No home is perfect. About 86% of home inspections will find something that needs to be fixed, according to a study on home inspections from Porch.com, a home improvement website.
A home inspection can cost around $300 to $500, but studies estimate it could save the buyer an average of $14,000. A home inspector will evaluate the roof, ceilings, walls, floors, windows, doors, major appliances, heating and air conditioning systems, plumbing and electrical systems, and more, according to the Inspection Support Network, a software solution for the home inspection industry.
Yet, as bidding wars heat up in a hot housing market, more buyers are waiving home inspections in order to make their offer stand out. Last June, the real estate brokerage Redfin reported that nearly 20% of buyer offers submitted by their agents waived the inspection contingency.
The following are the most common issues found in home inspections, according to a survey of nearly 1,000 home buyers:
Other concerns also found in a home inspection included branches overhanging roofs (13.3%); fencing issues (12.6%); water heater problems (12.2%); and air conditioning malfunctions (9.9%).
Love during a pandemic is challenging.
Last year for Valentine's Day, you and your date might have cozied up in a corner booth at a dimly lit restaurant, or attended a movie or concert along with a crowd of other humans inside a closed space. You might have held hands or kissed -- two activities strictly verboten in pandemic land, if you're not a part of the same household. You probably breathed on each other at some point.
Welcome to 2021, where physical affection and close quarters are just like they were in elementary school: gross.
If you and your socially distanced significant other are trying to figure out how to spend a day that's supposed to be about togetherness from across the chasm of an internet connection, you're not alone in this task. Dating app Bumble found that 90% of its daters were unsure about what to do for Valentine's Day this year.
Fortunately, there are lots of activities you can share, even if you can't be in the same room.
From online museum tours to a movie night, you can still create a fun and memorable Valentine's Day in 2021. Here are nine ideas to get you planning.
Museum dates are a classic. In lieu of going to one in real life, you can find various tours on YouTube of museums around the world. There's one series, for example, that's essentially a slideshow of famous works from the Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.
Elsewhere on YouTube, you can find a walking tour of the Louvre in Paris, France. Google Arts and Culture also offers virtual tours of sorts from famous museums. Depending on what each museum offers, you can scroll through collections the way you would your own Google photos, or check out the online exhibits, which tend to offer some more background information. For your date, you can try to synchronize or screen-share, so you're looking at the same art at the same time.
Don't forget to browse spots like Eventbrite or Facebook's events page for specific tours, classes or other online activities on offer during Valentine's. On Eventbrite, you can find virtual wine tasting sessions and a performance of Romeo & Juliet. Bumble and AirBnb, for example, will let you book tickets for an online jazz club in London, or take a Flamenco dance lesson from Seville, Spain. There might be virtual events offered by local restaurants and businesses, as well.
Once again turning to YouTube (or any other platform that might offer music), you can find full-length concerts from bands and artists. Whether it's Queen at Wembley Stadium in 1986, Radiohead at Lollapalooza in 2016 or Billie Eilish at Music Midtown in 2019, there's quite a lot out there. And if you don't want to commit to a whole hours-long concert, you could head to somewhere like NPR's Tiny Desk Concert series, where acts play shorter sets at NPR Music's headquarters in Washington. Watch together and chat away via phone or video chat.
The more creative-minded out there can plan an art project to do together over video chat. Using whatever art supplies you have on hand, decide on something to draw or paint. This could be a landmark you both know or an image you found on Google, or you could even just print off a coloring page -- Crayola, for example, offers free printable pages for adults.
Spend the next hour, or however long, working on it while you chat. At the end, you can show each other the results of your craft time.
Want to see how well you solve problems together? Try a virtual escape room. An escape room, if you haven't tried one, is an immersive problem-solving scenario -- you're literally in a room trying to follow clues, usually tied to a fictional situation, in a limited amount of time. You can find some virtual translations online.
For example, the Peters Township Public Library in McMurray, Pennsylvania, created a Harry Potter-themed room using Google Docs. If you're looking for a bit more of a challenge, The Escape Game also offers virtual escape rooms. Currently, there's a multipart game called The Heist, about an art thief, that you can get bundled for $17, or separately for $10.
Services like Teleparty -- a Chrome extension that lets you sync up your streaming service viewing and chat on the side -- have gotten a lot of attention since the days of social distancing began. Might as well make a date out of it. Though Teleparty only supports text chat, for a more immediate experience you can also talk on the phone or on a platform like Discord while you watch. In case that sounds like low-hanging fruit, date-wise, OkCupid had more than 30,000 respondents indicate that watching a movie or TV show together is their ideal virtual date.
If you don't mind someone watching you eat via a video call, you can stage a dinner or drinks date. Put on some decent clothes, order food or eat whatever you've cooked, and carry on with the usual over-dinner banter you might have at a restaurant or bar. Uber Eats even introduces a feature called Share This Delivery, which lets you order food for someone and share the tracking link with them. If you want to bulk up the experience a bit, you can find a recipe for a meal or just a cocktail and prepare it at the same time while you chat.
There are plenty of options for games to play together online, particularly if one or both of you play video games already. CNET's Alison DeNisco Rayome compiled a list of games great for quarantine, ranging from Animal Crossing (a good choice for a low-key hangout), to Tabletopia and Table Top Simulator (if you're into board games), to Jackbox Games, which you could screen-share from one device. Jackbox Games like Fibbage, Blather, and Trivia Murder Party are particularly suited for two players.
If you aren't one of the legions of folks visiting friends' islands in Animal Crossing, you can resort to simple games and puzzles. Remember playing Battleship as a kid? All you need is a pen and paper (graph paper, if you have it). There's also a pretty simple online version you can try. Or you can work on a crossword puzzle together. The Washington Post, for example, lets you send a link to a crossword puzzle to a friend so you can work on the same one at the same time, for free. The New Yorker also has a "partner mode," if you have a subscription.
While not actually virtual, don't forget that you can still mail your significant other an old fashioned Valentine's card. Or, a love letter, even. In a chaotic world, taking the time to write a message to someone is a lovely and personal gesture.
CNET : Erin Carson
The pandemic is influencing home design in ways that are likely to continue for years to come. For example, garage space is getting more attention, and cleanliness is continuing to remain prominent, according to the America At Home Study, based on nearly 4,000 respondents nationwide and conducted in October and November.
“Disinfecting things more” remained at the top of the list of changes consumers said they’ve made during the pandemic. And they’re committed to keeping their homes clean. Eighty percent of respondents called this a lasting behavior change in their home.
Also, garage space is getting more focus as homeowners look to increase the utility of this space, the survey says. Adding space for storage topped the list for garage projects. Younger adults surveyed were more likely to say they made space in their garages for a home gym.
Among the survey’s other findings on lasting trends, since the pandemic began, consumers are:
Consumers expressed greater interest in additional storage; home gym and exercise area; home office and workspace; craft and game areas; and pet grooming areas.
They also showed interest in a laundry room off the garage for the sake of “safety,” the survey said.
The survey found only one feature that dropped in popularity from when the survey was conducted in April and then again in October: The interest in germ-resistant countertops and flooring declined by 5%. Nevertheless, this was still the third-most-requested feature in the second study in October, with 50% of consumers continuing to express interest and remain willing to pay more for it.
“America at Home Study Shows Pandemic Inspired Lasting Impacts on Home and Community Design,” BUILDER (Dec. 28, 2020)
Your anxiety over your privacy online can now come with a running score.
An update to Mozilla Firefox shipped last week augments the tracking protection enabled earlier in that web browser by adding a report card that tallies all of the tracking attempts blocked over your last week online.
The total in a copy of Firefox running in Windows 10 that had been used for five of the last seven days: 3,078 trackers.
Most, 2,678, came from online advertising networks and analytics firms. Another 287 came from social networks: Facebook and Twitter use embedded widgets on sites such as USA TODAY’s to profile their users, a tactic Apple began blocking in its Safari browser last year.
This copy of Firefox also caught 112 “fingerprinting” attempts, in which sites attempt to track users by collecting data points about their browsing configuration instead of dropping a “cookie” file. And Firefox blocked one case of embedded content that itself included some sort of tracking mechanism.
This update to that free, open-source browser also makes it easier to check which sorts of trackers populate any one site by breaking out those placed by social networks and those set by advertising and analytics firms. To see, click or tap the purple shield icon at the left of the address bar.
A copy of Firefox running in Windows 10 reported that USA TODAY’s home page unsuccessfully attempted to place three social-media trackers, two from Twitter and one from Facebook. It also counted 10 advertising and analytics trackers blocked.
But that second list also revealed that half of these trackers were standard-issue site-analytics tools from New Relic and Chartbeat that help site owners gauge visitor interest. Mozilla uses Google Analytics on its own site for the same purpose — and Firefox blocks that as well.
On a Mac, meanwhile, Firefox reported not 10 but 94 cross-site trackers at USA TODAY, including many set by such ad networks as Taboola and Google’s DoubleClick subsidiary.
Firefox’s primary competitor in the market for privacy-enhanced browsing is Safari, and with this update it sets up an interesting contrast.
Apple says it will err on the side of blocking all cross-site tracking — as determined by an algorithm each copy of Safari runs — even if that may break legitimate site functions. But Safari offers no hint of which trackers it blocks aside from the dialog it presents when interrupting social-media widgets like Facebook’s “like” and “share” buttons.
Firefox, meanwhile, relies on a list of trackers maintained by the web-privacy firm Disconnect and lets users see which ones it blocks at any site. Mozilla, a non-profit, also makes a point of saying it doesn’t want to break the ability of sites to make money from ads.
Analysts have worried that Mozilla and Apple will do just that by going too far in stopping anything that looks like surveillance, even if it’s standard site analytics. In August, Stratechery analyst Ben Thompson warned against “an absolutist approach” that would kill smaller ad firms and keep Google and Facebook atop the online ad industry.
What about the browser Google ships and which a large majority of the web uses, Chrome? Back in May, Google executives said they would add vaguely-described privacy controls to the browser but didn’t offer a shipping estimate beyond a blog post saying “We will preview these new features later this year.”
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