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Underground Stroage Tanks

UST Funds Depleted/Program Suspended

The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has sent out notification that the “Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Remediation, Upgrade & Closure Fund (UST Fund) has been depleted. Therefore retroactive to May 3rd new UST Fund applications for both “leaking” and “non-leaking” tank programs will not be processed. These programs had previously provided grants to property owners for the removal, replacement and if needed remediation of petroleum tanks. Both programs are suspended until further funding becomes available. Applications are no longer being accepted for the “non-leaking” tank program however, applications for the “leaking” tank program will continue to be accepted and will be processed in the order which they were received once funding is secured. To view the NJDEP letter that was sent to NJAR®,.Download USTProgramCancellation letter.


Governor Signs Underground Storage Tank Funding Law

On October 1, 2009, Governor Jon S. Corzine signedA-3739 into law. This new law, which NJAR® strongly supported, allows homeowners replacing or closing petroleum underground storage tanks (UST's) to apply for reimbursement from the state before actually doing work on their UST. Prior to this law, homeowners had to expend their own funds before applying for reimbursement. In addition, the state will have to issue written confirmation to a homeowner that they are eligible for reimbursement funds to close or replace their UST before any work is actually done.

Legislature Approves Underground Storage Tank Fund Legislation

On June 25, 2009, the New Jersey State Senate approved A-3739, legislation which allows certain homeowners to apply for funding to replace or close an underground storage tank (UST) before they begin replacing or closing it. Under current law, homeowners must use their own funds to replace or close a UST before they can apply for funding. A-3739 changes this and also requires that written confirmation be given to homeowners stating their eligibility for reimbursement from the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Remediation, Upgrade and Closure Fund. This legislation was previously approved by the General Assembly on March 16, 2009 and is now pending the approval of Governor Jon Corzine.


New Jersey law now provides grants and loans to homeowners and business owners who qualify from the Petroleum Underground Storage Tank Remediation, Upgrade and Closure Fund to help finance closure and associated remediation of unregulated underground storage tanks (USTs)before they begin to leak. For further details, read the full text of the law.

6 Worth The Price Fix Ups

1. Cleaning and Decluttering Remove any personal items, unclutter countertops, organixe closets and shelves nd make the home sprakling clean. ($299 cost $1990 RETURN)

2. Brightening. Clean all the windows inside and out, replace old curtains, update lighting fixtures and REMOVE ANYTHING BLOCKING the windows, that means also on the outside any shrubs, flowers that have not been trimmed in years. ($375 cost $1550 RETURN)

3. Smart Staging Rearrange furniture, bring in new accessories and furnishings to enhance rooms.incorporate artwork and play soft music in the background.($550 cost $2194 RETURN)

4. Landscaping enhancements Punch up the homes curb appeal in the front and back yards by adding mulch, bushes and flowers and ensuring current plants and grass are well cared for and manicured. ($540 cost $1392 RETURN)

5. Reparing electrical and plumbing. Fix leaks under sinks, remove any mildew stains, and make sure the plumbing is in working order. Update the homes electrical by updating outlets and any lights that don't work. ($535 cost $1505 RETURN)

6. Replacing or shampooing dirty carpets. Steam clean carpets, replace any worn carpets and repair any floors that creak. ($647 Cost $1739 RETURN)

All this is good and worth it as long as it has been taken care of PRIOR to putting the house on the market. So that it is in the best possible light when it first comes on the market. Doing it while it is on the market diminishes all that is being done because the first few weeks any one seeing the house already as their impression of it.

costs excerpted from home gain 2011 home sle maximizer survey. www.homesalemaximizer.com



Simplify and Savor the Holidays

Simplify and Savor the Holidays

This is the time every year that I start using my Holiday Handbook on a daily basis to keep my thoughts, lists and paperwork organized.

I've set up my handbook in a three ring binder. My dividers are notes/lists, christmas, recipes,thanksgiving, recipes and storage.

This is the perfect place to make a few quick notes. I make a note what went right and what you'd like to repeat (and not repeat) next Thanksgiving, Christmas.

Did I have enough food? Too much food? What did I forget? What recipes were a hit? Which should never be made again? How did the turkey turn out? How did I set the table? How was the traffic? Did I time things well? I also take photos of the table setting jsut to remember.

And most importantly I make notes about what and where I stored items I willl need again a year from now; because I am forever putting stuff away and then forget where I put it. Especially items that I only uses for the holidays I store in the attic and the attic trolls hide away on me. 

I hope this can help you for your holiday planning year afeter year.

Just as an aside, I also have a separate looseleaf that holds all my holiday recipes. Those I made and loved and then a separate section of those I would like to try. these usually are magazine cut outs that I find I want to try. So when I feel the urge to try something I go into this binder.

#3 Priority for Remodel Curb Appeal!

Priority #3 - Crank Up the Curb Appeal

Small changes outdoors can really boost your home's curb appeal for a potential buyer. Here's where a $1,000 budget can create the biggest impact:

  • Add a deck. If you're a handy guy or gal, or you have friends that fall into that category, consider building a wood deck to add to your home's outdoor living space. If you're not looking at a mammoth-sized deck you should be able to purchase the lumber, tools and supplies for less than a grand.

  • Replace the lawn. HGTV suggests that if you can get the job done for your $1,000 budget, ripping up your existing lawn and replacing it with sod will positively impact your home's value. Just don't forget to water!

  • Pretty up the entranceway. Draw buyers to your front door with attractive planters, flowers and a hardwood bench or set of chairs and a small patio table. Line the walkway with a border of perennial plants or simple lighting fixtures.

Be Sure to Know Whether You Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit

Be Sure to Know Whether You Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit 

The Earned Income Tax Credit, commonly referred to as EITC, can be a financial boost for working people adversely impacted by hard economic times. However, one in four eligible taxpayers could miss out on the credit because they don’t check it out. Here are the top 10 things the Internal Revenue Service wants you to know about this valuable credit, which has been making the lives of working people a little easier for 35 years.

1. Just because you didn’t qualify last year, doesn’t mean you won’t this year. As your financial, marital or parental situations change from year-to-year, you should review the EITC eligibility rules to determine whether you qualify.

2. If you qualify, it could be worth up to $5,657 this year. EITC not only reduces the federal tax you owe, but could result in a refund. The amount of your EITC is based on the amount of your earned income and whether or not there are qualifying children in your household. New EITC provisions mean more money for larger families.

3. If you qualify, you must file a federal income tax return and specifically claim the credit in order to get it – even if you are not otherwise required to file.

4. Your filing status cannot be Married Filing Separately.

5. You must have a valid Social Security Number. You, your spouse – if filing a joint return – and any qualifying child listed on Schedule EIC must have a valid SSN issued by the Social Security Administration.

6. You must have earned income. You have earned income if you work for someone who pays you wages, you are self-employed, you have income from farming, or – in some cases – you receive disability income.

7. Married couples and single people without kids may qualify. If you do not have qualifying children, you must also meet the age and residency requirements as well as dependency rules.

8. Special rules apply to members of the U.S. Armed Forces in combat zones. Members of the military can elect to include their nontaxable combat pay in earned income for the EITC. If you make this election, the combat pay remains nontaxable.

9. It’s easy to determine whether you qualify. The EITC Assistant, an interactive tool available on IRS.gov, removes the guesswork from eligibility rules. Just answer a few simple questions to find out if you qualify and estimate the amount of your EITC.

10.   Free help is available at volunteer assistance sites and IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers to help you prepare and claim your EITC. If you are preparing your taxes electronically, the software program you use will figure the credit for you. If you qualify for the credit you may also be eligible for Free File. You can access Free File at IRS.gov.

For more information about the EITC, see IRS Publication 596, Earned Income Credit. This publication – available in both English and Spanish – can be downloaded from IRS.gov or ordered by calling 800-TAX-FORM (800-829-3676).



Tax Topic 601, Earned Income Credit

How 'Cash for Caulkers' might work

How 'Cash for Caulkers' might work

If it's like New York's energy-efficiency plan, homeowners would hire a contractor to do a home audit and perform the work. Soon after, voila, a reimbursement check arrives.

By Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com staff writer

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- President Obama's Cash for Caulkers proposal has almost every homeowner wondering how they'll be able to cash in.

The plan calls for greater incentives, perhaps amounting to thousands of dollars, for homeowners to get new energy-efficient appliances, windows and other such items.

But no one knows exactly how the federal program - part of a broader plan to stimulate the economy - might work. That's because it's still being written.

It may be modeled, at least in part, on New York State's home energy efficiency program, said Steve Nadel, director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, who's advising on the federal proposal.

Getting a contractor, then a check

So how exactly does New York's program work?

Homeowners interested in participating find a contractor licensed to do an energy audit by New York State - available on the state's web page or by calling a toll-free number.

Then someone like David Scharf, a contractor based just north of New York City, shows up.

For about $500, Scharf will figure out how much energy the home wastes. He'll put a giant fan in the door that will suck in air from outside the home, highlighting leaks in windows, doors or walls. He'll test each appliance to see how much energy it draws. He'll check the thickness of your insulation and windows.

Then, all this is fed into a computer model that generates a checklist with everything that could be replaced, how much it will cost, and how much in energy savings can be expected out of it. The homeowner decides how much work to do, and negotiates a price.

When the work is done, the homeowner pays Scharf directly. Scharf then submits paperwork to the state agency that runs the program. The homeowner then gets a reimbursement check from the agency for 10% of the project cost, up to $3,000, usually within 30 days.

If Obama gets his way, homeowners could get much bigger rebates than that in the future. No one knows what the numbers will be yet, but Nadel said other legislation currently in Congress would give homeownersa 50% rebate, with a maximum reimbursement of $12,000.

For a contractor like Scharf, who was hard hit by the recession and collapse in home building, such legislationwould be a godsend.

His business, which brought in $1.5 million in sales in 2007, generated only about $400,000 this year. He's already had to lay off two people.

"The economy hit the skids in late 2007, and it's just been getting worse," he said.

But if the federal plan goes through, Scharf said that might translate into $500,000 worth of work for him, and he'll hire three or four more people for his crew.

"If you give money to New York State, we can market that," he said. "People will jump."

No one knows how many jobs the new federal program might create. But in general, infrastructure projects are estimated to create or save about 28,500 direct and indirect jobs for every $1 billion spent, said Brian Turmail, a spokesman for the Associated General Contractors of America. With talk of the federal program costing in the $10 billion range, that could mean over a quarter million jobs.

The federal program could even be run out of state offices, at least in New York and the 27 other states that have similar programs similar, said Nadel of the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

Typically, running a stimulus program through existing agencies that have protocols and distribution channels in place is seen as the fastest way to distribute the money - and create the desired jobs.

Officials at New York's program say they're up for the task.

"There's no need to reinvent the wheel," said Francis Murray, head of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the agency that runs the state's home conservation program. "I think we could get the money out very quickly."

What isn't expected to be part of the package is help for do-it-yourselfers. New York's plan requires homeowners to hire a contractor to qualify, according to Karen Villeneuve, director of NYSERDA's Residential Efficiency and Affordability Program.

Energy upgrades need to be done professionally, or there's a risk of sealing the home too tight, which can lead to rot or air contamination, Villeneuve said.

DIY-ers, though, may be able to take advantage of rebates being rolled out nationwide for certain energy-efficient appliances under the first stimulus package. They vary by state, type of appliance, and level of efficiency. In New York, consumers can get $50 to $105 off refrigerators and freezers, dishwashers, and washing machines and dryers.

Any federal program would likely only reimburse people for large items like centralized heating and cooling systems, refrigerators, or washing machines.

Avoiding fraud

Some are concerned that if homeowners have to pay all the costs up front, people that could benefit most from the program won't be able to take advantage of it. In New York, homeowners who don't want to wait to be paid back can get a low-interest loan from the state instead of a 10% rebate.

For the federal proposal, Nadel said they are working on creative financing: One idea is to partner with some of the big-box stores to cover some of the up-front costs.

A spokesperson for Lowe's (LOW, Fortune 500) said they had been in contact with federal officials and that they are open to creative financing measures, but would not disclose any details of the conversation. A spokesperson for Home Depot (HD, Fortune 500) said the company is supportive of the plan in general, but that it was too early to talk specifics.

With so much money potentially on the table with Cash for Caulkers rebates, fraud is another big concern.

"Any program that is going to run through a third party and is going to distribute billions of dollars, needs to have lots of checks and balances to make sure there's not abuse," David Kreutzer, an energy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, told CNN earlier this week after Obama proposed the new federal program Tuesday.

New York State guards against abuse by requiring all participating contractors to be licensed through the Building Performance Institute, a third-party certification program.

Through random checks of contractors' books and independent audits of homes both before and after any work is done, BPI makes sure homeowners have actually installed the energy-efficient equipment they say they did, and, just as important, that contractors aren't selling consumers things they don't need.

About 15% of New York's projects get audited, said BPI chief executive Larry Zarker.

"BPI sets the bar very high," said Scharf, who was certified by BPI last year. "I'm pretty jaded when it comes to government money trickling down and actually helping people out. But I think this will work." To top of page

First Published: December 14, 2009: 4:49 AM ET

to view the article

Cash for Caulkers could seal $12,000 a home

Cash for Caulkers could seal $12,000 a home

Under President's proposal, homeowners would be reimbursed for energy-efficient appliances and insulation.

By Steve Hargreaves, CNNMoney.com staff writer

Last Updated: December 9, 2009: 9:53 AM ET

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- President Obama proposed a new program Tuesday that would reimburse homeowners for energy-efficient appliances and insulation, part of a broader plan to stimulate the economy.

The administration didn't provide immediate details, but said it would work with Congress on crafting legislation. Steve Nadel, director at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy, who's advising on the bill, said a homeowner could receive up to $12,000 in rebates.

The proposal is part of the President's larger spending plan, which also includes money for small businesses, renewable energy manufacturing, and infrastructure.

We know energy efficiency "creates jobs, saves money for families, and reduces the pollution that threatens our environment," Obama said. "With additional resources, in areas like advanced manufacturing of wind turbines and solar panels, for instance, we can help turn good ideas into good private-sector jobs."

The program contains two parts: money for homeowners for efficiency projects, and money for companies in the renewable energy and efficiency space.

The plan will likely create a new program where private contractors conduct home energy audits, buy the necessary gear and install it, according to a staffer on the Senate Energy Committee and Nadel at the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy.

to view the whole article

Under the Sink Archives

Don't file away the manuals to your kitchen and bath fixtures, instead slip them into a zip lock plastic baggie and hang them in the cabinet under the respective sink. This way they will ALWAYS be there where and when you need them! Toss in the paint samples and spare cabinet hardware too.

Project Continues

OK so last time I wrote I was starting my October project on my dresser.Here is the before pciture (actually this is the high boy forgot to take a pciture)


This was already painted in a faux finish by my mother-in-law years ago. Now I am painting it in Benjamin Moore Swiss Coffee in a pearl finish. The bed was done in a matte finish not sure I like it will try to live with it for now.

I ahve also updated the knobs to crystal knobs with nickel accents and I have added an applique to hide where the prvious holes were. NOt so great of a patch job. :(



The last part of this project is that I am waiting for legs I want to raise it a bit. This is the actual piece I am working on. As you can see it sits right on top of the carpet very fifties in my mind. So by next week I anticipate getting the legs, painting and putting it together and will show you my finished project, bed and dresser.