Monday, April 18, 2011

Now Is the Time to Buy that New Home

The news today has reports of people whose lives were ruined by owning more house than they could afford, and dire warnings that “housing is not a good investment.” No doubt both of these have been real and true and still yet they miss the point. Consumers who want an appropriate home and have the right reasons to buy are paralyzed with uncertainty by these reports so they wait to see what the housing market will do. They are more afraid of making a mistake than getting something they want, have prepared for and can afford well, those who aren’t afraid may find themselves grinning like the Cheshire cat a few years down the line because this is a great time to buy a new home. In a moment I will share a few excellent reasons why this is so.
Here are a few reasons why it is now a good time buy:

The underlying economy is coming around. We are beginning to see job growth and the early signs of a recovery in the economy across most of the country. There are a few localized markets where this isn’t true, such as Detroit, but for most of us the fundamentals look positive. Historically, recoveries are slow to disclose themselves t their beginnings and it isn’t until they have been documented I n retrospect that we see the optimum time to have bought in the cycle. I have studied the data from the past 50 years and this looks a lot like the beginning of the past five cycles.

Housing materials costs are still rising and will continue to do so. Waiting when costs are certain to increase is not a valid strategy. Cement, drywall, copper and many other materials are simply going to be more expensive in the future. In addition, all the materials that have petroleum content such as asphalt or plastics, or anything that must be shipped (virtually everything in a house) are going to be affected by oil price increases. To hold pricing, builders will have to shrink or simplify homes. What smart buyer wants that?

Land costs and entitlement processing costs are rising even faster than materials. This is a striking phenomenon across the country. Even with the lack of activity cities and counties raise their requirements, lots get smaller, densities increase, privacy dimishes and costs still rise. As Mark Twain observed over one hundred years ago, “Buy land, They ain’t makin’ any more of it!”

Housing prices won’t fall substantially even in the doldrums. If a buyer is waiting for a bargain, (except in localized markets where substantial overbuilding has occurred), they are usually disappointed, why? Because sellers will wait. They will hold out for a buyer at or near their asking price rather than cut price for a quicker sale. This is especially true with sellers who have waited through the worst of the correction and don’t need to move now, a fairly small portion of the homes for sale.

Transferring equity to a home of greater value means the potential gain on the bigger home is greater than the loss on the current home. Many buyers are moving to a home of greater value. Taking the hit on the lesser value home makes sense if they are armed with cash in a buyers market, as the immediate pain translates to long term gain.

Housing is cyclical. What is bottoming now will be strengthening at some future date. While none of us can predict the exact bottom of this cycle, many knowledgeable people feel we have passed it. What if we have another soft year? If you are in a home you love and comfortable with what you have chosen, just wait for it to start appreciating while you enjoy it. Isn’t that better than missing the bottom and more importantly, a perfect home for you? Warren Buffet, the Oracle of Omaha has made a fortune for his investors by believing in long term value proposition of our economy and buying business that are out of flavor, but solid, when they are undervalued. Doesn’t that same logic apply here?

Most of all; Buying now means a home for the right reasons! As my friend Bill Webb says, “The home is just the box that the gift comes in, not the gift.” Your home is a refuge, a gathering place, a place to create memories and celebrate the events that make up a lifetime. It is not an investment like a stock certificate. It is much more. It will increase in value over the long haul, so why not be where you really want to be? If you plan to be in your home for at least five years, timing is perfect: Selection is good, prices are moderate, interest rates are historically low and sellers are motivated to accommodate buyers.

Get going now… Its time to buy a home!

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Homestead Oak Spring Decorating- Designer Tips to Freshen Up Your Home for Spring

Add Soft Colors, Fresh Flowers, and Delicate Fabrics for Spring

A new spring season invites changes to your home with fresh spring decorating. Spring calls for delicate colors and soft fabrics. Read what well-known designers recommend to freshen up your home for Spring.
When asked about inexpensive changes to freshen up a bedroom or living room for Spring, we got lots of great suggestions. Which ones will work for your home?
·         Use color and paint on walls, furniture, or trim. Use neutral ground but introduces aqua blues and spring greens. With outdoor colors coming inside, how about bring in a piece of outdoor furniture, too? It will bring in a new interesting texture.
·         I love color and patterns. Take a clue from fashion catalogues and use the colors and patterns in your home. Avoid "pasty pales or deep dark drenched colors" and choose a mid tone. Use organic color to cheer up an uninteresting neutral space. Think of "Mother Nature" and go to the colors you see outside.
Use colorful patterned pillows on a "neutral chenille or canvas couch." Get rid of the fussy beads and fringe. "Let color and pattern do the talking... a crazy hot pink, magenta, marigold and cobalt madras plaid.... a chartreuse, plum and teal floral. These bold ingredients distract the eye." Revive a boring old sofa.
·         Use paint it's cheap, you can do the job yourself, and it creates a major change. I suggest that you "try a color you've never tried before -- kiwi green or a pale violet -- something you've always wanted to try. A couple of gallons of paint is a very inexpensive experiment."
·         "Lighten up!" That means colors, fabrics, and flow. Everything should be clean and refreshing, light and tranquil. Choose sheer fabrics, linens, and open weave textiles. Move from ceramic to crystal and glass, either contemporary or traditional.
And, "nothing says Spring more than fresh flowers. Make sure to be consistent with creating arrangements. Choose a color scheme, like all white, instead of mixing bouquets, use the same type flower in one glass container with a beautiful white satin or grosgrain ribbon wrapped around it."
Without spending much money, you can give a fresh spring look to your home. What a lovely thought!

Monday, April 11, 2011

Homestead Oak - 8 Reasons Why Now Might be the Best Time Ever to Build a New Home

8 Reasons Why Now Might be the Best Time Ever to Build a New Home- By Homestead Oak, Inc.

Come visit the Washington by Pennwest located at our Fairview Lot location.

I should have brought stock in Google when it was first released. I knew it then, but I didn’t act. I was scared off by the nay-Sayers in the media. I hesitated, and the ground floor opportunity didn’t wait. Within a year, Google’s stock was up 800%

Today, the opportunity to build a new home is similar to Google’s initial stock offering an excellent investment and a short window of opportunity.

What… housing? A good investment? Is this a joke?

It’s no secret that the housing industry has been in a downward spiral for the past five years. Housing prices have fallen in most markets – some up to 40% or more from their 2005 values. Banks and mortgage companies that extended themselves with bad loans and unrealistic lending programs have restricted their credit standards, gotten out of the mortgage arena, or gone out of business. And, builders and contractors who were too busy to return phone calls are now looking for work, and grateful if they get it.

It’s scary we know. But, these very same factors make now an excellent time for those that can do so to act on building their dream home. Here are eight solid reasons, as expressed by housing expert, Ross Robbins, why those who take action now will save thousands and the construction of their new home, and what to do to take advantage of these favorable – that’s right, favorable – market conditions.

1.     Housing is cyclical.
This period from 1987 – 2005 was one of the strongest housing booms since WWII. By 2004, it became obvious to many that housing starts were growing at unsustainable levels. Land, materials, and home prices were escalating and the term ‘housing bubble’ was coined to describe the frightening pace at which new homes were being built. Like all bubbles, everyone knew it couldn’t last forever, but the economy had become so dependent upon the housing sector that it was hard to ease it back gradually. The “pop” came in late 2005 and by 2006 huge inventories began to erode builder profits and housing values began to fall. Just like 20 years before.

Historically, housing ‘booms’ last 8-12 years. This one lasted 18 years. But these cycles typically run ‘hot’ for about 10 years, then ‘cool’ for 3-4 years. Then cycle starts again.

Today new home inventories are being absorbed and markets are stabilizing. Projections are that by mid-2011 the market will start heating up again as a new up-cycle begins. In fact, in some areas this has already begun. That growth, just like that of past upturns, will mean a reinvigoration of the market… and rising costs to go with it.

2.     Interest rates are at historic lows
As this is being written, 30 year-fixed rates are under 5% and 15-year rates are well below that number. Those are the lowest rates in the past 40 years. True credit is tighter than it was five years ago, but that only affects those with marginal credit. The vast majority of home buyers will not be impacted by more stringent lending standards. Low mortgage rates, combined with the lowest material and land costs we’re never likely to see, mean that right now you can build more house for the money than you will when the housing market recovers.

3.     Material costs are rising, and will continue to do so.
Higher fuel costs are being applied to building materials, as they are to just about everything. However, many building materials are very energy-intensive to produce and so might be more impacted than most consumer goods. The largest cost in producing drywall, for example, is the energy to fire the kilns to dry it. Do you see energy costs going down in the near future? Neither do I.

Now, compare that with the fact that homes being built today are 30% - 50% more energy efficient than older homes, even those built 5 years ago. As energy costs go up, a new home will become even more valuable in energy savings.

4.     Builders, contractors and tradesmen are available
When housing is strong (and it will be again soon) there is a waiting list for contractors. At the height of the housing boom, one of the most discussed topics at builder meetings was the fact that fewer people were entering the trades and builders were having difficulties hiring enough experiences people to form full crews. Today, there is a ‘window of opportunity.’ When crews are available without long waits, homes are built and finished in less time, requiring less interest on construction loans. This favorable situation is temporary – cyclical, remember?

5.     Land is available… while it lasts.
In boom times, bigger builders and developers monopolize the best land and lots, driving up costs and leaving scattered-site builders and home buyers to fight over their leftovers. Now, the large-volume builders are bogged down with excess inventories (homes they built and have all their cash tied up in,) and many aren’t liquid enough to make land investments. That means that lot prices are about as low as they will be, and the choice and availability are at their best.

6.     Housing demand will soon outstrip existing inventory, and is on the rise.
That might be the biggest incentive to act now to build. New families are being formed in the US at a record pace – far faster than new homes are being built to accommodate them. It seems nobody is looking ahead. By the end of this decade it is projected that there will be a need for nearly 2 million new homes per year to handle the population growth in this country. The housing industry has never produced homes at that rat, and with the labor issues that were felt during the past housing boom, it is questionable whether those quotas can be filled.

Today, were on the brink of the next wave in housing. It will start as a trickle, but will gain momentum as the demand for new, energy efficient and sustainable homes continues to grow. When it happens (and no one is sure exactly when it will happen, just that it will) the door will close on individuals who are waiting for the media to give them the ‘all clear’ housing costs will continue to rise, labor shortages will create long delays, interest rates will rise to try to control inflation, and homes will become less and less affordable.

What all this means is that buyers who sell their homes today might get 8%-10% less than they would have gotten back in 2005, but the cost of new construction is currently down by nearly 20% from those same levels (but already climbing.) Sure, when the market recovers existing homes will regain their previous value, but they won’t keep up with the rising costs of new construction.

7.     Your needs have changed… and continue to change.
From the mid-1990s through 2005, the theme of the housing industry was ‘bigger is better’ Today, as the economy has shrunk back and society in general is taking a more sensible approach to all products, from automobiles to appliances, that is no longer the case. Just as we’ve given up our Hummers and SUVs for more practical and efficient vehicles, the ‘Mc Mansions’ of the past decade no longer fit the needs of socially-and environmentally-friendly families.

As mentioned, homes built today are much more energy efficient than those built even a few years ago. But that’s not all new ‘smart home’ innovations make today’s homes more livable and comfortable. Wireless technology has changed the way we live, and current homes that incorporate charging stations, media centers and home offices spaces have adapted to fit a new set of requirements. And, thoughtfully laid-out floor plans are actually giving more livability and comfort in less space.


8.     The sooner you build; the sooner you’ll enjoy your new home.
This may seem overly simplistic, but so many people are waiting for ‘permission’ from the media and others that they are overlooking one of the fundamentals reasons for building a new home: lifestyle. Today’s homes, more than at any time in the past, are extensions of how we live and who we are. For many of us, putting off the decision to build is tantamount to putting our lives on hold. And for those with the means and circumstances to move forward, acting now to build will return the highest value, financially and emotionally.
These points discussed here are common knowledge and common sense. No, there are no guarantees that the market will recover on schedule, or that some unforeseen event won’t cause another recession next year, or that there won’t be an energy crisis, another terrorist attack, floods in the Midwest or another hurricane. We don’t know what the future holds, other than that housing is historically cyclical, that families are forming faster than houses are being built, that energy costs will never go back down, and that the term ‘affordable housing’ may be something our children only read about.

And that, if you want to realize your dream of owning a new home, there may never be a better time to act on that dream than right now.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Spring is the Air....Well we Hope!

Finally some sun...then rain, and ugh snow...What can you do with this weather?
How about Home and Garden shows? Home Improvement Magazines, garden books?   These are great inspirations to help us get through this moody weather.    Home and Garden Shows are my favorite, I have to say that I am sucker for them.   When you are thinking about your new home, it’s the perfect place to window shop, to dream a little. And to get inspired.   It’s also a great place to find out your style, find your price point.
This years’ home shows have been full of great new products.  And the word “Green” is everywhere and on everything.    Why?  Simply, it saves you money.   And with the way the economy is, they will do anything to keep your business.   Some may feel that its just a sales gimmick.   But fact is the Green movement is here and here to stay.   The Green movement has made companies take a second look at their products.   They have become more aware of their use on materials and resources and going back to basics, to make it healthier.  Innovation is what makes the green movement work, and it’s great to see companies think outside the box.  And you the consumer benefit from it.  

Big things at the home show were Solar panels, Wind turbines, which yes is a great investment but do your research.   Also product materials that last longer. Ceramic Roofing, recycled material for  decking.  Quality products.  I am happy to see that.

 So take the time to comparison shop, read the back grounds to the product.  Always make sure that the company is what they say, look for seals, labels, and accreditations.   Ask for testimonials, locations that you can visit.   As I went out to look, I have found some great companies that I can’t wait to share with you.  I will be doing the some of the research for you and post links for you to check out.   So happy looking and let me know what you find!   

Julie McClymonds

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Homestead Oak - Heart Felt Thank You Letter from Mona and Duke

Duke and I are ordinary people who had a heart for children and I believe we have been a willing vessel for God to use. We have been so honored to have been chosen to care for the children sent to us over the years, we never have gone to an agency or had to look around to adopt or take in a child. It has always been by word of mouth and God’s choice to send and entrust to us his children. 52 years ago the scripture we received was in Leviticus 19:34 God says the stranger that dwells among you shall be one such as born to you and you shall love them as you love your own. We have been faithful to do so and God has blessed the children as they go into the world to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others. We still have 3 young ones at home, ages 7, 11, and 12. We are now 75 and 73, HELLO, how did that happen? The years of joy have flown by and we give honor to God for He alone gives us health, strength, provisions, love and joy to do the work He willed us to do.

Our hearts are even more burdened for children as the world has become such a hard place in which to survive. It is so important to love your children and teach them to love others and teach them how they can make a difference in their own lives and the lives of others. Our world needs peace, love and joy which come from God within our selves. In our homes we need to build our children up in love for they face tough times in their schools and in this world so always let them know its not what you do but who you are.  “You are loved”, tell them every day. Yes, we have raised some 250 children, adopted many, not always as patient as we would have liked to be or could have done a lot of things different maybe, but we had a motto that we loved to give to the children:

“Not flesh of my flesh,
Nor bone of my bone
But still miraculously my own.
Never forget for a minute,
That you did not grow under my heart,
But in it.”

We are so humbled by Homestead Oak in blessing us we thank you and we ray God’s blessing to you as God says in His word In Luke 6:38 “Give and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured to you.”

Thank you again In His love and ours,
Duke and Mona         
& all God’s children  

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Why Modular Homes Make Sense

Factory-built homes offer all the amenities of traditionally built homes, often at reduced cost and increased quality. Modular homes are like the hybrid car of the house-building industry. They save money, they make sense, but they haven’t caught on yet. General misconceptions keep many from considering going modular, and the confusion between modular homes and manufactured (mobile) homes has led to regulations and restrictions being placed by towns that have new home builders scared into going the traditional route. But the word is getting out. It turns out modular homes are in many ways superior to stick-built homes, and, once assembled, cannot be distinguished from their traditionally built counterpart.

What is a modular home?

“There is no such thing as a modular home,” states Dave boniello, vice President of Sales and Marketing at Simplex Industries, a Pennsylvania-based modular home manufacturer. It is a matter of the literal meaning of the word modular, which insinuates a standardized unit or repeatedly used structural component. “The modular homes industry uses a system-built technology,” Boniello explains. “The homes are built in a factory in a controlled environment. They are built in a system.”

Simply put, a modular home is one that is built in a factory, usually in assembly-line fashion, and then transported to a site in large units. These units are then lifted from the transport by crane and rested on a pre-built foundation and fastened together. The entire process takes a fraction of the time it takes to build a house on-site, and the finished product can cost a good deal less.

Customize, customize, customize

"There is nothing you cannot do with a modular home.” So says Harvey, the assistant director of government affairs with the modular building system association.  Harvey, who splits his time between apprising association member of any new industry regulations and seeking new ways to educate the public on the benefits of modular homes, is a firm believer in the industry he represents. “Anything you want in a modular home, you can have.”

The process of building a modular home

Once a potential homeowner has decided to go with a modular home, there are a few steps to take that are relatively consistent regardless of which modular home building company one is working with.

First a homeowner must select a modular home manufacturer. The majority of manufacturers are located on the east coast and some are very specific as to what states they will ship their homes. Since it is usually necessary to include a local builder or developer in the process it may be helpful to consult with this party for advice on manufacturers. Many local developers have established relationships with certain manufacturers, so this is a good place to start.

After a local developer and manufacturer have been decided on, the homeowner must choose a floor plan and select from a wide range of options. When these decisions have been made and an initial contract is signed, the manufacturer’s engineering staff overlooks the plans and the factory can go to work on constructing the home.

Once the manufacturer has begun building the home in the factory, it is usually just a matter of weeks before the units are ready for transport. As the work in the factory is taking place, on-site construction of the home’s foundation by the local builder is being done to ready the site for arrival of the home. “Because the foundation is being laid on-site as the home is being built in the factory, the overall construction time is dramatically reduced.” Says Harvey.

The modular home is then shipped to the site on flatbed trucks. The units are then placed by crane onto the foundation, and the entire home is fastened together. At this point, the amount of time until the homeowner can move in depends on a number of things. “Some customers want to put on custom trims, or finish the basement.” Says Boniello. There are plumbing and electrical tie-ins to address as well. Completion time after the units have been placed can be anywhere from a couple weeks for simple designs to 90 days for complex custom jobs. The average completion time from initial order to move-in is roughly three months, compared to an average completion time of about six months to a year for a site-built home.

Built-in strengths

While this may seem a matter of opinion, there are a few areas in which modular homes have stick-built homes at-large beat. “Modular homes,” Harvey declares, “are built with 20 to 30 percent more materials than typical stick-built homes because they have to withstand the transport from the factory to the site.” In a FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) study following the Hurricane Andrew in 1992, it was found that wood-frame modular homes in hard-hit Dade County, Florida, stood up to the devastating winds better than stick-built homes. The finding states: “Overall, relatively minimal structural damage was noted in modular housing” the report also points out that the construction method of modular homes” provided an inherently rigid system that performed much better than conventional residential framing.” The use of more materials also equals greater energy efficiency – another money-saver.

Controlling costs

Modular homes are built in factory. This is a controlled environment that is unaffected by variables that plague site-built homes, such as poor weather and theft or vandalism. Not only does this cut down on construction time (which saves money) it can lead to a better product. A quality modular home is assembled using top-shelf products that can be purchased by the modular home manufacturer from suppliers in large quantities at reduced costs. “We’re not ashamed of the products we use.” “We can guarantee brand names. Site-builders use what’s on-hand…what’s available. They don’t have a Purchasing Department who can source products like we can.”

Modular homes are built to the state and local regulations of wherever the home is to be transported. In order to assure that each home passes inspection, every manufacturer’s factory has third-party inspection. This means every step of the home’s construction is reviewed and checked by inspectors who are up-to-date on the state and local codes of the home’s final destination. “Our homes do not leave the factory until they meet or exceed state code.

Purchasing a modular home can save money. While it is impossible to affix an exact figure, the savings can be anywhere from 5 to 25 percent over building traditionally. Right now the modular home industry accounts for 7 to 8 percent of all new home sales. But that number is on the increase as the public becomes more educated on the superior qualities of the modular home. “Modular housing is coming into its own” The future outlook is very strong.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Pennwest Quality Homes by Edith Metts

Eddie started as a receptionist in 1991 at Astro Homes.  She then moved onto sales secretary then to sales coordinator and assistant manager of the service department.  In 1999, moved to the retail side of sales and became General Manager of QC Home Center in Shippenville.

As luck would have it she joined the Pennwest family in April 2010. She believes Pennwest Homes has the top kitchens as far as layout design and quality in the entire industry. 

As homes are her passion she has provided so many homes to so many people through the years. She advocates the Pennwest series of homes as being the “forerunner of home manufacturing in her mind”.  “What makes this a winning product is not only the finished product and the visual eye appealing effect but also the quality.”  By putting those together it creates a top quality home.    You can find these quality Pennwest homes at Homestead Oak in Meadville and Fairview. 

Edith Metts
Regional Sales Manager
Pennwest Homes

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Introducing Mona's Story - A Story of a Mother's Love

   Conneaut Lake is privileged to be the hometown of two underground Superstars --Duke and Mona Opperman--who have managed to raise over 250 children without benefit of grants or state funding.  At one time, when they lived in Ben Avon a Pittsburgh suburb, they had taken in 24 children.  My interview with Mona was a reality life lesson in how God can personally move in people’s lives. 

    Mona told me she desperately wanted to escape her home life as a teenager.  Her mother had had six husbands and Mona admitted to being rebellious, skipping school and dipping into activities typical of other hurt and rejected children.  Marriage offered a legitimate pathway of escape and so she said she prayed for a husband  (without personally knowing the Lord or even being convinced that God would hear her).   However...shortly thereafter she met Duke Opperman at a dance; they had two dates and he bought her an engagement ring.  They were married three months later .in 1958. Two months after that she found out she was pregnant with their first child.

    “When I went to Allegheny General Hospital to have the baby,” Mona told me, “there was a girl there who was also in labor, was having complications, and had no family.  Little did I know that this woman would be used as the catalyst in the start of our ministry.  The nurse ran an idea by the mother and she agreed, so the nurse asked if I would take the other woman’s baby home also.  Duke and I had had our baby boy, David—this baby was a boy also; therefore, we actually ended up bringing home a set of twins!

    “We returned him to the mother after about three months when she recovered.  But when our son was about five months old the woman called and said her brother had gone to jail, had a little girl named Frieda and asked if we would take her.  There were no courts involved back then and we had this little one for about a year when I found out I was pregnant again.
     “This baby girl was full term and shockingly our little Faith was stillborn  January 15th of 1961.  Reeling from the tragedy of this, I really felt I was having a nervous breakdown as I was told I wouldn’t have anymore babies by birth.  I can remember desperately searching through that period of time.  I would sleep with my head on an open Bible, just begging God to reveal Himself to me.  And...I started asking for a blonde haired, blue-eyed baby girl.  I said, ‘Please Lord...please Lord send me one.’  And I didn’t know anything about adoption back then.  But when my nerves got so bad, Duke suggested that maybe I needed to do something I enjoyed.  So I enrolled in nursing at Bellevue Suburban Hospital.

   “Two weeks before graduation I was working with patients on the third floor of the hospital when the pay phone started ringing.  A cleaning lady answered it.  She turned around and yelled, ‘Is there an Opperman here?’  I answered, ‘I’m Opperman’ and she handed me the ‘phone.  When I answered a man’s voice came on the line.  His exact words were, ‘Would you be interested in a blonde haired, blue-eyed baby girl?’  The first thing I could think of was, Is this black market?  What’s going on?  Those were the precise words I’d said in my prayers!  He explained that his name was Albert Liddle and he was a lawyer.  He said we could pick the baby up at his home the following day.  She was just two days old.

   “Did he explain any of  the circumstances?” I asked Mona.
    “He told me nothing; however, I went to my supervisor and told her I had to quit.  She told me I couldn’t as it was two weeks before graduation, but I said, ‘I have to.  I’m getting a baby girl!’  Actually, that could have blown up in my face as I really didn’t know anything except that the attorney had used the exact words that had been in my prayer and basically I was trusting God.  So, the following day we went to the attorney’s house.  We named the precious baby girl Amy, which means ‘beloved’ and later we formally adopted her.”

    “But...did you ask him how he knew about you—how he got the number of the pay phone?” I asked.

    “Nope.  We never did.  We just figured it had to be God so we never questioned it.  When Amy was about a year old Duke and I began to go to Holy Family Institute, an orphanage.  We took our own children to socialize, baked cookies, played ball and were just strangely attracted to the orphans never dreaming we were in the beginning stages of what the Lord had planned for our own lives.  One of the nuns asked us if we’d be interested in 3 of the sibling children with the possibility of adoption.  Their mother was deceased and the father needed help with them.  We had the girl, age 10 and two boys ages 8 and 6 for a year until the father remarried so we had to return them to their own family.

.  “At the time we had no idea what the Lord had in store for us and it was heart-wrenching to give them up.  But as time went on and this situation presented itself time and again, we realized we were a haven of rest for children until their parents were willing and able to take them back.  But it was devastating to release them each time and I began to pray again—this time for a brown haired, brown-eyed boy.  I have to admit at that point in time I certainly knew God was real, but had never accepted Him personally as my savior.

   “About 2 months later I got a call again from the attorney, Mr. Liddle.  He said that there was a young girl expecting a baby and she wanted to become a nun, so therefore she couldn’t take care of the baby.  He said she would be due in 2 months.  Were we interested?  It looked like God was using him again so, of course, we told him ‘yes’.  At the end of 2 months he called again and told us, ‘You have a baby boy...and he has brown eyes and brown hair.’  We named him ‘Kevin’—our Kevin from heaven.”

    So the attorney, Albert Liddle, had been used a second time to fulfill Mona’s answer to prayer.  And by this time word had began to spread by mouth about the Opperman’s ministry to children.  Judges knew of them and referred children, people just called, sometimes from California and across the country.    I couldn’t fathom how she and Duke could have managed (not just financially when not accepting state funding for their endeavor, but in patience, love and all the other resources that would take.  I found out later that Duke worked 3 jobs).

   Mona continued, “Early on, Duke and I found a verse in the Bible that we felt was a calling for our life.  It was Leviticus 19:34 that says, ‘The stranger that dwells among you shall be one such as born to you and you shall love them as your own.’”

   I shook my head in dismay.  “So, did you have to keep moving to bigger and bigger houses?”

   She giggled like a small child herself, “No, we lived in a three bedroom house on Forest Avenue in Ben Avon and when the Lord told us we needed to expand, we first put three bedrooms in the attic, we divided a large bedroom on the second floor, and ended up making 6 bedrooms in the basement.  The final tally was 13 bedrooms.  At that time we had 12 boys and 12 girls—and 1 bathroom!”

   “How in the world did you manage that?”  I couldn’t imagine.

   “Organization!  It was very regimented and scheduled.  The boys went first because they were quicker and then the girls had their turn.  It was amazing how God always kept order.  However, I have to tell you that after the first six children I began having anxiety attacks.  I never left my home for 11 years.  I couldn’t answer the door; I could only interact with the kids because they weren’t my problem.  It was something within me.  One day a neighbor invited me to go to a Bible study, but I would always say, ‘No, I can’t.’  Finally she asked, ‘Would you be honest with me?  Is there a problem?’  She kept pressuring me and so I told her about the anxiety attacks.  She said, ‘We will never, ever judge you.  If you want to leave you can leave.’   And then I told her...I said, ‘But I can’t read.’  Sandy, I was 37 years old before I read my first book,” she told me.

   “Why, Mona?”  I could scarcely believe what she was saying.

    She looked out through the picture window of her home as though a movie screen of the past scrolled slowly by.  “I told you I was an extremely rebellious child.  One year I only attended 17 days of school.  So, I went to the Bible study that day and really liked what I was hearing. That day I knelt down and accepted the Lord, but I still continued with my anxiety.  I argued with God and bargained with Him about it.  I told Him, ‘I’ve got these children and a job to do, Lord, and then He loudly spoke to my heart saying, ‘No!  My power works best in weak people!’  It was that night that I declared, ‘Though He slay me, still will I serve Him.’  That’s when the determination set in.

    “The women at the Bible study told me about the Holy Spirit and so I started praying for that experience. One night it was as though an electricity surged through my body and the Lord assured me I had received the gift of the Holy Spirit.  I picked up the King James Bible and devoured it.  He taught me to read—right on the spot!  From that point forward everything dramatically changed—no more anxiety.  In fact, I spoke at Aglow, was on The 700 Club, I was on Channel 40, Channel 60 out of just went on and on.  And Sandy, there were probably only 10 or 12 children who came into our home out of the 250 that didn’t accept Christ as their savior.  Some that are now ministers and youth leaders.”  I remembered that for the Opperman’s 50th wedding anniversary over 70 of those now scattered children had returned to watch them renew their wedding vows and celebrate.
    As I packed up my tape recorder, pens and pad preparing to leave, I was arrested by a striking thought.  Mona had confessed to not knowing the Lord personally, but prayed for a blonde haired, blue-eyed girl and miraculously got her; prayed for a brown haired, brown-eyed baby boy and miraculously had gotten him.  She had lost a precious stillborn child—but God had given her 250 more.  Even before she was able to read and know that the Bible states we should minister to orphans, before she had met Christ personally, He knew her and was working in her life.  As I walked to my car words echoed to the cadence of my feet, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew and approved of you and before you were born I separated and set you apart...” I looked it up when I got home—it was Jeremiah 1:5 and not only did it apply to Mona, but to every single child she and Duke had raised!

Story by Sandra Ghost

Radiant Floor Heating

The best heating system a house can have is the one you don't realize is there. No radiators clanking in the night. No vents whooshing like a jet preparing for takeoff. No dust-spewing ductwork to run up your allergists' bills. Just an even blanket of heat, right where you want it.

That's the appeal of radiant floor heating, says This Old House plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, who has long been a fan. "It's truly invisible," he says. But a radiant floor system has more than just aesthetics going for it. It's also a highly efficient way to heat a house, increasing comfort as it reduces energy costs.

In a radiant setup, the warmth is supplied by hot-water tubes or electric wires buried underneath the floor. As the invisible waves of thermal radiation rise from below, they warm up any objects they strike, which radiate that captured heat in turn. Though the air temperature remains relatively constant, you stay comfortable because the surrounding surfaces aren't stealing warmth from your body.

Contrast that with what happens in a conventional forced-air heating system, the kind found in most American homes. Air blows out of the registers at a well-baked 120 degrees, rises to the top of the room where it quickly sheds heat, then drops back down as it cools. The air in the room becomes uncomfortably stratified: Your head can be bathed in warmth while your toes lie in the frozen zone. Then there's the problem of cycling. "You turn on the furnace, it quickly takes you to 68 or 70, and then shuts off," says Richard. The result is a phenomenon he calls "the cold 70," which is what you feel right after the hot air stops pumping from the registers. Those jarring ups and downs are absent with radiant floors, which may reach 85 degrees, tops, on a frigid day. The warm air still rises, but it does so evenly over the entire floor, so the coolest air stays up at the ceiling. "You're heating where the people are," Richard says.

There are two basic ways to supply this gentle, even warmth: hot water or electricity. Electric radiant, which uses zigzagging loops of resistance wire, is ­generally retrofitted to a single room, such as a bathroom or kitchen. (See "The Floor Electric," above.) Hot-water "hydronic" systems—the most popular and cost effective way to heat an entire house—circulate water from a boiler or water heater through loops of 1/2-inch polyethylene tubing. The flexible tubes can be installed in a variety of ways: on top of the subfloor in grooved panels or snap-in grids; clipped ­into aluminum strips on the underside of the floor; or embedded in poured concrete. Once the system is in place, you can cover it with most types of finish flooring, including hardwood and tile. Carpet, however, can be tricky, especially if it has thick padding underneath. "If the floor is too well insulated, radiant heating really ­doesn't make sense," Richard says. "It's like putting a sweater over a radiator."
Hot-water radiant costs more to install than other types of heating systems—from $6 to $15 per square foot depending on the method, whether you're starting from scratch or retrofitting, and where you live. (New builds where the tubes are buried in concrete slab tend to be the least expensive). And you'll still need a separate air-conditioning system for cooling. But if the price tag puts you off, consider this: Once it's up and running, a radiant system can be up to 30 percent more efficient than forced-air heating, depending on how well insulated a house is. And there's no comparison when it comes to comfort. In that category, radiant always wins, feet down.

Monday, March 21, 2011

See for Yourself - Quality Stunning Homes by Commodore

What will the interior of my Commodore Home look like?            

How will my new home be constructed?

Feature: 2x10 floor joists-graded lumber, built 16" on center.
Benefit: Strong floor - 16" on center aligns floor joints and wall studs for increased strength. Graded lumber has lower moisture content and fewer knots. Lower moisture helps eliminate warping and fewer knots means stronger lumber.

Feature: 2x10's around each half of floor. (4) 2x10 at the center line.
Benefit: Greater strength and stability, which is important when installed over a basement or crawl space.
Feature: Sewer drains, water lines, and insulated heat ducts installed in the floor
Benefit: Insulated ducts are whisper quiet with no heat loss. Eliminates the cost of installing drains, water lines, and duct systems.
Feature: 3/4" tongue and groove floor

Benefit: A 3/4" tongue and groove floor is one the strongest, most durable decking materials available. It creates and even floor and helps eliminate floor squeaks.
Feature: Energy Star, 90% High Efficiency Furnace with water heater (Both installed)
Benefit: High efficiency furnace lowers heating costs and eliminates the furnace door grill. There is no cost to install a heating system or water heater & this speed completion time.
Feature: 2x6 sidewalls w/ R-19 Insulation
Benefit: 2x6 walls are stronger and have more depth than a 2x4 wall and allow increased insulation. (R-19 instead of R-11
Feature: All exterior walls wrapped in O.S.B. sheathing and weather wrap.
Benefit: O.S.B. increases the structural strength of the home and weather wrap helps eliminate air infiltration.
Feature: 2x4 marriage wall & interior walls are built 16" on center (Exception is the Grandville-which has 2x4 studs, on 24" centers. The marriage wall has 2x4's built 16" on center.)

Benefit: Superior to 2x3 studs because 2x4 studs add an extra inch of support
Feature: 3 studs over all doors and widows. Note: The extra studs at side of window.
Benefit: Creates and very strong support header and an extra strong window opening.
Feature: Triple laminated LVL beams over all patio doors and large window openings.
Benefit: LVL beams are 2.5 times stronger than regular lumber. This creates a superior frame for patio door and larger openings.

Exciting Exteriors and Exceptional Curb Appeal