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  • Transcript

    NOTE: Timestamps below correspond to the running time of the downloadable audio file of this show. Text represents a professional transcriptionist’s understanding of what was said. No guarantee of accuracy is expressed or implied. ‘Ph’ in parentheses indicates the phonetic or best guess of the actual spoken word.)
     
    BEGIN HOUR 2 TEXT:
     
    (promo/theme song)
     

     
    TOM: Coast to coast and floorboards to shingles, this is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
     
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
     
    TOM: Give us a call right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, because your home improvement project just got a little easier because we’re here to help. We’re here to solve your do-it-yourself dilemmas, to help you make the decisions that you need to make to get those projects done around your house, to make it safer, more comfortable, more energy efficient. But you’ve got to pick up the phone and help yourself first by dialing us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    And as you plan your spring home improvements, keep in mind the dozens of things that qualify right now for federal tax credits, including replacing your windows with more energy-efficient ones. Coming up this hour, we’re going to help you find out how to truly select windows that can really save you money and cut your energy costs at the same time.
     
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And once you do get those right windows, how exactly do you go about claiming your tax credit from Uncle Sam? Well, we’re going to talk to the most popular guy in town right now, the accountant …
     
    TOM: Oh, don’t remind me.
     
    LESLIE: (chuckling) I know, right? I hate this time of year, for those exact reasons. So, we are going to have a tax expert join us a little later in the show, with tips on exactly what you need to do to make sure that you get the full credit for your energy-saving improvements at your money pit.
     
    TOM: Plus, also ahead, green is a relaxing and fresh color, especially for a bedroom or a kitchen. But can it be over the top? Well, not necessarily. We’ve got some green décor ideas, coming up a little later, that will make your interior feel as fresh as the exterior of your home on a beautiful, spring day.
     
    LESLIE: And to help you when we’re not around, this hour we’re giving away a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure.
     
    TOM: And the adventure starts right now, so pick up the phone and give us a call. The number is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    Who’s first?
     
    LESLIE: Annie in Kansas needs some help with a basement flooring project. Tell us what you’re working on.
     
    ANNIE: We are refinishing our basement and currently it has a cement floor and we have three boys that love to tackle each other.
     
    LESLIE: (chuckling) Mm-hmm. OK. (Tom chuckles)
     
    ANNIE: So we saw something about the – on The Today Show about a rubber floor. And they look like cement or they look like tiles going in, so I didn’t – we have no idea what they were talking about.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah.
     
    LESLIE: Well, there are actually a lot of different rubber tile options, which are fantastic for basements, obviously, because they don’t grow mold or mildew, they’re great for damp environments, and you said that you have a concrete floor down there, which – you know, regardless of how well you dehumidify and control all the moisture outside with your foundation and perimeter, you’re still going to get some water seeping up through – even if it’s minimal, you’ll still get some moisture that comes up, just from the hydroscopic nature of concrete.
     
    Now, your options for the rubber tiles – there are 5/8-inch ones that you see, almost in like playrooms, that are sort of rainbow color and look like puzzle pieces. There are ones that look like – even foam ones that look like wood grain. There are some that are home and sport, which are really thick and they’re used for martial arts and they have a lot more cushioning to them.
     
    There’s a good website – let me send you to. It’s GreatMats.com. And if you go to their basement flooring section, you’ll find a ton of different rubber options that are available. And the one – I believe it’s called Home Sports and Play or something like that, which would be great for your tackling munchkins.
     
    ANNIE: Yes. And do they also have ones that look like tile? That actually look like ceramic tiles?
     
    LESLIE: Hmm. There’s one, I think, on their site that – I think it’s called Tile Flex. And those kind of look like ceramic tiles. I think they even have like a built-in grout line, if you will, that sort of looks like that. The Home and Sport one is kind of mildly fuzzy. Then there are some with textures. There are a lot of good choices; it’s worth checking out.
     
    ANNIE: OK. And can we install these ourselves?
     
    LESLIE: Oh, absolutely.
     
    TOM: Absolutely. Mm-hmm.
     
    ANNIE: Good. OK. Well, thank you. That answers my question.
     
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    LESLIE: David in Texas needs some help with a new home project, especially considering insulation and radiant barriers. Tell us about your new build.
     
    DAVID: Yes, ma’am. I am going to be building a new house – traditional wood frame – in the near future. And what I’m considering is using Icynene insulation – the walls and attic – and I’ve actually been inside a house during the summertime, in an attic that had that and I was impressed at how cool it was.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. Yes.
     
    DAVID: So, my next question would be: would I be improving the insulation any at all, the r-rating, by adding radiant barrier rather than just regular sheeting – just a regular roof? I mean decking?
     
    TOM: Yeah. I think so, although I will tell you that Icynene is a terrific choice, because not only does it insulate but it’s also an air barrier and that makes a world of difference in terms of keeping the cold air on the cold side and the warm air on the warm side, depending on the season. So, it’s a great choice.
     
    I don’t think you would go wrong using a radiant barrier on the roof, because it will reflect a lot of the heat of the sun out and probably make the home less expensive to cool in the summer, though.
     
    DAVID: Now, what – the house that I was in actually had – the Icynene was blown on the underside of the decking, the wood decking, and the rafters.
     
    TOM: OK. Well, was it – was the attic finished? Was the attic part of the living space?
     
    DAVID: No. No, it wasn’t. And what threw me on this was the attic itself was not heated and cooled. It was comfortable.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Right.
     
    DAVID: And there was no blown insulation on the joists – ceiling joists. There was no insulation between the attic and the house itself.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. Yeah. Hmm. I’m actually not sure why they did that; I would have thought that the insulation would have been at the ceiling level. But I’ll tell you what, if I were you, I would go to the Icynene website and send them a note, because they’re a good group. I’ve actually met some of the folks that run that company; very impressed with them. They’ve got a new product out that is actually based on a natural oil.
     
    LESLIE: A linseed oil.
     
    TOM: It’s a linseed oil.
     
    DAVID: Hmm. Interesting.
     
    TOM: Yep.
     
    DAVID: OK. Well, I appreciate it.
     
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
     
    Now, you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Heck, we’re here to give you a hand, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    TOM: 888-666-3974.
     
    Up next, The Money Pit two-for-one special. We have tips on replacement windows that can keep both cash in your wallet and help you claim cash back on your taxes, after this.
     

     
    (theme song)
     
    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
     
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and the number here is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    Now, one lucky caller that we talk to on the air this hour is going to win a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure. And this book, it’s fun, it’s entertaining; it’s a great resource that you are going to refer to time and time again. Heck, I know I do, actually. And it’s got a lot of great information in there and it’s all sorted out, room by room; plus a couple of jokes, good entertainment; lots of really great and helpful, useful information about building materials, products, how to do things, budgets. You’re really going to enjoy it; it’s everything that you know about Tom and I and what you expect from the radio show but all in a book. And it could be yours for free, so pick up the phone and give us a call at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    TOM: And personally, I’m very thankful that you use that book, because this way you call me less often. (Leslie laughs)
     
    Hey, speaking of home improvement projects, why is it a perfect time to plan your window-replacement project right now? Because you can get up to a third of the cost covered, with the right windows.
     
    Energy-efficient window replacements deliver immediate added value to your home. They reduce your energy bills and this happens the day they’re installed and it creates a very much easier lifestyle. And most importantly, the reason you want to do this right now is because with the federal tax credits that have been extended through the end of this year, you can now claim up to $1,500 off your taxes as a result of this; 1,500 bucks.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. And that’s a lot of money.
     
    Now, if you’re not exactly sure where to start, we can help. The folks at Simonton Windows, they’ve put together a list of frequently asked questions; you know, as a response to many homeowners who are considering more energy-efficient windows but really don’t have a clue where to begin.
     
    So visit Simonton.com/taxcredit or you can actually download a bonus chapter of our book, which is available for free, right now, at MoneyPit.com. All you need to do is go to the website and search “replacement window guide” and you’ll get a lot of great information right there.
     
    TOM: 888-666-3974 is the number you need to call for the great information you need for your next project. Let’s get back to it.
     
    LESLIE: Ed in Illinois, how can we help you today?
     
    ED: Yes. My wife was so helpful to me; she stained some trim that I hadn’t finished, while I was out of town.
     
    TOM: OK.
     
    ED: And she stained it the wrong color. (Tom chuckles)
     
    LESLIE: Ooh.
     
    ED: Yes.
     
    TOM: Bless her heart.
     
    ED: And so, I had started sanding some of it – and that’s quite a job to sand all that off. So I’m wondering if there is some kind of product that I can use to take the stain off without having to sand.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yep. Unfortunately, no, because the stain soaks into the new wood. I presume you’re talking about new wood here, which is about as absorbent as a sponge.
     
    ED: Yeah.
     
    TOM: And to try to get down below that surface, you’ve really got to sand the heck out of this thing. You’re not going to get anything that’s going to draw it out, so to speak. So, I think that you’re stuck with your wife (Ed chuckles) and you’re stuck with the trim. (Leslie chuckles) OK? (chuckles)
     
    ED: OK. Well, bless her heart, right?
     
    TOM: (chuckling) That’s right.
     
    LESLIE: Have you thought about – I don’t know if it’ll work but there are such products out there called wood bleaches.
     
    ED: Ah.
     
    TOM: Yeah, what are you trying to get to in terms of the end game here? What’s the color you’re looking for?
     
    ED: I’m going for a dark brown and she stained it a reddish color.
     
    TOM: Hmm. Well, have you tried to stain on top of it to see what it’d look like?
     
    ED: No, but that’s a good thought.
     
    LESLIE: And also, if you’re going to stain on top of stain, I would recommend gel stain only because it’s thicker, it’s going to apply more heavily, so you might be able to achieve that color more quickly, in fewer layers, possibly?
     
    TOM: Yeah. I was kind of thinking that you wanted to go lighter. If you want to go darker, a light sanding and a gel stain may make this all disappear.
     
    ED: Oh, OK. I’ll give that a try.
     
    TOM: Go out and buy a small container of gel stain and do a little sample piece of this molding and see what happens.
     
    ED: OK. Alright. Very good.
     
    TOM: Hey, if it doesn’t work out, stain all the rest of the molding the same color and at least it’ll be consistent.
     
    ED: (chuckling) Of course. OK. Thank you very much, then.
     
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    LESLIE: Sarah in New York needs an opinion on a concrete patio near the ocean.
     
    Alright, Sarah, my opinion is: I hate you. I want to be on that patio, too. (Leslie, Tom and Sarah laugh)
     
    SARAH: Oh. I don’t know what we’d do without you guys. You’re certainly welcome to come to the patio but the reason I called is we live in an older waterfront community in New York.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, thanks so much.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Why, thanks! OK.
     
    SARAH: And everybody has these decks off of the second floor and they’re made out of, I guess, steel or iron and cement. And we’ve been here five years; never had to seal it, never had to paint it, never had to do anything. And even though it’s not as attractive as wood might be, we’ve overcome that with lots of flower boxes.
     
    But now we’re moving to a newer waterfront community and I’m trying to figure out is this a greener way to do a deck. Is it practical compared to the engineered wood; some things you’ve mentioned? What’s your opinion?
     
    TOM: OK. And you’re thinking about building one or there’s one there already?
     
    SARAH: (overlapping voices) Yes. No, we’re thinking of building either/or; the wood or the cement.
     
    TOM: I don’t know how you would build the cement as an after-project; in other words, after the building has already been up. Generally, if there’s going to be a concrete patio, it’s done at the time the building is constructed because the support for that goes well underneath the second floor structure itself.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) That second level.
     
    TOM: So you probably are going to be thinking about doing a deck and if you’re going to do a deck – especially being out there by the ocean – what we would suggest is that you use pressure-treated lumber for the structure and then composites for the decking surface itself. The combination of those two will give you something that’s extremely structurally sturdy but something that’s very, very low maintenance.
     
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And if you go with a composite, number one, you’re going to get the low maintenance factor. Because you are near the high salt content of the air – lots of moisture – any sort of regular lumber that you might put up there is just going to require a lot of maintenance, number one, to make it look good but to make it last a long time.
     
    SARAH: (overlapping voices) Right.
     
    LESLIE: And that’s going to be pretty much a yearly chore that you’re going to have to tackle every springtime and that can be sort of tedious. So if you go with a composite, Fiberon makes one. They have an exotic series that looks like – that even it looks like that grey, weathered, beachy wood or mahogany. So that’s that Tropics line.
     
    There are several different levels to their line. They all are beautiful; they’re very durable. The website is FiberonDecking.com. They’re the best, in my opinion; super-durable, very easy to clean. Tom and I were at the builders show and we saw one of their newer products and we took like a Sharpie marker and wrote on top of the surface and we were able to just wipe it away.
     
    SARAH: Oh, great. Uh-huh.
     
    LESLIE: So it really has a lot of thought into it to make it durable and easily cleanable, which I think is something that you’ve got sort of a high priority for.
     
    SARAH: Yeah, yeah.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, that new type of decking is called Horizon Decking with PermaTech. That’s the coating on it that makes it so super-maintenance-free.
     
    Sarah, we hope that helps you out. Good luck with that project. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    SARAH: (overlapping voices) Thanks so much. OK.
     
    LESLIE: And enjoy your new house. We’ll be over at sunset. (Tom chuckles)
     
    Tom in New Hampshire has an air conditioning question. What can we do for you?
     
    TOM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: Yes. I have a high-velocity air conditioning system in my house and not all …
     
    TOM: Not to be confused with a high-velocity rifle.
     
    TOM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: Exactly. (Tom, Tom in New Hampshire and Leslie chuckle) It shoots air conditioning at you; not bullets.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah. Yeah.
     
    TOM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: It does a wonderful job but I think in only some of the ports, there’s some condensation that forms on the ceiling where it comes out.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Right. OK.
     
    TOM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: And those ports seem to be located in areas where the roof is either in a gable end valley area or a shallow area on the house.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. Gable end valley. So, kind of near the roof vent?
     
    TOM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: Yeah. And …
     
    TOM: And so, this is starting to make sense because that’s where you’re going to have more moisture. But I will say this: air conditioning systems are not really good at dehumidifying; they’re not really designed to dehumidify. They dehumidify by virtue of the fact that they lower the air temperature and take moisture out but they’re not designed as a dehumidifier. So what is a better alternative in this situation, Tom, is something called a whole-home dehumidifier; a whole-house dehumidifier. It fits into the HVAC system but it’s specifically designed to suck the moisture out. It can run consistent with the air conditioning system but a whole-home dehumidifier can take out somewhere around 80, 90, 100 pints of water a day.
     
    A good manufacturer for those is Ultra-Aire and you can look them up online. They also make the Santa Fe dehumidifiers – Santa Fe line of dehumidifiers that are useful in the basement. But the whole-home ones are called Ultra-Aire and they work really well.
     
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And the whole-home ones will sort of target areas that need more dehumidification as they pop up and truly monitor all of the humidity levels in the house and address where it’s needed.
     
    TOM IN NEW HAMPSHIRE: OK. Alright. Thank you for your assistance.
     
    TOM: You’re very welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    LESLIE: Time for some kitchen counter help with Becky in Minnesota. What’s going on at your money pit?
     
    BECKY: Hi, Tom and Leslie. I have an old kitchen counter. It’s laminate and the pattern on it is a butcher block pattern. And the top, the varnish is peeling on it and I’m just wondering how we could fix that without replacing the countertops or is there anything I can do to jazz up the countertop; maybe paint over it or any suggestions you’ve got.
     
    TOM: Well, first of all, laminate countertop does not have a “varnish” on it. 
     
    BECKY: OK.
     
    TOM: So if the surface is wearing off, then it’s actually the laminate that’s wearing, Becky; so there’s nothing that you can do to restore that. Two ideas come to mind. Number one – you can relaminate an existing laminate countertop; you can put another layer of laminate on top of that for probably less than the cost of replacing the entire top. And the second thing that she could do, Leslie, is to tile it.
     
    LESLIE: Yeah, tiling over laminate is extremely easy and it’s a great do-it-yourself project; especially if you go with those smaller inch-square or those quarter-inch mosaic tiles that are on the mesh backing, just because it’s so simple to do and you end up with really very few cuts that need to be made and the most part, you can do them with those simple, mosaic-tile snippers so it’s all really manageable. 
     
    And then the front edge is easy to do, as well. You can get a thicker border tile that just has a good, smooth backboard that you can find at any tile store. Or if you want to continue those smaller mosaics, there’s like a metal edge that you find at the home center. Not sure if it’s in the tile section. I’ve found it at The Home Depot a gajillion times when I’m doing this but I don’t remember the section. And it’s got like a flat edge that would go along the counter edge and then it sort of dips down into a tray on the bottom and that would be like the buffer to stop those tiles from falling off.
     
    BECKY: I am very excited about that. I never really thought you could do it that way. What an easy project that could be.
     
    LESLIE: Yeah. And it looks great and you can really change the entire look. Now, if you want to just change the laminate, Formica, Lamin-Art, Wilsonart; those are all companies that make laminates. You can find them through a variety of distributors. 
     
    And the laminates today, I mean, really look fantastic and you can get some super-edgy, earthy style sort of designs or colors that you might be jazzed about, too.
     
    BECKY: And they can go right over top of the existing countertop?
     
    TOM: Yes, they can. You need to rough it up just a little bit but the contact cement will adhere the new laminate right to the old, Becky. OK?
     
    BECKY: Alright. Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
     
    TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. So, you followed our advice, you jumped on the energy-saving improvement bandwagon, you took advantage of all the tax credits but now it’s time to file those taxes. Do you have everything you need to claim that credit? We’re going to sort it out for you, next, with a tax expert, after this.
     

     
    (theme song)
     
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Stanley Tools, your trusted name in quality hand tools. To learn more about their complete line of quality tools and everything for your toolbox, visit StanleyTools.com.
     
    TOM: Welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
     
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. Well, being a homeowner these days has huge tax advantages; everything from energy-efficient credits to first-time homebuyer credits are available for you.
     
    TOM: Yes. But as in many things in life, the devil is in the details. So, here to help us figure out what projects qualify and what you need to do in terms of paperwork to get that tax credit back from the government is CPA and attorney, Bill Carbonari.
     
    Hi, Bill.
     
    BILL: Hi, guys. How are you?
     
    TOM: Good. Thanks for taking a few minutes to educate us about these requirements. I want to talk with you, first, about the energy-efficiency tax credits.
     
    BILL: (overlapping voices) Sure.
     
    TOM: Never been a better time to choose some energy-efficient home improvements for your house. But we’re seeing a lot of confusion in the marketplace. Specifically, I’m seeing a lot of manufacturers claim that their products meet the tax credit qualification when I know, in fact, that some of them don’t.
     
    BILL: Right.
     
    TOM: So, I mean how do consumers protect themselves, get the right documentation and actually claim the credit?
     
    BILL: Well, you know, Tom, a couple of years ago, we had these energy credits and for the most part, all people needed to do was kind of walk into their CPA’s office and say, “Oh, yeah, the windows I put in were energy efficient.” And I think the IRS kind of caught onto that a little bit. (Leslie chuckles) So now that the energy credits have come back, they’ve been very, very specific about what criteria they expect from a taxpayer in order to take the credit.
     
    Now, the credit covers a lot of different things: windows and doors, heating and ventilation, water heaters; all these things. And in each one of them, they give you very detailed requirements as to what they – that particular item needs to meet, in order to get the energy credit.
     
    TOM: OK.
     
    BILL: Now, to a CPA, how I read some of these things – you probably know what it means better than I; things like U-factors and SHGCs and things like that.
     
    TOM: Right.
     
    BILL: That’s what the consumer needs to see on the product.
     
    TOM: Yep. Yeah, U-factor and solar heat gain coefficient; two important numbers when you’re buying something that’s ….
     
    BILL: Oh, see. Now, I didn’t know what SHGC meant. Thank you. You just educated me.
     
    TOM: And now you know. See that?
     
    Well – but I mean, when it comes to actually proving this, is there a specific form that you need to get, either from the manufacturer or one that …?
     
    LESLIE: Or something from the box or a sticker from the window?
     
    TOM: Yeah, how do you prove it?
     
    BILL: All of the above.
     
    TOM: All of the above.
     
    BILL: That’s exactly right. In some cases – so windows, for example – that piece of information will be right on the window. In some things like a heater or an air conditioner or something like that, it will be on the box.

    And because of – because these energy credits are so popular right now and everybody is looking for them, the manufacturers are very much aware of it. And therefore, they will make sure that this information is either on the box or on the sticker or whatever it needs to be, in order to get it.
     
    Now, that person doesn’t need to take that sticker and attach it to their tax return but they have to have it as documentation.
     
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And now, since we don’t officially have to hand it in to the IRS when we’re filing, you recommend holding onto it. But for how long? I’m always curious as to how long I need to be holding onto these things. So if I’m going to hold onto all of my documentation about this renovation, to get the credit, how long should I stash it away for?
     
    BILL: Well, it’s like anything else. The way the IRS works, generally, is they will review or audit tax returns three years prior. So, for a lot of folks out there, what’s happening now is they’re having their 2006 tax returns reviewed. And if the IRS finds any kind of – what they think is negligence or misappropriation or reduction in income or taxes, they’ll go back another three years. So the magic number of years is six years.
     
    LESLIE: OK.
     
    TOM: So what I hear you saying here then, Bill, is essentially, it’s kind of like anything else that you deduct; you need to keep your documentation and your proof but you don’t necessarily have to submit it with your tax returns. It’s only if you get audited that that may become a very necessary document.
     
    BILL: That’s really true. I think the big difference this time though, Tom, is this: and that is that because the proof is so specific this time, with these energy credits versus the last time, I think most CPAs – I know, certainly, we are in our office – are going to ask the client to see it.
     
    TOM: Yeah.
     
    BILL: Meaning we want to see that documentation; make sure that it’s there. So before we actually prepare the form and give the person the credit, we want to make sure they have it.
     
    TOM: Good point.
     
    We’re talking to Bill Carbonari. He is a Certified Public Accountant and an attorney with some expertise in how you qualify for tax credits.
     
    Let’s move now to the homebuyer tax credits that have been very popular last fall and now are extended through the end of April.
     
    BILL: Right.
     
    TOM: What kind of effect is that program having with your clients? Are you seeing a lot of folks take advantage of it and how complex is it?
     
    BILL: I sure am. I mean I think we’ve seen in the housing market, certainly, that one of the reasons that the housing market has had a little bump of late is because of these terrific credits that are out there. You know, it started with $7,500 as a credit, which had to be paid back over 15 years and finally, Congress said, “Well, gee, that’s not really fair; so let’s go to this $8,000 credit and that doesn’t have to be paid back.” And then, in November, that was extended to April 30 of this year in order to get that credit.
     
    So the credit is $8,000. You need to be a first-time homebuyer. A first-time homebuyer is defined as someone who hasn’t owned a home for three years prior and then that credit is available to you. And yes, I’ve gotten a lot of questions on it and a lot of people are taking advantage of it.
     
    LESLIE: Now, there’s also something for existing homebuyers. Is that, in a sense – you get a tax credit because you purchased a home within a certain time period or do I need to be purchasing a second home to qualify for that?
     
    BILL: Yeah. You know, that’s the new wrinkle that came in with the new law that was enacted in November, where now what they’re saying is there are two types of what we call first-time homebuyers. There’s the first-time homebuyer who really is a first-time homebuyer; they haven’t owned a home for three years. And then there are first-time homebuyers who have owned homes for five of the previous eight years and now are buying a new home.
     
    So, no, Leslie, it’s not a second home, it’s not a vacation home; it’s another principle residence. But if you owned your existing home for five out of the past eight years and now you’re buying a new home, then you are entitled to a credit of $6,500. But there are a couple of wrinkles in all of these things that people need to be aware of.
     
    TOM: Alright, it’s good information.
     
    Bill Carbonari, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit and sharing your expertise with us.
     
    BILL: My pleasure.
     
    LESLIE: Alright, Bill. Well, thanks so much, because all of your very helpful information will certainly have a lot of us seeing green.
     
    And speaking of green, you know, using green, as in a color, can actually be kind of tricky. So we’re going to have a few tricks of the trade to help you choose a shade that actually works. It’s this week’s Fresh Idea, brought to you by Citrus Magic and it’s next.
     

     
    (theme song)
     
    ANNOUNCER: The Money Pit is brought to you by Bondera TileMatSet; the fast, easy way to add the style and value of tile to your home. For more information, visit BonderaTileMatSet.com.
     
    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
     
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
     
    TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. If we talk to you on the air this hour, you could win a copy of our book, My Home, My Money Pit: Your Guide To Every Home Improvement Adventure.
     
    Why do we call it a home improvement adventure? Because it has the same characteristics of a good adventure trip: it’s exciting, it’s exhilarating and it never ends up the way you expect.
     
    LESLIE: (laughing)That’s true.
     
    TOM: At least, my projects never do.
     
    LESLIE: (chuckling) Mine also.
     
    TOM: So call us right now and if we choose your name we’ll send you an autographed copy of our brand-new book. The number, again, is 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
     
    LESLIE: That’s right. Pick up the phone and give us a call. We’d love to hear what you’re working on and give you a hand with that project.
     
    And now it is time for this week’s Fresh Idea, which is brought to you by Citrus Magic. And this week’s tip is about decorating. Alright, let’s jump right in.
     
    You know, green – it’s a beautiful color and it’s actually the color of harmony, balance and serenity and it symbolizes hope, renewal and peace and all things fresh. You know, think plants and vegetables; think about the garden. And green – it’s a great color choice for a bedroom, bathroom, reading nook; even a dining room or a kitchen. But the color green – believe me, it can be a difficult one to capture for a wall and furniture paint.
     
    So if you like green, here’s an option: instead of trying to get just the right green on the walls, choose another complimentary color; then, use the green that you love in coordinating fabrics, art, area rugs and accessories. And don’t forget to actually include plants and flowers in your décor; it really freshens up the space.
     
    TOM: Now, if you want green on the walls, you want to choose greens in the neutral family; we’re talking about colors like sage, olive or gray-green. And you might just want to splurge for a few samples; you know, many paint companies today have the sample sizes. You can paint some areas of the walls in your house. This way, you kind of let it sit there for a while; you see it in different light throughout the day and you can really decide if it’s the right color for you.
     
    And that is today’s Fresh Idea, brought to you by Citrus Magic, the makers of all-natural air fresheners and cleaning supplies. We love them; use them all the time around the studio and the house. You’re going to love them, too, so visit CitrusMagic.com for more info.
     
    888-666-3974 is the number you need for info on your home improvement and home decorating projects. Let’s get back to the phones.
     
    Who’s next?
     
    LESLIE: Troy in Connecticut is calling in with a flooring question. What can we do for you for you today?
     
    TROY: Yes, hi. I have a – alright, the house that I live in has soft, pine floors and they’re about 12-inches wide.
     
    TOM: Right.
     
    TROY: But whenever they were put in, they used the square-headed nails.
     
    TOM: Right.
     
    TROY: And basically, what has happened now is the boards have shrunk a little bit and there are gaps in between them. So I was kind of wondering, is there anything that I can use to put in between the boards? Maybe a filler or something that might keep the dirt and other stuff from falling down that I have to vacuum up? (Leslie chuckles)
     
    TOM: Yeah, it’s called charm.
     
    LESLIE: Yeah. (Troy laughs)
     
    TOM: You know, one thing that you could do is you could use rope. You could use jute, which is a …
     
    LESLIE: Yeah, that’s a good trick of the trade. If you get jute roping that’s, you know, many layers of jute sort of twisted together so that if you unravel a little bit you can control the thickness of it, if you take a whole spool of it, you can actually dip that jute into the – into any color stain that might be close to matching the color of your floor. Let that dry and then you want to use a – what am I thinking, a paint scraper?
     
    TOM: A urethane.
     
    LESLIE: Yeah.
     
    TOM: Yeah.
     
    LESLIE: Well, first, you want to use a paint scraper to sort of squish it into all of those openings between all of the floorboards.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Like a putty knife.
     
    LESLIE: Yeah, a putty knife. Exactly. Thank you.
     
    TOM: Yeah.

    LESLIE: And you can really wedge that in there. If you try to use any kind of filler, there’s going to be too much movement in the floor. It’s never going to dry properly.
     
    TOM: (overlapping voices) Yeah, it’ll crack.
     
    LESLIE: It’ll crack; it’ll come out when you vacuum. It’s going to make a tremendous ruckus in your vacuum cleaner. So the rope really is the best trick of the trade.
     
    TROY: OK. Cool. That sounds like a good idea.
     
    TOM: Alright. Well, give it a shot. Thanks so much for calling 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
     
    LESLIE: Cathy in Ohio is doing some work on a fireplace. How can we help you?
     
    CATHY: Hi, I have got a rather large, rectangular living room and on the end wall, about 14 feet wide, is all faux stone on a fireplace wall and it really darkens the room up.
     
    TOM: OK.
     
    CATHY: And I’m wondering if there is an easy way to remove this stone.
     
    TOM: Well, in terms of easy, the only thing easy is to paint it. To get it off once and for all is a pretty big construction project, Cathy. What is it on? Is the wall a standard, sort of drywalled, framed, wood-framed wall?
     
    CATHY: I believe it is.
     
    TOM: Yeah, so what you’re going to end up doing is pulling off the fake stone and pulling off the drywall, because you’re going to find that there’s probably going to be a wire mesh behind it and that’s going to be very difficult for you to get off without destroying the wall.
     
    CATHY: Correct. OK.
     
    TOM: And in fact, it’s actually easier, rather than putting a lot of time into preserving that drywall. Drywall is very cheap.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Just to get rid of it.
     
    TOM: It’s easy to replace. I would simply cut it right off the wall, stone and all; go right down to the studs and then re-drywall that space.
     
    CATHY: With like a circular saw or stonecutter or what?
     
    TOM: Well, you’re probably going to break off – you don’t need a stonecutter. You’re probably going to break off some of the loose stuff at the top and then, with a utility knife, you could slice the tape joint between the ceiling and the wall and just try to work it off in pieces.
     
    CATHY: OK.
     
    TOM: I don’t think it’s going to be that difficult. You know, it’s a heavy job; it takes a little bit of muscle but I don’t think you’re going to find it that difficult to get that off.
     
    CATHY: OK, wonderful. Thank you very much.
     
    TOM: You’re welcome, Cathy. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.
     
    LESLIE: You are tuned to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, on air and online at MoneyPit.com.
     
    Up next, if your floor is sticky and dirty and has stains in areas, then you’ve been to Tom’s and my house (Tom laughs), because we’ve got kids and I am sure those of you who have kids as well have dirty floors in your house. (chuckles)
     
    So when we come back, we are going to answer all of your floor cleaning questions, so stick around.
     

     
    (theme song)
     
    TOM: Making good homes better, welcome back to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, where home solutions live. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
     
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
     
    TOM: How to clean stuff. It’s one of the most common questions we get asked on the program, all the time. We’ve got lots of answers, with a massive cleaning section online at MoneyPit.com, so I’m sure the solution is right there. But if you choose to write it in, send us an e-mail; we’ll answer it here, as well.
     
    LESLIE: Right. And John writes: “What is the best way to clean laminate floors? And do mass-market floor cleaners create a buildup?”
     
    TOM: Potentially. I will tell you that the best way to clean laminate floors is with a mild, soapy-water solution; you don’t necessarily need any fancy, floor products.

    Laminate floors are one of the best, low-maintenance products out there; they really are very, very durable. They don’t scratch or dent or chip very, very easily, although my kids did manage to put a dent in mine but that’s a whole different story.
     
    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Really?
     
    TOM: Yeah, it had to do with a hammer drop from eight foot.
     
    LESLIE: Oh, yeah. (chuckles)
     
    TOM: But these things happen. But seriously, I mean, just damp mopping a laminate floor is all you really need to do.
     
    LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And you want to be careful before you pick up a commercial product, just because in the warranty of your flooring – from whatever manufacturer – you’ll see that use of certain products may void the manufacturer’s warranty. So revisit those instructions; if you don’t have them, check out the website of the manufacturer and read, actually, what they recommend because chances are, they’re going to recommend a product that they manufacture themselves.
     
    Tom is right; soapy water is the best. But if you do want to go the extra distance, look up what product they recommend; this way, you don’t void any warranties.
     
    Alright, now I’ve got one here from Rochelle in Delaware who writes: “I have a fireplace that has been painted white and I would like to make it look like a light or white-washed brick. Is there a good way to strip the white but leave enough to make it look distressed and not make a mess of it?”
     
    Well … (chuckles)
     
    TOM: I think Rochelle is in luck, because anyone who has ever tried to strip …
     
    LESLIE: That’s all you’re going to get. (laughs)
     
    TOM: Yeah. Anyone who has ever tried to strip brick finds that you can’t get it all off. So, I would go ahead and use the strippers. You’re going to find that white patina lying right underneath the surface.
     
    LESLIE: Yeah. You know, Rochelle, Tom is right; brick is just so porous that the first person – I was going to say idiot – but the first person (chuckles) who puts paint on brick, it gets so saturated into the brick itself that once you try to chemically remove it, it’s pretty much never going to come off, short of sandblasting and resurfacing that brick.
     
    So if you pick up a chemical stripper – there’s Rock Miracle; every manufacturer out there makes a chemical paint stripper – apply it exactly as the manufacturer recommends. Let it sit there, do its work. Remove it and you will see that you’ve got a beautiful, sort of leftover white aurora, if you will, to that brick that’s probably going to be the exact look you’re looking for, in one shot. I hope that helps with your project, Rochelle, and good luck with it.
     
    TOM: Well, because I am not only a home improver but a gentleman, I give Leslie the last word of the show. (Leslie laughs) And in today’s edition of Leslie’s Last Word, she tells us about a great way to create curb appeal that’s low maintenance and inexpensive and you’ve got to love that. (Leslie chuckles)
     
    LESLIE: That’s right. Hey, if you want to create a clean look for your front yard that’s easy to take care of, why not consider a border of evergreens between your driveway and the rest of your yard? It’s really an easy and simple trick and it’s super-simple to maintain because these evergreens – they’re going to look lively all year long and it’s actually going to create two, very distinct areas.
     
    Now, if you have a large yard and a driveway, you can actually go with larger trees – you know, arborvitaes, Leyland cypress; something that’s also in the evergreen family that’s going to get a little bit taller and sort of really delineate those areas for you.
     
    But smaller bushes or shrubs, they work great, too; think boxwoods. You just want to remember to trim them back a couple of times a year. Heck, you can even get crazy and start carving them up and put some fun shapes into them. I mean it really is “sky is the limit” with hedging and it does do a wonderful job of creating two separate spaces, which suddenly changes the look of your house.
     
    TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. This is the spring sale season, as well, and if you’re trying to sell your house, it could be a bit challenging; you might have to do some extra work to make that happen. That’s why next week on the program, we’re going to have some tips on how you can get your house ready to be put on the market, so that you can buy another one and we can help you fix it up all over again.
     
    I’m Tom Kraeutler.
     
    LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
     
    TOM: Remember, you can do it yourself …
     
    LESLIE: But you don’t have to do it alone.
     

     
    (theme song)
     
    END HOUR 2 TEXT
     
     
     
    (Copyright 2010 Squeaky Door Productions, Inc. No portion of this transcript or audio file may be reproduced in any format without the express written permission of Squeaky Door Productions, Inc.)

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