Hosts: Tom Kraeutler & Leslie Segrete
(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:
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: Call us now with your home improvement questions at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974. We are broadcasting a special edition of the program today to celebrate Home Safety Month by giving you tips and ideas to make your home improvement projects safer.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. And though you should be thinking about home safety all year long, June really is the specialized month for it. So if there’s any time to tackle those safety projects around the house, now is the time to do it.
TOM: We’re going to kick it off with a very safe bang here on the floor of the National Hardware Show in Orlando, Florida.
LESLIE: Yeah, that’s right. In fact, our friends at the AARP have teamed up with us to bring you the special Money Pit broadcast so that we can tell you more about how to make your home safer, more comfortable and actually easier to live in.
TOM: Absolutely. You know, your home is the one place that you need to feel safe. And today we’ve got some tips and info to make sure your home is safe. Coming up on today’s program, find out how to protect yourself from falls and fire; two of the most fatal home injuries.
LESLIE: That’s right. And we’re going to feature some of the best safety and design products that we found here at the National Hardware Show.
TOM: Plus, many home improvement projects that involve safety or not require the skills of a contractor. But while most contractors are great, the few that are not can really ruin your home improvement projects and, in turn, really ruin the entire moment. So, we’re going to hear from one of the nation’s leading experts in home improvement scams.
LESLIE: That’s right. And we’re also going to be taking your calls and e-mails, so give us a ring right now with your home safety question at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
TOM: 888-666-3974. Now, we know that the vast majority of Americans 50 plus want to stay in their current home or community as long as they can. And research also shows that two-thirds of this population intends to remodel or make improvements in the next 12 months. But beware. This is the target age group for home improvement scams.
LESLIE: Yeah, and they aren’t the only ones. Even experienced younger DIY-ers are falling victim to scams that are turning dream homes into nightmares across the country. And Sally Hurme is the AARP Coordinator for Financial Protection. She’s an attorney and consumer advocate with great advice on staying one step ahead of scam artists out there.
Now, Sally, I’ve heard about this demographic falling victim to scams through the mail and over the phone. But with contractors you’re usually dealing with these folks face to face. So, what kind of scams do we need to look out for when it comes to home improvements?
SALLY: Well, unfortunately, there’s a wide of variety of ways that you might get scammed. But the door-to-door contractors are probably the biggest red flag that you’re not dealing with the right person.
LESLIE: The unsolicited guy who knocks on your door.
SALLY: The unsolicited guy who knocks on your door is probably out to get you rather than to help you improve your home.
TOM: Now Sally, a couple of the common scams that I was aware of – I spent 20 years as a home inspector. I remember one time climbing up onto the roof of a home that was in a retirement community. And looking at the roof from the street I thought it was quite new. But something didn’t look right and I had to get on top of the roof and really look down on it. And what I found was that the contractor had painted the roof white.
TOM: And the reason it looked a little different …
LESLIE: Instead of actually replacing the shingles.
TOM: Well, he – right. He told the lady that he was going to be adding some – you know, some sort of a second roof on top of it but went up there and painted it. And the key was that I saw paint in the shadow lines in the shingles; the slots. That’s was what was odd because I didn’t see the darkness.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Interesting.
TOM: And that was a scam that was going on in this neighborhood.
Other scams that we’ve heard about would be like resealing the driveway. And then also, I think when it comes to home improvement projects that are in areas that you can’t access yourself; like, for example, your crawlspace. These are all areas where all of us really can become victims of scams.
What advice do you have, Sally, for folks that are approached by door-to-door contractors? Simply don’t do it?
SALLY: Probably that’s the wisest thing to do. They try to make themselves sound very professional and they try to make a quick sale; encourage you to act fast.
LESLIE: Well, it’s scare tactics, really.
SALLY: Yes, they’re really wanting to say that, you know, that there’s an emergency and they’re your hero or your savior. And if you act fast, you know, your home will be saved. And those are not the tactics that someone should fall for that – you know, that urgency pitch or that emergency pitch.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm.
SALLY: You’ve got to take your time, making sure that you get the right person and the right job.
TOM: We’re talking to Sally Hurme. She is the AARP Coordinator for Financial Protection and, really, AARP’s scam expert.
Sally, other scams that we’re familiar with: chimney contractors. Had any experience with those guys?
SALLY: Oh, yes. Because the chimney is like your crawl space.
LESLIE: You’re not going in there.
SALLY: (laughing) Other than Santa Claus (Tom laughs), not too many people go up and down their chimneys or have an opportunity to really know what’s going on. So they – you have to rely on the advice of an expert as to whether there might be some fire hazard or some need to repair your chimney. But again, the guy who comes by and says he’s your chimney expert is not the person you want to deal with.
TOM: Well you know, one of the things that we hear often is that these guys will advertise very ‘low cost inspections’ …
TOM: … just to make sure you’re OK.
LESLIE: But then they’re the ones that provide the service so all of a sudden you have a slew of problems.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Of course. So, it’s bad news, good news. Bad news – your house is about to catch on fire. Good news – I’m just the guy to fix it for you.
LESLIE: Well Sally, how are the folks at AARP really looking out for this demographic and pretty much anybody who wants to take advantage of a safe and approved contractor?
SALLY: Well, really there are two ways. One is that we use volunteers in our states, our websites, all of our publications to get the information out to homeowners as to what the tips are to make sure that you check out the contractor, that you get a good bid, that you check to make sure that they’re appropriately licensed and bonded and that you have a detailed contract that you understand that sets out exactly what the job is.
LESLIE: What about references? A lot of people will ask for references and then get this list of names and be like, ‘Oh OK, that looks trustworthy’ but never call them.
SALLY: No, you’ve got to call them. And even more important than just calling somebody – because there is the remote possibility that this is a shyster.
LESLIE: Yeah, they’re in cahoots.
TOM: And they could be set up. Where they can be setup. Yeah.
SALLY: It could be a setup.
TOM: Yep, mm-hmm.
SALLY: But – so, go look at a job; a former job. Don’t – I mean …
LESLIE: Don’t take their word for it.
SALLY: Don’t necessarily take the word for it. Make sure that the job is similar that the reference person had. And just drive by. You know? Because if there’s in the general area who says they’ve gotten their roof done by Mr. X, get their address and drive by and see if you – if they really do have a new roof.
TOM: That’s a good point. To make sure it was actually done.
Sally, many states and communities have home modification programs to help homeowners pay for these kinds of changes. And I guess we could hope that the contractors that are involved in those programs are going to be safer to work with. Does the AARP have any programs to help people identify home modification areas where they can perhaps get some financial assistance?
SALLY: Well, you’re going to have – a good place to start this would be at your area agency on aging. They have great information about special programs that are going to be available in your local community for older homeowners. The good thing about, you know, these government-sponsored home improvement opportunities or even community weatherization programs is that, you know, there’s going to be somebody that you can go to if you’ve got a problem with the contractor.
TOM: Yeah, there’s accountability there.
SALLY: There’s some accountability. There’s somebody that you can go to.
TOM: And the contractors want to keep their name clean, so to speak, so that they get more work from the program.
LESLIE: Well, it means more work for them.
SALLY: Right. And that’s you want to use a contractor in your local community, that’s established. You know where they are. You go to – you know, your kids went to school with their kids. They know they have a reputation to maintain. These itinerant or fly-by-night guys who breeze into town with a magnetic sign on their pickup truck …
LESLIE: (chuckling) Easy to change. (Leslie chuckles)
SALLY: … you’re asking for problems.
LESLIE: Well, that’s really great. And you know, Sally, with these financial institutions that are available for folks who do need to make modifications to their home, it really is of great value. Years and years ago my grandmother suffered an illness and became paralyzed and we were able to utilize her community of Oyster Bay to practically fund the entire remodel for their home, which made life so much easier. And it was so nice to see the community come together to help out my grandma. So it’s really nice to know that folks are looking out for people who have special needs. And really there’s a resource for them to make sure that they’re not getting scammed and things are done safe and appropriately.
SALLY: Right. That just emphasizes the importance of knowing who you’re dealing with and what accountability measures are going to be available if something goes wrong.
TOM: Sally Hurme, the AARP Coordinator for Financial Protection, thanks for sharing that important information with us on The Money Pit.
SALLY: Thank you for having me.
TOM: If you want more information, you can go to AARP’s website at AARP.org/HomeDesign.
LESLIE: Well, you are listening to The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, broadcasting a special edition to educate and empower our listeners to be safe in their homes. Do you have a home improvement question? Well you can call in your home repair or your home improvement question 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
Up next, falls send thousands of people to the emergency room every year. Learn how to keep your family safe from fall and trip hazards you don’t even realize are there when we hear from the president of the Home Safety Council, next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, celebrating Home Safety Month from the floor of the National Hardware Show in Orlando, Florida. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Call us right now at 1-888-MONEY-PIT with your home improvement question, your do-it-yourself dilemma; especially if it has to do with making your house safe.
Let’s go to the phones.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got Michelle on the line from Cleveland, Ohio. Michelle, welcome to The Money Pit.
MICHELLE: Hey, thanks for taking my call, Tom and Leslie.
LESLIE: You’re so welcome. How can we help you?
MICHELLE: Well, I’ve been wanting to add a workspace to my kitchen for my mother who absolutely loves to cook but she can’t stand for long periods of time. I’m wondering what the best height and location for this would be.
LESLIE: You know, that’s so great because a lot of times with kitchens, people are – especially if you’re doing a remodel …
LESLIE: … people are really looking to do multilevels of countertops. But you can adapt it.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Well, you remember when we – remember when we were at the AARP Life at 50 Plus conference last September.
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm, the show house. Oh right, yeah.
TOM: That show house. What was interesting about that kitchen was that it had two or three different levels of countertop.
TOM: So there were countertop levels that were comfortable when you’re standing and also countertop levels that were comfortable when you were sitting. What do you think the right height is?
LESLIE: I think it’s anywhere between 28 inches and 32 inches. And you really want to make sure, most importantly, if you’re going to be seated for a long period of time that you’ve got 27 inches of knee space underneath your countertop. This way you can sit comfortably if you’re in a chair or a wheelchair; you know, whatever your needs might be. But there are also some options, if you don’t want to adjust your countertop height itself what about pullout cutting boards?
TOM: Pullout cutting boards. And also, you should take a look at some of the new appliances. Like there is a pullout dishwasher. Instead of having to open the door there’s like two drawers. It’s like split in half and it kind of pulls out. So there are a lot of universal design innovations in the kitchen area that could help your mom, Michelle.
MICHELLE: Well, that’s a great help. Thank you so much.
TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
With three kids, I can tell you, Leslie, that many times I have tripped over toys lying about the house.
LESLIE: Yeah, I’ve got a dog. I’ve got the same issue. (chuckling)
TOM: You trip over the dog?
LESLIE: (laughing) Her toys.
TOM: She leaves the toys everywhere, huh? (Leslie laughs) Well in fact, falls are a major cause of emergency room visits every year. People over 65 are the most susceptible to severe and sometimes even fatal falls.
LESLIE: That’s exactly why we’ve invited Mary Kay Appy to be with us today. She’s the president of the Home Safety Council and has some valuable advice on keeping your home safe at home. Well, keeping you safe at home.
Now, Mary Kay, I’m a total klutz. But I laugh off my falls and really just get over it. But how serious is the problem of home injuries for older adults?
MARY KAY: [Older adult] (ph) falls is the number one cause of home-related injury death. It’s a huge problem and overall there are about five – more than five million injuries and thousands of fatalities that result, every year, in and around the home from falls. So it’s a really big problem.
LESLIE: Five million injuries? That’s amazing.
TOM: That’s amazing.
MARY KAY: And the majority of these are – in terms of deaths – are to folks 65 years old and older. Falls are the kind of problem that the very young and the very old tend to be affected most in the most serious ways. But obviously it’s the folks in the middle – people like us – who can really make a difference at home to keep everyone safer.
LESLIE: Well, and the craziest thing is that all of these falls are, most of the times, preventable. So what can we do to make sure that the home is safe and we’re not just tripping over our own feet, literally?
MARY KAY: (chuckling) Well, you actually mentioned one and that is to keep the stairwell areas and pathways clear of clutter. So, the shoes, your purse, the toys on the stairs; clear all that away.
TOM: Yeah, this requires some training of children of dogs in our cases. (chuckling)
MARY KAY: Absolutely, but that’s – you like start them young and have them grow up safer.
Another really good thing – look around your stairwell area and make sure there’s plenty of strong light at the top and the bottom. Many times people will fall down the stairs because they simply miss that step; they don’t see it. So use the maximum safe wattage for the light fixtures you’ve got and, ideally, at the top and the bottom of the stairs.
TOM: How about …
LESLIE: Yeah, and make sure there’s a switch at both the top and the bottom, even if it’s the same fixture.
TOM: (overlapping voices) Right.
MARY KAY: (overlapping voices) Yep, that’s really helpful, too.
TOM: How about window guards to prevent kids from falling out windows. You know, the screens today are not the screens of yesteryear where they were really heavy metal. What kinds of guards should we be looking to put out – put on the windows. And also, how do we make sure that they’re easy to be opened in the event of a fire?
MARY KAY: Oh, that’s a great question, Tom. The good news is there are a couple of options people have. This is an injury area we’re particularly concerned about during the spring and summer months. So right about now is when children tend to fall out of windows because folks don’t realize that screen isn’t strong enough to keep their children inside. So you can either get window stops that slide in between the – what do you call – the …
TOM: The sashes.
MARY KAY: The sashes of the windows.
TOM: Right, mm-hmm.
MARY KAY: It prevents the window from opening more than just a couple of inches.
MARY KAY: Or you can get an actual window guard that fits into your window. That’s even sturdier. But you have to make sure that you measure in advance and that the window is – that the guards are the right size for your window. And Tom, you said to make sure – and this is so true – in terms of escaping from a fire you only have just a few minutes for that. So whatever you do permanently on your windows, they have to have a quick-release mechanism from inside.
LESLIE: Now, Mary Kay, I know you were saying that 65 and over really tends to be the trip-and-fall hazard danger zone. So how is the Home Safety Council working with caregivers who are primarily with the folks of this age and over to keep them safe?
MARY KAY: Well, we have lots of things we’re doing through the media. We commissioned a study, actually, asking questions of caregivers about the safety practices for the older loved ones in their lives. And we find that for a lot of caregivers, talking about safety is a difficult subject. You know? It’s not the same as just making safety changes for your children, where you can just make the decision to do it. Here you’re often having to have a conversation with your older loved one so that it’s really their idea.
The best thing to do is to set a great example and make changes in your own home that you would want your older loved one, too. For example, installing grab bars in bath and shower areas. A lot of times folks think that that’s something that only older people need. But in fact, a grab bar is wonderful for navigating slick surfaces.
TOM: Works for folks of any age.
Mary Kay Appy, President of the Home Safety Council, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
MARY KAY: Thank you. It’s great to be back.
TOM: For more information you can go to their website at HomeSafetyCouncil.org.
Let’s go back to the phones.
LESLIE: Alright, we’ve got Alpa (sp) standing by from Plainsboro, New Jersey. What can we do for you today?
ALPA (sp): Hi. You know, I’m thinking about getting a new washing machine but I was wondering if there was anything that would be good for me. I’m looking out for my mom and she has arthritis …
ALPA (sp): … and she may be coming to live with me in the near future, so …
TOM: So you want a washing machine that’s easy for everybody to use. I think that innovation in the front-load is probably the answer.
LESLIE: Yeah, front-loading washing machines. Number one, you’re not reaching up or bending down.
LESLIE: It’s right at the proper location for you to easily get things in and out. And also, as an added benefit, they’re extremely energy efficient. They use less water so you’re going to see your energy costs go way down. And some of them even come in like this candy apple red sparkly finish. (Tom chuckles) So if you want to be a little adventurous in your washer choice you’ve got a lot of great options.
TOM: I saw the prettiest – the prettiest front-load I ever saw was at The Home Depot a couple of weeks back. It was from LG.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm, that’s the red one.
TOM: And it was candy apple red.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And they’ve even – there’s some shelves that you can get. It’s an extra purchase when you look at certain washers and dryers. But it’s a shelf unit that can go to the bottom to even lift it up higher. And if you’re not interested in putting a shelf down low, I just saw, from the folks at LG, it’s a center sort of stacking drawer unit that goes in between the washer and dryer which puts everything you need exactly where you need it; detergents and what not.
TOM: And the height is right, too. Exactly.
LESLIE: Right and it gets it off the floor.
TOM: Alpa (sp), thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT. 888-666-3974.
LESLIE: Well, the National Fire Protection Association says someone dies in a house fire every three hours in this country. And if a fire extinguisher was located in every room of your home at an arm’s length away, think of all of those lives that could be saved.
TOM: Up next, we’ll tell you about one product being developed right now that will help make that a reality.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show, coming to you from the floor of the 2007 National Hardware Show where we are celebrating Home Safety Month thanks to our friends at the AARP.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And while June is – correct – indeed Home Safety Month, it’s not quite a Hallmark holiday. But …
TOM: It should be.
LESLIE: Yeah, it really should be. And it’s definitely the right time to do a home safety check at your house.
TOM: Well, we’re going to help you out with that, thanks to our friends at AARP. Here at the National Hardware Show we are highlighting the newest products on the market with safety and universal design in mind.
LESLIE: Yeah, and it’s a huge focus here as manufacturers come to the realization that baby boomers are coming of age in a super big way. The census bureau estimates that by 2020 more than 118 million Americans will be over the age of 50. And lots of things go on in that stage of life that prompt home improvements and even sometimes major remodels; perhaps like the birth of a grandchild or maybe you’re caring for an elderly parent. Even an adult child moving back home, which is more and more common.
TOM: Well, The Home Depot is certainly taking note as they launch a new way to bring the best products to the market more quickly. Here to tell us about it is Winston Ledet. He’s the MVP of merchandising strategy for The Home Depot.
WINSTON: Hey, how you doing?
TOM: Now, you’re heading up a program at Home Depot called Orange Works that’s about ready to launch some very innovative products. So talk to us about Orange Works and how it works.
WINSTON: Well, we formed a group about six months ago and the focus was really on trying to take consumer insights and things we were garnering from our customers and bringing them back and to take that into new products, new ways of serving customer needs. And so, it’s really a way for us to participate with our vendors in creating solutions for customers. And …
LESLIE: Now, I was going to say, Winston, are you sort of specializing these products or innovations per category that you’re finding to be trend-worthy or just something that’s a hot topic?
WINSTON: Two things really. We identified categories that we think are really important for us to take a leadership position in, where we think innovation can really drive that. And so that’s one of the main areas. The second area is we take peak consumer trends like the aging of the population and try to build products that solve needs for that demographic. So, you know, one would be aging; another would be outdoor living is a huge category.
WINSTON: And so we take those and we – and then we try to innovate in those categories.
TOM: Well, talk to us about home safety innovations. I understand you have some new products out that are really very – really creative.
WINSTON: Yeah, well they’re coming out in October.
TOM: Oh, they’re coming out? OK.
WINSTON: Yeah. And we – we’re going through the testing right now. So the products are complete but there’s, as you know, lots of UL testing that goes on …
WINSTON: … to make sure that they’re safe and effective. And so those products – it’s under a brand called Home Hero which we’re creating. And it’s really about a couple of things. The first is accessibility – I heard you mention before the break there – and it really is important in fire safety that you have quick accessibility. If you think about your home today – we did this with a bunch of consumer groups – where is your fire extinguisher.
WINSTON: Nobody can answer that question.
TOM: Quick. Yeah.
LESLIE: I’m like, ‘Kitchen and fireplace.’
WINSTON: Right, exactly. And so, we really tried to create something that would have a couple of features. One is that it could be out and not be sort of this red, clunky thing …
WINSTON: … that you wouldn’t want to have out. The second is we worked a lot on the ergonomics of it; that it actually – looking at a fire extinguisher, even the smaller ones really require two hands to operate. And we felt like …
TOM: And they require, you know, a very big hand because the …
LESLIE: A strong hand.
TOM: Because the valve is so wide spread apart; the handle is.
WINSTON: No, exactly. And so, we really worked on the ergonomics to make sure that, you know, you can have a cell phone out calling 911 while you were actually maybe fighting the fire.
And then we also worked on building some technology into the alert devices. So wireless technology into the alarm system as well as into the base of the fire extinguisher so that the two can be connected to each other wireless …
TOM: Well, how does that work?
WINSTON: So it’s basically, when you get an alert from the fire alarm it also alerts the fire extinguisher so that you can locate it. And it …
TOM: It lights up or something?
LESLIE: Oh, interesting.
WINSTON: It makes an audible noise.
TOM: Oh, cool.
WINSTON: And then the second thing is when you deploy the fire extinguisher, after a slight delay, it sets off all the fire extinguishers. So if somebody is sleeping …
TOM: You mean all of the detectors.
WINSTON: That’s right, the detectors.
WINSTON: And so you get that alarm. And then the third thing we put in is voice technology. So one thing – the last thing you want to do if you look at a fire extinguisher is read the fine print on how to use it …
WINSTON: … when you pull it out.
LESLIE: In the emergency situation. Exactly.
WINSTON: In the emergency situation. And so we built in voice into the base so that it actually tells you what to do.
TOM: So it says like, you know, ‘Pull pin’ or whatever? Yeah.
WINSTON: Exactly. Where to aim, where to sweep.
LESLIE: ‘Calm down, idiot. Pull the pin.’ (chuckling)
WINSTON: ‘Get out.’ Right. (Leslie laughs)
TOM: Very reassuring voice, huh? Yeah.
WINSTON: (inaudible) at the end, yeah. And so – because people don’t know these things and they’re not going to read it ahead of time and they have no time.
LESLIE: And you become extremely flustered in an emergency situation.
TOM: So a fire happens and a smoke detector goes off. It’s connected to the Home Hero fire extinguisher.
TOM: That alerts so that you can find the fire extinguisher.
TOM: And then once you pull the fire extinguisher off the wall – which you would only do if you actually saw that there was a fire –
TOM: – that’s going to alarm all of the other alarms in the house. And so, now the whole house is alarmed and you’re ready to fight the fire and you can do that with one hand.
WINSTON: Right, exactly.
TOM: That’s pretty cool.
WINSTON: No, and so it’s a whole system. And then, you know, that’s the starting point, really, for us.
WINSTON: We think there’s a whole – I mean you mentioned, you know, the places you would have one; I mean where almost nobody has a fire extinguisher is by their grill.
WINSTON: (inaudible) one of the few places where you have an open flame.
WINSTON: And so, we think there’s a whole play out there as well. So, we think is the start. We also think there is some technology in fire suppression systems. Most of the suppression systems that are out there today are very corrosive. And so, you wouldn’t want to shoot them on your stove and then, you know, have your stove have sort of major problems afterwards.
WINSTON: And so, there’s technologies out there that we want to bring to the market that would be less corrosive or non-corrosive but also be effective in fighting the fires.
TOM: Is this the first product that’s being developed under Orange Works?
WINSTON: It was the first one that came out, yeah.
WINSTON: Unfortunately, it may not be the first one we launched because it has so many restrictions …
TOM: Certainly, mm-hmm.
WINSTON: … in terms of testing that we’ve got other things in the works. Actually, some things we’ve been working on with AARP to develop.
LESLIE: Now, when this Orange Works program is launching, will items be specifically marked within a store so you know exactly what you’re looking for and what it’s specialty service is so it’s easy to find?
WINSTON: Well, it won’t be marked with Orange Works but they will certainly be highlighted both in our advertising, our in-store presence and then, you know, in things that – where we go and promote it. And so we’ll certainly be talking a lot about them. Orange Works is not today going to be a brand for us.
WINSTON: And so we won’t have an Orange Works brand in the store. Orange Works is really the organization that does …
WINSTON: … development and then things like Home Hero, things like our Ridgid line that are proprietary brands for us will be at least some of the places where they live.
TOM: Well, well done.
TOM: Very innovative product.
LESLIE: Really great.
TOM: Home Hero. Looking forward to seeing it in October. And that’s National Fire Prevention month, if I remember correctly.
WINSTON: That is, exactly.
LESLIE: Perfect timing.
TOM: So it’s good timing.
Winston Ledet, MVP for merchandising strategy at The Home Depot, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
WINSTON: Oh, thank you very much.
LESLIE: That’s right. Well we’ve rounded up a few of the best safety and universal design products we found here at the hardware show. The best of the best coming up next.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Ryobi, manufacturer of professional feature power tools and accessories with an affordable price for the do-it-yourselfer. Ryobi power tools. Pro features, affordable price. Available exclusively at The Home Depot. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: It’s home repair because we care. This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete. And thanks to our friends at the AARP we’re bringing you a special broadcast of The Money Pit from the floor of the National Hardware Show in Orlando. And we’re focusing on the products that make your home safer and more comfortable.
TOM: That’s right. We wanted to highlight some of the best products and innovations we found here at the National Hardware Show that make your house safe and comfortable.
LESLIE: That’s right. And these first couple of products are great. We’ve all seen the sensor faucets and automatic paper towel dispensers in the public restrooms. But wouldn’t it be great to have them in your house? No more pulling at all those paper towels, getting them all wet and dirty and wasting, really wasting ones you don’t need.
TOM: And no kids leaving the water running. That happens in my house all the time. (Leslie chuckles) Well, now you can kind of have these at home. Hear to tell us all about these great products is Michael Scheck (sp) from iTouchless Housewares and Products.
MICHAEL: Hi, how are you?
TOM: This is something that you typically only see, I think, in commercial applications.
TOM: And you now are making this available for residential use.
MICHAEL: It’s the world’s first Towel-Matic using sensor technology that you see in the public bathrooms …
MICHAEL: … but use any regular home paper towels.
MICHAEL: It will identify the perforations on every paper towels.
TOM: So it sees the perforations [and the lines] (ph) …
TOM: … and so you don’t need to pull it down? And what about the faucet?
MICHAEL: The faucet is an attachment to any existing home faucet.
LESLIE: Oh, excellent.
TOM: Oh, so you don’t – so you don’t need a new faucet for it.
TOM: You just attach that to the line.
MICHAEL: You just take the aerator off, screw this on and you have an instant sensor faucet at home.
TOM: Wow, that’s really cool.
LESLIE: And is – so far, I see it here in the polished chrome. Is it available in any other finishes to match your existing faucet?
MICHAEL: Yes. We have a white, we have a brass, we have different colors to match existing …
LESLIE: Wow, that’s really great. And so helpful; especially with energy resources.
TOM: And easy to use, too. Yeah. How do you get more information about that? Where is it available?
MICHAEL: It’s available at iTouchless.com. Also it’s available in Bed, Bath and Beyond and Target. So …
LESLIE: Oh, great.
TOM: I love the fact that you can just screw it on. You don’t have to do any plumbing.
LESLIE: And the paper Towel-Matic, which is really cool, doesn’t take up more space than a traditional paper towel holder and it even works on those half size; those smaller paper towels.
MICHAEL: Yes, you can adjust – there’s a switch. You can adjust half sheet or full sheet. So it really saves paper. And you never touch [a used] (ph) roll. That’s the benefit of the sensor.
TOM: Yeah, it’s cleaner, too.
TOM: Yeah, thanks so much.
MICHAEL: Thank you.
TOM: You know, lighting outdoor spaces has become a big business and we’ve seen evidence of it here at the National Hardware Show. Lighting can create mood, keep your home safer and eliminate the risk of falling; especially on an unlit pathway.
LESLIE: That’s right. And our next guest invented a very unique product. It’s lighting and edging all in one.
Robert Goldman, you’re the president of Let’s Edge It. Welcome, Robert.
ROBERT: Well, thank you.
LESLIE: So …
TOM: Now, how does this work?
ROBERT: Well, what this is is a plastic brick that is a duplicate of a real brick.
LESLIE: It looks just like a real brick.
ROBERT: And they snap together with what we call plastic connectors. So it looks like mortar.
ROBERT: They do swivel on the plastic connectors, so you can go in a circle or go straight.
LESLIE: Oh, very interesting.
ROBERT: And then there are – some of the bricks that come in the kit have a solar light in them. So you can edge …
LESLIE: So there’s no electrical wiring involved at all.
TOM: Oh, cool. Look at that.
LESLIE: Oh, fantastic.
ROBERT: So you can see a pathway.
ROBERT: It’s nice because when you snap these together you can snap them in any order that you like. So if you have …
LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Mm-hmm. So you can put a higher concentration of lights in one area.
ROBERT: Right. So you can have – if you have a step or something that you want to protect yourself from you can put a light next to it. You can outline a driveway or so forth to help you get in and out.
TOM: Now, how long will the light stay lit, based on the solar energy?
ROBERT: If they get full sun they’ll stay on from dusk till dawn.
LESLIE: Oh, wow.
ROBERT: I mean they’ll go all, you know, eight, nine hours.
LESLIE: And how are they sold? In sort of prepackaged kits based on …
LESLIE: … based on length or …
ROBERT: Yes, 40-foot kits and 20-foot kits.
LESLIE: And how many lights come within this kit.
ROBERT: Six in the longer and four in the 20-foot.
LESLIE: But you can always order more and add more lights.
ROBERT: They are accessorized. You can buy more lights.
TOM: And where can we get more information?
ROBERT: Well, you’d have to get it from us. This is brand new. It’s not in distribution yet …
ROBERT: … but you can get it from our website, which is Argee Corp. which is spelled A-r-g-e-eCorp.com.
TOM: Well, it’s very cool and I’m sure you’re going to do well with it.
ROBERT: Thank you very much.
TOM: Thanks very much, Bob.
LESLIE: Alright. And now we’re going to talk about home security. We’re going to identify mail theft happening in alarming numbers. And you might be surprised to learn that the easiest way criminals can get your personal information is from your mailbox.
TOM: That’s right. And our next guest was on vacation in Finland when he first saw the Bobi mailbox. He bought one on the spot and decided to bring it to the U.S. James Bridgeford is here now to tell us about why this mailbox virtually eliminates security associated with theft of your mail.
JAMES: Hi. Thanks so much. Happy to be here.
TOM: So it uses an ID. You sort of spotted it while you were on va-cay?
JAMES: Yes. Actually, Tom, you know I’ve been a sales guy my whole life. I’ve been away from home a lot. So a problem for me was the mail.
JAMES: Having to call somebody to go pick up my mail. You know, it was always an issue. So when I saw the Bobi mailbox for the first time I thought, ‘That’s perfect for me.’ And it had like a …
TOM: Now, it’s a locking mailbox.
JAMES: It’s a locking mailbox. It also has a very large capacity.
TOM: Yeah, it’s big.
LESLIE: Oh, it’s huge.
JAMES: It’s huge. So that’s a great thing. So you can be away for a week …
JAMES: … and not worry about your mail.
LESLIE: And then because it’s all contained and there’s no sort of transparent areas, no one’s going to be aware of all the mail that’s potentially building up within.
JAMES: Exactly, exactly. And it’s got a secure lock, again. So you know, you just don’t have to worry about it.
TOM: Now, the mailman can obviously get in there but to get your out you simply unlock it and open the door.
TOM: It’s a cool idea. What’s it made out of?
JAMES: It’s made of steel. (inaudible)
TOM: So you can’t break it open?
JAMES: Absolutely, you can’t. It’s really a great mailbox. (inaudible) secure.
LESLIE: And you don’t have to worry about the kids with the bats driving down the street either. (laughing)
JAMES: No, no. If you look, we’ve got a great stand. So if you have an application where you’re mounting it to curbside, your mail. You know, the stand mounts right into the ground and wraps around the mailbox.
JAMES: And I think really a great look.
TOM: Good. And how do we get more information on it?
JAMES: Of course we recommend your listeners to write to Bobi.com.
TOM and JAMES: B-o-b-i.com.
JAMES: It’s also available today for purchase at Target online …
JAMES: … and lots of online dealers throughout America.
TOM: James Bridgeford, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.
JAMES: My pleasure. (inaudible)
TOM: You’re listening to a special edition of The Money Pit coming to you live from the 2007 National Hardware Show where we are celebrating Home Safety Month.
I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete.
TOM: Back with more, after this.
ANNOUNCER: This portion of The Money Pit is brought to you by Aprilaire, makers of professionally-installed, high-efficiency air cleaners. For more information, go to Aprilaire.com. Now, here are Tom and Leslie.
TOM: This is The Money Pit Home Improvement Radio Show. I’m Tom Kraeutler.
LESLIE: And I’m Leslie Segrete and …
TOM: This very special edition of the program is coming from the floor of the National Hardware Show where we are celebrating Home Safety Month.
LESLIE: That’s right. And it’s been brought to you by the folks at the AARP and we want to remind you that if you’ve missed anything from today you can catch it all online; especially when you download our Money Pit podcast. And you can even search a year’s worth of shows by topic. It’s all at your fingertips and it’s all free.
TOM: While you’re there click on Ask Tom and Leslie and shoot us an e-mail question.
Let’s jump right into the e-mail bag.
LESLIE: Alright. We’ve got one here from Wendy in Raleigh, North Carolina who writes: ‘I’m looking for a shower stall or a tub that a wheelchair could be rolled into.’
TOM: Hmm. Well, I think there’s a couple of things to remember here. One is that you can actually redesign your bathroom so that you don’t need to have that actual stall. You could put the drain in the floor.
LESLIE: Right. They call that barrier-free or no-threshold baths.
TOM: And that’s a big trend in Europe right now and I think we’re starting to see more of it in the states. You know, in fact, I lived there 20 years ago and I had a barrier-free bathroom when I was a student.
LESLIE: Well, and in those situations everything’s tiled, you’ve got those handheld shower mounts. This way if things get wet you don’t have to worry about all that water. And I think also, Wendy, to think about – there are tubs that have larger platforms or even sort of a sitting shelf or a bench sort of next to the tub so that you can put the chair next to this bench or tub, maneuver yourself from the bench then down into the tub. And of course, then you want to think about grab bars. But there are a lot of options that you can have. So …
TOM: And in fact that …
LESLIE: … really good choices.
TOM: That’s the topic of our next e-mail from Charles at Woodcliff Lake, New Jersey. He says: ‘My mom often stays with us for extended visits. I want to put some grab bars in my downstairs guest bathroom for her. How can I find some that are not sterile or hospital-like so that they blend in with the d