Technology gives homeowners an extra eye to help keep their children and property safe

Keeping an eye on your children, your property and your valuables around the home can be a lot easier today if you have another set of eyes.

The eyes of security cameras.

Mention the words “security camera” and most people think of banks, stores and office buildings. And until the last few years, only estate-size homes tended to be outfitted with cameras.

But a number of factors societal, financial and technological have changed that.

Home security cameras don’t just check on intruders anymore. They’re used as much to keep an eye on children. That’s where the “secure” in security comes in. Busy parents who have to do something around the house while the kids are in another room can feel secure if they can check in through a camera. New parents could use a security camera to keep an eye on a sleeping baby.

Cameras often are used at the front door or a front gate.

Residential security cameras have become increasingly popular in two states California and Florida because of an increasing number of gate entries.
Price is one of the most important factors in the growing popularity of security cameras. A basic system, with one camera near the front door and a monitor, costs from $900 to $1,000. A more complex system can run from $2,000 to $5,000 and up.

Those prices might seem high, but in a survey by Builder magazine  the official publication of the National Association of Home Builders trade group  more than half the shoppers queried said they would pay $1,500 or more for a home-security system.

Technological improvements in residential security cameras also have made them more popular.

They’ve gotten smaller. They don’t have to be the big, old clunky things you used to see. They can be very subtle, blending in with a home.

Picture clarity has certainly been improved, and what makes that much better sometimes is the ability of some cameras to move. It’s now possible with some systems to sit in front of a monitor and operate a control which moves the camera. Instead of having someone or something on the edge of the picture  perhaps out of focus  you can move the camera to have what you want to see in the middle of the picture.

The video systems are most easily installed when a home is being built. Problems can arise if the camera and monitor wiring is too close to a home’s electrical wiring. In existing homes, that problem is compounded by existing walls.

In homes under construction, it’s a lot easier to cope with problems such as these. But even the installer has to know what he’s doing.

Soft rental market in Singapore seen for condominiums

Around the already congested River Valley area alone, close to 2,700 apartments are due for completion in Valley Park, Mirage Tower, UE Square, the Anchorage and Aspen Heights.

Upper Bukit Timah, a new residential district, will have at least 3,000 new units, mostly in the Hume Park and Hillview developments.

DTZ Leung’s Amos Koh said: “Rentals will be under pressure but they’re not going to move down too quickly. So far our agents have not had to reduce rentals to get expatriate tenants.

“For the next six months or so, rentals will probably remain flat. I don’t see them going up much but I wouldn’t say they will go down.”

While official statistics show that island-wide rentals fell 5 per cent last year, consultants say prime rentals are not coming down but are flattening out.

Whether rents will fall depends on how firm expatriate demand is. It also depends on what proportion of available units is taken up by owner occupiers.

But the completion of large projects like Aspen Heights and Valley Park “will definitely have an effect on rentals in district 9”, said Knight Frank’s Peter Ow.

He added: “If the apartments are not in prime areas, we would expect rentals to dip.”

Supply may also be enlarged slightly by “speculators-turned-investors” – those who have decided to hold on to their properties to lease out rather than sell in today’s quiet market.

Apartments in prestigious districts 9, 10 and 11 can fetch rents up to 20 per cent higher than other popular areas like the east, and up to 40 per cent higher than the west.

According to Richard Ellis, average prime rentals as of March are at S$3.60 per square foot per month, 3 per cent up from December.

At the end of last year, prime rentals were at S$3.50 psf/mth, up 6 per cent from the third quarter. Third quarter numbers were unchanged from the second quarter, when rentals were 6 per cent lower than the first quarter.

A recent Knight Frank study of selected apartments in prime areas gives an interesting breakdown.

For the first few months of this year, gross rents for two-bedroom apartments rose by 8.7 per cent, roughly the same amount as in 2010.

But for larger apartments, rents are rising much slower in 2011 then they did in 2010. Whereas rents for three and four-bedroom units rose by 11-13 per cent last year, they are up by about 8 per cent so far this year.

Knight Frank’s study looked at monthly rentals in upmarket developments like The Claymore, Holland Hill Mansion and Leonie Gardens.

DTZ Leung’s Dr Koh observed a new leasing market emerging for suburban developments where a nearby MRT station gives easy access to the city. “What we’re seeing is very senior management expats living in the prime areas, with middle management going for outlying areas,” he said.

“Family-sized” apartments near MRT stations could fetch $2,000-$3,000 a month, he said. A new project like Dover Parkview, due to be completed this year, should be able to lease for at least $3,000, he said.

Manhattan Beach Apartment Rentals in the prime districts are holding up and will probably stay flat for the rest of the year.

Web Hosting Services for Home Owner

Hosting your public Web servers on a service provider’s site makes sense for a lot of reasons. Access to your data will be faster, traffic will not affect or be affected by your own internal Internet usage, and it may be easier to implement a security policy that does not mix external and internal traffic.

Carrier best hosting can be much more economical than buying, building and caring for your own system. But that doesn’t mean you can afford to take a hands-off approach to your Web servers.

All of the ISPs we examined provide simple cheap web hosting services. The hardware and system software may vary – UUNET, for example, is exclusively using Intel Pentiums running BSD/OS and a modified Apache HTTP server.

Others use large SGI machines or Digital Alphas. One vendor uses Sun SPARCs running Microsoft Commerce server. For basic Web services, it doesn’t really matter which OS and HTTPD server you are using. But if you want additional services, such as Electronic Commerce, Real Audio and database access, it does matter.

Vendors use a variety of billing strategies, making broad cost comparisons difficult.

Charges may be based on host computer type, number of customers per blog host, the amount of raw disk storage used, number of page hits and number of megabytes transferred.

In the typical configuration, you’ll be sharing a physical server with multiple companies. Usually, you will have your own IP address and domain name (except PSINet, which still does not allow for customer domain names–a major drawback to its services). For a higher fee, you can restrict the number of sites co-located on your server, or have exclusive ownership. Providing your own server doesn’t significantly reduce the price, and in fact may actually increase it.

What type of services do you get? All of the providers we talked to have at least one T3 connection to the Internet in facilities that house the Web server farm. Hosts are kept in a clean data center environment and managed on a 24×7 basis. Many of the Web providers do nightly incremental backups of all hosts, executing total backups once a week. At least one provider was vague on this point. You cannot be lax about backups. Get a service level agreement that specifies daily backups and indicates the maximum amount of time your server would be down in the event of an outage.

All the vendors reviewed had a stated plan for server fallback, mostly using hot spare hosts. What, then, if the whole site goes out? It’s not inconceivable. Only BBN, IBM and HLC offered redundant hosting facilities. Most claimed this would more than double the customer’s cost. HLC, however, offers the service for a mere 25 percent extra.

Beyond cost, redundant hosting has other flaws – Domain Name System (DNS) updates. It may take many hours for local DNS caches to clear themselves and allow your fallback server to be resolved to a new IP address. In that time, the original server may be back up again.

What is the downside of offsite hosting? It’s, well, offsite. Once you get your Web pages online you will soon find out that you need to make the site more interactive with HTML forms, e-mail via forms and other CGI applications. Many of the vendors listed allow you to create your own CGI applications and place them on the server, but you can’t install any program that has access to ROOT – a good security measure. Some providers don’t allow CGI applications that they haven’t written or certified.

Colorful mountaintop home to become a park, museum

Visitors to the secluded haven dubbed Hilltop must hang on tight as they bump along a narrow country lane that winds high into the clouds.

Past fields of wildflowers and a rusting 1938 Dodge, the road finally ends amid a pair of towering Peruvian cactus plants that guard an ancient granite house at the end of Castle Court Drive — where the view overlooks much of East County.

Despite its scenic wonders, few people have ventured up here since the 1992 death of Mildred Whitaker. She and her late husband, Hale, settled the hillside 50 years ago.

The few visitors situation will soon change. In what authorities call a rare example of civic generosity, the well-known Lakeside woman with a passion for Siamese cats and the color red has bequeathed her personal Garden of Eden to the public.

“She always thought that the place was just a few steps from heaven and that the best thing that could happen to it would be to share it with others,” said Lester Johnson, the lawyer handling Whitaker’s will.

County officials have agreed to accept the estate and are considering how best to preserve the house and surrounding seven acres for a park and museum, in accordance with her last wishes. The public can get an early look at the grounds, however, every Monday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. when the gates are open, although the house will remain closed for the time being.

The couple nicknamed their home Hilltop and poured their love into its creation.

Hale, a county heavy-equipment operator for 47 years, and Mildred, a longtime Red Cross volunteer and San Diego Unified Port District employee, camped out in a lean-to for several years during the early 1940s while laboriously carving their house from Granite Fresno boulders just down the slope.

They did much of the work themselves. Hale used a sledgehammer to split the rock. His wife dipped shingles in sticky creosote to protect them from winter torrents and blazing summer sun.

Over the years, Mildred — described as a strong-willed woman who befriended birds, rabbits and even skunks — planted dozens of fruit trees and cactus plants and marveled at the panoramic views of faraway landmarks such as El Capitan and the Cuyamaca Mountains.

“The good Lord made it beautiful; we try to keep it that way,” she once said.

Rick and Mary Stewart, park volunteers looking after the property, agree, saying the solitude is downright inspiring, providing a perfect spot for meditation and relaxation.

“It’s beautiful up here,” said Rick Stewart. “I’m just amazed at the initiative they had to build all this.”

A painter, pianist and member of many community groups, Mildred had outlived her husband by 12 years. She had no surviving relatives except for an elderly cousin. Few people knew her real age, a secret she took to her grave.

“She never disclosed it,” said Johnson, adding only that she was in her 80s when she died.

Much of the sanctuary remains frozen in time, much the way it was back when Hale first bulldozed the private road leading up the hill.

Weathered chicken coops still sit out in back; a massive water tank rests on a knoll. The 1,500-square-foot house is jammed with original appliances, fixtures and furniture from the 1940s

Travelling North To The Holiday House

As the State relaxes into holiday mode, the Central and North Coasts have had an influx of renters and buyers. Agents report strong demand for scottsdale az rentals – and with the housing sales market flat in non-metropolitan NSW, some bargains are on offer.

Raine & Horne Pacific Palms has reported solid Christmas bookings in the area. The first two weeks of January are heavily booked and few vacancies remain for the rest of the holiday period.

“With peak weekly rates ranging from about $400 for a basic two-bedroom unit without a view to about $1,000 a week on the beach, the area provides a range of accommodation to suit most budgets,” says the agency director, Mark Currie.

“For the family group, a three-bedroom home will cost between $550 and $1,200 a week, depending on its location.”

Among this year’s sales were a three-bedroom cottage in Alamau Place, Blueys Beach, for $165,000 (which will let for $760 a week in January), a three-bedroom house on Boomerang Drive for $170,000 (able to be let year-round for about $165 a week) and a two-bedroom-plus-rumpus beachfront house in Coast Avenue, for $495,000, that could be holiday-let for about $1,600 a week.

Prices achieved this year at Wategoes Beach ranged from $625,000 to $900,000.

An architect-refurbished, elevated house in the front row at 23 Marine Parade, with sea and mountain views, is available through Margaret Robertson First National as a holiday house. It has two bedrooms with a large open-plan living area leading to an outdoor seating area with stunning beach views.

The house rents from $2,200 for the peak Christmas weeks and $1,600 for shoulder weeks. Out of season it brings $750 a week.

On Lighthouse Road, sale prices for houses ranged from $425,000 to $625,000.

Mary McKinney Real Estate, of Killcare/Pretty Beach, reports that less expensive weekenders priced up to $200,000 have moved swiftly this year. There has also been a run on more expensive properties, such as those on the waterfront or the edge of the escarpment overlooking Killcare Beach, in Manly View Road, MacDonald Street and Jacqueline Avenue, Killcare Heights. In the past few weeks, three have sold – for $385,000, $465,000 and $630,000.

Waterfront land at Wagstaffe Point commands between $500,000 and $550,000.

Movement of properties in the middle price range – $250,000 to $350,000 – is sluggish.

Comfortable three-bedroom waterfront houses on level blocks with jetty and sandy beach are available to let for $1,000 a week in peak time and $500-plus off-peak.

Among the cheapest is $350 for a one-bedroom bungalow at the beach, while up to $1,000 is being asked for properties overlooking Lobster Beach.

Among the smaller communities on the western shores of Pittwater – Elvina Bay, Lovett Bay and Morning Bay – where houses have a national park as their back garden, waterfront sales this year have ranged from $320,000 to $645,000.

Another segment of the market has emerged in Byron Bay in the past couple of years, with one-, two- and three-bedroom units managed on-site. Outrigger Bay, Mariner Apartments and Beaches on Shirley Street have easy access to Main Beach. Rental prices range from $100 a night out of season to $1,500 a week at Christmas.

Buyer as Well as Seller May Hire Real Estate Agent

Duty of the seller’s agent and the buyer’s agent is to help sellers and buyers reach an agreement that is satisfactory to both parties. Both a seller’s agent and a buyer’s agent can show you properties, transmit your offers, and help you through the contract, inspection and loan process. Let’s assume you decide you want to be represented by a buyer’s agent.

You will be hiring mexico real estate agent to help you locate the home you want, negotiate the price and terms, and discover any information that could improve your bargaining position. You will enter into an agreement that sets out your obligations and the agent’s obligations. It is recommended this agreement be in writing so there is no misunderstanding in the future. Generally, your agreement with your agent will provide that the agent will first try to collect his or her compensation from the transaction. If your agent is unable to collect this fee from the transaction, however, you agree to pay it. The agreement also could require a deposit.

This deposit may be refunded if you purchase a home during the term of the agreement. If you do not purchase a home, the deposit may be retained by the agent as payment for services rendered in helping you with your search. The sequence of events leading to “compensation from the transaction” begins when the seller agrees to pay the listing broker a fee. The listing broker (if he or she is a Realtor member of the Multiple Listing Service) then offers to share that fee with any MLS member who identifies a willing buyer and is the “procuring cause of the sale.” An understanding of the term “procuring cause” is important to you since you have agreed to pay your agent’s compensation if the agent cannot collect from the transaction.

Procuring cause is an industry term that means the series of events that “caused the sale.” To help illustrate the term, let’s assume your boss tells you and your co-workers that he will pay $1,000 to the employee who produces a report on how many widgets your firm might be able to sell, who would be the buyers and why would they buy them. You research the information, survey and interview prospective buyers. The day before you plan to type your report, you leave your notes by the Xerox machine. A co-worker picks up your notes, types the report, gives it to your boss and claims the $1,000. Who should receive the $1,000? Was it your initial work that “caused” the report to be produced, or was it the action of your co-worker in typing the report? A similar situation can occur in a real estate transaction when a buyer stops in at an open house. It is the listing agent’s sign or advertisement that brings the buyer to the property. It is the listing agent who shows the buyer the property and gives the buyer information concerning the property. Even though the buyer’s agent writes the contract, this does not necessarily establish the buyer’s agent as procuring cause (“caused the sale”). Several factors enter into determining procuring cause, including how the buyer first learned about the property, who first showed the property and who initiated the buyer’s interest in purchasing the property. Simply writing the contract or representing the buyer usually is not sufficient evidence that the buyer’s agent caused the sale.

To collect compensation from the listing broker, your agent must be the “procuring cause” of the sale. Consequently, when you enter into an “Exclusive Buyer’s Representation Agreement” with a buyer’s agent, it is important that you: — Work with your agent exclusively. — Do not drop by open houses — contact your agent and let your agent make advance arrangements for you to see the property (preferably with your agent). — Have your agent call on ads that interest you. Have your agent handle all contacts with other real estate agents concerning properties of interest to you. Let your agent acquire the information you want and the answer to any of you questions. Instead of hiring an agent to represent you, you may decide to work with a seller’s agent. In that event, as you are not the agent’s client, there would be no agreement or obligation on your part to pay the agent’s fee. Whether you decide to work with a seller’s agent as a customer, or hire a buyer’s agent to represent you, selecting a real estate agent is the first step to take in the home buying process. To select an agent, you can check with friends, relatives and co-workers for their recommendations. Talk with three or four agents, discuss their services and fees. Once you narrow your selection, ask for the names of a couple of buyers they have assisted recently. You can call those buyers and find out if they were pleased with the service they received. Members of the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors subscribe to a Code of Ethics, which requires honest treatment of clients and customers. Not all licensed real estate agents are members of the association or have access to property listed with the association’s Multiple Listing Service.

While comparing quarterly figures on a year-to-year basis still shows sizable increases, it is better to look at data quarter-to-quarter because puerto penasco foreclosures are not influenced by seasonal factors in the way that home sales are, for example. Some economists say it is falling prices that cause foreclosures, which then exacerbate an already soft market. If homeowners have equity in a property they will sell when they get into financial difficulty rather than letting a lender foreclose.

Customized built-in storage units crucial to small, busy living room

The room is longer than it is wide, with only three walls (the fourth wall is open to the dining room). One wall features a fireplace in the center, another has a large window and the third contains the doorway to the front hall.

The living room is the main passageway from the kitchen to the front door. It is the only “living room” in the house so it contains our television and stereo equipment. A While your living room is far from large, it can accommodate the functions you identified.

The first point to consider is the major traffic pattern that leads from the front entry to the kitchen. As you can see from my drawing, traffic flows in an arch from the front entry, in front of the fireplace and through the archway into the dining room. There are no major obstructions to impede movement.

Since space is limited, it is important to avoid massive pieces of furniture, such as entertainment centers and sectional sofas. The room should have a light and airy feeling to it. I have shown built-in storage units on both sides of the fireplace. San Francisco storage should be custom-built unit that can blend into the house’s architecture. Viewed from the front hall, they would have the effect of enhancing the fireplace and giving the space a tailored look. These built-ins would house the television and stereo equipment as well as books and collectibles. This is important since you want to avoid clutter in the space.

In addition to the leather chair and ottoman, I have shown a love seat and an additional easy chair in the room. This will give comfortable seating for four. The room is not sufficiently large to accommodate more permanent seating.

When you are entertaining larger crowds, additional seating can be brought in from the dining room. This room will always feel crowded with more than six people, however, since temporary seating will interfere with the traffic flow.

To make the room feel larger, use a color scheme based on neutrals – beiges or grays. Try to avoid patterns and instead create interest with textures. The one exception would be the area rug that anchors the room: It should make a strong, colorful statement.

Furniture should be small-scale and sleek-lined. The upholstered pieces should have a simple elegance. They should be quality pieces since they will have to stand up to day-to-day use and still look good for entertaining.

Accent tables should be of one style and as light as possible. My preference would be for glass units that are accented in brass for a beige room or chrome for a gray room. If privacy is not a concern, use only the simplest window treatment – such as a valance with thin side drapes.

If privacy is a concern, use a valance with narrow slat Venetian blinds. As a general rule of thumb, the more open the window treatment, the larger the sense of space in the room.

Home Inspection Can Be an Ounce Of Prevention

Typically home inspection is arranged and paid for by the buyer, but in some cases a seller might hire an inspector to get a better sense of the condition of the property before negotiations begin.

The average inspection takes one to three hours.

Defects often cited by inspectors include inadequate wiring; worn-out furnaces; heat pumps that don’t work properly; carbon monoxide leaks; and cracked heat exchangers.

In homes at least 20 years old, the most common items needing repair are roof shingles, electrical wiring and water drainage, according to the American Society of Home Inspectors, a nationwide organization.

In new construction, it reports, inspectors find water seepage in the basement, inadequate attic ventilation, poor roof construction and substandard masonry and finish work.

Pittsburgh home inspections are usually for the benefit of the buyer, and generally come after a deal has been struck.

But there’s the rub. Sales contracts usually stipulate that the deal is contingent on a favorable inspection, and an inspection that turns up costly defects could give a buyer cold feet.

Some real estate agents view inspectors as “deal killers,” although in many cases a bad report just leads to more negotiating over the selling price.

The inspectors’ association believes the best time for an inspection is when a seller first lists the home with a real-estate agent.

That way a favorable report can provide the seller with a sales tool, while one that spots defects can give the seller an opportunity to make repairs early and thus eliminate any surprises later that could ruin a deal.

With more focus on seller disclosure, though, an inspection done for a seller could lead to more accurate disclosures and “keep sellers out of hot water,” said one inspector.

Once an inspection has been performed, the buyer should receive a written report detailing findings.

The home inspection industry has no standards for this report, so there will be variations in its format, depending on the inspector. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, the report should describe the condition of the home at the time of the inspection, based on visual observation, and should provide an indication of the need for major repairs.

Finding defects doesn’t mean one shouldn’t buy the home, only that the consumer can know in advance the type of repair costs to anticipate.

If repairs are needed, the buyer may be able to negotiate to have the work done by the seller, or lower the price of the home based on the cost of the repairs.

How to hire your plumber

If you can’t replace the toilet yourself – do-it-yourselfers swear it’s not that difficult – call plumbers minnesota. The Plumbers Association recommends several steps for choosing a plumber:

1. Ask friends and neighbors for a recommendation. You might join with several neighbors to have all your toilets retrofitted at once by the same plumber, so negotiate a special group rate.

2. Look in the telephone Yellow Pages under “Plumbing Contractors.” All licensed contractors are supposed to list their license numbers, but the directory does not verify this information. Call the Contractors’ State Licensing Board to verify if the licensee is still active and in good standing.

3. Ask if the contractor is a member of the local association. About 60 companies are members, and they handle about 75 percent of the residential plumbing work in the county.

4. Ask the plumber how a toilet replacement will be billed. Many contractors have switched from a time-and-materials basis to a flat, fixed charge.

5. Ask for a bid over the phone. Many plumbers will decline to estimate the cost until they see if there are any complications. They normally charge a trip fee to make a bid.

6. Ask if you can buy your own toilet and have the plumber install it.

7. Insist on a written contract before authorizing the work. And read it. Be present when the work is done or ask a knowledgeable friend to watch the plumber work.

8. The plumbers doing the work are not necessarily licensed contractors themselves. Members of Plumbers & Steamfitters are experienced plumbers but most of them are employed in new construction and commercial work.

9. If additional plumbing work is recommended, it is cheaper to have it done while the plumber is on site. You may want a second opinion.

10. If you have a complaint, call the plumber’s employer, then the local association, and finally, the state contractors board, which processes complaints. Be sure to retain all receipts and copies of correspondence.

Air conditioning and heating systems

Before making a final decision, the design of air conditioning and heating systems should be calculated accurately. Homeowners should insist upon a correct system sizing before signing a contract. This service is often offered at little or no cost to homeowners by gas and electric utilities, major heating equipment manufacturers, and conscientious heating and air conditioning contractors.

Many factors affect a home’s design heating or cooling load. A good heating technician will measure walls, ceilings, floor space, and windows for the accurate determination of room volumes. Also, a good estimate takes into account the R-value of the home’s insulation, windows, and building materials. An estimate of the building’s air leakage is necessary. A blower door test is the best measurement. The duct sizes and insulation, as well as the location of the registers and returns, should be appropriate for the system type and size.

There are several simple methods to incorporate central air-conditioning with hot water heat. Since the air ducts are used for cooling only, you can locate them for maximum efficiency. Mini-split ductless air conditioners are also efficient and provide cooling in typically hard-to-cool rooms.

In addition to efficient heating, hot water heating systems provide comfort. Room temperatures remain constant without the repeated initial gusts of cold air followed by hot air as with a forced air system. Without blowers and ducts, hot water systems are quiet and dust free.

The small baseboard radiators heat your house in two ways. First, heat is radiated directly from the radiators to objects and people in the rooms. This feels warm like standing in the sun in the winter.

Room air also naturally circulates up through the radiators and gently heats the air in the room. The combination of radiant and warm air heat provides comfort without the “dry feel,” typical of forced air heat. A boiler also provides a virtually limitless supply of hot water for morning showers.

One efficient hot water heating technique uses pipes in the floor. The entire floor gets warm and radiates heat upward. This makes you feel very comfortable (warm feet), even in a cool room. By keeping the air temperature lower, your total heating bills are significantly lower.

The most energy-efficient boiler uses gas and a pulse technology. When your system calls for heat, a spark plug starts the highly efficient combustion in the boiler heat exchanger. Each “pulse” ignites the next pulse of gas.