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Mid-Tenn Homes

-December 12, 2018-December 25, 2018

3A

M

any homeowners have

found

themselves

scrambling to make their

homes handicap accessible af-

ter a sudden injury or illness.

In addition, some homeown-

ers have found themselves

looking to make adjustments

to their homes in anticipation

of welcoming elderly, less mo-

bile relatives into their homes.

Converting a home into

a handicap-accessible space

can seem like a daunting task

that requires adjustments

to nearly every part of the

house. While the extent of

those adjustments depends

on the individual who needs

to be accommodated, some of

the areas homeowners must

address when making their

homes handicap accessible

are universal regardless of the

individual’s condition.

Entryways

A home’s entryways often

must be addressedwhenmak-

ing the home more handicap

accessible. Portable ramps

can be an affordable option

and are often an ideal for

those who only need to make

temporary adjustments, such

as when a resident suffers an

injury that requires he or she

spend some time in a wheel-

chair. When the adjustments

will just be temporary, a fold-

ing wheelchair might be nec-

essary, as the doorways might

not be able to t a standard

wheelchair that doesn’t fold.

When adjustments gure

to be permanent, homeown-

ers might need to expand

the doorways in their homes.

Contractors typically recom-

mend expanding doorways to

at least 32 inches, which pro-

vides some maneuverability

when wheelchairs, which are

typically between 24 and 27

inches wide, are entering the

home. Doorways at the most

commonly used entryways,

including front doors and

doors to the bathrooms as well

as the individual’s bedroom,

will likely need to be widened.

Bathroom

The bathroom might be

the area of the home that

needs the most attention.

Slippery conditions com-

mon to bathrooms can make

things especially difcult for

people in wheelchairs or with

disabilities. Grab bars should

be installed in bath tubs and

shower stalls and next to toi-

lets.

But grab bars aren’t the

only adjustment homeowners

should make in the bathroom

as they attempt to make a

home more handicap acces-

sible. Safety treads, which

can provide a secure, slip-free

surface on the oors of show-

ers and tubs, can be installed.

Add a hand-held shower head

to the shower stall to make it

easier for those with a disabil-

ity to shower. Portable trans-

fer seats, which enable wheel-

chair-bound men and women

to transition from their chairs

to showers and bathtubs, can

be purchased and kept in or

near the bathroom.

Water xtures

An often overlooked ad-

justment homeowners must

make when transforming

their homes into handicap-

accessible spaces concerns the

sinks throughout the home.

Disabled persons may nd it

difcult to access faucets on

sinks throughout the home,

especially when there are van-

ity cabinets beneath the sinks.

Replacing such sinks with

pedestal sinks can improve

maneuverability, but make

sure such sinks are lower to

the ground than standard

pedestal sinks. A sink that’s

just a few inches lower than a

standard sink is considerably

more accessible to people in

wheelchairs.

Closets

Closets are rarely handi-

cap accessible. Homeowners

can address this issue by cre-

ating multi-level closet spaces

so individuals can place their

clothes at accessible heights.

Closet shelves can be lowered

and doors can be widened so

disabled persons can easily

manage their wardrobes. In

addition, consider installing

a light inside the closet and

make sure the light switch

can be easily reached from a

wheelchair.

Making a home more

handicap accessible can be

a signicant undertaking,

but many of the adjustments

homeowners must make are

small in scale and won’t take

long to complete.

C

onserving energy in the

winter is a concern for

many men and women.

Whether your goal is to save

energy and do your part for

the environment or to trim a

few dollars from your winter

utility bills, here are 10 ways

to reduce energy consump-

tion without sacricing com-

fort this winter.

1. Have the furnace ser-

viced. You can reduce fur-

nace fuel consumption by as

much as 10 percent by having

the system serviced yearly.

Late spring or early autumn

is a good time to schedule an

inspection and have lters re-

placed in forced-air systems.

All radiators and other ele-

ments should be kept free of

dust.

2. Remedy drafty win-

dows. Drafty windows not

only let cold air in, but also

let warm air out. This is a

one-two punch in terms of

energy waste, forcing heat-

ing units to work harder to

regulate a consistent temper-

ature. Caulking and weath-

erstripping applications are

easy do-it-yourself projects. If

windows are old and especial-

ly drafty, consider replace-

ment. If such an undertaking

will stretch your budget, use

tightly sealed plastic sheeting

to insulate drafty windows

until you can afford to replace

them.

3. Address additional

leaks. Windows and doors are

not the only places where cold

air can get in or warm air can

escape. Leaks occur around

pipes and plumbing penetra-

tions to the home, and cold

air also can enter through

utility cut-throughs, light

plates and outlets. Use insu-

lation or weatherstripping to

seal leaks in these areas.

4. Decorate with light-col-

ored furnishings. Light-hued

walls and furniture will reect

the sunlight that makes it into

a home while also reecting

articial light more effectively

than darker shades. This can

help you reduce your reliance

on lamps and other lighting.

5. Make use of the sun. In

the winter, the sun’s rays are

not as powerful as during oth-

er seasons. That’s due to the

tilt of the planet’s axis. How-

ever, you can still maximize

daylight time for warmth.

Open curtains and drapes

on southern-facing windows

and let warm sunlight shine

through. Then close the cur-

tains again when evening

falls. You may be able to turn

down the heat during the day

when the sun is warming your

home.

6. Use replaces properly.

Fireplaces can be unneces-

sary sources of drafts and

leaks. Keep your replace

damper closed unless a re is

burning. Keeping the damper

open is like keeping a window

wide open during the win-

ter, allowing warm air to go

right up the chimney. When

the replace is in use, reduce

heat loss by opening dampers

in the bottom of the rebox

or open the nearest window

slightly and close doors lead-

ing into the room. If your re-

place is more decorative than

functional, keep the damper

closed at all times and con-

sider sealing the chimney.

7. Conduct an energy au-

dit. A home energy audit, also

known as a home energy as-

sessment, is the rst step

to assess how much energy

your home consumes and

to evaluate which measures

you can take to make your

home more energy-efcient.

Many times these govern-

ment-sponsored programs

are free, and an auditor will

go through your home with

a ne-toothed comb looking

for potential energy losses.

After the audit is conducted,

you can choose which repairs

or modications make the

most sense for your budget

and needs.

8. Adjust the direction

of your ceiling fan blades.

Blades that spin clockwise will

trap heat inside to keep your

rooms warmer during the

cooler months. Adjust your

ceiling fan to a low setting to

gently push hot air back down.

9. Wear warmer clothes.

Layer clothing when you’re in

the house to reduce the need

to adjust the heat. A sweater,

pair of thick socks and a

throw blanket can keep you

cozy.

10. Only heat the rooms

you use. Close off venting or

turn off radiators in spaces

that are not in use. There is

no point in heating unoccu-

pied rooms.

Any modications you

make to insulation, window

drafts, thermostats, and

HVAC systems are not just

benecial for the winter, but

they also should help you

save money and energy in

the summer, too.

10 ways to conserve energy this winter

B

uying a home is simul-

taneously exciting and

stressful. Owning a home

is still a dream for many

people, but rst-time buy-

ers often find that their un-

familiarity with the home

buying process is a source

of stress. Part of that stress

stems from the terminol-

ogy associated with home

mortgages. Many terms

may raise an eyebrow

among first-time buyers,

so the following are a few

mortgage terms buyers can

familiarize themselves with

to facilitate the process of

buying their own homes.

·

Closing costs: Buying

a home is expensive,

and part of that expense is

the closing costs. Any time

a real estate transaction

occurs, that transaction

is accompanied by cer-

tain expenses, which are

known as the closing costs.

Closing costs may include

attorney fees, loan origina-

tion fees, title insurance

and escrow payments.

Buyers can sometimes

negotiate with the seller

so the seller will agree to

pay the closing costs, or

the costs can be shared by

the buyer and the seller.

But buyers may also pay

the closing costs in their

entirety on their own.

·

Escrow: Escrow is a

bond, deed, document

or money kept in the cus-

tody of a third party until

a real estate transaction

has been completed. In

addition, escrow accounts

are used to hold the prop-

erty tax and insurance fees

that are collected via your

monthly mortgage pay-

ment.

·

Fixed-rate mortgage:

A xed-rate mortgage,

unlike an adjustable rate

mortgage, is one in which

the interest rate on the

mortgage remains the same

for the life of the loan. Buy-

ers typically prefer a xed-

rate mortgage because they

know exactly what they will

be paying for their home

each month. An adjustable

rate mortgage, often re-

ferred to as an ARM loan,

is one that typically comes

with a lower interest rate

than a xed-rate mortgage,

but that lower rate is usu-

ally only locked in for a rel-

atively brief period of time,

such as one year. Once that

initial time period is over,

the interest rate will then

increase and may increase

several times thereafter

over the life of the loan.

·

PMI:

PMI,

which

stands

for

private

mortgage insurance, must

be purchased by home buy-

ers who are nancing more

than 80 percent of their

homes. The standard down

payment when purchasing

a home is 20 percent, but

some buyers cannot afford

such a down payment. As a

result, the lender then man-

dates that such buyers pur-

chase PMI, which protects

the lenders if the borrower

defaults on the loan. The

cost of PMI will be added

to your mortgage payment,

and once you have 20 per-

cent equity in your home

you can cancel PMI, at

which time your monthly

mortgage payment will de-

crease.

·

Title insurance: Title

insurance is a tool that

protects both the buyer and

the seller against legal is-

sues that may arise as a re-

sult of the home’s title. Title

insurance protects buyers

and the lender from the

possibility that the seller

was not legally permitted

to transfer ownership of the

property to the buyer. Title

insurance may also pro-

tect sellers from any issues

that may arise that threaten

his or her ability to sell the

home.

Mortgage terms to know

How to make a home handicap accessible