Sharpen those no. 2 pencils, it’s tax time.

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We’re neither accountants nor tax advisors, but we have been serving the construction industry for over 30+ years. A LOT of things have changed in the tax world since 1985, but we’ve heard enough feedback from our clients over the years to share with YOU the most important tax considerations. The information may be helpful or merely a refresher for you. However, we believe the more educated you are as a homeowner the better position you’ll be in to save some money. These are the top four tax items we suggest you reviewing:

  1. Mortgage Interest.

The greatest part about a home loan is the home. Face it not many of us look forward to that monthly mortgage bill. Home lenders will alway’s state “well you can’t write off the mortgage interest” and you SHOULD. There are varying policies and requirements when it comes to a refinancing loan on a cash paid property, $1 million caps, and more tax rules, so we advise you to do your homework before writing anything off.

    2. Home Improvement Loan Interest

We understand owning a home and having a family is an expensive feat within today’s economy. Maybe your finances were affected by the housing bubble, job market, or merely bad luck, it’s ok. So a lot of people utilize a Home Improvement Loan. The great news about this loan is the loan interest is tax deductible!! There’s no upper dollar limit, but the project must increase your home’s value and prolong its life. Examples: A new roof, pool, garage, porches, insulation, HVAC, landscaping, and more. We strongly advise you to reconsider increasing the square footage of your home, unless you’re prepared for possible reassessment (higher property taxes).

 

pens and coins.jpg

Home Improvement loans can help you increase your home’s value!

 

 

    3. Property Taxes 

We’ve known about these since our day’s playing Monopoly. Your city or state property taxes can be deducted from income. Keep in mind that city or state property taxes refund reduces your federal deduction by a like amount.

   4. Home business

Do you run an ETSY store or EBAY shop? As long as use a portion of your home exclusively for business purposes, you may be able to recoup certain home costs. We do recommend making sure your homeowner’s insurance policy will cover your house if you do have a home business (double check). A great video showcasing this was in the movie “The Accountant” here’s the scene.

 

finished-house

Brand new Royal Building Products Siding (Schererville, Indiana)

 

NBA free agency is similar to Roofing free agency.

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NBA, NBA, NBA is all we’re hearing this week. Whether you’re on Twitter, Facebook, ESPN, NBC, or chatting in the office. We are on the cusp of our country’s day of birth and it seems the NBA wild west of free agency has overshadowed the conversation. This led me to thinking.

NBA free agency =Roofing free agency? Similarities?

NBA free agency is exceptionally similar to the spring time for roofing companies. A lot roofing companies generally use subcontractors for their work. It’s common. Owner’s generally want to avoid liability, insurance issues, healthcare, avoid training, and etc, so if they can outsource the work they decrease responsibility and save time, not necessarily cost. Many roofing companies seek out roofing crews for Spring, Summer, and Fall work after the snow break. However, not all companies do this. For instance Total Roofing and many proven companies can claim our professional crews who’ve been with us for over 20 years and then some. However, we understand why organizations love subcontractors. There’s many benefits to using subcontractors. This is similar to signing a mega superstar rather than drafting young talent and fostering the talent.

Face it, you’re hiring an individual (at least expected) that can perform the work demands or required craftsmanship. Instantly, roofing organization forgos the need to train a young apprentice, avoid the learning curve/rookie mistakes (mistakes happen), and provide the necessary trade tools. You pay for what you get. That same goes for the NBA. Why hire the services of a 21 year old recently out of college with one year of experience, and has many questions about his game? Especially, when there’s a 28 year old with four years of playoff experience and has proven 3 point shot? You want to eliminate the question marks and be assured of your ROI. Same goes for a roofing crew.

For instance consider the Los Angeles Lakers. This organization is in a state of chaos. They have a small amount of young talent budding in their organization and an aging star who wants to win now (who doesn’t want to win though?). So, the Laker’s chase after LaMarcus Alridge. An under 30, proven NBA superstar, and is in his physical peak for NBA careers.  You acknowledge he’ll give you 20/10/2 a night (points, rebounds, blocks) because of his work log (past seasons) and your team lacks a presence like him. Factor in that the organization is in a WIN-NOW/produce mentality and Laker Nation will shell out the big bucks.

So, they most certainly shell out the big bucks for his presences.

Now flip back to roofing. Roofing companies are as only good as the services they provide and if you have a lackluster crew, you’ll have a poor final product. Instead of the summer meetings, we have our spring meetings. Generally a foreman or leader of a crew comes in to inquire about work.  Well, why did they leave? Ask questions, questions, question, and more questions to the roofers and to your staff. NBA teams complete analytics on their opponents, themselves, market, and almost as much research than NASA. So you’ll have to do the same as roofing company. Ask your company, how long do I want to be competitive? What type of service am I providing? However, if a roofing company was in the same position as the Los Angeles Lakers, we would all recommend the same. Sign young talent, train them, and build a culture. For the longevity of the business that makes the most sense. Unless your organization has the stance of maximizing that particular year then go for the big fish.

Questions for those subcontractors (Basketball free agency questions.)

Why are you no longer with ABCDE roofing company? (mgt woes, bad ethics? Chicago Bulls, Toronto Raptors?)

What type of products are experienced in? ( Left handed, right handed, shooting off the dribble, what was your role?)

Do you have an address list of jobs you’ve completed in the past? (College resume/statistics, championships)

References? (Coaches, GM’s)

Expectation for salary? (Five year max deal, Player option)

After every signing everyone believes they made the best relationship. Face it, with the resources you had and the research you completed the decision made sense. The same goes for roofing. We use the best information we have and the factor in the direction our management is trying to go. However, with roofing companies we can proudly say we aren’t giving out 5 year $140 million dollars for the services of one person. Our industry is slightly different in regards to the salary cap. Would we love to have a set salary cap and the ability to compensate our hard working installers with millions of dollars, of course! Our team signings won’t receive the NBA type of publicity until we have a roofing television channel, partnership with Dunkin Donuts, and roofers starring in the next “Entourage” movie. So stay tune for the Spring of 2016′.

If a roofer was stranded on an island…

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The five most important items for a roofer.

  1. ENERGY DRINK/COFFEE/CAFFEINE
    1. Dunkin Donuts phrase  “we run on dunkin” is right on the money! Now we’re not pushing one type of coffee over the other (Don’t get offended Starbuckers), but it’s well known DD already has the “average joe” coffee market share.  We don’t know many roofers grabbing a triple whip americano with extra soy and a hint of cinnamon. However, as much as we love coffee it takes second to
      Unleash your beast!

      Total Roofing loves Monster

      Monster, Red Bull, & other drink that uses terms such as Voltage, Shock, Heartattack, Gorrilla Blood, or Warhead. This extra boost gets the day running for ALL. There’s no better way to start that 6 am shift then with a high-cranking energy drink!

2. QUALITY TOOLS  As skilled as most craftsman and roofers can be, you still need the appropiate tools. Tools such as magnetic sweepers (clean up those roofing nails that surely will puncture your tire), roofing hackets, blades (a dull blade helps no one), and more. These items depreciate quicker than your car, but are as important. For the journeyman or everyday roofer invest in quality tools. This will be the best investment you can make. They’ll make your job easier andHow can you roof 10 square in a day without an air compressor or hammer? Preparation allows you to be prepared to be your best. When you have the tools to succeed, you will.

Our Suggested Roofer Tool Brands:

Dewalt      Hitachi      Stanley    Bosch    Milwaukee

3. A RADIO A roofer can expect 8 to 10 hours of physical work throughout the day. However, what about his mind? One may assume his mind should be focused on the task at hand, which it surely is, yet what about the in-between? Material clean-up, job set-up, lunch, moving material, and switching blades allow individuals time to tune out. The radio has been intergal to the everyday blue-collar construction worker since it’s inception. Seriously, there’s a station for everyone regardless of ethnicity, gender, and even religion! Do you enjoy sports? ESPN 1000 talk radio. Are you a political man? Rush Limbaugh (So crazy, you listen). How about everyday pop culture? Eric & Kathy on 101.9. This instrument is vital to the job of a roof and crew morale.

4. Plans for the weekend Roofing is not easy. It’s phsyically draining and tough work. 50 hours of honest work makes you want to imagine a beach with a corona with dolphins in the background.  Yeah seeing a project go from the before to after is great and motivating. However, I can assure you throughout the week of working, talking, and listening to the radio, plans for the weekend are being discussed. Sure, the idea “Why would a roofer on a stranded island talk about the upcoming weekend?” You don’t know roofers. We enjoy our weekends and there as necessary as water.

5. A nice lunch cooler. Sure a Big Mac and fry sounds delicious after 5 hours of lifting, pushing, sweating, and installing those shingles. However, I can assure you not every roofer is eating out and living off fast food during the week. We’ve all had some form of finance education whether in school or the hard knocks of life. The average fast food meal runs about $8 a day and let’s say you work 5 days a week. Within a 5 week month you spent $200. I’m no mathmatican, but the cost for sandwich meat, loaf of bread (easily two weeks worth), cheese, and snacks will run you $100 or less! In the midwests seven month roofing calender year that’s a savings of $700. Here’s a few things that cost $700

55″ LED SMART Television                    Two Round Trip Tickets Southwest Airlines

The cost of making lunch and eating out every day is this Smart TV. Jimmy John's Freaky Fast sounds good, but so does watching Ricky Bobby go Freaky Fast in the Legend of Ricky Bobby

The cost of making lunch and eating out every day is this Smart TV. Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast sounds good, but so does watching Ricky Bobby go Freaky Fast in the Legend of Ricky Bobby

Fly anywhere or continue eating Burger King?

Fly anywhere or continue eating Burger King?

Letterman loved his roofs.

We believe with David Letterman retiring it’s fitting to showcase a “roofing” video. . The video was filmed on a five story-flat. The noticable roofing product consisted of EPDM (black rubber) and was once installed on almost half of the flat roofs today. However, the innovative product TPO is starting to emerge as the top flat roofing product on the market. However, the roofing product didn’t bother dave. Watch as Dave throws a plethora of objects without fall protection. Oh Dave, thanks for the memories and keeping us roofers up late!

O Big Brother, Where Art Thou? (Roofer’s Edition)

Every construction workers least favorite phrase OSHA OSHA OSHA OSHA  Oh Sh*7!

Big Brother

We have (roofing industry) experienced interesting safety regulations in the last decade. These regulations range from ropes worn, harnesses, when to wear a helmet, and so on. The ongoing regulations are important and demand the attention of every business. Employee safety is the number one concern without a doubt. Yes, it’s a job, but at the end of the day everyone is a human being! However, the matter in which our government is enforcing such rules seem discriminatory towards small and large businesses alike by enforcing economic hurdles?

So what exactly does the “supposed” economic hurdles entail? Well, majority of regulations are primarily for the employer. It’s his responsibility to monitor all aspects of an employees safety whether it be from safety education, product disclosure, industry standards, and reporting job injuries. However, how do you maintain the same rules and accountability for the ma & pa companies as you do for fortune 500 corporations? The cost to hire an outside safety company, hire an additional safety man, or purchase less bothersome safety equipment is exceptionally high. So, should the government provide grants or safety equipment tax credits? That’s a question our industry should raise moving forward.

American Dream roofer model

  • Laborer-> Installer -> Contractor -> Superintendent ->Roof Consultant -> Business Owner -> Retire

The ma & pa example:

OSHA please tell an out of the truck, licensed, and insured roofer whose completing a roofing project that he’s a menace to society. In this situation, the man is both the employer and employee, so fine him right? Very unlikely, because the job is too small.  Everyday there’s unsafe projects that are visible roadside, but OSHA couldn’t get a big fine so they drive on by or there’s no childish antics going on (explained later). Many have stated OSHA using the term “understaffed” as the reason for not catching every dangerous roofing vigilant. So, why doesn’t big brother understand that for the roofing industry. If we had the revenue to staff our own safety monitor or purchase that retractable rope, we would. Do you really believe employers want to see their employees fall three-stories?

How we feel at the moment in the roofing industry

How we feel at the moment in the roofing industry

Larger company or established enterprises:
Larger companies often have brand recognition or tool resources to qualify for important projects. Four companies bid for large project and one’s awarded it. Now you have three disgruntled companies and one whose ecstatic. The project starts and located on a busy street. The scope of work takes four weeks. Throughout this timeframe a random “good citizen regarding safety” calls OSHA.  More times than not that call is from a roofing contractor, disgruntled company, or a union issue. How many daily citizens are aware of fall protection policies or care about their neighbors roofing contractor?  OSHA drives by or waits until red flag issues arise and takes photos. A photo is evidence and there’s no disproving a photo (even if he disconnected from his harness to get down the ladder).  Is it not worth a OSHA inspector to sit in a parking lot for 2 weeks awaiting a possible fine on a $200,000 project if it’s a repeat offender? That fine would probably constitute his salary and put money in the bank.

In addition, where does the employees accountability fall? If an employer teaches, showcases, and provides equipment that exceeds the normal regulations, but an employee seen without wearing a rope (WHICH IS EXTREMELY COMMON) for one second and a OSHA officer catches it on the camera then a employer is subjected to a possible fine. Even if that employer is in the process of implementing their new safety protocol. Was Rome built in a day? Did children learn to write in a week? OSHA needs to understand the habitual nature of roofing and laboring. This job is rigorous, physically demanding, and not the ideal occupation for the normal person. Workers are not cutting corners there trying to save themselves four hours and conserver their physical energy. However, instead of being patient they instill a double fine on companies that are repeat offenders. Understand training takes time! Creating a habit takes proper reinforcement from both the government and employer.  EVEN COPS WILL TELL YOU TO SLOW DOWN AND CARRY. 

Questions to ask yourself?

Didn’t that employee choose to risk his life by neglecting use of the rope? The government acknowledges these employers as willful and wanton employers, when in reality the individual decided to neglect his safety.

Procedure Process

OSHA states they’ll listen to the offender and subject a reasonable fine. However, that seem’s extremely subjective? An individual with authority (Often the regional administrator) is in charge administrating that fine based off the “evidence” circumstance, and employers history. There’s no definitive fine cost such as local speeding tickets, reckless driving, or an unbiased jury to hear the offender. The fines are on a scale system then?

We understand members of OSHA are human beings and are well aware of a possible “there having a bad day” situation. Now a company maybe fined from a biased individual who works for the party seeking compensation and their agitated.  No jury only a judge.

Can we get answers?

Where does that money go? Payroll, governmental “policies,” or normal business expenses of OSHA? Shouldn’t that money go to a fund that increases safety programs for the roofing employees. If the awarded money went into an account that subsidized harnesses, laddervators, or hard hats, it makes it easier for ma & pa’s to finance safety services. How about that money goes to the employees who were in danger? The individuals whose lives were at risk should receive a compensation?

Also, how come hiring an outside safety company saves you 15% on your next potential fine? Outsourcing your safety program show cases your concern for the workforce? How about the hours applied in-house to show you as proof of our concern for safety and provide us the 15% discount. Where do you create these financial figures?

We need transparency.

Side thought:

Add in the disengaged worker and ask yourself if the “good citizen regarding safety” or adult tattle-tale (childish antics) call will the prompt the OSHA office to get a repeat offender rather than follow the scheduled list in which their supposedly understaffed for. OF COURSE, OSHA will go after a possible repeat conviction. They can enact a double fine for repeat offenders, so why would they risk losing a potential 100% fine increase?

I believe the largest issue for safety and the government’s inability to hold employees accountable. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) needs to start fining the EMPLOYEES TOO. WHO GETS THE TICKET IF YOU ARE DRIVING A CAR AND IT’S YOUR BOSSES CAR, BUT YOU GET CAUGHT WITHOUT A SEATBELT? YOU. NOT YOUR BOSS. Statistics show that those that don’t wear their seatbelt are more likely to experience severe or deathly consequences. What exactly is the difference?

Rant over

If you were to ask a hundred contractors their thoughts on OSHA you’d receive a hundred different answers. Majority of them would be negative, because there’s very few positive outcomes from such programs. The organization is necessary because roofing is the fourth dangerous occupation in the United States and that specifically warrants oversight. However, oversight should be there to assist and improve the environmental conditions in reasonable techniques. The current model that’s in place does not work nor does it improve the overall state of our industry. Our government continues to do what they do best in hiding the truth behind their rational and allowing the rich get richer. We do our best to abide by current policies, but we need change, not chains.

The sexiest home purchase you could make.

We understand roofs are not exactly bringing sexy back. Seriously, we’ve been in the industry for 30 years and still waiting for a comment such as “the new roof led to my wife.” We understand those comments are reserved for cars, bars, & churches. However, what do both bars & churches have? Roofs!

A roof is a necessity that protects your home and family from the weather. Also, it increases the overall curb appeal of your home, increases the value, and an opportunity to talk with your neighbor (Thank us later). Plus, if you live in the midwest you understand the importance of a quality roof. Office Space

So, why does everyone cut corners in the researching process? It’s common for homeowners to only look at price today. Prices are important, but do we believe that the price directly correlates with the quality and service our project demands?  All items should be considered in the roof search: certifications, product, service process, and price. Each item deserves your time. However, today I want to highlight PRODUCT. There’s absolutely no reason to install a three tab shingle on your home. NO REASON AT ALL. The only time we’ll suggest it is if you’re working on your kids treehouse, but I’d question your dedication to the treehouse. The average difference in cost between architectural & three tab shingles is usually $800 to $1200. So here’s an example to put it in perspective.

Common conversation between car salesman & potential client.  Interested in any upgrades? New stereo, heated & automatic seats, & backdoor camera. All these upgrades can be yours for an additional $17 dollars a month. Potential customer “what’s sixteen more dollars a month?” Customer later purchases upgraded vehicle and throughout the next 5 years of the loan pays $1,000 for the upgrades.

Car with a lot additions

Fact’s to keep in mind:

  • Car is a mode of transportation
  • Average new car is owned for 10 years
  • Average cost of used car (1-3 year old) $15,000
  • Average cost of new car $32,000

Common conversation between roofing salesman & potential client

Interested in architectural shingles? Aesthetically sharp, 130 mph protected, better hail resistance, & weighs fifty percent more than the economical choice. You can have all these product attributes for an additional $17 dollars a month. Potential customer “umm, not sure about that” and I’ll have to discuss it with the spouse.

Fact’s to keep in mind

  • Roof protects everything inside of your home.
  • Average roof last’s between 20 to 40 years
  • A home is the largest financial investment of most adults
  • Average cost of a roof repair often no warranty & only on roof under ten years $1,500
  • Average cost of a new roof $9,000

A lot of homeowners have installed architectural shingles and insurance companies suggest it. We understand architectural shingles have only been around for 40 years whereas three-tab a hundred years, but it’s time to change. The product is thicker, weighs more, and the sealant technology allows it to withstand twice the wind of three-tab. All major manufacturers GAF, Owens Corning, CertainTeed, & TAMKO stock architectural shingles.

The next time you need a new roof PLEASE demand architectural shingles and if you believe it’s not in the budget look at the car in the driveway. Do you have heated seats, advanced CD player, or back up cameras?

Architectural shingle benefits:

Homewood Deck

Three-tab shingle benefits:

  • Classic appearance.
  • Upfront cost is cheaper than architectural
  • Most economical shingle in the market
  • 25-year warranty

If what you don’t flow, might hurt you.

Do I really need gutters? Doesn’t the water run off the shingles into the dirt anyways?

I am sure we have all pondered this before while cleaning the rotted clumps of leaves out of our gutters, at least once. This seems like a very reasonable question, especially when considering the extra cost of gutters and the seemingly unnecessary service they provide.

However, this time of the year may be one of the most critical to have a proper functioning gutter system due to the immense amount of melting ice and snow on your roof! Without proper control of the melt-off from your home, the water would be liable to surround your home in a blanket of ice. Although, many of your children may have recently watched Frozen and enjoy this idea, thick ice is backbreaking to get rid of, and even more dangerous to leave sitting.

Ice Gutters

We often underestimate the effect a slip on the ice can mean for us. Hundreds of people every year suffer injury, and re-aggravate prior injuries, simply by walking to their car in the morning. Much of the ice around your home in our Chicago winters in unavoidable, however, large amounts at corners or around downspouts and at the base of massive icicles may mean your gutter system is actually the culprit!

If the gutters are leaking, or overflowing due to lack of cleaning, improper pitch, or inadequate size for steepness of roof, you could be setting yourself up for a potential morning of ice skating! We here at Total Roofing do our best to inform our clients, and all homeowners that maintaining an effective roof system, especially the flow of water, ensures a longer life for your house and hopefully, a safer environment altogether!

Here’s a short video to those do-it-yourself minded people.

99 inches of snow and counting!

The midwest strikes again! Polar Vortex 2.0? What’s the snow mean for roofing?

Every person throughout the construction industry heard rumors regarding the upcoming winter of 2015! Everyone was prepared after the winter of 2014. People upgraded their snow plow systems, stock piled salt, purchased roof rakes, and seeked parking lot contracts. The chance of another polar vortex meant potential jobs. Preparation is often central to a weather haymaker, especially when the weather bible aka “the farmers almanac” predicts a repeat.

Well, the construction industry should be happy to a degree. Because the best economy booster is often Mother Nature. Especially in the roofing industry. Recent years, a brand new industry has evolved such as storm chasers. Individuals so well tuned with insurance fine print that even your “friendly neighbor” cringes. These serviceman are the first to knock after a catastrophic or even minor storms. Masters of door-to-door marketing and extremely competitive in the roofing marketplace. Often they are the first people you see after experiencing damage without picking up your phone. These companies vary in quality, some are great and others unethical, but which industry doesn’t follow suite? What’s this mean? Why don’t we consider snow to be as much as nusicance as hail?

We call our local contractor or the guys driving bright, logo trucks after the latest rain storm or hail. Why, don’t we do the same after a midwestern winter? 20 inches of snow sitting on your roof is damaging to all your products: roofing shingles, deck, underlayment, drywall, insulation, heating bill, and more. The thing about snow too is that it could sit on your roof for awhile, whereas a hail storm comes and goes. A week of water isolated on the top of everything you own is not smart potatoes. Many homeowners would mention “well we have lifetime shingles.” I agree you purchased a quality shingle and it could last 30 years. However, did you research whether the thickness of snow for a prolong period will affect the product? Shingle specs are built off isolated studies and years of “trial & error.” It’s difficult to state whether those studies were put together based off winters that brought forth 20 inces & more, year after year. Weather is key to exterior products existence. Without the harsh weather we could live in the elements and lack appropiate shelter. The snow created plenty of construction products: insulation, ice pelts, ice & water underlayment, synthetics, & metal products that protect to date.

Ultimately we constumer have changed our attitude towards a homes. Recently, our industry has noted weather damage is a good thing, because that’s business for many. However, a loss for a gain is not right. Roofing started as a way to cover one from shelter. Shelter means survival, which means why aren’t we more proactive with things that should eliminate stress inducers than make them the actual stress inducers. The purpose of this post is ultimately to let you know that you NEED TO BE PROACTIVE with your house after this blizzard. Make a checklist of things to fix, change, or improve around the house. Don’t call your insurance because you have issues that could’ve been avoided with proper care and preparation. Take responsibility of your home, unless it’s a house (they are different). Familariize yourself with upcoming products, building codes, and ways to make your house more valuable. The internet is the most powerful learning tool. Mayber you don’t know where to go? Check out our facebook because we often post tips and videos that you could DIY. Give your house love and it becomes a home.

If your car needs an oil change you get it, hair long you cut it, and if you want to play sports you get a physical. Proper prepartion is the key to coming out of the winter 2015 with a few stratches or entering it with a lot of surgeries. Sure, at Total Roofing and Construction we love open-roof surgery, but you shouldn’t. We are here to assist and solve problems not pray for them.

The main concern this winter is ice damming and proper removal. The video below showcases great products that will benefit your roofing system and gutters during the long winter. Take notes and take action. Hope this helps

http://wgntv.com/2015/02/06/mr-fix-it-with-tips-on-removing-ice-dams/#ooid=R1NjQ3czqh7yAqXa-u5fTyouaguzcShw

Think you have a roof leak?

           Notice a stain in the ceiling or wall? Maybe stored items in your attic are moist or damaged. Sometimes stains or discoloring (possible mold) could be the result of condensation from your air conditioning system. Make sure to 2x check your unit prior to calling a roof consultant

Before you call a roof specialist conduct your own test! This short video will have you searching for the leak as if you’re Sherlock Holmes.

In our 25 year history we’ve seen some cheesy do-it-yourself video’s as well as poor construction tutorials. However, Danny Lipford’s video provides a great overview in checking for a leak and an easy do-it-yourself check (water hose test). A little about Danny Lipford, he was the host of the radio & television Today’s Homeowner. He’s also been used as the home expert for show’s such as The Weather Channel and CBS’s The Early Show. If you enjoyed his video or have other homeowner questions check out his website or YouTube channel for other tips/knickknacks.

todayshomeowner.com