Do I Need a Home Inspection When Buying a Home?

If you are buying a home in Georgia do you need a home inspection? Unfortunately this question is not often enough asked.  While a home inspection is not required, it is strongly recommended.   When looking at houses for sale the home buyer is interested in location of the property, the color of the house, the style of the home, and possibly even who built the home.  If you are concerned with who built the house should you not also be concerned with not only the structure of the home but who installed the plumbing, electrical and heating and air systems?

When making an offer to purchase a new home in the Atlanta area you have the option of requesting time to have a residential inspection performed. Working with a real estate professional they should, but do not always, recommend you have a home inspection performed before your offer is fully validated. This process is handled through the home inspection contingency on your Georgia home purchase agreement.

We also recommend that you get a radon test done. You can’t see, smell or taste radon gas, but it is a deadly gas that is located in every home to some degree.  The proper way to tell if you have Radon is to get a Radon test done, we provide a 48 hour continuous test for our clients.  They are very cheap compared to the cost of not having one done and ending up with lung cancer. 

There are many homes listed for sale today in the Marietta, Roswell, Alpharetta, Woodstock and Canton areas. The next time you are searching home listings (homes for sale advertisements) make sure you have already included the necessity to discover the condition of the home through using the services of a professional home inspector.

David Lelak is the owner/home inspector for IHI Home Inspections in Atlanta, GA. He is a Certified Atlanta home inspector, a member of Nachi and has been in the residential construction industry for over 20 years. My job is to protect one of the biggest investments you might ever make. So when I do a home inspection I inspect the property as if I were purchasing it for me and my family. Your families safety is my biggest concern and I want customers for life. I provide home inspections for Atlanta, Cumming, Alpharetta, Woodstock, Roswell, and all over the North Metero Atlanta area. Visit my website today at to schedule your inspection online or to find out more home inspection information. Don’t take the chance of buy the money pit, call us at 404-788-2581 today.

Editorial services provided by my friend Ken Cook

Author: David Lelak
Article Source:
iPad games

Top 4 Ways to Clean Your Tap Water Using Filtration Systems

Choosing from among the best tap water filtration systems is difficult, like a lot of our choices. Do we pick the top of the line model that does it all, or do we compromise for the sake of cost. In this article we help you with that decision by looking at a variety of ways to protect your family from tap water’s contamination, from whole house filters, to shower filters, tap water filters, and the small pour-through pitcher filters.

Whole House Filters

Whole house filters are called point-of-entry systems since they are hooked to the cold water supply as soon after the water enters the house as possible. That way all of the water used throughout the home is filtered. The water for the faucets, the showers, the laundry and even the dishwasher is good, clean water. These systems are every homeowners dream, and a good one will run you about $800, plus installation cost. (Most manufactures will require installation by a plumber for warranty reasons).

Whole house systems make a tremendous improvement in the quality of the water, and the air, in your home. It might have surprised you to hear me say it will improve the air quality, but it will. According to the EPA, “Every home in America has an elevated level of chloroform gas due to the vaporization of chlorine…from the tap and shower water.” (What they don’t tell you is the dishwasher and the washing machine are not far behind the shower in this regard).

Also, if you live within about three hundred miles of the east coast of the US, radon in the ground water is a big concern to some, and it is an important health-related issue to have it removed from all the water in the house.

If the whole house unit is not an option for you, the next best solution is to filter the water you drink, and the water you use when showering. Based on the EPA statement above, and recent studies from the scientific community, we now know more toxic pollutants enter our body while showering or bathing than from the water we consume.

Shower Water Filters

There are three potentially harmful pollutants in tap water which evaporate easily: chlorine, radon gas and volatile organic chemicals (VOCs). Once they evaporate in the hot water we can readily adsorb them through skin contact or, worse yet, by inhalation. The only way these pollutants can be removed from bath water is by using the more expensive whole house system.

But, the VOCs, chlorine and radon gas can be easily removed from the shower water with a good activated carbon filter or redox filter (which removes toxic metals and radon). The best of these systems have both filters. Shower water filters sell for about $70 and can be very easily installed by anyone.

To be certain the pollutants mentioned above are going to be removed, you want to be sure the unit you buy is properly certified. Look for NSF/ANSI 42 certification for removal of chlorine, tastes and smells, and NSF/ANSI 53 certification for other contaminants. Also, be sure the entire unit is certified, not just the components. UL (Underwriter Laboratories) approval is also okay.

Drinking Water Filters

Filtering the drinking water makes a lot of sense on many levels, from health related issues, to making food taste better, and even your house plants will love you for it. The worst contaminants in drinking water for most of us are chlorine, lead, drugs, chemicals, bad tastes and odors, and these can be removed by using either countertop filters (if you have the room), or filters that can be installed under the counter. You want to be certain these filters meet the same certification requirements as the shower filters above.

These will cost about $100 to $125 for the counter top style, and you’ll need to add another $50 for the under the counter conversion kit.

Pour-through Pitcher Filters

Pour-through pitcher filters have limited filtering capacity and filter life. They cost about $35, but filter replacements will be frequent. By all means, go with a counter unit if at all possible.

Whatever you do, remember that any filter you get is better than using your body as the filter.

David Eastham has done extensive research on such subjects as selective filtration to find the best way to provide good, clean drinking water. Follow him for his picks as the best dollar for dollar buys, and the best products overall, in water filtration technology.

Author: David Eastham
Article Source:
iPhone iPad apps and games

Granite Tales – Myths, Urban Legends, and Fabrications (Of the Other Kind)

The following bits of commercial granite folklore have been taken directly from customer comments and questions, pieces circulating on the web, and discussions with hundreds of homeowners who graced me with the opportunity to service their commercial granite. Just for fun, I’ll give you a little background on each, where they came from, and how they got started. In case you haven’t heard some of these before, you’ll be prepared when they eventually make their way ’round to you!

Please note I use the term “commercial granite” throughout this article. This is because we are referring to stones that are sold commercially as granite, rather than the (very) narrow subset of stones that meet the scientific definition.

1.) My Contractor / Granite Salesperson / Internet Guru (Pick Your Favorite Perpetrator) Said My Granite Doesn’t Require Sealing – Those of you that have read my previous work are probably sick of me harping on this, but I (unfortunately) hear this one more often than all others. It is the most damaging of all the granite maintenance malpractices you can commit if you rely on this unsound advice.  

Interestingly, there are a couple of Internet “experts” who semi-endorse this fallacy (but will sell you their impregnator if you ABSOLUTELY, REALLY insist on having one, and theirs lasts FOREVER… Hilarious!). One even goes so far as to state that the physical properties of granite dictate it never needs to be sealed (funny, they also have a “lifetime” sealer for sale two paragraphs later). 

I was in recently in Los Angeles, visiting a property manager who had stains in approximately 1/3 of the 305 commercial granite counters they recently installed in their newly renovated luxury apartments. I wish I could have brought the naysayers with me so they could convince the distraught maintenance folks that those oil and wine stains were only figments of their imagination…

From the contractor perspective, back in the bad old days, impregnators were primarily based on silicone derivatives. While fantastic against water, they were (and are) poor performers against oil-based stains. Additionally, if they were over-applied, the impregnator residues on the surface of the stone would also absorb oil. Double whammy. Here’s the logic: If it’s a given that oil stains are the worst to remove, and if the impregnator won’t stop them anyway, why bother? That was in the late ’80s – this is 2007, and we have technology that will stop oil staining dead in its tracks. Like all misinformation, it has a little root in fact, and it dies slowly.

The Internet folks have different motivations. Either they are:

A: trying to sell you granite slabs by disavowing any faults commercial granite has, or

B: using reverse psychology sales techniques (poorly, I might add) to sell you their impregnator.

2.) My Neighbor Told Me My Granite Isn’t Safe Because it Harbors and Grows High Amounts of Bacteria – This one is still circulating even though it has been proven false numerous times by both government and industry organizations. Please allow me the opportunity to set the record straight on this one, once and for all – it is absolute rubbish. In fact, properly maintained commercial granite surfaces are some of the most sanitary you can buy. Like all other food prep surfaces, commercial granite should be properly cleaned.

It is widely held that the manufacturers of man-made counter top materials started these rumors, although no solid proof exists. In summary, The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health has given commercial granite a clean bill of health, as has the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

3.) Someone Told Me My Granite Emits Radon Gas and is Radioactive – A little bent science goes a long way… Minuscule amounts of radon gas are emitted by nearly any type of stone found where uranium is present, and trace amounts of uranium can be found nearly anyplace you find stone. Bottom line? There are no health or safety risks associated with the release of radon gas or radioactivity from commercial granite. 

As a matter of note, concrete, cement, and gypsum all release as much or more radon gas than commercial granite, and there is no health risk associated with them, either. It is also believed that a manufacturer of man-made counter top materials started this rumor.

4.) I Was Told to Clean My Granite With Just Soap and Water – This one has a couple of variants floating around, including specifically using dish detergent (and a special brand, I might add) or plain water. Will doing this harm your commercial granite? No, it won’t. Will it impact the way it looks? Yes, it will. 

If you were to wash your windows with plain “soap and water” (or dish detergent,  or plain water) and a sponge, I guarantee that you will not be pleased with their appearance.

With this in mind, it is best to perform routine cleaning of your commercial granite with a product that is specifically designed for use on natural stone. Using soap, dishwashing detergent, or non stone-specific cleaners will leave your commercial granite looking dull and lifeless.

5.) Somebody Told Me the Shine Will Wear Off My Granite, and It Will Require Re-Polishing – Unless you are playing roller hockey on your commercial granite surfaces, it is highly unlikely you will need to have them re-polished. I have seen very isolated instances (all of them on very dark “granite”) where the surface actually deteriorated under normal use and required re-polishing. In reality, these stones were suspect to begin with, as it was unlikely that they met a 5.5 rating (the minimum hardness allowed) on Mohs’s Scale of Hardness. Good quality commercial granite, properly maintained, will not permanently lose its shine for a long, long, time – even under heavy (but considerate) use. 

If your granite has been waxed, then the “shiny” will wear off, and you will need to re-wax them. Waxing of commercial granite is generally NOT RECOMMENDED, so do it only if your surfaces were previously waxed to provide their final gloss.

Most shine and reflectivity loss is caused by the use of improper cleaning chemicals, improper cleaning methods, or both. As I mentioned earlier, if you need a demonstration of what soap and water do to the appearance of your commercial granite, just wash your windows with (fill in your favorite “soap” here), water and a sponge. “Soap and water” leave residues on the stone that will eventually dull the finish.

The good news is that dulling from surface residue is not permanent. It can be removed using a high alkaline content cleaner designed for natural stone. In some instances, calcification (mineral deposits from evaporated water) will dull surface areas, especially around faucets and fixtures. These deposits may also be quickly, easily, and safely removed.

I also recommend the weekly (or whenever you want to) use of “vanity” products to increase the gloss and improve the general appearance of your commercial granite. These products provide the additional benefits of reducing water spotting and fingerprints on polished surfaces. 

6.) Practices & Products

At the end of the day, it all boils down to this:

– Keep your commercial granite properly impregnated (sealed).
– Clean up spills and contamination in a timely manner.
– Do not use sharp implements on your commercial granite.
– Do not place extremely hot items on your granite. 
– Use quality products, specifically designed for commercial granite.

John Forguson is General Manager of My Stone Care, and a highly experienced stone restorationist. He has performed remedial and restoration services on over 1 million square feet of natural stone and tile surfaces, and is intimately familiar with all aspects pertaining to the maintenance and restoration of marble, travertine, granite, limestone, slate, sandstone, onyx, quartzite, and man-made surfaces.

Author: John Forguson
Article Source:
Coffee and Cancer

10 Tips For Teaching Middle School Math

As a teacher for 11 years and middle-school math teaching consultant, I’ve seen a wide array of different math programs and classes. I’m sharing here the 10 best teaching tips I’ve compiled over the years.

1. Provide compelling content to study.

Years ago, a colleague I was working with said, “Maybe class can be fun, but I can’t make class compelling. I have to teach math!” It’s an assumption worth exploring.

Take Ron Berger’s middle-school math project to study levels radon in their own homes. Studying radon is boring. But Berger’s class project has got to be one of the most compelling projects in math class history. What if his students discovered dangerous levels of radon in the homes of one geographic area and published the results as they had intended? What would happen to real estate values in that area? What he found is that students were highly engaged in mapping, taking averages, looking at standard deviations- students that heretofore didn’t care one bit about radon or the other concepts.

So what’s the trick? The trick is that there isn’t one. You can’t trick students into finding something compelling if it isn’t. Take a little bit of time to develop a few topics of study throughout the year that you find compelling- the Economy, the Presidential Campaigns, the Human Body, etc. Find an authentic way to present your result- the paper, the web, a magazine. Keep the project small, authentic and do-able.

Students of teachers that do take this kind of time have better outcomes on state tests than students of teachers who only stick to the text. Almost any social studies context provides a backdrop for learning that adds depth.

Even teachers who hold a math “topics” class only once a month see real benefits, so you don’t have to abandon your regular class. And, you’ll find that students are more engaged when regular class is held.

If you want to go really deep and have solid administrator support, look into the school reform movement of Expeditionary Learning Schools who have an excellent approach to thematic teaching.

2. Don’t use extraneous rewards such as candy, purchase points, stickers, etc.

There is nothing more certain than seeing the culture of a math class decline over a period of years when a teacher bribes them. The intent of the teacher, of course, is good. A teacher cares about his or her students and wants the very best for them. “I don’t care how they learn math,” one teacher said to me. “I just want them to learn it so that they are prepared.” The teacher cared enough to purchase candy out of her own pocket, but the real message to students is this: the “positive reinforcement” of candy means “math isn’t worth doing on its own.” The research is clear on the matter too, and shows us that extrinsic, non-relevant rewards hurt learning.

Even if the effects aren’t immediate, over time so called “positive reinforcements” like these mentioned above erode an otherwise high-quality math program. As a teacher, you are much better off trying to create inherently compelling curriculum than buying candy.

3. Build a culture where students teach each other.

For many teachers, one student helping another is called cheating. But I actually found that the better middle-school math programs all encouraged students to team together at certain times throughout the week. The activities were usually graded as complete or not-complete, and when tied to meaningful tasks, such as building a survey together and collecting original data, student comprehension was greater than on individual tasks.

Building the kind of culture that works for student pairs or groups takes years and lots of practice. But before you give up and decide it doesn’t work, determine if you are following tips #1 and #2 first.

4. Give less, but more meaningful work, including homework.

The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study labels the curriculum in the United States as “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Their review of math texts in middle-school found that some were almost 700 pages long. With heavy pressure to teach to the standards, as a teacher you might be tempted to skip and jump to many topics throughout the text. Don’t. It achieves little learning.

Choose the most important pieces before the beginning of the year, and keep it simple. Teach the concepts you do teach with depth.

The national advisory counsel formed from the study recommended “put first things first” and suggested that indeed, less is more. Take the time to cull the curriculum to a manageable size for your students, and present them with only that. If you have to “cover” standards, find out what standards and document when you indeed teach them in class. You’ll find that teaching with depth often reaches to a broad array of standards.

It’s helpful to know what’s driving the breadth. As the national study panel concurs, publishers are trying to meet demands of hundreds of different districts by including everything that any school might want. And while publishers have been attempting custom publishing, it is just as difficult to create a math curriculum for a small district as a large one. Thus, the challenges of book publishing lead to a single, uniformly created overarching textbook. Often this is a very large text or an entire series.

In the classroom, teachers and students become overwhelmed and unable to handle the scope or breadth of learning in this form. As teachers, we have to recognize that predominantly negative emotions surround math in middle-school, and that anything we can reduce those emotions will go a long way toward gains in learning learning. Placing a 500 page text in front of a 7th grade student is unlikely to help, so use it sparingly and build little, home-made notebooks for daily use.

5. Model thinking, not solutions or answers.

Don’t show a student how to solve something. Instead “think aloud”. For example, you might have a whiteboard with a problem up, and start by saying, “o.k., I notice that the 4 numbers I am to sum are all in the thousands category, and that the first is near 3,000, the second near 5,000, and the third… I am confused about…” Model exactly what you thinking including confusion, emotions, skills, strategies and more.

When you do this, also let your students know how mathematicians think. One piece of research that is helpful to know is that mathematicians spend a long time thinking about how to set up a problem, a little bit of time doing the problem, and a long time “looking back” by asking the question, “Does this make sense?’ Model that for your students, by putting up a complex problem on the board and spending time not just jumping into a solution, but just talking about what strategies you might use to solve the problem.

6. Provide feedback that is immediate, relevant to the task, non-comparative, and leads the way to next steps.

Many teachers believe that grading is a form of feedback. It isn’t. Grading, when done well, can be a form of assessment of learning, but the distinction should be clear. Grades are not an effective tool as assessment for learning. Grades are the end of the road, when you assess what has been learned, but they should not be intended to inform a student where to go next.

Take, for example, three groups of students who received different kinds of “feedback” on math papers they had “turned in.” The first group received only narrative feedback (no score) informing them where and how they made mistakes. The second group received a grade (or score) and narrative feedback. The third group received just a grade. Not surprisingly, the students who received narrative feedback improved when re-tested. Those who had received only a grade did not have the information to improve, and performed the same when re-tested. But here is the surprising part. There was no difference between “grade-only” group and the group that received the grade and narrative feedback. Why? The students who received both a grade and narrative feedback completely ignored the written suggestions and only looked at the score. “I got a blah, blah, blah… what did you get?”

Because we live in a world where grades and formalized assessments are so important, work with the system by differentiating assessment for learning and assessment of learning.

When you are grading, one guide is to reference Rick Stiggins strategies of assessment for learning. That way, when you are conducting an assessment of learning (i.e. grading), you’ll notice that you are momentarily stepping out of the role of improving a student’s learning and won’t have the conflict of trying to do two things at once.

7. Change mimeographed sheets to problems you and your students personally develop.

A pervasive aspect of our culture is to give out page after page of information. In faculty meetings, business meetings and conferences, hundreds of pages of documents are handed out. It makes us look organized and prepared. It’s also a way to “cover” content. But for a middle-school math student, it also makes it hard to determine what is important. Was it the fractions part? Was it the decimals section? Was it the number line? Was it the triangle puzzle problem? Was it the cartoon?

Instead of another mimeographed page, have your student write their own story problems. Tell them to add artwork for comprehension. Give them the latitude to make them fun. Celebrate them by posting them in class. Give them 5 home-made story problems they create for homework instead of a mimeographed sheet with 30 problems, and really dive into improving them through revision.

8. Use story to teach math.

Write a story, a real story with characters and plot, and add the math problem set. Write about wizards that need to use angles for their sorcery. Write about spice trading ships on the deep seas. Write a story that lasts a whole page before even getting to the math portion. You’ve engaged the right-side, or less analytical, part of the brain and you’ll see a powerful effect of enhanced engagement.

9. Get math tutor volunteers once a week for two-months before state testing.

As a teacher or administrator, spend time during the fall months by planning for and scheduling a single day each week during the months of February and March (right before testing) to have volunteers come in to teach math in small groups. But what’s nice is that if developed correctly, these volunteers don’t need to have any special training in math.

Start with a simple plan. Each student has 10 skills they have chosen to work on during the whole class tutoring session and have written down their practice problems in class. The phone calls are made, the specific planning with an administrator is done, and volunteers come in and help the students answer the 10 questions during class with support. Schedule tutoring once every week for two months before testing and see your scores greatly improve.

10. Work with the emotions your students have for math.

10a. Ask your students how they feel about math. Use a bit of class time periodically to gain a better sense of where they are. And, just let them feel how they feel. If they like math, they like it. If they are bored, empathize. If your students can’t stand math, you will gain far more ground by seeing their perspective than trying to prove they are wrong. As a teacher this is hard because we are so accustomed to trying to “fix” the situation, and of course, our ego is tied to student emotion. If our students are bored, we feel like we aren’t doing the right thing. But the larger truth is that there is an ebb and flow in all of us for the topics we are learning. When the boredom, frustration and negativity does emerge, try understanding it. Perhaps class does feel a little boring. That’s o.k. Sometimes it will. And then slowly, over a period of years, build those compelling pieces into your classes so that you punctuate boring times with excitement and joy.

10b. Go slowly. Changing the direction of your math class is like trying to change the direction of a large ship, especially when dealing with emotions. Even once everything is place for the changes to occur, you will notice the “ship’s” momentum going in the same old direction before you sense any real shifts. This is part of the process. It took me three years to develop a coherent math program at my middle-school and even then, we occasionally slipped in to old patterns. Good luck!

Scott Laidlaw, Ed.D. has been teaching for 11 years and served as consultant for best practices in mathematics under a federal grant. The company Imagine Education has been building story-based games to teach mathematics for the past 7 years. This February, Ko’s Journey will be its first on-line nationwide release. Built with a design called story-playing, students learn math in context authentic to the story-line. Find out more at

Author: Scott Laidlaw
Article Source: