Driftwood As Home and Garden Decorations

Mother Nature’s Artwork

I admit it. I live in Hawaii and I am constantly scanning for new driftwood. I will be walking along the beach or driving near the shoreline, and come upon a must-have piece of stylized wood. My husband now knows that he better stop when I mention driftwood. No person could have created it, but the ocean waves and tides did. I feel like it is a gift just waiting to be discovered and appreciated.

My townhouse has a tiny front yard in which I plant colorful flowers, ferns, and aloe. When we first moved in, it didn’t look complete until one day while I was walking along the North Shore near where we live, I spotted some incredible pieces of driftwood. Lucky I had my husband and grandson with me. Maybe it was not so lucky for them, but we each brought home a couple of these priceless treasures.

Some of the pieces of driftwood I spot are much too large to drag home, so instead I fill my yearning by photographing them. I have noticed that several other photographers share their lucky captures with the cyberspace community in the form of wallpaper.

Other uses of driftwood include floral decorations, driftwood furniture, lamps, mirrors, picture frames, or just by placing a unique driftwood art piece on a shelf. Another favorite use is in aquariums, although I understand it takes some cleaning and curing to make sure it does not dirty the fish tank.

I admire artists who take driftwood and then use their insight to create their own masterpiece. Some who are talented in wood burning burn the image of a fish, starfish or tropical flower right into the wood. I have even seen an image of a lady burned into one that was beautiful.

I have tried to use some driftwood I found that still had some creatures inside. I have found that it is best to wash it off and then dry it for several days in the sun before using it in a floral decoration or putting it on your bookshelf. It may have termites so be sure you check it carefully.

Once in a while I felt a little guilty in taking nature’s gifts home, so I wondered if there were laws regarding the use of driftwood found on the beach. I could not find any rules that prohibit the use of driftwood. I suppose the driftwood belongs to who ever owns the beach you are on, so if you don’t know, it is better to look elsewhere.

I’m sure some people use driftwood only for making fires, and that is wonderful for those pieces that have not weathered long enough and been transformed into artwork by the waves. But for now, I will continue my hobby of scanning for driftwood.

The Need for National Guidelines and Testing in the Home Improvement Industry

It is time for Washington to step up and put legislation in place that will force states to better regulate the home improvement industry. Up to now Washington has left the regulation of the home improvement industry up to state regulators, and for whatever reason(s) many states have fallen considerably short.

There are still some states that do not even have contractor licensing in place for home improvements. For some of the states that do have licensing, the license requirements do not include that the applicant demonstrate the ability to do any type of home improvement work. (That is like saying I will issue you a license to cut hair but you don’t have to demonstrate that you know how to cut hair……… ouch!) Then why do states bother issuing licenses if there are no requirements to demonstrate competence? Revenue? Or could it be that they need more consumer complaints for Consumer Affairs and BBB to handle? The unfortunate consequences of this problem are that homeowners are the ones who are paying the price by receiving poor workmanship and a cascade of home improvement problems.

Let’s be honest, the home improvement industry does not seem to attract the most reliable, honest and competent individuals. The lure of a quick buck and the relative ease to “qualify” to do home improvement work, brings many a “character” to your door. When I was a contractor I needed to hire people for a variety of field positions. Most of the people, who I interviewed and sometimes hired, seemed to have the same type of problems with past employers. These problems consisted of substance abuse issues, honesty issues, and reliability issues. The labor pool never seemed to have an over abundance of talent and employability to pick from.

I remember always reading article after article that dealt with the significant manpower shortage in the home improvement industry. The bottom line of each article would always be the same, “If you can find an honest, reliable and competent person to work for you, pull out all the stops to keep them!!!! Do whatever you need to do to keep that person happy because you’ll never know if you will be lucky enough to find someone to take their place.” As an owner, it was a very constant and stressful problem to deal with. You were almost afraid to try and increase project production because you knew you would have to try and find someone to do the additional work. Finding employees was always an adventure, an adventure that I never looked forward to.

For the last 10-15 years the number one problem in the home improvement industry is the lack of manpower. Many contractors are training and hiring minorities to try and solve this major problem.

If you were to talk to your state authorities about what is being done to improve regulations and screening in the home improvement industry, they will probably tell you something is in the works or there is no money for more regulations (testing). I have been hearing this for 30 years. The county in which I live (Suffolk County, New York) still does not require any demonstration of home improvement ability to obtain a home improvement license. The fee has consistently gone up but the requirements have pretty much stayed the same. We are one of the highest taxed counties in the country, so I refuse to believe there is no money to develop and implement a better policing and screening process in the home improvement industry.

The National Association of The Remodeling Industry (NARI) http://www.nari.org is the only national organization that offers certification of home improvement individuals. They have a number of different certifications that one could obtain. To obtain these certifications the applicant needs to demonstrate a variety of knowledge, ranging from good business practices to project knowledge. NARI’s main certification is called – Certified Remodeler (CR). This certification requires the applicant to prepare an extensive matrix or resume of their experience and knowledge as well as obtaining a certain score on an 8-hour exam. There are only approximately 1000 CR’s, out of the hundreds of thousands of home improvement contractors in this country. I earned this certification in 1994 and still proudly hold this certification today. I will admit that obtaining this certification is a time consuming process and does take considerable effort, but it was well worth it. What I also like about this certification is that it has to be renewed every year by demonstrating continued involvement and knowledge in the home improvement industry.

Why then couldn’t Washington mandate some type of screening, nationwide, that all people interested in doing home improvements must be able to “pass” to obtain a license? This license could be used nationwide. Use a screening process that emulates what NARI does for its certifications. You could make the screening as simple as a comprehensive test with multiple choice questions. A test that could be machine scored.

I think an ideal situation for licensing would be to divide up home improvement licensing into sub-licenses. For example, if you were a bathroom contractor you would obtain a license for bathroom home improvements only. This would refine what licensees are qualified to do, rather then issuing one license that could wrongly give the impression that the licensee is capable of doing any type of project.

The reason I think Washington needs to get involved with this problem is because the American public doesn’t have the time to wait for each of the 50 states to come up with a similar solution, individually.

However, if Washington were to step up and mandate a national screening and testing situation, you would still have to address the screening of the people who show up to work on your house. (if they were not the person(s) who was screened and licensed) These people would hopefully be employees of the person who was screened. Is the homeowner then back to square one with not knowing the qualifications of the people working on their house? I tend to think not, because the person who went through the screening and obtained the license would want to keep the license. It is in the best interest of the licensed individual to make sure the project is done correctly. Problems develop when a contractor has too much work and attempts to get it all done by using inexperienced and unqualified help. The lure of completing more work and making more money sometimes leads to his or her business getting “out of control”. This subsequently leads to quality and project completion problems. Employees of licensed and screened contractors need to “qualify” on some level similar to NARI’s lead carpenter certification.

Will any of these desperately needed changes occur any time soon? To be honest, I wouldn’t hold your breath waiting for Washington to step up to the plate and I don’t think your state or local governments will dramatically improve home improvement regulations either.

So what should a homeowner do to protect their home and property? Get the right “tools” and knowledge to be able to protect your home from poor home improvement decisions and situations.

The Home Improvement Success Club of America(TM) (http://www.homeimprovementsuccess.com) can give you all the right knowledge and “tools” you need, without spending hours and hours doing research and trying to figure out what to do. This club has a variety of forums (chat room, message board, phone consultations and project estimate-contract evaluations) to answer your questions about how to get great home improvement results. Membership to this club also includes the use of The Home Improvement Success System, which is a step by step home improvement system that shows you exactly what to do and what not to do. This system can be used with any project. The club also includes a 30-day money back guarantee if you are not delighted with being a club member.

If you’re serious about doing a home improvement project and protecting your home, then join The Home Improvement Success Club of America(TM). You will be happy you did!

The Home Improvement Success Club of America(TM)
http://www.homeimprovementsuccess.com//>

[email protected]
P.O. Box 653
Smithtown, NY 11787
Phone: 631-360-7722
Fax: 631-361-3582

By Hank Jaworowski, CR
Founder and President of The Home Improvement Success Club of America(TM)
Author-The Home Improvement Success System

Home Improving while Budgeting

As we all know, budgeting and home improvement does not always go together but this article will give you information that could help improve your home and still save a little money.

Home improvement projects regularly scare people off, because many judge that they will pay thousands of dollars to alter one room, because they do not have the skills to do the job them self. They may also feel that the job is costly because supplies and tools are needed.

To the contrary, home improvement does not have to be costly at all. Of course, if you hire a subcontractor or contractor to do the job, you will pay a fortune, but if you have patience and the ability to read and stick to the directions, then you can renovate an whole room in your home for fewer than a hundred dollars. Of course, you will need to change and correlate materials.

Before starting the procedure of improving your home, you will need to system of funds and a schedule to get started. You will need to ponder various notions when considering and preparing home improvement. For example, do you plan to paint your home? Do you plan to tile your home? Do you want carpet in your home?

Going through the final part of this article, you will see just how important budgeting and home improvement can be done which will help save you money and improve your home.

Asking questions is part of analyzing and preparing for home improvement. One of the best tools to have when considering home improvement is calculating what you like and calculating what you want. When I improve my home the first thing I do is explore my mind searching for favorites and what excites and appeals to me. Thus, when I go to the home improvement warehouses, I already have in my brain what I am ready to purchase, therefore this relaxes my quest to improving my home.

If you are short of funds to improve your home, then setting up a financial plan will help you get what you want as well as put away some cash for a rainy day. You may even think about purchasing equipment and tools for home improvement at the companies that propose lower prices and/or purchases with no payments until a particular date. This notion will give you time to get your home better while putting away the currency to purchase the improvement equipment and tools.

Unfortunately, many people go for another home loan to enhance their home. Receiving loans from lenders regularly lead to debt, and home loans for improvement only leads to paying off your home twice. Thus, elude high interest rates and loan payments and learn to plan your finances to improve your home.

Let me give you a general view of what one area could cost you for repairs. Say you want to paint a specific room in your home. You will need plaster, sealers, primer, paints, paint thinners, scrapers, screwdriver, paint opening (often come with paint purchases), patches, paintbrushes, tray, and so forth. Now you may think this will cost you a lot of money to improve your home, but to the contrary, you are wrong.

The paint and tools will cost you the most, while the other items will be priced less; thus, primer, sealers and plaster be priced around fifteen dollars if you go to the correct store.

Paint thinners, trays, brushes and screwdriver will cost around fifteen dollars if you go to the right store. Thus, the patches should be purchased with a plaster kit, which will salvage you a few pennies. The paint will cost around twenty dollars per can, depending on the kind of paint purchased. Therefore, for around a hundred bucks you could alter a room in your home lacking hiring anybody to do the job providing you stick to the instructions.

What about the bathroom, can you alter the room on a financial plan? It depends on the range of the area, but if you are yearning to tile your bathroom and paint the walls you could get the job done for around a hundred bucks give or take. If you go to the correct home improvement store and know what you are doing, you could remodel a small bathroom or average bathroom for around fifty bucks.

Learning to create a financial plan and prepare for home improvements can help you to remodel your whole home (if the home is in good standings) for a few hundred dollars. Furthermore, completing the work yourself, you will recoup you thousands of dollars.

Having this budget and home improvement information handy will help you a great deal the next time you find yourself in need of it.