Homeowners are splurging on new roofs and counter tops

Americans are spending more on their homes.
And it’s on a lot of things — from small improvements like new faucets and lights to big-ticket items like roofs, counter tops and dishwashers.

The largest home improvement store in the country, Home Depot, said Tuesday that sales for those more expensive items — the ones over $900 — rose by almost 8% from the same period last year.
neighborWhen people make pricy purchases, it’s a sign that American consumers are feeling confident about the economy and where it’s heading.
Overall, sales at Home Depot (HOME D) stores open a year or longer in the U.S. rose 7.3% compared to a year ago. The company’s overall sales — $21.8 billion — were up 6.4%.
“There’s a lot of momentum in the U.S.,” Carol Tome, Home Depot’s chief financial officer, said in a conference call Tuesday.
Related: How to buy a home without a 20% down payment
There’s been some concern about whether Americans are loosening the purse strings in 2015. Overall, Americans are buying a record amount of cars, and are going out to restaurants. But sales at department stores and electronics stores have been down recently.
However, there is momentum building in the U.S. housing market. Sales of new homes have been higher this year compared to last year, and sales for existing homes hit a pre-recession high in September.
Those trends bode well for Home Depot and other home improvement companies.
Home Depot’s stock bounced up 4% Tuesday morning. Home Depot is up 28% over the past 12 months. Shares for Home Depot’s biggest U.S. competitor, Lowe’s (LOW), are also up about the same over the past year.

CNNMoney (New York) November 17, 2015
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Hand holding mobile phone tablet controls smart home temperature water light security technology flat concept vector illustration

New technology is everywhere. Auto makers are racing to develop self-driving cars, coffee retailers are hoping you’ll use an app to order your morning coffee before you even enter the shop, and retailers hope to offer home delivery by drone in the not-too-distant future. On the consumer front, many Americans are readily embracing new technologies that help them more easily navigate their busy lives and be more productive in the process. When it comes to the walls in which we live, however, adoption rates for smart home products is still a work in progress.

And when we talk about “smart home technology,” we’re not just talking about a washing machine that can sense how big the load of clothing is or a lighting system that dims and brightens as the sun rises and sets. Rather, the broader smart home landscape covers a range of products and services that allow consumers to automate a number of household devices, appliances and functions according to their lifestyles. To date the most popular smart home products are smart thermostats, home security and monitoring systems and wireless speakers, but the category is rapidly expanding into other elements of the home.

While smart home technology is widely available and becoming more advanced at a rapid clip, most consumers are somewhat ambivalent about it. A recent study from The Demand Institute found that most consumers aren’t typically interested in technology for the sake of technology. In fact, the study found that only 36% of Americans are excited to incorporate technology into their homes, and just 22% say having the latest tech is important in their current or future homes. Today, just one in five U.S. households currently have a smart home product.

NIELSEN Consumer| 11-11-2015
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What if Men were totally in charge of House Design?

Men Designing Houses

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Duke Energy Ramps Up for Solar Facility in Osceola County

Duke Energy Florida has big plans in Osceola County. The company announced plans to build a new 3.8-megawatt solar facility in Osceola County, the first of Duke’s long-range plan to install 35 megawatts of solar by 2018 and up to 500 megawatts in Florida by 2024.

Duke SolarThe Osceola facility is expected to be built on 17 acres of a larger 25-acre parcel owned by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEF) on Canoe Creek Road in Kenansville. The larger parcel includes the Canoe Creek transmission substation, owned and operated by DEF. The existing substation will allow the new solar facility to be connected to the grid without additional easements or extensive line construction.

Duke Energy’s new solar facilities will complement a new combined-cycle natural gas plant to be built in Citrus County, an upgrade of a combined-cycle energy complex in Polk County and the purchase of the Osprey Energy Center, also in Polk County.

The projects will allow the company to not only meet the need for additional energy for its customers beginning in 2018, but also to retire half of its Florida coal-fired fleet by that same year.

Construction of the Osceola Solar Facility will begin once permits are approved. The facility is expected to be on line in early 2016.

Orlando Business Journal 10/1/2015

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Florida Supreme Court weighs solar energy ballot initiative

TALLAHASSEE (Reuters) – The Florida Supreme Court heard arguments on Tuesday about the language of a proposed constitutional amendment that would let consumers buy electricity from independent solar power companies, rather than stay dependent on state-regulated utilities.

SolarBulbFlorida is one of a handful of states where homeowners and businesses are not permitted by law to buy electricity directly from anyone other than a utility.

Attorneys for the utilities told the court the amendment promoting solar energy is deceptively worded and improperly deals with multiple parts of state law.

But a lawyer for advocates of putting the proposal on the 2016 election ballot said it will simply allow consumers to find cheap, clean electricity.

   “It does that: no more, no less,” said Robert Nabors, representing Floridians for Solar Choice.

His clients have certified more than 121,000 voter signatures for a “Solar Choice” ballot initiative that would prevent government agencies or power companies from imposing regulations or fees on rates, services and territories for solar facilities.

Organizers say another 110,000 signatures are awaiting verification.

Property owners could generate up to 2 megawatts and sell power directly to adjacent homes or businesses.

The Supreme Court does not rule on whether the amendment is a good idea, only on whether its 75-word ballot summary accurately depicts a proposal, and whether the measure deals with a single subject.

In a courtroom packed with solar choice supporters, the seven justices sharply questioned attorneys for an hour about legal precedents on ballot initiatives.

Barry Richard, representing Florida Power & Light Co, Tampa Electric Co and Duke Energy Florida and Gulf Power Co, claimed the amendment deals with regulatory matters at state, county and city levels, more than one topic, and that its summary suggests the state placed “unfavorable” terms on solar providers.

“There is no evidence that the Public Service Commission is imposing barriers,” Richard said.

Stephen Grimes, a former Supreme Court justice representing the Florida Electric Cooperatives Association, said the amendment would strip the PSC and local governments of some regulatory powers, though the ballot summary does not say so.

“The ballot summary fails to advise the voter that small solar providers can completely ignore health, safety and building code regulations,” he said. “They didn’t want the voters to know that.”

   If the court approves the wording, supporters have until Feb. 1 to gather 683,149 valid voter signatures statewide to get the proposal on the ballot.

By Bill Cotterell 090315

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Warning from Florida Dept of Business & Professional Regulation


Dangers of Hiring an Unlicensed Person

  • Poor qualifications.  Unlicensed persons typically do not have the education, insurance, or qualification required of a licensee.
  • Poor quality work.  Unlicensed contractors typically do poor quality work or do not finish the project, leaving the homeowner on the hook to repair or finish the project.
  • Possible criminal background.  Unlicensed persons often have criminal backgrounds that may include fraud, theft, violent crime, sexual offenses, and substance abuse.
  • Likelihood of being the victim of a scam.  Unlicensed persons often disappear after taking your money, and the department cannot discipline an unlicensed person, help get your money back, or require the person to finish or improve the work done. Scams in the construction industry, especially home improvement, are sadly widespread.  Con artists pose as contractors and often target vulnerable people and take advantage of homeowner’s need for urgent post-hurricane property damage.
  • Limited resources for broken contracts.  When you have a dispute with a licensed contractor, you call the department, which has the authority to discipline and even revoke the license.  This gives the licensee more incentive to play fair.    However, this type of action is not available against unlicensed contractors and homeowners often find the only answer is an expensive, and generally futile, civil suit.
  • No insurance and liability for injuries to others:  You may end up being liable for personal or financial injuries to others.  An unlicensed contractor typically is uninsured and will have no way to pay you back for any property damage.
  • No coverage under homeowner’s policy.  Most homeowner policies require that work must be done by a licensed contractor and provide no coverage for work that is not.
  • Noncompliance with building codes.  Most projects, even small ones, require permits and inspections that unlicensed contractors ignore or are unfamiliar with.  If your project isn’t permitted or doesn’t comply with the building code, you may have to remove or repair the work at your own expense and be subject to fines by local government.
  • Liens being imposed on your property.  You may be subject to liens placed on your property by subcontractors or supplies.  Please see http://www.dbpr.state.fl.us/reg/Liens.html for more information about Florida lien law.
  • No coverage under homeowner’s policy.  Most homeowner policies require that work must be done by a licensed contractor and provide no coverage for work that is not.
  • Noncompliance with building codes.  Most projects, even small ones, require permits and inspections that unlicensed contractors ignore or are unfamiliar with.  If your project isn’t permitted or doesn’t comply with the building code you may have to remove or repair the work at your own expense and be subject to fines by local government.


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LIVE Remote Broadcast of WFLA’s Home Improvement Show May 30, 2015

It’s all about Neighbors helping Neighbors

May 8, 2015 iHeartMedia Orlando Press Release – Jerry Lenz

WFLA’s Home Improvement Show will be broadcasting LIVE from New Image Youth Center on Saturday  May 30, 2015, 9am-11am to help a wonderful cause–the youth of Orlando. You are welcome to join us and meet Charlie DePari, host of the long-running radio program on AM540 and FM 102.5 WFLA Orlando and his guests for the program.

New Image Youth Center

The mission of New Image Youth Center is to improve the lives of youth by providing an environment where students feel safe to dream, and to support the realization of dreams through programs designed to foster academic, social, and physical well-being. Visit the website for location and more information HERE.

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