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Peter Cerruti
440 South West End Blvd, RT 309
Quakertown  PA 18951
 Phone: 215-429-7273
Office Phone: 215-538-4400
Fax: 267-354-6992 
petecerruti@yahoo.com
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Peter Cerruti

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Take a Turn on a Zero-Turn Mower

September 13, 2016 12:51 am


When is being referred to as a “zero” a good thing? If you were among thousands of attendees at the 2015 Green Industry and Equipment Expo (GIE+EXPO), you know it’s when it's zero-turn!

GIE+EXPO, the largest trade show for garden, lawn and outdoor power equipment, is held annually in Louisville, Ky—and the belles of last year's ball were zero-turn mowers.

Altoz, manufacturer of high-performance zero-turn radius (ZTR) mowers, unveiled the XR series of products at the event. Steve Noe, a blogger at OutdoorPowerEquipment.com, notes Altoz equipment is now available with Briggs & Stratton, Honda, Kawasaki and Kohler engines.

Manufacturer Wright introduced a 72-inch model to its growing line of Stander ZK mowers at the event, as well. The machine’s left/right hydro systems, mowing speed and push-button deck lift all contribute to improved efficiency and productivity, Noe says.

The Poulan Pro p54zx was another top contender at the event, with ToolsAroundTheHouse.com ranking it the sole five-star performer on its list of best zero-turn mowers on the market. The machine features an electric clutch, a high-back seat and a hydro-gear EZT transmission, among other features.

Whichever zero-turn mower you opt for, safety is paramount—like other large mowers, they pose rollover and tip-over dangers, especially on uneven surfaces. Because only the rear wheels are powered (the front wheels are for pivoting), zero-turn mowers are much more difficult to stop, especially when riding down a steep slope. Ride safe!
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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New Homes: Manufactured, Modular or Site-Built?

September 13, 2016 12:51 am


(BPT)—Building or purchasing a new home has several advantages: for one, control over design and location, as well as the ability to own sooner (and often for less money) in markets with short supply.

New homes can be built or purchased in one of three types of construction: manufactured, modular and site-built. Each has its pros and cons.

“A newly constructed home may be any of the following three types: manufactured, modular or traditional site-built,” says Kevin Clayton, CEO of Clayton Home Building Group. “Whichever type selected will be built to strict state and federal code and can vary by style, custom features available, energy-efficiency, speed of construction and affordability.”

Manufactured

Manufactured homes are built in a controlled factory environment using many of the same building materials used in site-built homes. The entire house is assembled in the factory in sections, and then transported by truck to the home site for final installation.

Manufactured homes are subject to internal inspections and must meet building standards defined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to receive final certification. Because the house is built indoors, the construction schedule is not subject to weather delays, so a manufactured home can be completed and set up on-site in a matter of weeks, rather than months.

Manufactured homebuilders purchase construction materials and appliances in volume, which helps keep the cost of manufactured homes lower than what you would pay for a site-built home. (In 2015, the average cost of a manufactured home was just $47.55 per square foot, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s Survey of Construction [SOC] data.)

Modular

Modular homebuilding combines elements of site-built and manufactured home construction. In modular home construction, the home may be either 100-percent factory-built or a mix of both factory-built and on-site built. Modular homes can ship to the home site fully complete or with work left to be done—this allows for full customization.

Modular homes are often shipped in sections that are assembled at the site by use of a crane. The home is typically placed onto a permanent foundation, and can be multiple stories high. Modular homes can also have basements, garages and unique roof profiles that make them indistinguishable from traditional site-built homes.

All the building codes that apply to site-built homes also govern modular homes. Because much of the construction takes place inside a factory setting with materials in stock, modular homes can also be completed faster than site-built homes. They also benefit from similar bulk cost-savings as manufactured homes.

Site-Built

As the name implies, site-built construction assembles the house on the site where it will permanently stand when finished. All the materials that go into the house—from wood for the frame to pipes for the plumbing and shingles for the roof—are transported to the site for assembly of the house, which could take several months. Transporting and buying exact measurements of building materials that will be used (versus buying bulk) contributes to the final cost of the house.

During construction, materials may be stored onsite and exposed to weather until construction crews are ready to use them. Similarly, the interior of the home is exposed until the roof, walls and windows are all in place.  They are subject to various state and local building codes to ensure safety before the home is ready to be sold.

Site-building is a time-tested, traditional way of building homes, and is the most common method of construction. Construction times vary, but can range from less than three months to a year, according to data from the SOC. The average price per square foot of a single-family site-built home was just over $100 in 2015.

The type of construction you choose will depend on your budget, needs and preferences. Advances in manufactured and modular homebuilding mean it's now possible to build one of these homes with the same high-end features you would find in a quality site-built home.

Source: Clayton Home Building Group
 

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With Age Comes…Nevermind: Millennial Outlook 'Positive,' but 'Realistic'

September 9, 2016 12:51 am


Millennials expect healthy financial prospects, but hold no illusions for the long-term—a “positive,” “realistic” outlook atypical of their age, according to the recently released Northwestern Mutual Planning & Progress Study. The majority of millennials in the study were confident they will achieve their financial goals, though some expressed concern about retirement.

“It’s encouraging to see that millennials are striking a balance between being realistic about the implications of extended longevity and remaining positive about building a solid financial future,” says Rebekah Barsch, vice president of Planning for Northwestern Mutual.

Notably, the millennials in the study were more likely than any other generation to recognize a lack of planning as a hindrance to security in retirement, and many believed the availability of Social Security is “not at all likely.”

Most considered themselves “highly disciplined” financial planners, even though slim wages and student loan debt were causes for concern. The former, the study found, has a negative impact on their career goals.

“The early stages of a career can be rewarding in many ways, but not necessarily financially,” says Barsch. “With the right financial plan in place, millennials can alleviate some of the pressure and feel confident about pursuing their career aspirations, rather than just a paycheck.”

Just one in five of the millennials included in the study had a financial advisor.

The takeaway? Millennials maintain a financial disposition that belies their years: a rosy outlook tempered by faith in the economy, and foresight.

Source: Northwestern Mutual
 

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The Best Time for Deals on Patio Gear Is…Now!

September 9, 2016 12:51 am


We’re all familiar with annual end-of-season sales on patio equipment and furniture—but when, really, is the best window for savings?

For the answer, I turned to coupon clearinghouse LOZO.com, which finds reliable grocery coupons from hundreds of trustworthy brands and websites. (You may have seen reporting on them on Good Morning America, The Dr. Oz Show or TLC's Extreme Couponing.)

LOZO.com points out that with fall and the holiday season approaching, the closer retailers get to their seasonal inventory change-over, the greater the discounts—that's why you can count on end-of-season sales for just about every seasonal item.

Brick-and-mortar retailers are particularly eager to move patio furniture, because it’s big, bulky, and takes up valuable store space. Unlike some seasonal items that gradually progress through sales (25 percent off, 40 percent off, 50 percent off, and so on), patio furniture quickly discounts.

According to LOZO.com, the best course of action is to carefully track the store(s) you might buy from and check stock and discounts. Don’t hesitate to ask a salesperson for details on how much inventory is still available, when it will be discounted, and for how much. Check back regularly to see if the sales have gotten any sweeter—LOZO.com recommends springing for the patio purchase when it reaches 75 percent off or more.

For more guidance on savings for your household, visit LOZO.com.
 

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Is a Fixer-Upper Worth It?

September 9, 2016 12:51 am


Fixer-upper homes tend to be less expensive than top-to-bottom remodels, but the markdown may not equal the cost of a basic renovation, according to a recently released report by Zillow Digs®. The report’s findings show median fixer-uppers list for 8 percent less than market value, which allows for a reno budget of just $11,000.

“Fixer-uppers can be a great deal, and they allow buyers to incorporate their personal style into a home while renovating, but it’s still a good idea to do the math before making the leap,” explains Svenja Gudell, Zillow’s chief economist. “While an 8-percent discount or $11,000 in upfront savings on a fixer-upper is certainly a good chunk of change, it likely won’t be enough to cover a kitchen remodel, let alone structural updates like a new roof or plumbing, which many of these properties require.”

The margins vary by market, with fixers in more expensive areas yielding the highest upfront savings—prices for median fixers in San Francisco, according to the report, are marked down 10 percent, which, due to high property values, affords buyers $54,000 for renovations.

Fixer-upper market snapshots included in the report:

New York/Northern New Jersey
Markdown: 4.4 percent
Reno Breakeven: $12,000

Los Angeles/Long Beach/Anaheim, Calif.
Markdown: 2.7 percent
Reno Breakeven: $12,000

Chicago, Ill.
Markdown: 13.8 percent
Reno Breakeven: $19,000

Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas
Markdown: 5.4 percent
Reno Breakeven: $6,000

Philadelphia, Pa.
Markdown: 13.7 percent
Reno Breakeven: $17,000

Is a fixer-upper worth it? As Gudell notes, it’s best to do the math—and discuss your options with your real estate professional.

Source: Zillow Digs®
 

Published with permission from RISMedia.


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Is Your Workout Class Working?

September 9, 2016 12:51 am


More of us than ever are signing up for workout classes—and that’s a good thing. But, as the editors at Women’s Health point out, there’s a tendency for beginners to do too much, too soon, instead of gradually building strength. They caution signs of a too-strenuous workout:
 
Your Breathing Is Choppy
In any workout class (especially yoga, where rhythmic cadence is important), you must pay attention to your breath. If it’s getting shorter and shorter, or you start to gasp, slow down until you feel you’re breathing normally.
 
Your Heart Rate Is off the Charts
Monitoring your heart rate throughout your workout is a good way to ensure you’re training without overdoing it. If you’re not monitoring your heart rate, listen to your body—if you’re unable to string words together, or if you feel faint, rein it in.
 
Your Muscles Are Quaking
A little shaking is fine—it can be an indicator of the muscle fatigue your instructor is aiming for—but if you can’t control the quaking, you’ve likely gone too far and could be putting your joints at risk. Reduce your intensity, or rest, before attempting to join in again.
 
Your Technique Is Off
If you’re not performing exercises properly, the class may be too challenging for you—but a good instructor will provide modifications as needed so long as you are continuing to gain strength and endurance.

Fitness classes can support a healthier lifestyle, but don’t hesitate to dial back if these signs crop up in the first few sessions. Exercise to your capacity, and only push your limits when you—and your body—are ready.
 

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Hurricane Mid-Season Reminder: Check In on Insurance

September 9, 2016 12:51 am


Hurricane season presents insurance considerations for homeowners in many areas of the country. Midway through the season is an ideal time to check in with your insurance provider regarding coverage, advises the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

“This is the midpoint of the season, and it's vital to remain vigilant,” says Lynne McChristian, a representative for the I.I.I. “If it's been a year since you last talked to your insurance professional about your coverage and options, then have the conversation now while you still have time to make changes.”

According to the I.I.I., many insurers, especially in Florida, will not permit changes to policies once a hurricane warning or watch is in effect. As such, it’s essential to consult with your provider before a storm strikes, if only to confirm you’re covered.

The I.I.I. recommends updating your policy if you’ve made improvements to or remodeled your home, or if you’ve obtained new belongings. Ensure your policy provides coverage not only to rebuild your home in the event of disaster, but also to replace your possessions.

“Ask about additional coverage you should consider,” McChristian says. “For example, does your policy cover sewer backup? If your home is more than five years old, you may also need building ordinance and law coverage, which covers the added costs to rebuild a damaged home up to the improved, latest building codes.”

Updating your home inventory, which is a list of your possessions and their value, can also be beneficial should you need to file a claim. According to the I.I.I., doing this not only hastens the claim process, but also makes filing for federal disaster aid simpler. A free home inventory app is available at KnowYourStuff.org.

Consider flood insurance, as well, the I.I.I. suggests. (More than 20 percent of flood insurance claims are paid to those living in low- to moderate-risk flood zones.) Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) or through a private insurer.

Source: Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.)
 

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5 Macro Trends in Home Design

September 9, 2016 12:51 am


From health-centric workplaces to socially-connected shops, macro trends inform design in industries across the board. Macro trends in the home, however, have higher staying power.

The macro trends currently shaping the design in our homes are the “country chic/farmhouse,” “glamour/Hollywood regency,” “gold,” “industrial” and “mid-century modern” aesthetics, says Ted Roberts, manager of Industrial Design for Schlage®. Roberts, who ascertains trends through industry events and tradeshows, believes these movements are going nowhere soon.

“While home trends tend to stay relevant longer, with homeowners updating decor about every five years, our team is continually monitoring art and fashion trends to inform home decor,” Roberts says.

The country chic/farmhouse aesthetic, according to Roberts, has evolved from being rooted in dark-toned woods to supporting lighter wood finishes. Often, it overlaps with industrial-style products, such as exposed plumbing and light fixtures. The industrial trend, conversely, has transitioned from an all-encompassing theme to well-appointed accessories, like Edison bulbs and pulleys.

The hallmark of the glamour/Hollywood regency aesthetic, on the other hand, is geometric designs, seen in accent pieces, lighting and small furniture, Roberts explains. The trend has moved from clean, drastic contrast to black-and-gold and softer grays, with Art Deco elements.

The gold component in the glamour/Hollywood regency trend is echoed in the gold and satin brass finishes now standard in new home design, Roberts adds. The patina is now being paired with whites and tans, rather than dark shades.

The mid-century modern take, too, is as popular as ever. The aesthetic’s color palette, which conventionally popped with oranges and yellows, is now brimming with blacks, blues and grays. The trend, Roberts says, is one of the most of-the-moment designs, and will continue to be more so than any other macro trend.

Do these macro trends make an appearance in your home?

Source: Schlage®

 

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Eyewear Safety: 'In Sight' from Regulators

September 8, 2016 12:51 am


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released a report cautioning against improper use of eyewear, specifically contact lenses. Improper care, however, can also be detrimental, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Cleaning your contact lenses properly is crucial to maintaining optimal eye health—but lens wearers who use over-the-counter cleaning solutions containing hydrogen peroxide may be at risk for vision damage, the FDA warns. Safe handling of these types of solutions is essential.

“Over-the-counter products are not all the same,” says Bernard P. Lepri, an FDA optometrist. Before using a product, it is best to consult with your eye care provider, he advises—he or she may recommend a hydrogen peroxide-containing cleaning solution if you have an allergy or sensitivity to preservatives found in other types of solutions.

If you have been instructed to use a hydrogen peroxide-containing product, read and understand all instructions and warnings (typically in red boxes on the label) before use. The FDA mandates you follow the disinfecting process with a neutralizer, which is included with the product at purchase. A neutralizer will convert the hydrogen peroxide into oxygen and water.

Neutralization can be one-step or two-step: the one-step process involves neutralizing your lenses while disinfecting; the two-step process involves neutralizing your lenses after disinfecting with a tablet. Lenses should be left in the solution for at least six hours to allow time for neutralization to complete.

“You should never put hydrogen peroxide directly into your eyes or on your contact lenses,” Lepri cautions. “That's because this kind of solution can cause stinging, burning and damage—specifically to your cornea.”

It is paramount not to share a product that contains hydrogen peroxide with other contact lens wearers, either, the FDA states.

To learn more about lens safety, visit www.FDA.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm487420.htm.

Source: U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
 

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Moving? 5 Tips to Relocate the Garden

September 8, 2016 12:51 am


Moving itself is strenuous—moving fragile belongings, like plants, can be even more challenging.

Relocate the garden with these tips, courtesy of Ferguson Moving & Storage:

• Prepare plants for the move with a liberal dose of water. Damp roots and moist soil will help keep them thriving while being transported, and watered stems will hold up better during the move.

• Plant smaller flowers and shrubs in lightweight, temporary pots—this will make them easier to re-plant at the new home.

• Reduce the weight of heavy planters during the move by partially filling them with packing peanuts.

• Pack plants in the primary vehicle, if possible—not a moving truck or van.  If they must be packed in the truck, load them last so that they can be removed and tended to upon arrival.

• Make the moving company aware of the plants (to mitigate erratic driving) and request that they be unloaded as soon as possible at the new home.

Source: Ferguson Moving & Storage
 

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