Moving Companies – For Better or Worse


Moving can be very wearisome, particularly if you have a lot of things to move. Packing up all of your things, properly, hiring a truck, loading the truck, driving the truck to your new home, and then unloading the truck again. It’s very time-consuming and it probably makes you tired just thinking about it. Consequently, many people elect to hire professional moving companies to take on all or most of these tasks.

The fact is that, while hiring a moving company can help you save time and hassle, picking the wrong movers can add up to more grief than you want to think about. To guard yourself and your valuables, you might want to consider a few things before choosing a company to transport your things.

Some points to consider before you decide on a moving company.

1) Exactly which parts of the move do you want delegate to the moving company.

Needless to say, anything you require the mover to do will be reflected in their bill. Probably the most common scenario is that people will pack their own goods and then hire a moving company to load transport and unload all the boxes. Sometimes people, particularly if they may be moving cross-country, will rent a large truck and employ a crew to pack their goods and load the truck. Then they will drive the truck cross-country themselves and even higher a crew at the other end to unload the truck again. Of course others will employ a moving company to do absolutely everything, from packing their goods, loading, transporting and even unpacking and removing boxes and packing materials at the new location.

2) Your budget, exchanging money for convenience.

The fact is you can hire someone to do pretty much anything, for a price and when it comes to movers and moving nothing could be closer to the truth. If your funds are limited, you we’ll need to balance your funds with a certain amount of sweat equity. Consequently you may have to perform much of the work yourself and then simply pay the movers to perform those tasks that are the most difficult. Compare estimates from several moving companies and look for the most reasonable rate for the work you need performed. Note: Always check a moving companies references, as with many things, the lowest price is not always the best deal.

4) Is your mover adequately insured to protect your belongings from loss and damage?

You probably have a lot of money invested in things and there is always a degree of risk when you move them. The cost of an accidental mishap during transport could be enormous. A moving company, even a top rated one, will usually be insured to meet basic requirements however, if you wish to be fully covered for every eventuality, it would be wise to purchase additional moving insurance for your total peace of mind.

3) Going the distance.

Long-distance moves are a very different animal from local moves. Moving long distances usually entails greater expense and requires a more experienced and properly licensed moving company. Moving from state to state or province to province is usually not performed by local movers. Long-distance moves typically require specialized paperwork as well as a number of other considerations unique to this kind of move. One very important aspect of booking a long-distance moving company is the matter of the lead time. Most long distance movers require advance scheduling and will need as much advance notice as possible.

5) Reputation is everything especially when it comes to a moving company

You’ve probably heard stories about people’s bad experiences with moving companies. You may have even seen bad moving experiences depicted in comedy movies for laughs, but in the real world there is nothing funny about finding broken or missing goods after the movers have finished up and left. sometimes all the insurance in the world cannot replace an item that has special sentimental value. You want to know that the moving company you choose will treat all your belongings with the same care that you would. It cannot be stressed enough that the moving company you choose should have the best references available and it’s important for you to do your very best to find out everything you can about the moving company you choose.

Your mover should be a member of the Better Business Bureau and ideally the longer they have been in business the better. As it is difficult for a moving company to stay in business for long if they do bad work, generally movers who have been in business a long time will be more reliable. These days, checking a moving companies’ reputation and history of handling problems is easy to look up by doing a search on the Internet as well as checking directly with Better Business Bureau complaints records.

Some final thoughts on selecting the right moving company.

Depending on the value of your possessions and the distance will be moving them, you may want to consider enlisting the services of moving agent. For reasonable commission a moving agent will make an experienced estimate of the volume and weight of your contents and act as a go between matching your requirements and budget with a reputable mover, storage if necessary, insurance, etc.

You can, of course do this process yourself however, you will need to prepare yourself before hand with a list of questions for the various moving companies you will be contacting and an appropriate amount of time to conduct thorough interviews with each company.

When estimating your insurance needs it’s important to bear in mind that most often we will underestimate the value of our possessions because they have been acquired over a period of time however, if you should experience the misfortune of having to replace all of your things you may be in for a shock when you realize the cost of replacing everything at today’s prices.


Source by Hugh Randall

Soundproofing Yards and Dealing With Outdoor Noise


It Seems to Be Coming From Everywhere

Outdoor noises can come from all sorts of directions at the same time and may have many sources. They can also be reflected all over the place. People tend to look at what they think is the source and imagine that the sound is traveling along a straight line from the source to their yard. In reality it is likely that sounds have detoured, bouncing off buildings and other objects, arriving at your yard amplified and from a different direction to the source. The amplification which occurs is no different to sound amplification which happens when a murmur is channeled through a wind instrument and emerges at the other end as a trumpet blast. So your first step is to identify the source of the problem and the path that it is taking to get to your yard.

Words & Regulations Are Great Soundproofers

It might be possible that a nearby business or industry is exceeding acceptable noise levels or duration or operating at inappropriate times of the day. Sometimes you can solve the problem by simply raising the issue with the proprietor in a friendly manner. It may even pay to check with your municipal council and make sure that your noisy neighbors are not breaking local laws. People are often surprised to learn that there are a lot of laws protecting residential amenity (provided the noise is not from aviation which seems to be a law unto itself in many countries). I have seen laws which restrict the use of air conditioners after a certain time, prohibit leaf blowers and even outlaw pets like roosters and barking dogs.

Having exhausted logical commonsense approaches to reducing the noise you have two options for solving the problem. The first option is to create some sort of acoustic barrier in the yard. The second option is to return indoors and work on your internal soundproofing.

An Air Tight Yard!

It is impossible to make a yard airtight. You will always have to deal with flanking sound. Flanking sound is noise which wraps over, under or around your soundproofing structures. All of the principles of internal sound barriers and sound absorption still apply outdoors.

Lower frequency noise has a longer wavelength than high frequency and will require a higher and denser barrier. If for example if you are dealing with truck noise you would probably need a barrier as high as 12-15 feet (3.5 – 4.5 meters) or more. In most cases this is impractical or even against municipal building regulations, so it might be advisable to return indoors and work on your soundproofing there and be content with a quiet internal environment.

Is it a Baritone or Soprano Annoyance?

It is correct that higher frequency noises can be blocked by lower fences but there are some complications. Take level crossing train bells noise for example. This is fairly high frequency. You might expect that a lower fence would block the noise. Unfortunately the train companies have installed their bells at the top of ten foot poles which means you still have to install a 15 foot fence to have an acceptable impact on the noise. In an ideal situation you want to construct the fence at least eight feet higher than the source of the noise. This is less of a challenge when it is ground hugging car tail pipes but challenging when you are dealing with truck horns, and their roof top exhaust systems or even their loud engines which are quite high off the ground.

The Way of The Lotus Blossom

All is not lost when structural soundproofing seems out of the question. There are still a couple of innovative options. You can soundproof by creating more sound, particularly sound which is pleasing to the ear. For example one way to quickly deal with level crossing train bells is to install a splashing water feature in your garden; not to be confused with the quiet trickling Zen style installation. The sound of falling water will not only create a pleasant environment but it will interfere with the sound of train crossing bells and make them less noticeable. You can achieve a similar effect with wind chimes. Chimes are not quite as effective because they only work when the wind is blowing and the sound tends to be less random. The motivated soundproofing enthusiast might consider both chimes and a water feature and also external audio speakers for piping pleasant music into the yard. The application of these three strategies will sufficiently interfere with most annoying noise pollution and allow you to return to your yard for recreation, relaxation and entertainment. Another advantage of these noise masking options is that they are usually far less expensive and much more DIY than a massive fence.

Acoustic By Name Only

If you are going to construct a sensible acoustic barrier in your yard do make sure it is at a proper height and that it does not have any openings or gaps anywhere. The right height and absence of gaps are the two most important variables and the things that most people get wrong. Some do it yourself articles seem to promote the construction of acoustic fences at any height which frankly is a waste of time and effort. A fence won’t work just because it has word “acoustic” in its name! There are some proprietary acoustic fencing systems on the market and even with these systems it is important that you check the required height for your specific problem. Most respectable products come with data sheets.

Data Sheet is King

Data sheets should talk about an amount that the fencing system reduces noise. The amount is measured in decibels or dB. You should look for a system which will reduce the noise by at least 20dB. As a rule of thumb each 10dB is a halving of the perceived noise. Some products come with an STC rating. Again don’t consider a product with a rating below about STC 20. STC is a more useful summary of how a product responds over a series of sound frequencies. See if you can get the frequency chart for the product. Two products can work quite differently depending on the noise source and frequency response of the product. If you noise problem is lower frequency like trucks and “doof doof” music then you need a product which blocks more noise at lower frequencies e.g. between 50Hz and about 500Hz. So you would look for higher values against these frequencies on the STC chart. If your noise problem is at a higher frequency, like human voice, or small barking dogs, or train level crossing bells, then you would need better blocking at frequencies around 1000Hz to around 2500Hz. You would look for better performance at these higher frequencies.

Those Fences Are Big

An effective and relatively light weight material for acoustic fencing is steel sheeting, like the material used on deck roofs. Timber fencing performs well but it’s harder to create an airtight structure and the timber will be heavier and more difficult to work with. Whatever you use, remember that the structure is higher than usual and it will catch the wind. Make sure that your uprights are closer together and or thicker than usual and also bury them deeper into the ground.

If you already have a tall fence it probably has holes or gaps in and around it might not be made of the right material to block or absorb the offending sound. In situations like this you can consider retrofitting a product like mass loaded vinyl (MLV). This is a heavy plastic like membrane which is basically weatherproof. You can fix it to your existing fence and it will considerably increase the density of the fence and help block noise. MLV does not change the fact that you still need the right fence height.

If you live on a large property and you are able to build a mound of earth facing the problem this can be an effective and inexpensive way of creating a soundproofing barrier. Again the height has to be right and it can take a bit of effort to build an earth mound. Another option for large properties is a hay (straw) bale fence. There is endless Internet information these days on building with hay bales and they are cheap effective and quick, but they must be gap free and the right height.

Take Care Who You Listen To

Like all soundproofing issues there are endless myths about outdoor soundproofing. The most common one is the use of trees and shrubs. Trees and shrubs are pretty much ineffective except as visual screens. To some extent the sounds of the birds and wind through the leaves creates a masking sound like the water feature and chimes we talked about above.

Remember prevention is better than cure. If you haven’t bought your home and you are thinking of buying a nice bargain property which is a bit close to the trains, airport or freeway – think again. If you are even slightly sensitive to noise don’t put yourself through the nightmare of trying to solve noise problems for the rest of your days. Quality of life is more important than bargain real estate. Save a few more pennies and buy quiet. Don’t get lulled into a false sense sense of security about what constitutes acceptable quiet. Set your own standards and stick to them. Many property developments are noisy torture chambers and yet the brochures feature images of blissfully happy people living the life of their dreams. Not everyone cares about noise but if you’re someone who does, you need to look past the hype and ask if there is a 3am freight train passing nearby, or common plumbing running through the thin walls, or plans to construct a shopping mall behind your courtyard and so forth.


Source by Craig R Williams

The Next Place to Invest


When it comes to the benefits of tax reform, don’t look to the Trump administration’s new proposals (however worthy or unworthy they may be)…

Instead, turn your gaze 9,000 miles away…

To India.

That’s where a unified national goods and services tax (GST, for short) just became a parliamentary reality.

It sounds wonky, boring and easy to dismiss. But the new tax system promises to change nearly everything we’ve come to know and accept about India’s economy.

The winners are the Indian economy, the Indian people – and foreign investors…

India’s “Common Market”

Imagine what the modern-day U.S. economy might look like if South Carolina could levy a border tax on a load of Georgia peaches. Suppose New York had a duty tax on computers shipped in from California?

Such taxes were commonplace among the original 13 independent colonial governments.

But we have trouble even conceiving the idea in our current economy because of Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution: “No Tax or Duty shall be laid on Articles exported from any State.”

Until now, India’s tax structure looked much the same as America’s did 200-plus years ago – a patchwork of taxes, surcharges and fees levied by its 32 state governments and the national government in New Delhi.

The result? Higher costs and confusion, for one.

  • A rice grower in the Indian state of Chhattisgarh might pay multiple levies for a new tractor as it’s shipped from a factory in the state of Gujarat, less than 900 miles away.
  • And how do you calculate the taxation on software coded by programmers in Uttar Pradesh (the Silicon Valley of India), packaged in another state and then purchased by a business in New Delhi?

According to India’s Economic Times, the old system of indirect state levies pushed up costs to Indian consumers and businesses by 20 to 30%.

It also slowed down the speed of India’s economy.

For instance, the average freight truck in India travels a paltry 280 kilometers (173 miles) a day, versus 800 miles a day in the United States. Partly, the low distance is because of India’s lack of investment in its road network until recent years.

But experts say it’s also because an Indian freight truck must stop at each state border so local tax authorities can inspect the goods and collect duties.

The new tax sweeps all those “indirect” tax levies away, promising a revved-up Indian economy that may put China’s glory days of economic growth to shame by comparison.

“Made in India”

Analysts at HSBC believe the unified goods and services tax will add at least one full percentage point to the country’s yearly economic growth (which has already surpassed China’s as the fastest growing in the world at a 7.6% annual clip in 2015).

As goods move more freely across the country, it might raise annual gross domestic product growth by as much as 1.7% a year, according to India’s National Council of Applied Economic Research.

Our own Federal Reserve, according to a recent research note, expects that the new tax might accelerate India’s annual economic growth by as much as 4%!

That’s one reason why a German freight shipment and logistics company, recently said it will invest $268 million in India in the next three years.

CEO Frank Appel told reporters the company will consolidate its distribution centers around the country, upgrade its airport operations and optimize its logistics network to take advantage of the new, simpler tax structure.

And things are just getting started. As Appel noted, more manufacturers will emerge in India as they realize they don’t have to worry about onerous, confusing tax provisions any longer. “The Goods and Services Tax is a very robust step in realizing [the appeal of having products] ‘Made in India.'”


Source by Jeff L. Yastine

Tornado Protection: How to Save Yourself in a Car


Timely Tornado Tips from the Auto Insurance Pros

Life has its twists and turns. In the case of a tornado, those twists and turns become literal reality. Tornadoes are likely to hit some states, but in reality they can occur anywhere. General safety guidelines direct homeowners to wait the ripping storm out in a basement or storm cellar. However, the option is not always applicable.

For instance, if a motorist and his or her passengers are traveling in a car, bus, truck, van or other vehicle, the danger is escalated. Moreover, there is little time to contemplate a safe plan of action.

Quick thinking – and a little preventive reading before any such situation occurs – is in order. If and when a tornado occurs while on the road, it is advised to get off the road or pull over to the side. If there is a ditch on the roadside or close by, the driver and others with him or her should run to the low-laying land. Once there, they should lay down and cover their heads and necks with their arms to ward off potential injury from flying debris. This mode of action is recommended throughout the entire duration of the twister’s activity.

Those caught in a vehicle at the onset of a tornado that do not see a ditch, should resort to do what’s listed below.

1. Drive off the road.

2. If this is not an option, park on the side of the road.

3. If your seat belt is not in place already, make sure to buckle up.

4. Glide downward in your seat until your head is well below window level.

5. Drape a blanket or any other protective material over your face and head.

6. If you do not have any protective covering for your face and head, cover them with your arms to shield against the possibility of debris breaking the car windows and falling within the vehicle.

7. Resist the urge to park underneath an overpass. Despite prevalent thought, parking under an overpass does not protect you. On the contrary, it only creates a more dangerous situation – one where the likelihood of wind force increase is more possible, followed by the perils involved.

8. Stay in the crouched low position until the tornado danger has passed.

9. Once it is safe, you can resume driving or leave your automobile.

Side note: Be aware that, as opposed to standard home insurance, a liability only auto insurance policy will not cover tornado damages. To be sure of coverage, you must acquire a comprehensive auto plan.


Source by M Wyzanski