiva/toolbeltdiva.html As the feisty host of Discovery Home Channel's new series Toolbelt Diva, Norma pairs up with female homeowners to tackle a variety of home-improvement projects. Toolbelt Diva proves that any woman can take on just about any home-improvement project, and it also has plenty of information and insight for the man of the house as well. Town Haul http://media.tlc.discovery.com/fansites/townhaul/townhaul.html In Town Haul, Gorder tackles the biggest challenge of her career. She's not just redesigning a living room, family room or bedroom, rather she's remodeling an entire town over the course of several weeks. In an eye-popping television event, she will oversee a team of skilled designers, carpenters and craftspeople as they work alongside townspeople to reimagine, repaint, repair and restore small towns across the United States. Weekend Warriors www.hgtv.com/hgtv/shows_war Weekend Warriors celebrates the do-it-yourself trend with a cinema-verite look at people planning, doing and completing weekend home-improvement projects. This series follows such do-it-yourselfers as apartment-dwellers, homeowners, couples, singles and families through the stages of a project to its successful (or even unsuccessful) completion. The focus is on the enthusiasm and the experience of the participants as they improve their home on their own.

Customer Deposits

Illegitimate Revenue Stream for Banks?

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This month, for a change of pace, we are bringing you a LAWCHEK™ ALERT! from our partner and legal site Lawchek.com. This article reviews the questionable changes that have occurred relative to bank "holds" on customer deposits. These changes can effect everyone from the individual customer to the small business owner.

CUSTOMER DEPOSITS: ILLEGITIMATE REVENUE STREAM FOR BANKS?
Richard A. Pundt, Attorney at Law

For quite some time now, certain banks and other financial institutions may have been profiting from what some members of Congress are calling an illegitimate revenue stream, namely, the deposits of its' customers. Today, many banks will place “holds” on customer deposits. Such customer deposit “holds” are for ten business days and usually translate into a ½ month use of the funds deposited; In this way, banks are able to benefit from the interest on customer funds. This questionable practice has caused outrage by depositors and has ignited the concern of key members of Congress.

Congressman Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) has stated: “Holding a deposit to ensure its safety and soundness is reasonable. But holding a deposit in order to profit from the interest is completely unacceptable. The latter practice prevents consumers from realizing the benefits of their own assets, while creating an illegitimate revenue stream for financial institutions. It unfairly penalizes consumers and should be eliminated from the U.S. payment system.” 1

From an analysis in a report by Ms. Laura Bruce of www.Bankrate.com, it is revealed that there are many concerns relative to the new federal enactment of the Check 21 Act. "Check 21" allows the checks that individuals write to clear within one to two days while the deposit may be held by a bank for up to ½ month when weekends are added to the allowable ten day hold under “exceptional” circumstances of the FED Regulations. As a result, the consumer may get “nailed” for overdraft charges if the consumer was counting on the deposit and, in addition, the banks have been keeping the interest on the funds “held” through the deposit delay. Ms. Bruce also notes in her article 2 that Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-New York) has introduced HR 5410 that would “…redress imbalances between the faster withdrawals permitted under the Check 21 Act and the slower rates for crediting deposits.”

Examples of bank customers delays due to the banks “hold” practices is very wide-spread and, undoubtedly, has accounted for hundreds of millions of dollars worth of profits for banks. Consumers, realtors, businessmen, and attorneys are becoming increasingly aware of these practices by the banks. This author has encountered quite a number of reported instances where consumers experienced an improper deposit delay or hold for an unreasonable period of time.

Of the many instances reported to this author, there are three that merit review in regard to the issue of deposit “holds.” The first instance involved a very well-respected attorney who deposited over $200,000 into his attorney trust account at a well-known bank and was verbally informed, after the deposit had been made, that there would be a ten business day “hold” on the deposit. He did not receive any written notice as prescribed by Federal Reserve Regulation CC (Availability of Funds and Collection of Checks, 12 CFR 229). This particular attorney had never over-drafted his account and has always maintained a sterling reputation with the Bar, as well as other attorneys. Moreover, the deposit consisted of checks from State Farm Mutual Ins. and John Deere Inc. The attorney directed a hand delivered correspondence to this well-known bank, wherein he requested an immediate removal of the “hold” or, in the alternative, an explanation as to whether the bank in question believed that checks from either State Farm Mutual Ins. or John Deere Inc. would not clear or if there was any improper activity by State Farm Mutual Ins. or John Deere Inc. in regard to: (a) any suspected criminal activity, (b) any suspected money laundering, (c) any suspected terrorist activity, or (d) any other improper activity that would mandate the holding of either check. Needless to say, the bank could not accuse either State Farm Mutual Ins. or John Deere Inc. of any such activity, yet the bank continued its “hold” on the deposit to the trust account from December 7, 2005 until December 20, 2005. The attorney has never received a written or an oral explanation, as he requested in writing, for the hold as prescribed by Federal Reserve Regulation CC (12 CFR 229).

The second instance involved a well-respected realtor who deposited between $200,000-$300,000, as a result of a closing, into his account at the aforementioned bank. He was unaware of any “hold” on the deposit. The realtor issued various checks, as customary, to: other financial institutions, the seller, realtors, an insurance company, taxing authorities, and others. When the bank in question refused to release its “hold,” the realtor’s checks bounced and a significant amount of distress and embarrassment was the result for all parties concerned, except, of course, the bank that profited in two ways: from the interest on the deposit and from the overdraft charges.

The third, but surely not final, instance involved a party who received a Cashier’s Check from a centrally located and well-known bank and, on the same day, deposited the Cashier’s Check into an account at a branch of the same bank. The branch placed a “hold” on its' own main bank’s Cashier’s Check. What is especially interesting about this case, other than the fact that it was the bank’s own Cashier’s Check, is the fact that under Federal Reserve Regulation CC (12 CFR 229), a Cashier’s Check, as well as a check drawn on an account held by the same institution, must be made available on the first business day following the day of deposit.

It would seem that compliance with Federal Reserve Regulation CC (12 CFR 229) is being ignored by several of the largest banks. According to the article by Ms. Bruce, as noted above, proposed legislation HR 5410 has been presented in Congress to benefit the consumer. The legislation is being introduced in order to counter the Check 21 Act that allows the checks written by consumers to clear faster than the actual deposits made at the banks. It is noted in the article that Representatives from Wells Fargo Bank and Wachovia Bank have stated that their banks place holds on less than one percent of all deposits. If one were to consider the dollar magnitude of that one percent, especially if such deposits are for more than $5,000, a substantial windfall of interest profits are the likely result for the banks placing the “hold.” Perhaps the one percent accounts for hundreds of thousands of deposits each day and, if the average dollar amount of such deposit is $10,000 (most likely it is much more), the money on hold by the large banks at any one time would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars for which the banks gain interest on consumers assets, as noted by Congressman Oxley.

Under the Federal Reserve Regulation CC (12 CFR 229), it is mandated that interest should be paid to the consumer (See Regulation CC (12 CFR 229.14)). It is, therefore, understandable why Congressman Oxley has stated that such practice by the banks “…prevents consumers from realizing the benefits of their own assets, while creating an illegitimate revenue stream for financial institutions."

Under Federal Reserve Regulation CC (12 CFR 229), the following deposits must be made available on the first business day following the banking day of deposit: (1) Cash, (2) Electronic Payments, (3) U.S. Treasury Checks, (4) U. S. Postal Service Money Orders, (5) Federal Reserve Bank and Federal Home Loan Bank Checks, (6) State or Local Government Checks, (7) Cashier’s, Certified or Teller’s Checks, (8) Checks drawn on an account held by the same institution upon which the check is drawn, and (9) the first $100, or if less than $100 the entire amount, of all other checks. In the case of the individual who had deposited a Cashier’s Check into an account that was held by the same bank upon which it was drawn, both subsection 7 and subsection 8, as noted above, were ignored.

On other deposits that are not listed above, including the proceeds of local and non-local checks, the checks must generally be made available for withdrawal by the second and fifth business day respectfully following the deposit (See Regulation CC (12 CFR 229.12)). In the case of the attorney, and in the case of the realtor, as noted above, if the deposited checks were local, the deposit should have been credited within two days, and if the checks were non-local, the checks should have been credited within five days. There should not have been an arbitrary hold for ten business days or a ½ month total hold on the deposits.

However, there are exceptions set forth under Regulation CC (12 CFR 229.13), and those exceptions involve: new accounts,3 large deposits, repeatedly overdrawn accounts, or emergency conditions. The only exception of the above examples involving the attorney or the realtor, as given, would be the exception of a large deposit since our investigation ruled out any other scenario. In the case of large deposits, the bank must provide a notice to the consumer (See Regulation CC (12 CFR 229.13)), and that notice must be in writing (See Regulation CC (12 CFR 229.15), (12 CFR 229.16), (12 CFR 229.17) and (12 CFR 229.18)). Additionally, and under Regulation CC (12 CFR 229.14), interest must be paid on interest bearing accounts no later than the day the bank receives credit for the funds deposited.

It would appear that certain banks may be circumventing the requirements of Federal Reserve Regulation CC (12 CFR 229), and that is undoubtedly one of the reasons that Congressman Oxley has expressed concern, and why Congresswoman Maloney is reintroducing HR 5410. As a practical matter, most customers drop the issue once they actually receive their funds, which have been held by the bank, because they wish to maintain a good standing relationship with the bank. So does that mean that nothing can be done? The answer is no. Something can be done, but it requires positive action by the customer.

First, the customer may file a complaint with the Federal Reserve at: The Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System, Division of Consumer and Community Affairs at 20th and C Streets, N.W., Stop 801, Washington, DC 20551. Additionally, the consumer may file a complaint with the respective State Banking Commissioner in the state where the violation occurs. Also, contacting the proper parties within Congress, such as Congressman Michael Oxley (R-Ohio) or Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-New York).

Finally, there is a civil remedy expressly set forth under Federal Reserve Regulation CC (12 CFR 229.21). The civil remedy allows for both individual and class actions. See Regulation 12 CFR 229.21 (a) (2) (i) and (ii). The statute provides a limitation on class actions that includes actual damages up to $500,000 or 1% of the net worth of the bank involved (the lesser of the two) plus costs and attorney fees.

Kitchen Remodel

Hints and Tips

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Remodeling your kitchen is a major event. You may be without the room entirely for most of the remodel process. There will be many different contractors and specialists coming in and out of your home. And changes in timelines may happen due to product availability or other unforeseen circumstances. All said, it is a major project that takes careful planning and attention to detail for a satisfactory outcome. Take your time to plan carefully and enlist professional help if you hit a brick wall and don't know how to make certain items or features work. We have given you the short list of some things you will need to consider before and during a kitchen remodel.

The Kitchen Remodel List

Sink with money going down drain

The Dreaming Stage: Evaluate your needs. What do you want to change about the existing layout, appliances, utility, storage, lighting, flooring, ascetics, etc. Consider how you use your kitchen - where do you prepare meals, cook meals and clean up. How can these used spaces be improved. What will make your ideal kitchen in the space you have available? Do you want to go as far as to restructure walls? Review the three basic layouts for kitchens: U-Shaped, L-Shaped and Galley. Which of these works with your kitchen use? You may also consider the "work triangle" which places the refrigerator, sink and stove in an easily accessible triangle to help optimize your kitchen tasks. Of course with the inclusion of other useful appliances and innovative cabinetry/counter space, you may think outside the triangle. Picture your ideal kitchen and write down the elements it includes.

The Reality Stage: Figure out your budget. How much can you afford to spend/finance to make your dream kitchen happen. Do this before any purchases are made or contracts signed. Knowing your budget limitations is a must so you don't get in over your head!

Your Timeline: Consider how much time you can be without a kitchen. You may want to plan ahead and have the remodel done when the kids are at college or you are certain not to have house guests, etc. Because of the scope of the remodel, knowing a timeline is essential to preventing some of the headaches involved with not having access to part of your home for weeks or even a month or two!

The Design: Now that you have your ideas, budget and timeline, you can contact an interior designer (some are now specialized as kitchen designers) to begin hacking out the reality. Now is when you determine which of these formats will best fit your ideal use of the space. The designer can help you determine how to make all your ideas work with the products available to you at your budget.

The Material Breakdown - There are many different types of materials for you cabinets, countertops, floors, etc.

  • Types of Cabinets: Cabinets either come with a framed or frameless design. You can get 'Flat Pack' or the do-it-yourself assembly-required variety, 'Stock' which are limited in size but are fully assembled, 'Built-to-Order' which are made at the factory and shipped and finally 'Custom' that usually include some factory pre-build and more fine tuning on installation. The cabinets can be stained, painted, laminated, and sometimes even made of material other than wood like metal. There are plenty of options to get carried away with. Review the options for the drawers, slide outs and other extras for the interior of you cabinets as well. Determine your style and use of your cabinets and you will still be overwhelmed by the choices!
  • Types of Countertops: Countertops can be natural stone such as granite or marble, sealed surfaces such as laminate or ceramic tiling, or manufactured surface material such as Corian. Laminate and ceramic tiles may offer a project for the do-it-yourselfer, but any of the other products will have to made to order and usually need professional installation to keep the warranty valid.
  • Types of Flooring: Just like any other room in your home, flooring options are endless. However this would not be a room for carpeting! Installing hardwood floors, Pergo flooring, vinyl, or tiles can be a do-it-yourself project or another one you hire out.

The Appliance Breakdown - The choices for appliances are abundant. When designing your new kitchen you will want to consider the size and layout of these major items. The layout of everything else in the room will be effected by the appliances you choose. You may decide to include appliances built into the cabinetry or countertop or keep them freestanding. Overall, you are considering your refrigerator, freezer, dish washer, microwave, stove top and oven.

The Kitchen Sink - The kitchen sink stands alone as a major item to consider. You may have a double sink, typical for hand washing dishes. You may have more than one sink including one on a workspace island or countertop. You may get a deep sink, shallow sink or a combination of both.

Permits: It is very likely a major kitchen remodel will need permits from your city or county government. Research these to get a good idea of what permits you will need. Your interior designer may be able to help with this. More likely, the contractor(s) that you work with will either do the permits themselves or be able to help you determine what permits you may need. Steer clear of a contractor who tells you that you can "get by" without getting a permit; it may sound like they are saving you money but in the long run they could cost you much more!

Hiring your Contractor(s): With a major kitchen remodel you may be using several different professionals. You may start with a general contractor, however, they may hire or you may need to hire specialists such as plumbers, electricians or tilers. Talk to several contractors and get estimates and references from each. Call the references and make sure to ask questions about estimate variations - some may substitute materials to cut costs. Discuss the timeline in detail with the contractor you choose.

Determine how they will work with any sub-contractors. For example, when does the electrician and plumber need to come in or when will you be ready for the tiler? What time of day will they begin work and what days of the week? What will the contractor do if there is a delay due to materials or labor? For even more information about hiring and making a contract with a contractor, please see our previous article How to Hire a Contractor: Working as a Team on Your Next Home Project.

Demolition: Once you have removed all the dishes and other small items, the big demolition will begin. Even if you are just replacing a small section or part, there may be demolition involved. Usually appliances are removed first, then sinks, then fixtures, then countertops, then cabinets and finally flooring.

The Remodel: After everything is taken out the first couple items that will be done will be any reframing, plumbing changes and electrical wiring. Any plumbing and electrical work will need to be inspected before they can be sealed back up. You may only have portions of wall removed for this type of work. Once the inspection is done and the walls are in place, the cabinets will usually be the first item installed. After the cabinets are in place, your new countertops will be installed. After the countertop and any backsplash is done, the flooring will be installed. The final items to be done will be all the finishing work such as installing light switches and fixtures, installing the sink and faucet, and finally, installing the appliances from the garbage disposal to the refrigerator. Keep in mind, if any of the appliances are built-in, they may be installed earlier. Extra care should be taken to make sure they are not damaged while other work continues!

If Things Go Wrong: Stay calm! Delays may happen. The worst case scenario is if there are any miscommunications between you and any of the professionals working on your home. This can be anything from timing to cost. Make sure to get all details in writing before any work begins!

  • You should have a section in your contract that states what is expected if there is a delay due to material delays, staffing delays, etc.
  • Stay involved in the process and don't be shy - get progress reports daily!
  • If a problem does arise, contact the contractor immediately, a good contractor will respond quickly and appreciate you speaking with them directly. If there is any question about the quality of work, you may consider having an inspection done early to ensure everything is on track.
  • Never pay for the job fully in advance. Many contracts work out a payment plan that will include paying a certain portion as various stages of the project are completed.
  • If there are disputes, make sure to write your concerns down and keep records that you have communicated all of these concerns with the contractor.
  • You will save yourself from a headache if you make sure to: Get it in writing, get the work described in detail and leave no questions unanswered.
  • Again see our article How to Hire a Contractor: Working as a Team on Your Next Home Project for more details about hiring contractors and sample contracts.

Finally - It's Done!: With a major remodel there may be another building inspection of the site on completion. Once that is done you are ready to clean up and move back in! Enjoy your new kitchen. Take pictures and keep a record of all your new appliance, cabinet and other big item warranties.

Conclusion

One of the most major remodels of the home is the kitchen. Take time to plan it out carefully, store a lot of patience, and get ready for one of the most intense but rewarding remodels to your home! It can be done, there are many people out there to help you get it all organized. We hope you find the above short list of things to consider for a kitchen remodel helpful. To the right of the article are some additional sites that will help get your creative ideas going. Enjoy! 

Other Useful Sites

Do It Yourself.com
ww.doityourself.com/scat/kitchenc
tchen remodeling will increase the design, function and resale value of a home. This section provides information about building kitchen cabinets, re-facing kitchen cabinets, selecting a kitchen cabinet style, selecting a kitchen countertop style, and planning a kitchen design that will look great and maximize the amount of available storage space.

HGTV
http://design.hgtv.com/kitchen/
HGTV KitchenDesign is your ultimate online destination for all things related to kitchens: design and decor, renovation and remodeling, appliances and products. Utilizing original video content as well as the rich television libraries of HGTV, Food Network, DIY and Fine Living, we show you everything you'll ever want to know about your kitchen.

Improve.net
www.improvenet.com
Welcome to ImproveNet's Kitchen Remodeling Center. In these and supporting pages, you'll find information and ideas for kitchen remodeling, from kitchen cabinets to kitchen countertops and everything in-between. Our goal is to inform you, give you kitchen remodeling ideas and direction and show you some examples of kitchen designs to get you started. For their kitchen cost estimator click here.

Kitchen Remodel Ideas
ww.kitchenremodelideas.com
itchenRemodelideas.com is a guide to new products for your kitchen.

Kitchens.com
ww.kitchens.com
Kitchens.com is the Web’s most comprehensive consumer resource on kitchen design. We invite you to: Be inspired by our Featured Kitchens and Photo Gallery. Learn the basics of Design and Products & Materials. Check out the latest New Product News and Trends. Follow the Kitchen Diaries for the homeowner perspective of the remodeling experience. Get started on your own kitchen project at Budget & Planning or our Professional Locator

National Kitchen & Bath Association
www.nkba.org
National Kitchen & Bath Association has created the NKBA Kitchen & Bath Workbook. This workbook will take you through every stage of creating that perfect space, whether it's new construction or a remodeling project. From selecting a designer, to collecting ideas and establishing a budget, this workbook will help turn your dreams into a reality.

Renovation Experts
www.renovationexperts.com/green-kitchen.asp
Whatever the reasons and goals are, there are more options available today for Greening your kitchen. Green kitchen design can be eco-friendly with out losing luxury and style.

This Old House
ww.thisoldhouse.com/toh/knowhow/kitchens/pk
Kitchen Know How - Cabinetry, Countertops, Kitchen Sinks, Backsplash, Appliances, Wet Bars, Design and Outdoor Kitchens.

Cracks in the sidewalk

Our home inspector said that parts of our sidewalk are a potential trip hazard.

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Q. Our home inspector said that parts of our sidewalk are a potential trip hazard. We think that he is being too picky and splitting hairs. What do think about cracks in sidewalks?

A. Simple cracks in a concrete sidewalk are not necessarily a problem unless they become large enough to catch the heel or toe of a shoe or the tip of a cane. Cracks normally indicate movement in the sidewalk, and are fairly normal. Most sidewalks that are more than 20 years old will have some cracks. On the other hand, upheavals in sections of the sidewalk can be a liability. Concrete sidewalks typically will have expansion joints at regular intervals. These individual sections of concrete can rise or fall as much as three inches in some extreme cases. The most common reason for upheaval is tree roots. The opposite problem is caused by subsidence where the ground beneath the slab sinks. An upheaval of more than one inch can become a dangerous trip hazard, and a liability to you as the home owner. This type of trip hazard is particularly dangerous at night. In my practice, I always explain this to the client, and encourage them to make repairs.

Galvanized Pipes in Older Homes

My husband and I are buying an 80 year old home in Columbia, South Carolina, but we are not sure about the galvanized water pipes under the house, What is the life expectancy of these pipes?

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Galvanized pipes have a general life expectancy of 50 years, but this can be shortened considerably by the amount of minerals in the water supply. Columbia has naturally soft water, and galvanized pipes here tend to last longer. Other areas of the country such as Southern California have rather hard water, and as a consequence, galvanized pipes won’t last as long there. Two things happen to galvanized pipes as they age.

First, minerals tend to slowly build up on the inner walls of the pipe decreasing the inside diameter. In extreme cases, this can slow the water flow to a trickle.

The other common problem with galvanized pipes is corrosion at the joints. In the process of cutting the threads for the pipe fittings, the protective galvanizing is cut away exposing bare metal. Over time, these threaded joints will corrode and eventually break. In the case of your 80 year old house, if the pipes are original I would definitely consider replacing them. If you are not sure how old they are, I recommend that a qualified home inspector examine them and look for signs of corrosion at the fittings, and check for low water flow at all of the faucets.

Home Improvement Web Sites

These days you can find a web site that covers anything. Included in this trend are home improvement web sites.

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These days you can find a web site that covers anything. Included in this trend are home improvement web sites. Some of these helpful sites may be related to a television program (as discussed in our April article 'Home Improvement Television'). However, there are also many that are mostly web based that offer great home improvement hints, tutorials and visual aids. Below is a list of some of these web sites. We have included the web site message to the consumer, our short review and our ranking of the practical features (such as navigation) to the right. Web sites are listed in alphabetical order. Hopefully you will find some information here that may help you on your next home improvement project! About.com Home Repair http://homerepair.about.com/ Web Site Summary: [About.com contains areas maintained by experts in the field; the only description we found about this section was about the expert.] Bill Lewis is a professional electrician. He has also been a carpenter, a contractor, an editor, a publisher and an urban planner. Bill focuses in this site on repairs and improvements with an eye to saving money and adding value. Homecheck Summary: Helpful articles about various projects and home repair issues. A good article reviews the pros and cons of do-it-yourself work. Overall the articles are quick and to the point. No illustrations are offered but the advice is good and well written. Would like to see more topics and visual aids. Al's Home Improvement Center http://alsnetbiz.com/homeimprovement/ Web Site Summary: Als Home Improvement Center is the site for do it yourself and how to tips covering all aspects of residential home repair, home improvement, remodeling, and renovation projects around the house. Featuring tips, advice, how-to articles and step-by-step information to help you maintain and improve the value of your home. Homecheck Summary: Random. This web site is primarily made up of links to other home improvement sites. However, there are some written guides and tutorials. The web site itself is basic in appearance and has few visual aids. However, some of the tutorials do offer step by step pictures. The site may be hit and miss but does seem to have some hidden gems. Ask the Builder www.askthebuilder.com Web Site Summary: Once you are in my new cool web site, here is what you will find: Over 400 Step-by-Step Guides- these contain the extra content, how-to instructions, links to manufacturers, etc. that the newspapers didn't have the room to print when they ran my original columns. Numerous TV Video Clips - watch me show you new products and cool tricks on how to do things. Over 150 Radio Shows - These radio shows have been stripped of the boring commercials. Each show is broken out into the individual callers. I explain in great detail how to do things as I talk to callers. You can listen to the segments or shows as often as you want. Each week I add the latest radio show for your listening pleasure. Email Questions and My Answers - Live questions from visitors just like you along with my responses. [This description is what a premium, paid for membership includes, some of these materials are available for free on the web sit as well.] Homecheck Summary: This web site does offer some good articles about home improvement. A paid for membership will give the user access to much more. Good content in the articles and Q&A, but not very many visual aids. Some of the material is for geared towards those with advance knowledge of home construction. A good site to review and would be even better if you want to pay for the membership; check out what a paid membership get you, click here. Better Homes & Gardens www.bhg.com Web Site Summary: BHG.com is focused on decorating, building and remodeling, crafts, entertaining, cooking, and gardening. It also has extensive information for women and families. In addition to providing useful tools and advice, BHG.com's trusted experts keep visitors up to the minute with information on the latest developments and trends around home and garden. BHG.com was designed with real people in mind. It has easy-to-use interactive tools; clear visuals; specific, step-by-step instructions; and money saving suggestions. It makes life easier and more enjoyable. Homecheck Summary: One of the first things you'll notice are the pop up ads on every page; incredibly annoying and overused! This site does have home improvement and restoration articles available online. However, the articles are brief and some do not have pictures. The Tools & Guides are useful and easy to use. These tools include planning the layout and painting rooms to calculators for figuring out the cost of materials in advance. Overall this site is better for stimulating decoration and remodeling ideas but does little to tell the do-it-yourselfer how to tackle these projects. BobVila.com www.bobvila.com Web Site Summary: Online and on the job site, home improvement pro Bob Vila helps homeowners build their dreams. Homecheck Summary: This web site offers a lot more information than just TV listing times. It is easy to get around, however, there is so much information available the choices at first can be a bit overwhelming. Articles are very practical and thorough, fix its include diagrams and photos, and the videos are a great way to review topics if you missed the television show. Design tools and the bulletin boards do require a sign up, but it is FREE! These tools are great and easy to use. Overall this site is one of the most informative and generous internet sites offering expert advice. DoItYourself.com http://doityourself.com Web Site Summary: N/A Does list a great deal of quotes from media sources and what they say about the site. Homecheck Summary: This web site really uses the point and click method. Once inside, most of the pages show all possible selections at once leaving the user to scroll and review at will. For shopping this works best. Once in the home improvement section, each topic has How To, Q&A and Tips. All are written concisely and use some pictures when applicable. Some How To's are more informative than others. Depending on the topic, users may find not all their questions answered as the subject may only have an introduction/summary instead of a full tutorial. More diagrams and drawings for some of the How To sections would be nice as well. Finally, a collection of manufactures and suppliers are listed by area of expertise or in advertisements throughout the site. (For professionals interested, listing on these pages begins at $30.) DoItYourself Network www.diynetwork.com Web Site Summary: DIY Network is your television source for the latest do-it-yourself projects, including Home Building; Home Improvement; Automotive & Boating; Crafts; Gardening; Living; and Woodworking. Informational and entertaining, DIY's programs and experts answer your most sought-after questions, plus offer creative projects that will inspire you to do something out of the ordinary - yourself. DIY's web site, DIYnetwork.com, features step-by-step instructions for all that you see on-air, totaling more than 15,000 projects online. Homecheck Summary: The tutorials do point out the television show times. However, if you miss the show, a step by step detail with pictures from the project are available online. Not all the show reviews are meant to be tutorials of how-to but instead are examples of what may be accomplished; a sort of idea bank. Overall the tutorials are clear and easy to follow. There are also some project planners available, but these are borrowed from the Lowe's web site. Home Decoration Concepts www.homedecorationsconcepts.com Web Site Summary: Homedecorationconcepts.com is a site that has been built to ensure you have all the information you want when you build your own house. The information presented here covers various aspects of home decor ranging from individual articles on decoration bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms etc to general articles on furniture &furnishing the house. The site even provides you with articles based solely on how to paint and maintain your house. In short, Homedecorationconcepts.com can be your first step towards your dream house! Home Depot www.homedepot.com Web Site Summary: The Home Depot is the world's largest home improvement retailer and second largest retailer in the United States. We help our customers build their dreams by being more than a store. Learn about Home Depot and our other subsidiaries that specialize in everything from flooring, lighting and interior decor to landscape supply. See how we're making your community a better place to live. Find a career with a Home Depot company or invest in your future as we drive to establish wealth and financial security for our investors. Homecheck Summary: An extension of the store, this site is intended to sell products. However, it also has some tips and ideas for using the products available. The tutorials on this site do come with difficulty rating and photographs of the project steps/procedures. An easy tool included in the tutorials is a printable shopping list so you may know exactly what you need (and where to buy it!) for any project. The only downside is the planning tools are brand based and only show painting color schemes, shelving layouts, etc. using one particular brand. Home & Garden TV www.hgtv.com Web Site Summary: At HGTV.com, you'll find even more of what you love about HGTV: instructions for thousands of home and garden projects, video tips, an interactive Program Guide and episode finder, Calculators, Message Boards and more. Just click on your favorite topic—Decorating, Remodeling, Gardening, At Home, Crafts—to learn the latest on enhancing your nest. And be sure to visit the HGTV Store for unique home and garden gear. Homecheck Summary: The How-To tutorials are great. They take you through step-by-step with audio and visual review. After watching the segment you may print out written instructions as well. It does work best with a high speed internet connection. Only negative comment is we wish there were more! But these are sponsored by Lowe's and users may always click on the advertisement to go to their library as well. The Home Improvement Web www.the-home-improvement-web.com Web Site Summary: The New Home Improvement Web Directory - Tips, Design, Decorating, Repair and Improvement Information For The Consumer and Professional! Find Improvement Tips, Products, Professionals, and Services in Canada, United States, and United Kingdom! Homecheck Summary: Some great articles about home maintenance and repair. However, there are no illustrations. Many of the articles are submitted by other web sites/sources, but the quality of the articles seems to stay about equal. HomeStore.com www.homestore.com Web Site Summary: Homestore, Inc. is a leading supplier of media and technology solutions that promote and connect Real Estate Professionals to consumers before, during and after a move. Homecheck Summary: This site is primarily geared to those looking for realtors, homes, apartments and other real estate listings. To find home improvement articles go the Home & Garden tab at the top right. Here you may find decorating and some guides to home improvement projects. The tutorials are borrowed from the Creative Homeowner text and include great pictures with the step by step guide. Finding the tutorial you are looking for can take a little time through the different menus. It is easy to click on another feature and be taken to another site; although the new site is owned by the same group, why you went there may not be clear at first. Again, do-it-yourself home improvement is not the main feature of this site so unfortunately there are not as many articles and projects; but the articles it does offer are easy to follow and have good visual aids. HomeTime.com www.hometime.com Web Site Summary: Welcome to Hometime.com your online source for home improvement, remodeling, and repair information. Here is where you’ll find project advice, information about current and past TV episodes, behind-the-scenes Hometime information and a variety of products to help you with all your project needs. Homecheck Summary: This site has project advice, information about the show and a variety of products to help you with all your project needs. Also find lists of vendors and their contact information for materials you see used on the show. The how-to tutorials on the web site are basic. Check out the archives to find past episodes that relate to your own projects. Copies of programs can be bought and usually cover one individual tutorial or the whole series related to construction of one house project. Home Tips www.hometips.com Web Site Summary: Home Tips is your free one-stop resource for help with home improvement, remodeling houses, home repair, decorating, and buying appliances and other home products. Homecheck Summary: This site has some lengthy articles and some quick summaries. Very few pictures and a lot seems to point towards purchasing material through the site. That is not to say the information isn't valuable; many of the articles/buyer's guides offer good reviews of the materials available to the consumer. There is a section of D-I-Y Instructions that offers a bit more insight. But again would like more step-by-step, illustrated instructions. Lowe's Home Improvement www.lowes.com Web Site Summary: [Well the closest we could find!] Lowe's has been Improving Home Improvement ® for more than 59 years. In 2005, Lowe's earned several notable industry distinctions, including: Ranked 43 on the FORTUNE 500; Named 2003, 2004 and 2005 ENERGY STAR Retail Partner of the Year; Operates more than 1,100 stores in 48 states Homecheck Summary: Offered by the retail store as an extra feature, the primary goal of the site is to get information about and/or purchase products for sale. Prompted for your Zip Code, this information is used so you may search for products available in your area (this includes plants!). Navigation is easy, however some pages heavy with images may take longer for some computers to load. Most of the tutorials suggest certain products, which is to be expected. However, these tutorials do still prove to be helpful and diagrams are provided for more complex tasks. Check out their 'In-Depth Microsites' for more information and online tools such as the Garden Planner. The Garden Club has really useful tools with great information about plants. Overall, this site does prove helpful to the home improvement weekend warrior. Michael Holigan's Your New Home www.michaelholigan.com Web Site Summary: Michael Holigan’s Your New House, seen on broadcast stations and cable by more than 2 million viewers every week. We promote tips and advice on how to build, buy and remodel the home through our TV show...serve as a source of expert advice and information for consumers on topics relating to: New home construction, The purchase and financing of new and existing homes, The purchase and financing of manufactured homes, Residential remodeling, Home improvement Homecheck Summary: Tutorials are available through online copies of show transcripts or broken down into step-by-step online tutorials. The use of photos help illustrate the steps of the projects. If you have a good connection you may also watch video excerpts from the show. All around great advice and direction. Just can't wait for there to be even more topics available. MSN House & Home http://houseandhome.msn.com/ Web Site Summary: [Could not find one for this section, but everyone is pretty familiar with MSN.com for which this is an extension.] Homecheck Summary: Tutorials and content is provided by Better Homes and Gardens. Articles are short and to the point. Most have drawn illustrations. Start Remodeling www.startremodeling.com Web Site Summary: StartRemodeling.com’s Roots began in 1997 as an interactive sales tool for Lone Star Specialty Remodelers, a Houston, TX based remodeling contractor, in business since 1982. The site, still owned and operated by Real Remodeling Professionals, was transformed in 1999 to bring visitors to the Internet an informative and easy to navigate site that will allow them to locate anything and everything they may need to improve their homes. Homecheck Summary: Some good short articles and how-to's are in the Interior and Exterior Showcases. The remodeling values article is a nice hidden gem as it was the first we saw of someone illustrating how that major home improvement project may effect the resale value of your home. Overall, the articles are bit hit and miss and could use more visual aids, but there are some definite gems to look over in the archives. This Old House/Ask This Old House www.thisoldhouse.com Web Site Summary: Homeowner Know-how: Our extensive database of do-it-yourself articles and step-by-step instructions help homeowners execute a wide range of home improvement tasks. Organized by topic, this section covers everything from kitchen and bath to yard and garden. Homecheck Summary: Some free tutorials available online. However, most information is only available to magazine subscribers ($4.93/3 issues & presumably much more through online access). The guides that are offered for free are well written, have great photographic visuals and are easy to follow. It may make the subscription worth it to those who want expert guidance and help. TrueValue www.truevalue.com Web Site Summary: True Value, operating worldwide, has been a leader in the hardware industry since 1948. With its broad and deep product selection and helpful customer service, True Value is a trusted resource for do-it-yourselfers in big cities and small towns alike. Homecheck Summary: The web site for the retail store, this site has some good directions for home projects and improvements. The tutorials are very detailed. Drawn pictures serve as visual aids; it would be nice if there were more of them for some of the projects listed. Well written and easy to follow articles. Don't forget to check out the expert Q&A where you may submit questions or review the archive or questions asked. Toolbelt Diva http://media.home.discovery.com/fansites/toolbeltdiva/toolbeltdiva.html Web Site Summary: As the feisty host of Discovery Home Channel's new series Toolbelt Diva, Norma pairs up with female homeowners to tackle a variety of home-improvement projects. Toolbelt Diva proves that any woman can take on just about any home-improvement project, and it also has plenty of information and insight for the man of the house as well. Homecheck Summary: A fun twist to the usual home improvement shows, this tv show's web site also offers video clips and written guides reviewing projects handled on the show. Wish there was more material available online as the topics covered are still rather limited.