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Reduce Your Heating Bills This Winter

Tips for reducing your bill.

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Imagine leaving a window open all winter long -- the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding attic stair, fireplace or clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day. These often overlooked sources of heat loss and air leakage can cause heat to pour out and the cold outside air to rush in -- costing you higher heating bills. Air leaks are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Air leaks occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits caulk and weatherstripping provide to minimize heat loss and cold drafts. But what can you do about the four largest “holes” in your home -- the folding attic stair, the whole house fan, the fireplace and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes. Attic Stairs When attic stairs are installed, a large hole (approximately 10 square feet) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only a thin, unsealed, sheet of plywood. Your attic space is ventilated directly to the outdoors. In the winter, the attic space can be very cold, and in the summer it can be very hot. And what is separating your conditioned house from your unconditioned attic? That thin sheet of plywood. Often a gap can be observed around the perimeter of the door. Try this yourself: at night, turn on the attic light and shut the attic stairway door -- do you see any light coming through? These are gaps add up to a large opening where your heated/cooled air leaks out 24 hours a day. This is like leaving a window open all year round. An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling. Whole House Fans Much like attic stairs above, when whole house fans are installed, a large hole (up to 16 square feet or larger) is created in your ceiling. The ceiling and insulation that were there have to be removed, leaving only leaky ceiling shutter between the house and the outdoors. An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan cover. Installed from the attic side, the whole house fan cover is invisible. Cover the fan to reduce heating and air-conditioning loss, remove it when use of the fan is desired. If attic access is inconvenient, a ceiling shutter cover is another option for reducing heat loss through the ceiling shutter. Made from R-8, textured, thin, white flexible insulation, and installed from the house side over the ceiling shutter with Velcro, a whole house fan shutter cover is easily installed and removed. Fireplaces Sixty-five percent, or approximately 100 million homes in North America are constructed with wood or gas burning fireplaces. Unfortunately there are negative side effects that the fireplace brings to a home especially during the winter home-heating season. Fireplaces are energy losers. Researchers have studied this to determine the amount of heat loss through an unlit fireplace, and the results are amazing. One recent research study showed that an open damper on an unlit fireplace in a well-insulated house can raise overall heating-energy consumption by 30 percent. This is truly a remarkable statistic! A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces. Why does a home with a fireplace have higher heating bills? It is simple - hot air rises. Your heated air leaks out any exit it can find, and when your heated air is drawn out of your home, cold outside air is drawn in to make up for it. The fireplace is like a giant straw sucking the heated air from your house! An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to install a fireplace draftstopper. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, a fireplace draftstopper is an inflatable pillow that is installed into the fireplace below the damper. As the pillow is inflated, it seals the damper, eliminating any air leaks and heat loss. Other benefits include the reduction of downdrafts, toxins, odors, pollutants, and noise. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after. Completely reusable and available in two sizes to fit any masonry or zero-clearance fireplace, the draftstopper can pay for itself in less than a month! Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts In many homes, the room with the clothes dryer is the coldest room in the house. Your clothes dryer is connected to an exhaust duct that is open to the outdoors. In the winter, cold air leaks in through the duct, through your dryer and into your house. Dryer vents use a sheet-metal flapper to try to reduce this air leakage. This is very primitive technology that does not provide a positive seal to stop the air leakage. Compounding the problem is that over time, lint clogs the flapper valve causing it to stay open, or a cold breeze can blow the flapper open, allowing frigid air right to come right into the house. An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This low-cost, easily installed vent is mounted on the outside of your house, and reduces unwanted air infiltration, and keeps out pests, bees and rodents as well. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape. If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan, a fireplace, and/or a clothes dryer, you can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes. At Battic Door Energy Conservation Products, we have developed solutions to these and other energy-conservation related issues. For more information please visit our website www.batticdoor.com or send a self-addressed, stamped, envelope to P.O. Box 15, Mansfield, MA 02048.

Preventive Maintenance Tips for your Home-Part 6

This month we will begin with Part A - tips for Spring.

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Welcome back to Rocky’s Corner! Last month we started Part 5 of an 8 part series of Preventive Maintenance Tips for your Home.

This month we will begin with Part A - tips for Spring. Every Spring-Part A

APPLIANCES:

  • Vacuum coils under or behind refrigerators and freezers.

 AIR CONDITIONING UNITS: Central Air Conditioning

  • Make sure the condensing unit located outside is not covered up with leaves, newspaper, etc.
  • Change or clean the filters regularly.
  • Be sure all access panels are secure, with all the screws in place.
  • Set the thermostat in the cooling mode.
  • Run your air conditioner for a few minutes now, before you need it.
  • Schedule a maintenance call before it gets hot to have a technician check the following items:
  1. Check for proper refrigerant (Freon) levels. A low level indicates a leak, to be found and repaired before adding Freon.
  2. Check all electrical components and controls.
  3. Clean evaporator and condenser coils, as needed.
  4. Oil motors as needed.
  5. Calibrate thermostat.
  6. Check condenser for cracks.
  7. Check filters.

AIR CONDITIONING UNITS: Evaporative Air Conditioning

  • Clean unit; check belt tension and adjust if necessary; replace cracked or worn belt.
  • Clean or replace air filter; clean condenser or evaporator coils and condensate drain; remove debris from outdoor portion of unit. AIR

CONDITIONING UNITS:  Wall and Window Air Conditioning

  • Have your unit checked out to make sure it is working properly before you need it.
  • Clean dirt, insects and debris from the grills and cooling fins.
  • Replace dirty filters.

ATTIC:

  • Make sure all your gable, soffit, and ridge vents are open to allow proper ventilation.
  • Make sure insulation covers the entire attic floor; look into hiring a professional to add more to meet recently updated building codes and reduce future cooling and heating costs.
  • Check to make sure your attic and/or whole house fans are working properly; consider installing attic or whole house fans.

CARBON MONOXIDE AND SMOKE DETECTORS:

  • Change batteries and check to make sure they are operating properly.

CAULKING AND GROUT:

  • Inspect caulking and grout around tubs, showers and sinks; considering replacing if necessary.

CLEAN CARPETING:

  • Have your carpets cleaned regularly to remove the dirt and grit that can wear them out prematurely.

DOOR SILLS, WINDOW SILLS, AND THRESHOLDS:

Fill cracks, caulk edges, repaint; replace if necessary.

DRAIN-WASTE AND VENT SYSTEMS:

  • Flush out system.

HEAT PUMP:

  • Lubricate blower motor.
  • If you didn’t have an annual check-up done last fall, schedule one now to have a certified professional to inspect the wiring, check belts (replace if needed), and oil the moving parts.

HOT WATER HEATING SYSTEM:

  • Lubricate circulating pump and motor.

PEST CONTROL:

  • Termites can cause thousands of dollars worth of property damage before the homeowner even realizes they have an infestation and other pests can threaten your family members and pets with bites and diseases
  • Contact a pest control specialist for a free inspection and evaluation of your risk; and for hiring a regular service to keep your home free of all pests; including insects and rodents.

SCREENS FOR WINDOWS AND DOORS:

  • Clean screening and repair or replace if necessary; tighten or repair any loose or damaged frames and repaint if necessary, replace broken, worn or missing hardware; tighten and lubricate hinges and closers.

WATER HEATER:

  • Every six months you should turn off the power source and drain it completely until it is clear of sediment.
  • Also inspect flue assembly (gas heater); check for leaks and corrosion.

ANTENNA:

  • Check antenna and satellite dish supports for possible leak source.

BASEMENT AND FOUNDATION:

  • Check grading for proper slope away from foundation wall. Inspect for cracks and moisture and repair if necessary.

DECKS, PORCHES AND EXTERIOR WOOD STRUCTURES:

  • Check all decks, patios, porches, stairs and railing for loose members and deterioration, such as cracks, splintering, decay, and insect damage; treat wood, set nails and repair or replace rotted boards, as needed.
  • If professionally cleaned, sealed and maintained, it should only be necessary to refinish and/or stain your wooden decks every two or three years.
  • It is also necessary that surfaces be thoroughly cleaned and dried before adding another coat of stain or protective finish.
  • Remove mold and mildew, fungus, tree sap, grease and bird droppings with the appropriate commercial deck cleaners (or homemade mixtures) and a stiff brushed broom.
  • Clean mildew and fungus by mixing one cup of chlorine bleach per gallon of water; scrub and rinse well. Sodium bicarbonate works well to remove dirt, mildew and the weathered gray residue from sunlight degradation.
  • Oxalic acid will remove metal stains around nails and dark tannin stains often found on redwood, cedar and oak.
  • Use care and follow manufacturers’ directions when using these products, wear eye protection, long pants, long sleeves and gloves; cover surrounding vegetation with plastic and rinse well.

DRIVEWAY CRACKS:

  • For asphalt, remove dirt and weed debris from cracks, spray with a high-pressure hose sprayer; treat with weed killer and patch with a special patching product.
  • For concrete, the only alternative for cracked driveways and garage floors used to be removal and replacement, but these days there are overlayments that may be professionally applied to cover surface cracks as long as the concrete is still structurally sound.

Join me next month for Part 7 of our series on Preventive Maintenance Tips for your Home. Visit us at www.freminshomeimprovement.com

TV Reinvented

How Television is Adapting to the Internet

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As many of us look to stretch our dollar a bit further our money spent on entertainment is often cut. However, entertainment is a good way to relieve stress and get a quick break from the real world. Increasingly, the fee paid for an internet connection is offering a bigger return on the entertainment dollar. Improved connection speeds have created a mushroom of online content that allows users to watch streaming news broadcasts, missed TV shows, webisodes, viral videos (i.e. YouTube), free online games (and competitions), blogs and chat rooms - to name a few. Everywhere you turn, everyone is trying to get their movie, TV show, 15 minutes all noticed on the web. Television alone has morphed from episode summaries and casting lists on a single webpage to deluxe sites with missed episodes online, behind the scenes footage, games, screensavers, additional back stories and character development, and much more. So who is leading the pack with the best sites and content? Who is side-stepping the pack altogether? You might be surprised!

The Usual Suspects
Below is our ranking of the major broadcasting stations that are easiest to use and include extra online content.

  1. NBC.com http://www.nbc.com/ NBC has a slick and clean menu and you can easily find episodes of your favorite shows. A great plus is that you can watch a whole season if you got lost a while back and need to catch up. Also, you don't have to watch the show the same week it originally airs. Videos load quickly and offer chapter selection to jump where you left off or skim through with ease. 
  2. ABC.com http://abc.go.com/ The website is clean and easy to navigate. A big disappointment is that not only does the user have to sign an agreement but then download a special plug in just to watch online episodes. The entire site has a much more proprietary feel to it. However, they did redeem themselves a bit by allowing access to episodes from previous seasons for one of their most popular (and confusing) shows 'LOST.'
  3. CBS.com http://www.cbs.com/ CBS has a fairly easy menu. The best is to go by show as viewing directly by video is a bit more messy and makes it harder to find past episodes. The option to watch TV and chat at the same time is slow to load (I gave up after two minutes of the loading icon spinning). Video without chat loads quickly and is just as fast as the other stations. Plenty of content about shows but the webpages have an older point-and-click menu that takes a bit longer to navigate. There wasn't a lot of clarity in the order of episodes if you were trying to catch up for the season.
  4. FOX.com http://www.fox.com/ A slick moving website that is easy to navigate. However, FOX allows access to fewer full episodes then the other stations. The individual show websites offer a lot of extras but are not as clear to navigate.

Cable Networks
So if you don't subscribe to cable, who gives you the best online?

  1. Discovery Communications Group Discovery Channel - http://dsc.discovery.com/ | The Learning Channel - http://tlc.discovery.com/ Animal Planet - http://animal.discovery.com/ | Science Channel - http://science.discovery.com/ This family of websites has a similar menu and limited selection of full episodes like FOX. However, the fact that current shows with new content is available is a plus compared to other cable stations. Overall, a great way to get highlights of what you're missing for chats around the water cooler. Also, the extra games are a nice touch.
  2. Comedy Central http://www.comedycentral.com/ Full episodes are available for most shows. The individual shows do keep separate URLs which made it a little harder to navigate back to Comedy Central. However, all offered complete sites with extra content.
  3. Disney TV http://disney.go.com/index This site has a slick design and offers plenty of content including games and fan pages for their most popular shows. One negative is there is almost too much content. Many 'teaser' videos play when the user enters a new page without being selected. Although some full episodes are available online, they are not necessarily in discernable order.
  4. Nickelodeon http://www.nick.com Plenty of fun games and video bites for kids. Like Disney, there is background content that loads as soon as you enter a page. The pages are busy and harder to find content.
  5. A&E TV http://www.aetv.com/ Not the easiest navigation at first. However, more episodes and clips of episodes are offered then on some comparable cable sites.
  6. USA Network http://www.usanetwork.com/ A couple to a handful of episodes available of USA original shows. Some are available without commercial interruption which is a nice touch. However, not all series offer episodes for online viewing.
  7. Bravo http://www.bravotv.com/ Some behind the scene information and recaps. Videos are offered with some full episodes. However, the navigation of videos is not user friendly and is geared more towards a fan who knows what they are looking for on the channel.
  8. TBS.com http://www.tbs.com/ Again a required download of a plug-in before being able to view videos. Basically a collection of a few variety shows and reruns. There is not access to the movies, only their schedule.

A Brand New World
Sites without a presence on television but offering television/movie entertainment.

  1. TV.com http://www.tv.com/ There is definitely more content on this website then some of its competitors. This site has a larger variety of shows and even news broadcasts are easy to search and view here. TV.com offers an easier navigation if you want to find information and summaries of a particular television show. However, the video interface is not as friendly.
  2. Hulu.com http://www.hulu.com/ Hulu offers episodes of series from all different TV channels. Episodes are separated by genre rather than channel, but an easy search will help you find your favorite quickly. Interestingly, some episodes will load directly from Hulu whereas others will take you to the home website making Hulu act more like a search engine. An added plus are the movies. Many of your re-run favorites from Sunday afternoon can be found here. Load time is good, even for full movies.
  3. Boxee http://www.boxee.tv/ This is a free membership website that dose require users to download their program. It checks all your media on your computer and then creates a one stop area for everything from photos to music. With an open source code it is intended to be manipulated by users so they can add user generated content. However, it is not really ready for all computer systems at this time and was overall frustrating to install. PC to TV or TV to PC? Considering the competition for your entertainment dollars, it should be no surprise then that many TV's offer WiFi connection to your computer to make certain you can enjoy all these extra goodies from the comfort of your couch. However, some computers are also pushing their new models of All-in-Ones aimed at being one-stop entertainment centers. These new computers are offering bigger and better viewing screens, more compact CPUs and easy plug and play for cameras, music players (iPod, Zune, etc.), and much more. Depending on your budget and your pocket book, there are some wonderful choices on the market already.

Famous Haunted Houses

It is time to dust off one of our more popular seasonal articles - Famous Haunted Houses!

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It is time to dust off one of our more popular seasonal articles - Famous Haunted Houses! This year we have expanded our list of spooky places to visit! Have fun and enjoy!

Perhaps it wasn't the wind that slammed the door shut? Doesn't that really sound like footsteps down the hall? Or maybe it is a great marketing ploy for bed and breakfast inns and historical societies? Maybe people just enjoy the idea of hauntings? Okay, so not all of us believe in ghosts, but the stories and histories behind many haunted houses can be just as unique as their "spiritual" residents. For a little fun and change of pace, we have compiled a list of famous haunted houses and buildings in America. Dim the lights, sit back and enjoy a little Halloween-flavored fun and learn a little history too!

AlabamaSelma - Sturdivant Hall

The History: This mansion was built in 1853 for Colonel Edward T. Watts and his family as a town residence. It was later purchased by John Parkman who became President of the First National Bank of Selma in 1866. After cotton speculation ruined the bank, Parkman was arrested and was then killed in an attempted escape. His wife and two daughters sold the house to a local merchant, Emile Gillman whose family kept the home until it was purchased by the city in 1957. The house was turned into a city museum with funds from Daniel Sturdivant's estate (and why it is known as Sturdivant Hall today).

The Haunting: The young bank President, John Parkman, proclaimed his innocence and said he would fight to clear his name. Fellow citizens believed he was honest and helped him break out of jail. However, either shot or drowned, Parkman died after the attempted escape. Many believe it is his spirit that haunts the home he was forced to leave. Parkman likes to move objects around and has even been seen as a full apparition in 19th century dress. He is a benign ghost and in general just checks in on the place to see who is about.

The Viewing: Sturdivant Hall is now a museum which offers tours highlighting the architecture and furnished setting of a late 19th century home. The museum also houses a collection of paintings by Clara Weaver Parish, famously known for her stained glass at the turn of the 20th century. The museum itself is open Tues-Sat or by appointment.  C, click here for more information. To join the Selma haunted tour which includes Sturdivant Hall among other ghostly sites, take a look at the Haunted History Tour in October. More on this spooky site...http://sturdivanthall.comYouTube Video - www.youtube.com/watch?v=05SVV2fwZmc

AlaskaSeward - Jesse Lee Home

The History: This site opened as an orphanage in 1925 for rural children who lost their parents to influenza and tuberculosis. It closed after suffering damage in the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake. Today mostly the outer wall shells still stand for two buildings of the complex. Benny Benson, who designed the Alaskan state flag grew up here.

The Haunting: There are reports of children's laughter around the site and the rhythm of a jump rope. There have also been a few apparitions spotted including a small boy and a priest. However, the stories that might shed light on the reason for their attachment to this house are only speculative as they are not identified with individuals known to have died in the home.

The Viewing: The site is not open to visitors at this time. An effort is underway to reconstruct the buildings, for more information click here. More on this spooky site...www.jesseleehome.netYouTube Video - www.youtube.com/watch?v=eHCGKZ4Rujw&feature=related

ArizonaJerome - Jerome Grand Hotel

The History: Built in 1926, this building was originally the United Verde Hospital. The hospital was built to be fireproof and withstand blasts from the dynamite mining nearby. One of the best hospitals in the west, it was phased out when the mining in the area began to slow down and closed by 1950. The building stood empty until 1994; it had been a time capsule and was unchanged for 44 years. It is now being restored as a hotel with many of the rooms already completed and open for guests.The Haunting: Being a hospital, there were many patients that perished in its walls. However, there were deaths of two orderlies that many believed was murder. There is also one recorded suicide. When the building lay dormant for 44 years, locals claimed they would still see lights burning in the vacant building. Since being reopened, more paranormal activities have been noticed. The most common is for guests to feel temperature drops and hear coughing or labored breathing in empty rooms or corners of their own guestroom. One ghost is said to be a woman who died in childbirth. She is upset that her child was buried in an unmarked grave and prowls the grounds looking for the babe.The Viewing: You may stay in the hotel today. Room rates begin at $110 and go up from there. Being the highest point in the Verde Valley, it offers some great views. And if you're lucky, maybe a glance at a ghost or two! To spend the night, click here. More on this spooky site...www.jeromegrandhotel.netwww.hauntedhouses.comwww.prairieghosts.com/jerome.htmlwww.sgha.net/az/jerome/jeromegrand2.htmlBack to Top Ghost ImageArkansasFort Smith - Clayton House The History: Although built in the 1850s, the namesake attached to this home, William Henry Harrison Clayton purchased the home in 1876. By this time Clayton was a US District attorney who had a reputation for efficiently prosecuting murderers and lawless scoundrels that were giving Fort Smith a poor reputation. The Haunting: Clayton may have had a reputation for getting rid of trouble makers in town while alive, but it seems he is staying around for a little mischief. Upstairs doors slam and someone in boots stomps around. There is also a woman who appears downstairs who may be Clayton's daughter Ann.The Viewing: Today this museum offers a glimpse at elegant living in the 1880s with period furniture, landscaping and decor. For a historic tour and more information please click here. If you want more ghost stories, then try the Spirit of the Past Tour run on Friday evenings, for more information click here. More on this spooky site...www.claytonhousefortsmith.comhttp://claytonhouse.art.officelive.com/default.aspxBack to TopCaliforniaSan Diego - Whaley House The History: This house was a home, granary, court house, theater, ballroom, billiard hall, school and polling center. It was also the site where criminals were hanged before the house was built. Once built, it also had the tragic history of one of the Whaley girls committing suicide inside.The Haunting: There are many ghosts in the Whaley House. There is "Yankee Jim" who was one of the criminals hanged at the site. He now stomps around the house with a heavy step and even the first family, the Whaley's, reported hearing him in the house. Thomas Whaley, the first owner of the house has been seen lingering around the upper landing. Thomas' wife, Anna, also wanders the downstairs and the garden. There are a few other apparitions and even a little fox terrier ghost dog that is seen on occasion!The Viewing: This house is now a museum and is open for tours on most days. Their website has more details about times and price; click here for details. More on this spooky site...www.whaleyhouse.orgwww.viewzone.com/whaleyhouse.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.comBack to TopSan Francisco Bay - Alcatraz Island The History: Not a house per se, but people "lived" there right? Anyway, Alcatraz started as a military fort in 1850. It was used as a military prison and then a federal prison after 1934. In 1963 the prison was closed due to the cost of operations. As a prison, Alcatraz had a reputation of being a hard place to live in which prisoners were there to be shut away rather than rehabilitated. Punishments could be harsh such as restricted diet, solitary confinement, and hard labor. There were the now infamous solitary cells like the "strip cell" and the "hole" that even made the most hardened prisoners think twice about breaking any rules. The Haunting: This place was creating ghost stories before being shut down. Guards retell odd tales of ghosts attacking inmates or making noises. Today, there are still many haunting "hot spots" on the island. There is the utility corridor where three escapees were gunned down; this doorway is now welded shut but many say there is the sound of clanging against the door; perhaps something wants out... There are also reports of running in the corridors, voices in the cells and medical ward and screams from the dungeons and isolation units.The Viewing: Tours are available of the island and complex. Depending on the time of year, you may have to use different ferry systems to access the island. For more information click here. More on this spooky site...www.nps.gov/alcatraz/ www.cr.nps.gov/museum/exhibits/alca/www.alcatrazhistory.com/mainpg.htm www.prairieghosts.com/gpalcatraz.html www.legendsofamerica.com/CA-Alcatraz.htmlBack to TopSan Jose - Winchester Mystery House The History: Sarah Winchester, daughter-in-law of Oliver Winchester, manufacturer of the Winchester rifle, began the construction of this house in 1884 and kept the project going until her death 38 years later. The legend says she constructed the house continuously to confuse the bad spirits of those killed by the Winchester rifle. In the end it had 160 rooms, 47 fireplaces and various oddities such as doors leading to a sudden outside drop or staircases leading to the ceiling. The Haunting: Some of the ghosts are said to have been invited by Sarah Winchester as she is said to have held a séance with them every night to determine the construction for the next day. Reports of footsteps, doors closing and opening, cold spots, and other paranormal behavior have been reported. However, some skeptics in the ghost hunting world believe the mansion is more of an oddity than a true haunting ground. Guess you'll just have to go to find out for yourself!The Viewing: The mansion is open to tours today. You can select a standard tour and see 110 rooms and their various oddities and details or you can also do a behind the scenes tour to see how the house functioned. For more information click here. More on this spooky site...www.winchestermysteryhouse.comwww.prairieghosts.com/winchester.html http://mysteryhouseguide.com

ColoradoSt Elmo - St Elmo The History: St Elmo is a Colorado ghost town that was built in 1878. Originally called Forest City, this mining town reached 2000 souls at its peak. Silver, gold, copper and iron ore were all mined in the area. Starting out moral, it soon degraded to a 'Saturday Night Hangout' for the over abundance of men in the mining community. In 1890 a fire destroyed the business section of town and by 1910 the mines began to close. By 1922 most everyone had left but the affluent Stark family. They remained and tried to cash in on tourism still running the hotel and general store. Finally the post office closed (and therefore the town) in 1952. The last brother and sister of the Stark family fell into despair and she was the last of their family to die in 1960. The Haunting: After the death of the Stark family, a friend who had remained kind to them inherited their holdings in St Elmo. When their grandchildren were playing in the hotel, the doors slammed shut and the temperature radically dropped, they refused to play there anymore. Another grandchild tried to take the hotel on as a project. She started to lock away her cleaning and repair tools because they kept moving. Regardless of her efforts, the tools still appeared mysteriously in the middle of the room every morning. Annabelle Stark, the last of the Stark family to die, is said to keep a lookout for the the town from the Hotel. A skier said she saw a woman in the window who was looking off in the distance. When she followed her gaze she saw snowmobilers in the area. The skier told them that it was illegal to snowmobile in St Elmo. After they left the woman in the hotel nodded to the skier and vanished.The Viewing: St Elmo lies just west of Bueno Vista. It is considered the best preserved ghost town in Colorado and worth a stop if you are in the area. More on this spooky site...www.ghosttowns.com/states/co/saintelmo.htmlwww.ghosttowngallery.com/htme/stelmo.htmwww.legendsofamerica.com/CP-StElmo1.htmlwww.prairieghosts.com/stelmo.htmlBack to TopConnecticutNew London - Lighthouse Inn The History: Originally known as Meadow Court, this home was a summer retreat for Charles Guthrie. Built in 1902, it was turned into an Inn in 1927. Among such famous guests as Bette Davis and Joan Crawford was Harry Rodvogin, a resident artist who lived at the Inn after his old friends Bill and Al Ronnick spotted him painting portraits on the street. Rodvogin is now recognized for the paintings he created and you can see his work in the local museums.The Haunting: One guest who hasn't left is the spirit of a bride who died falling down the main stairway on her wedding day. But she is rather harmless, she hangs out in guestrooms reading a book or walks around the halls looking a bit forlorn. Strange noises are also heard around the Inn on occasion but shouldn't disrupt a good nights sleep.The Viewing: This Inn is now a resort offering such amenities as its own private beach and in-room spa services. To make your reservations, click here. More on this spooky site...www.lighthouseinn-ct.comwww.associatedcontent.com/article/682437/

DelawareBethany Beach - The Addy Sea The History: Built in 1902 by John Addy, this Inn was originally a family residence. After a wicked storm in 1927, the house was actually moved further back from the seashore. The original foundations were used as a BBQ pit and hang out until they were covered by sand over the years. John Addy was a plumbing supplier and made the Addy house and his neighbors homes some of the most efficient and convenient in the area. This made it popular when it first became a boarding house in 1935. The boarding house was run by the Addy family until it was sold in 1975.The Haunting: Room 1 had a haunted copper tub - well, until it went missing. The original Victorian tub was originally used by the Addy family. During renovations in the 1980s the tub was stored in a garage but went missing. The thief may have gotten more then they expected as the bathtub is supposedly haunted and rocks and shakes violently at times. But no fear, even with the haunted bathtub gone, there are still specters wandering the halls, random sounds and footsteps, strange whiffs of perfume and even haunting music all keeping the place "spiritually" active.The Viewing: Enjoy the Victorian trappings, walk the beach or sit on the veranda on a rocking chair - who knows, maybe the empty one next to you will rock too? To find out more about staying, click here. More on this spooky site...www.addysea.com/addyseainfo.htmlwww.addysea.com/history.htmlBack to Top Ghost ImageFloridaFort Pierce - Boston House The History: William Turpin Jones worked for the railroad and after an accident on the job was able to pay for his home, Cresthaven, in 1909. Jones used the house as collateral during the depression in an agreement with Irving Whitney. However, Whitney died and his sister Rose forced the Jones family to move out in 1932 and renamed the home Boston House. When she died in 1954 the home was rezoned by the city for commercial use after if failed to sell as a residence.The Haunting: There was a tragic shooting accident when Clifford Jones, then 10 years old, accidently shot his friend, 9 year old William Fee. However, the ghost sightings revolve around sightings of women in the window, perfume in the morning and laughter of the unpleasant kind. There have also been reports of items moving and cold spots. None of the sightings are clearly related to one event. Instead see the article by the Grim Society who reviewed the historical archives and found many of the tales of ghosts do not match the actual history of the building.The Viewing: A law firm currently occupies this old residence, sorry, no tours. More on this spooky site...http://thegrimsociety.com/2007/10/14/the-historic-boston-house/www.examiner.com/paranormal-travel-in-west-palm-beach/

GeorgiaSavannah - 17-Hundred-90 Restaurant & Inn The History: This inn was actually built in 1820, not 1790. First a boarding house and later an inn, this home has had many owners and guests. One of these guests was Anne Powell. The legend says she was unhappily married at sixteen to an Englishman. She fell in love with a German sailor who left her "in the family way." She watched his boat sail away and then committed suicide by jumping from the window, landing on the brick pavement below.The Haunting: Anne Powell is the most famous ghost, believed to haunt guest room 204 from where it is said she jumped to her death. She doesn't seem to be a menacing spirit: she sits beside the fire, lays out guests' clothes on the bed or plays pranks on guests waking them up in wee hours of the morning by setting off the radio alarm. Another ghost in the basement kitchen and restaurant doesn't like women very much and likes to shove them around. But this ghost is countered by the ghost of a merchant marine who will help the staff turn the lights off at closing.The Viewing: Savannah ghost tours stop here for a drink but you can go to the restaurant yourself and have a bite to eat. Or if you really dare, spend the night instead - ask for room 204! More on this spooky site...www.17hundred90.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/ga/17hundred90.cfmBack to TopSavannah - Kehoe House The History: This home was built in 1892 for William Kehoe and his family. The large family (they had 10 children!) kept the home until 1930. After that the home became a boarding house, funeral parlor, and a private residence. In 1992 the home opened as a B&B, it changed ownership in 2003, but remains an inn with a B&B atmosphere.The Haunting: The main tragedy of the house (that we know of) was the death of the Kehoe twins who died when playing around the chimney. Children can be heard running the halls and some guests have even had children check in on them in their rooms. But if you don't see the children, their mother Annie is reputed to still wander the rooms, making sure to tuck in all the guests at night!The Viewing: Why not spend the night? Ask for rooms 201 or 203. For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...www.kehoehouse.comwww.hauntedhouses.comwww.associatedcontent.comBack to Top Ghost ImageHawaiiKailua-Kona, Big Island - Hulihe'e Palace The History: This summer home for Hawaiian royalty was built by governor John Adams Kuakini in 1838 and was used until 1914.The Haunting: Different members of the royal family are said to haunt this place, both the grand staircase and the grounds. The ghosts don't mind visitors and generally keep to themselves. There is also a young boy who has been spotted, but his relation to the family, if any, is unknown.The Viewing: The palace became a museum in 1927 and is still open for limited tours which highlight the Victorian furniture and decor from the reign of King Kalakaua and Queen Kapiolani. The gift shop is also open. More on this spooky site...http://huliheepalace.com/index.htmlwww.gohawaii.com/big-island/regions-neighborhoods/kona/hulihee-palacehttp://lovingthebigisland.wordpress.com/2009/11/01/konas-fscinating-history-hulihee-palace/

Ghost ImageIdahoBoise - Old Idaho Penitentiary The History: Although not a house, this prison was the home to many inmates beginning in 1872, two years after construction began. Many of the buildings on the site were added and built by the inmates as part of their daily labor. The prison functioned for 101 years and housed both dangerous men and women.The Haunting: A fully functioning prison with isolation cells and a gallows, there are more than a few places to attract negative post mortem energies. Both the isolation cells and the rose garden (where the first gallows were located) have cold spots and apparitions. A death row inmate who committed suicide is also known to haunt the maximum security prison in a eerie green hue.The Viewing: The penitentiary buildings now house a museum run by the Idaho State Historic Society. In addition to a history of the prison and the inmates, there are also exhibits on weapons and transportation. For added fun, the penitentiary now hosts Halloween events, ghost tours and night tours. For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...http://history.idaho.gov/oldpen.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/id/idaho_state_penitentiary.cfmYouTube Video - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ITi8SB39J8EBack to TopIllinoisBull Valley - George Stickney House This History: George and Sylvia Stickney built this home in 1849. As spiritualists, they specifically requested the design of the home not to have square corners. It was believed the square corners could trap spirits. The family was reputed to have preformed séances regularly in their upstairs ballroom. Having 12 children, but only 3 that survived, perhaps the need to connect with the lost loved ones encouraged their continual searches into the beyond. The Haunting: The police stationed in the home today have shared stories of paranormal activity. They have heard footsteps and human voices when alone. Some have seen apparitions and had objects move on them after they left the room. Other more dramatic events such as doors opening on their own have also been seen.The Viewing: The house is registered on the National Registry of Historic Places. Efforts are underway to restore the home and eventually offer tours. However, as of today there is not much for the public to see. To prevent vandalism to the vacated structure, the Bull Valley Police Department has their headquarters on the lower floor. Take a look at the video from the Northwest Herald to see more. More on this spooky site...www.prairieghosts.com/stickney.htmlhttp://ssm.nwherald.com/northwest-herald/video/20071030StickneyMansion/stickney-mansion/http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Stickney_HouseBack to TopEquality - Hickory Hill House The History: This house was built in 1842 by John Crenshaw. Although it was illegal to own slaves in the state of Illinois, it was legal to lease slaves from slave states to work in salt mines. John Crenshaw leased slaves from nearby states to work in his salt mines. It is also said that he would kidnap free blacks and force them to work in his mines and eventually sell them into slavery. All the slaves where kept in the upstairs attic in horse stall-like cells that opened to one large corridor. John Crenshaw had a particularly nasty reputation for cruelty and abuse.The Haunting: The house opened as a tourist attraction in 1930 and many claimed to hear the rattling of chains and muffled cries from the attic. The home had the reputation that no one could spend the night. In 1978, a reporter named David Rogers was the first to spend a whole night in the house.The Viewing: Currently the house is protected by the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency and closed to the public. A grant was received in late spring 2006, hopefully it will be able to reopen soon! More on this spooky site...www.prairieghosts.com/slave.html www.illinoishistory.com/oshpage.html www.hauntedhouses.comhttp://illinoishistory.blogspot.com/2006/10/old-slave-house-closed-10-years-ago.htmlBack to Top Ghost ImageIndianaIndianapolis - Hannah House The History: This home was built by Alexander Hannah in 1858. Hannah used his basement to house runaway slaves before the Civil War. After the war he expanded the house for his new wife, Elizabeth. Four years after his death in 1895 the home was sold to Roman Oehler and the house remains owned by the Oehler family today.The Haunting: The legend is that some of the slaves seeking sanctuary in the cellar perished one night from smoke inhalation and burns after a lamp fell over. Their bodies were buried in the same cellar so the underground railroad location would not be discovered. Today cold spots, shattering glass and moaning can be heard in the cellar. A few apparitions have also been spotted. Upstairs, items move, footsteps are heard, doors open on their own and odd odors permeate the room. Even Hannah and possibly his wife have been spotted, still watching over the home and its secrets.The Viewing: The Hannah House is rented for special events and conferences today. However, overnight ghost packages are available for both inexperienced enthusiasts and professional ghost hunting teams alike. For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...www.thehannahmansion.orgwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/in/hannah_house.cfmBack to TopIowaBentonsport - Mason House Inn The History: This hotel was built in 1846 for steamboat travelers along the Des Moines River. Later, the Mason House was used as a 'holding hospital' during the Civil War for soldiers being transferred to Keokuk. It also served as a 'station' along the underground railroad. Mason House gets its name from the Mason family who owned the property for 99 years.The Haunting: Three of the owners have died in the building and there was also one murder in a guest room. In 1860 poor Mr. Knapp had been drinking and accidentally went to the wrong room. The occupant thought he was being robbed and stabbed Mr. Knapp in self-defense. The home had also been a 'holding hospital' in the Civil War and some patients may have died in the home. Also a Doctor renting a room in the 1940s died in the building. All in all, a great hangout for ghosts. The ghosts come in many forms. There are wisps of fog and cold spots to actual figures who appear and disappear from sight. There is a boy that plays tricks; he likes to rustle sheets and tug at guests as they sleep. There are footsteps, thuds and a woman in white. An abundance of ghosts and paranormal events for all!The Viewing: Today you may stay at this B&B for about $80/night ($125 if you are staying in the restored caboose!). Request to stay in the main house on the 2nd floor (rooms 5 & 7) for the best chance of paranormal dreams! Ghost Hunting 101 and 102 classes are also available about twice a year and a Halloween Ghost Walk around Oct 31st. To spend the night, click here. More on this spooky site...www.masonhouseinn.comhotels.about.comBack to TopVillisca - Villisca Ax Murder House The History: On June 10, 1912, the Moore family and two overnight guests were brutally murdered. The ax murder of two adults and six children horrified the community and its story still horrifies people today. Regardless of the unprecedented effort of police, detectives and neighboring departments at the time, the case remains unsolved to this day. The Haunting: The most common account seems to be of children's voices in the house. Things will also move unexpectedly and lamps won't stay lit regardless that there is no breeze in the home. The Viewing: Tours of the home are available through the Olson Linn Museum. They also offer night tours, but these must be arranged in advance. For current hours click here. More on this spooky site...www.villiscaiowa.comwww.prairieghosts.com/villisca.html www.villiscamovie.com/emporium.htm YouTube Video - www.youtube.com/watch?v=T54lLMJ17kkBack to Top Ghost ImageKansasKansas City - Strawberry Hill Mansion The History: Architect John G. Braecklein designed this Queen Ann style home in 1887. Margaret Cruise Scroggs and John B. Scroggs were the first to occupy the house. Margaret had surviving children in her previous marriage and her daughter Emma McFadden and her husband inherited the home in 1915. But in 1919 the home was purchased by Sister Bonaventure and turned into an orphanage for children who had lost their parents to the influenza epidemic. The orphanage remained open until 1988 and cared for over 3000 orphans. The building was then turned into a museum by the Strawberry Hill Ethnic Cultural Society who still run the property today.The Haunting: There is an unknown male ghost who haunts the third floor and will chase visitors from the ballroom. A Lady in Red haunts the house but is not associated with the families or the nuns, instead she is believed to be the spirit of a homeless woman who died under the nuns' care. Apparently she likes to join in the tours and ask questions, she usually inquires after the location of the priest's house. There are other female and child entities around the house. Sometimes music and footsteps can be heard or the scent of baby powder will fill the air.The Viewing: Strawberry Hill is now a museum celebrating Slavic immigrant history in Kansas City. It offers museum tours and the Tea Room is open on Saturday and Sunday afternoons and provide a little taste of the past. For more information and visiting hours, click here. More on this spooky site...www.strawberryhillmuseum.orgwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/ks/strawberry_hill.cfmwww.associatedcontent.com/article/379111/

KentuckyLouisville - Waverly Hills Sanitarium The History: Okay, this is not a house, but since it has such a grand reputation of being haunted, we thought to include it. Waverly Hills opened as a hospital for tuberculosis patients in 1926. Tuberculosis was a dreaded killer of the time and most of the patients who entered would die there. It is estimated that at the height of the epidemic a patient died every hour. This large complex had a long tunnel nicknamed the "body chute" where the bodies were transferred to a train at the bottom of the hill. It was covered so patients would not be disheartened by seeing the number of dead being removed from the hospital. Because Tuberculosis was not well understood, there were many experiments that occurred, some were beneficial and some were more brutal leading to tales of mistreatment and abuse. In 1982, the hospital was shut down under allegations of abuse. The Haunting: The tales of a haunting started after the hospital was shut down and allowed into disrepair. Transients, vandals and kids would break in. Stories began to spread of small children playing in the halls, lights going on when there was not power, doors being slammed, voices crying out, and various other ghoulish activities. One specific spot, room 502, is on the floor where the mentally ill tuberculosis patients were housed. This room was the nurses station where two nurses committed suicide on separate occasions for reasons unknown.The Viewing: There are tours run by the Waverly Hills Historical Society. Tours must be arranged as this is a private site and trespassers will be prosecuted. Overnight tours can also be arranged in advance. To find out more click here. More on this spooky site...www.therealwaverlyhills.comwww.prairieghosts.com/waverly_tb.html http://whsmemorial.tripod.com/YouTube Video - www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Tcl3eRoNUkBack to TopLouisianaNew Orleans - Magnolia Mansion The History: This home was built in 1857 by Alexander Harris. After Alexander died of yellow fever his widow remarried and sold the home to the Maginnis family. John Maginnis owned a cotton mill and it was whispered he was struck by lightning because of the cruel way he treated his employees. In 1939, John's daughter inherited the home and willed it to the Red Cross. The Red Cross used the home to train nurses for WWII and the Korean War. In 1954 the home was again sold into private ownership. Magnolia Mansion was renovated in 2001 and opened as a B&B in 2002.The Haunting: When renovating the home, the crew had to stop as an oily substance appeared over the walls. The owner then verbalized her plans for the place out loud so the ghosts would know exactly what she was up to. She told them she was improving the home and the ghosts would not be able to scare the guests away. This appeased them for awhile. However, ghosts are still reputed to slam doors and snuggle into bed with guests on occasion. Many guests have photos of orbs and a few extra faces from their visits as well.The Viewing: This adult catering B&B offers a great escape to any non-smoker over 21 years of age. Specializing in romance with Elopement and Wedding packages, the B&B also has fun with their ghosts offering a Romantic Ghostly Getaway Package which includes a room, treats and ghost walking tours. For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...www.magnoliamansion.comVideo - http://video.msn.com

St. Francisville - Myrtles Plantation The History: This home was built by David Bradford in 1794 but stories of haunting did not start until the 1950's. The house had a long history with many different owners. There is only one recorded murder of William Winter in 1871. However, there are many tales that are told about the home to justify the haunting. Most of these seem to be fabricated tales, but many say that is just because the house is so haunted, people needed to make up some kind of explanation.The Haunting: Among the haunting activity is the ghost of a woman in a green turban who some believe to be the ghost of a slave killed for poisoning the head mistress and her two daughters. Others claim this ghost is not a young slave but an older, unknown woman. There is also a little girl who has appeared as well as a frustrated piano player who continuously practices the same cord over and over on the old piano.The Viewing: You can dine in the restaurant, take a tour or spend the night. The choice is up to you. Click here for more information. More on this spooky site...www.myrtlesplantation.comwww.prairieghosts.com/myrtles.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.comYouTube Video - www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIMAXKBOMp8Back to TopMaineSearsport - Watchtide The History: Built in the early 1790s, ownership transferred to Brigadier General Henry Knox in 1794. He was a trusted ally to George Washington and was the first Secretary of War for the U.S. After General Knox sold the property, it went through many owners, many of them sea captains who were involved in the shipping industry of the area. The house was an inn starting in 1917 to the 1940s when it then became a private home again. In 1994, the inn reopened and is still family operated today.The Haunting: Guests and a previous owner have reported seeing phantoms in period appropriate dress floating around the home. There are reports of music heard without a "source." Footsteps have also been heard. However, the new B&B owner says there does not seem to be as much activity of late. Perhaps it was the recent remodel that chased away or appeased the spirits.The Viewing: Recently renovated, this B&B offers a great quiet getaway as well as easy access to many of the great sites around Maine. To make your reservation, click here. More on this spooky site...www.watchtide.comwww.fabuloustravel.comBack to Top Ghost ImageMarylandFrederick - Schifferstadt The History: This German colonial house was built in 1758 by Joseph Bruner. Built during the French and Indian War, the house was made to double as a refuge for colonials in the country. Originally tenant farmers and recent immigrants from Germany, the Bruner families and others like them fought to be able to purchase their land from crooked landlords. They eventually prevailed. The home would remain a family residence until it was sold to the Frederick County Landmark Foundation in 1974. The Haunting: Although apparitions are not reported, the sound of footsteps and activity can be heard. Interestingly, voices have been heard in English and, of course, German!The Viewing: Today the museum highlights early German colonial life and the experiences during the French and Indian War. The museum is open on Saturdays or by appointment. Although the museum hosts special events, most of them are historical and cultural - why not enjoy Oktoberfest while peaking for ghosts? More on this spooky site...www.frederickcountylandmarksfoundation.org/fclf_schiffgen.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/md/schifferstadt.cfmBack to TopMassachusettsFall River - Lizzy Borden House The History: As with so many haunted homes, this story begins with a murder. On the morning of August 4, 1892, Andrew and Abby Borden were murdered by ax in their home. Their eldest daughter, Lizzy, was tried and latter acquitted of the murders. However, she was ostracized from the community for the rest of her life. Some consider that she had a split personality, even those close to her recall erratic and violent behavior. And of course there was the creation of the rhyme:Lizzie Borden took an axGave her mother forty whacks;When she saw what she had doneGave her father forty-one!The Haunting: There is a strange woman who tucks guests into bed and perhaps the same woman can be heard weeping in the night. Objects move on their own and electrical equipment such as lights and cameras have some interference. Many claim the most active room is Lizzy's old bedroom - which you can stay in if you want...The Viewing: The home is now a bed and breakfast. You may spend the night, take a tour or even spend a weekend at Ghost Hunter University! To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...www.lizzie-borden.comwww.hauntedhamilton.com/gotw_lizzieborden.html www.prairieghosts.com/lizzie.htmlBack to Top Ghost ImageMichiganMarshall - National House Inn The History: Originally as stage stop between Detroit and Chicago, this inn was built in 1835 by Colonel Andrew Mann. The inn continued to serve passengers as a railroad hotel until business slowed and it was sold and turned into a windmill and wagon factory. In 1902 the inn was converted into apartments and during prohibition offered a secret room to buy and consume alcohol. By 1976 the building was in need of repair and was remodeled into a bed and breakfast.The Haunting: This inn is still the home to a lady in red. Her connection with the place is unknown but she likes to make her presence known by popping up on the living now and again.The Viewing: The oldest inn in Michigan still operates today as a bed and breakfast. Although not promoting their ghosts, they offer weekend getaway packages as well as a historical home tour. For more information on spending the night click here. More on this spooky site...www.nationalhouseinn.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/mi/national_house_inn.cfmBack to TopMinnesotaSt. Paul - Forepaugh's Victorian Mansion The History: Joseph Forepaugh had the home built in 1870 for his family. It is rumored he had an affair with one of the servants, Molly, who hung herself after they broke it off. Joseph later also committed suicide, rumors stating that it was his loss of Molly driving him into depression.The Haunting: Molly is still seen floating about the mansion. She seems to reside on the 3rd floor but enjoys coming down and checking out wedding events on occasion. Although Joseph shot himself in a nearby park, he is said to wander the mansion as well.The Viewing: Today the home has been renovated and turned into a nice French restaurant. Weddings are also popular at the mansion. To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...www.forepaughs.comwww.hauntedhouses.comwww.prairieghosts.com/forep.htmlBack to TopMississippiNatchez - Monmouth Plantation The History: Originally built in 1818, the mansion was purchased by General Quitman, a Mexican War hero, in 1826. The home was almost burned to the ground during the Civil War when the Union won this area of Mississippi. However, Quitman's daughters pleaded loyalty to the Union to save their home (their father was a staunch secessionist). The house stayed in the family until 1914. The home then went into disrepair until it was recently restored after 1978.The Haunting: The General himself stomps around the halls and makes many feel his presence as guests and staff cannot shake the thought that someone is staring at them. He also shows up as a specter to let all know he has an eye on things. Since the new owners have restored the home to its antebellum decor, there seems to be less stomping by the imposing General.The Viewing: Regardless of the haunts, this hotel offers luxury accommodation and a great escape. To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...www.monmouthplantation.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/ms/monmouth.cfmBack to TopMissouriSt. Louis - Lemp Mansion The History: This house was purchased by William Lemp around 1864 to use as a residence and office for the family brewery. William's father had used a family recipe/method to create a lager beer. This beer quickly became popular and William's father abandoned his grocery store to become a full time brewer. The beer continued to be made by the family until 1922 when family mishap and prohibition forced them to shut down and sell for good. The mansion itself has a sorrowful history with one brother dying under mysterious circumstances and three other men of the family committing suicide inside. The Haunting: With three suicides one can easily guess where the idea of ghosts haunting the mansion started. However, the families odd history also adds fuel to the imagination. There is the rumor that William Lemp had an illegitimate son with Down syndrome who was kept hidden in the mansion attic his whole life. He is now said to be seen haunting the mansion and has the nickname "Monkey Face Boy." Tales of haunting first started after 1949 when the mansion was sold and turned into a boarding house. Strange knocking and footsteps throughout the mansion scared the tenants away so the house started to run into disrepair. In 1975, the mansion was saved and renovated and turned into a restaurant and inn. All types of sights and sounds have continued and are still reported today. The Viewing: Spend the night! Or take a tour if you're too scared... The mansion is a bed and breakfast that offers tours and a restaurant to those who don't want to spend the night. They also host a Halloween Party and Murder Mystery Dinner Theater. To find out more click here. More on this spooky site...www.lempmansion.comwww.legendsofamerica.com/MO-LempMansion.htmlBack to TopMontanaPray - Chico Hot Springs Resort & Day Spa The History: In 1894 Percie and Bill Knowles inherited a home near the hot springs and opened their doors as a boarding house as there were not any accommodations in the area yet. They built a hotel in 1900. In 1912, Percie teamed with Dr. Townsend and turned the hotel into a hospital. It would remain a hospital until the 1940s when it would begin to change hands. In 1974, it was renovated and again opened as a B&B.The Haunting: There is a woman in white who likes to wander the halls and spook the security guards. She also likes room 349 where she makes sure the rocking chair is always facing the window. Many think it is Percie making certain everyone is minding their manners and running her hotel/hospital efficiently. The Viewing: Relax your spooked nerves in the day spa or natural hot springs. Or get some more adventure on a trail ride or a dog sled trek in the winter. To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...www.chicohotsprings.comwww.chicohotsprings.com/publications/big_sky_ghosts.htmlwww.spiritsociety.org/report.php?HauntID=65Back to Top Ghost ImageNebraskaOmaha - White House Apartments The History: Part of the Little Italy neighborhood, this home was built at the turn of the 20th century. Before being converted to the apartments it still is today, this Victorian home was also altered into a hospital for a while.The Haunting: A woman in white supposedly still lives here and keeps the new residents company.The Viewing: These apartments are still listed as low income housing, a.k.a. private property so enjoy from a distance. More on this spooky site...www.hauntedhouses.com/states/ne/white_house_apartments.cfmBack to Top Ghost ImageNevadaCarson City - Abraham Curry House The History: Abraham Curry was the founder of Carson City and was involved with everything from the mint to acting as prison warden. It is convenient then that the sandstone for his home built around 1869 was quarried by the prisoners. Curry died shortly after the building was complete.The Haunting: Curry was not ready to leave the house so recently built before his death so he has stayed on. He has been seen as a full apparition and appears to be looking for someone before he disappears again.The Viewing: Sorry, not going to happen; this home is now a law office. More on this spooky site...www.nps.gov/nr/travel/nevada/abr.htmwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/nv/abraham_curry_house.cfmBack to TopNew HampshireDurham - Three Chimneys Inn The History: The Three Chimneys Inn was built in 1649 as a residence for Valentine Hill. The home was used during the Revolutionary War to house munitions stolen from the British. The house stayed relatively privately owned and within about four different families. Extensive renovations were done recently in the 1990s.The Haunting: It is possible one of the ghosts is that of Hill's daughter, Hannah, who drowned nearby. Hannah seems to like to hang out in the dining areas and there is an unidentified gentleman spirit that hangs out there as well. The spirits here like to play with electrical equipment - many things just don't work in certain rooms. Furniture will be heard moving about in guestrooms where no one is staying. Also, there will be music heard from the dining rooms. The gentleman has been heard stomping around pacing and one of the spirits even shattered a water glass in the dining hall while dinner was being served.The Viewing: Although built in the 17th century, you won't have to rough it here. An elegant stay along the coast and you might get to meet Hannah as well. Click here for more information. More on this spooky site...www.threechimneysinn.comwww.associatedcontent.com/article/433780/

Ghost ImageNew JerseyCape May - The Southern Mansion Inn The History: This home was built for George Allen in 1863 and would stay in his family for 83 years. A fire in 1979 destroyed many of the southern style mansions in the area; The Southern Mansion would survive as one of the few reminders of this connection with the south. In the 1940s the home was sold and turned into a boarding house. It slowly fell into disrepair until 1994 when Bray and Wildes bought it and began restoration.The Haunting: The last of the Allen family, Ester Mercur, is believed to haunt the halls. She is a happy ghost who looks after the action in the kitchen but is also seen dancing and laughing in other areas of the home. She also wears heavy perfume. There seem to be other entities there as well but all generally polite with the living.The Viewing: Spend the night! This Bed and Breakfast offers luxurious accommodations and close access to the beach. The ghosts here are friendly bunch and might provide a little extra amusement for your dollar. For more information about staying click here. More on this spooky site...www.southernmansion.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/nj/southern_mansion.cfmBack to Top Ghost ImageNew MexicoSanta Fe - La Posada Hotel The History: Abraham Staab built this home along the Santa Fe Trail in 1882. His wife, Julia, became a recluse in the home after she lost her seventh child. The Nason family bought the property in the 1930s and first turned it into a hotel which it has been ever since. The hotel has enjoyed popularity with the artistic community and is credited to providing a meeting ground for the leaders of the Santa Fe Arts Movement.The Haunting: Julia is still wandering the halls of the home. She can be a bit bipolar as a ghost; one minute she is running away from visitors down the hall, the next she is throwing the glasses from the bar shelves.The Viewing: La Posada is now a luxury resort offering everything from weekend getaways to romantic weddings. For information about spending the night click here. More on this spooky site...http://laposada.rockresorts.com/www.legendsofamerica.com/nm-laposadahotel.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/nm/la_posada.cfmBack to TopNew YorkAmityville - Amityville The History: On November 14, 1974 at 3 AM Ronald DeFeo took a rifle and systematically shot his parents, two brothers and two sisters. This is the ghastly beginning of the hauntings in this Amityville home. The fame of this home spread after the ownership of Lutz family who purchased the home in 1975. They stayed only 28 days before the supernatural pushed them back out.The Haunting: At first the Lutz family noticed cold spots and muffled spots where sound did not carry well. This they could ignore as unusual but not necessarily unnatural. However, soon other events began to happen. Mr. Lutz would hear loud noises or footsteps downstairs but when he went downstairs, it was quiet and the dog would be sleeping as if nothing had happened. Mrs. Lutz began to feel the presence of an older woman and began to show increased aging as if she was becoming the old woman herself. They then discovered a small store room painted red that did not appear on the original house plans. The room had a strong odor that did not have an identifiable source and the dog was scared of the room. The mysterious events and depressing feelings of the house kept adding up until the family decided to break free. The story of the haunting has been made into movies, but Mr. Lutz considered these to be exaggerated. The Viewing: This home is privately owned. The curious are asked to respect the owner's privacy and not visit the home. It is NOT open for tours. More on this spooky site...www.amityvillehorror.comwww.ghostvillage.comwww.amityvillehorrortruth.comBack to Top Ghost ImageNorth CarolinaRaleigh - Andrew Johnson's House The History: Andrew Johnson was born in this small house in 1808. His parents kept the home as employees of the Casso's Inn; his mother was a weaver and his father a hostler and janitor. The Haunting: Instead of a person a candle is seen in the window and moves from the first to second floor with uncanny speed before being snuffed out for the night.The Viewing: Andrew Johnson's house is now part of a larger park, the Mordecai Historic Park. There are tours Tuesday thru Sunday or by arrangement for groups. For times and entrance fees, click here. More on this spooky site...http://raleighnc.gov/mordecaihttp://ncpedia.org/biography/johnson-andrewwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/nc/andrew_johnson_home.cfmbooks.google.comBack to TopNorth DakotaAnamoose - Sage Hill Bed & Breakfast The History: First opened in 1928 and known as "White School," this bed and breakfast started history as a primary school. This model school set an example for the area. It used wind power and offered students hot meals and warm showers. The teachers and bus drivers stayed on site. There were two horse barns onsite to house the horses that pulled the school bus/wagons. At its peak, there were 100 students enrolled. The school closed in 1968 because of lack of enrollment.The Haunting: Legend has it that a superintendent and student died in a fire caused by a coal burning stove. The superintendent smoked cigars and the smell of cigar smoke still hangs in the air at times. Objects like to move by themselves around here and lights and even toilets work on their own.The Viewing: Sage Hill was recently converted to a bed and breakfast by the current owners in 1996. Even remodeled, it has the feel of the old schoolhouse. Want to spend the night? To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...http://sagehillnd.com/index.htmlhttp://hauntsofamerica.blogspot.com/2008/01/haunting-of-sage-hill-bed-and-breakfast.htmlBack to TopOhioCleveland - Franklin Castle The History: Hannes Tiedemann built this house in 1865. Unfortunately, they lost four children in a short amount of time leading to some speculation of unnatural deaths. The house architecture aids in the mystery of the house as there are secret passageways and hidden rooms throughout. There are also rumors of Tiedemann having affairs that lead to jealousy and, ultimately, to murder. One of the most tragic tales is that of Tiedemann hanging his niece to put her out of misery from her insanity or to punish her for her promiscuity.The Haunting: Past residents have heard a small child crying and heard footsteps out in the corridor. There is also claim that the tower room is haunted by the "woman in black" who can be heard choking. Lights also swing around and some objects have been moved or thrown.The Viewing: Today the mansion houses a private club restricted to members and their guests. It was rumored at one time they would eventually start tours to the building, however, nothing is posted on their website about this yet. More on this spooky site...www.franklincastleclub.comwww.prairieghosts.com/oh-frank.htmlBack to TopOklahomaGuthrie - The Stone Lion Inn The History: F.E. Houghton built this mansion in 1907. It served most of its years as a residence and later was turned into a funeral home. The only person to die in the home seems to be a young girl who died of whooping cough after receiving the wrong medicine.The Haunting: After turning this mansion into an inn, the new owners woke up at night to the sounds of footsteps and doors opening and closing. They called the police but no intruder was found. Soon after they realized they had their first "guest" who may be a small girl as she likes to take out the toys at night to play.The Viewing: Ready for some fun? From a murder mystery night or perhaps a chance to see a real ghost, click here for more information about how to stay. More on this spooky site...www.stonelioninn.comBack to TopOregonYachats - Heceta House The History: This house accompanies a lighthouse on the Oregon coast built in 1894. Many families occupied the house complex over time which included a post office, school and the light house. But it is only the keeper's house that has tales of hauntings. Many believe this is the mother of child who fell off the cliffs back at the turn of the century. The Haunting: The ghost named Rue is said to be an extra caretaker of the house. She makes it known if she is displeased with any activity in the house. One of the more humorous accounts was of her screaming in the middle of a card game, she didn't want them playing cards in her house! The Viewing: This house is now a bed and breakfast. It also has guided tours from its interpretive center. Although the current owners don't play up and advertise the ghost they have said guests have told them of strange encounters. To spend the night click here. More on this spooky site...www.hauntedhouses.comwww.hecetalighthouse.comBack to TopPennsylvaniaGettysburg - Farnsworth House Inn The History: A house was built here in 1810 and later changed to brick in 1833. During the Civil War, the Sweeney family lived in the home and the Confederates used the home as a shelter for their sharpshooters. The current owners purchased the home in 1972 and have worked on renovating the home keeping the early 19th century feel and history.The Haunting: Many ghosts haunt this home. Including Confederate soldiers who like to move furniture and stomp around the attic. Another soldier has been spotted carrying his wounded comrade to the cellar. He is heard singing to his dying friend as well. Mary, a midwife, likes to tend to anyone who is sick or distressed and may sit down on the bed next to anyone who seems to need the company. There is a small boy who died in a carriage accident out front and his grieving father who also haunt the halls.The Viewing: Whether a Civil War enthusiast who needs a place to stay or interested in meeting some of the wandering spirits, this inn will fit the bill. This inn has fun with history providing ghost stories in their tours and theater shows. To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...www.farnsworthhouseinn.comwww.scaryplace.com/FarnsworthFacts.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/pa/farnsworth_house.cfmBack to TopRhode IslandNewport - Belcourt Castle The History: This 60 room castle was completed in 1894 as a summer cottage for Oliver Belmont. This "bachelor pad" had only one bedroom, no guestrooms and the entire first floor was dedicated to Oliver's carriage horses and their carriages. Eventually it was renovated for Oliver's new wife, Alva (formerly Mrs. Vanderbilt) who enjoyed staying at this home. Belcourt was purchased by the Tinney family in 1956 who began giving tours in 1957. The Haunting: Unlike other homes where the house holds the spirits, it is believed the ghosts at Belcourt Castle come from the numerous antiques in its' collection. The most famous is "the monk" who seems to be connected to a 17th century German woodcarving. This shadowy figure appears next to the carving and then disappears. The Gothic ballroom contains some of the most haunted artifacts including possessed chairs!The Viewing: Belcourt Castle offers a 90 minutes ghost tour for $18/person. There are also other general tours, candlelight tours and teas. For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...www.belcourtcastle.orgwww.quahog.org/attractions/index.php?id=1031www.associatedcontent.comBack to TopNewport - Castle Hill Inn & Resort The History: The location for Castle Hill originally had a watch house as early as 1740 when it was used to watch the sea for ships during the war between Britain and Spain. The Americans used the same location during the Revolutionary War to bombard British ships as they passed. In 1874, Alexander Agassiz, an explorer and scientist settled here to better study the marine life. It was not only his home but a lab that housed research students as well.The Haunting: There is a girl spirit here who may have some connection to the original owner, Agassiz. She throws a bit of a tantrum now and then and has trashed some of the china on occasion.The Viewing: This inn offers a luxury escape on the coast. For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...www.castlehillinn.comBack to TopSouth CarolinaCharleston - The Battery Carriage House Inn The History: This house was built in 1843 for Samuel Stevens, a prominent lender in the area who helped local cotton farms finance their farms. In 1870, after the Civil War had ended the local wealthy in Charleston, Col. Lathers (of the Union Army), bought the home and had it remodeled to the current New York fashion, Second Empire. However, Col. Lathers was told he wasn't welcome in Charleston and sold the home in 1874 to Andrew Simonds, the great-great grandfather of the current owner.The Haunting: There is a gentleman ghost who may be the son of a former owner who jumped off the roof to commit suicide. But he is a gentle ghost and just seems to enjoy the company. There is also a headless torso who makes many feel threatened by his creepy appearance and moaning. He might be the ghost a pirate as some were executed close to the hotel. However it is just as likely he is a soldier from the Civil War. Some guests report seeing energy orbs or have electronics turn on when they are really off. Overall it seems rooms 8 and 10 have the most activity.The Viewing: The owners of the hotel have not seen any of the ghosts themselves, but they don't mind if you want to try and catch a glimpse for yourself. Click here to find out more. More on this spooky site...www.batterycarriagehouse.comwww.batterycarriagehouse.com/ghosts.htmwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/sc/battery_carriage_house.cfmBack to Top Ghost ImageSouth DakotaDeadwood - Adams House The History: This home, built in 1892, came after Deadwood's colorful mining camp days. Harris and Anna Franklin had the home built and their family stayed in it until 1920 when it sold to W.E. and Alice Adams. This is the same W.E. Adams who started the first museum in Deadwood in 1930. His second wife, Mary, closed the door on Adams House after his death in 1934 and left everything intact; the house was a time capsule of everything from books on the shelves to cookies in the cookie jar. In 1987 the home was remodeled as became a bed and breakfast until it was sold to Deadwood’s Historic Preservation Commission in 1992.The Haunting: Of course this home didn't change much when closed up so W.E. Adams has continued to feel right at home in the afterlife. Rumors state that his widow heard his ghost walking around before she decided to leave. Cigar smoke can be smelled on the second floor and from time to time a tour will see objects move on their own.The Viewing: Now a museum, you can learn about Deadwood's history at the same time you peak for spooky apparitions. For more information on times and cost, click here. More on this spooky site...www.adamsmuseumandhouse.orgwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/sd/adams_house.cfmBack to TopTennesseeNashville - The Hermitage The History: Andrew Jackson purchased this farm and acreage in 1804 from his friend Nathaniel Hays. Using slave labor, he turned the 1000 acres into a grand plantation producing cotton, crops for local use and race horses. From 1829-1837, Andrew Jackson served as the 7th President of the United States. After serving office he returned to the Hermitage where he later died and was buried in 1845. President Jackson's son tried to keep the Hermitage together but in the end had to start selling portions of the now 1050 acre plantation. It was considered by the U.S. Congress whether to turn the Hermitage into an extension of West Point as a military academy. However, this was not adopted. By 1889 the Hermitage was in disrepair. The Tennessee Ladies Hermitage Association (LHA) formed and spearheaded the effort to save the landmark. They were able to get 25 acres which included the main mansion and other historic buildings. The other remaining 475 acres were given to the Tennessee Confederate Soldiers' Home and made into a hospital. When the hospital shut down in 1933, all 500 acres were returned to the LHA. The LHA continued to regain the land of the Hermitage and bring it under their care and restoration. Today, 1120 acres are run under the Hermitage as both a Historic landmark and Wildlife area.The Haunting: It is said that as the plantation fell into disrepair, the spirits became angry and restless. Caretakers refused to spend the night there. The ladies of the LHA would soon find out why when they decided to rotate staying there until a watchman could be hired. Loud noises kept them awake at night. One being of Andrew Jackson himself riding his horse on the stairway. The kitchen was also a ruckus with pots and pans pounding. In the morning they could see that nothing was disturbed. Other apparitions that have been seen are of slaves who are still bound in chains to the property.The Viewing: Today you can visit this museum which includes access to the Andrew Jackson Visitor Center, Hermitage Mansion, and Hermitage Grounds and Gardens. To find out more, click here. More on this spooky site...www.thehermitage.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/tn/hermitage.cfmwww.prairieghosts.com/hermitage.htmlBack to TopTexasAustin - Driskill Hotel The History: Jesse Lincoln Driskill opened this hotel in 1886. The hotel was grand and luxurious, funded by his success as a cattle baron. In 1888, the family lost its fortune due to drought and a cold winter that killed most of the cattle. The hotel then changed from owner to owner with the most recent change of hands in 1995. The Haunting: Driskill is claimed to still wander the hotel, puffing cigar smoke while he turns lights on and off. There is the ghost of a small girl, the daughter of a senator, who was left unattended and fell to her death while playing with her ball - she can still be heard bouncing the ball today. The Viewing: The hotel today offers all kinds of pampering. To find out more about staying, click here. More on this spooky site...www.driskillhotel.comwww.austinghosttours.comwww.hauntedtexas.comBack to TopUtahSalt Lake City - McCune Mansion The History: This mansion was built in 1900 by a railroad tycoon named Alfred W. McCune. After leaving for California in 1920, the McCune's donated the mansion to the Latter-Day Saint Church. It was then turned into the McCune School of Music. It later became a Brigham Young University Salk Lake City Center and Virginia Tanner Modern Dance School. In 1999 it was purchased by Phil McCarthy who worked to restore the mansion and open it as a hotel.The Haunting: Music is said to still haunt the McCune halls. A small room under the stairs was used by the McCune's as a stage for hired musicians. The whole house would be filled with music but their guests did not know from where it came. It is said this music still fills the air from here. Other happenings include doors locking that are not fit with locks, doors opening on their own and lights going on and off on their own.The Viewing: You can schedule a tour of the mansion through the Utah Heritage Foundation. To find out more about spending the night, click here. More on this spooky site...www.mccunemansion.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/ut/mccune_mansion.cfmwww.prairieghosts.com/mccune.htmlBack to TopVermontStowe - The Green Mountain Inn The History: This home was built in 1833 by Peter Lovejoy. The home changed hands and became a hotel in the later 19th century. Mark Lovejoy purchased the hotel in 1893 and renamed it The Green Mountain Inn. The inn stayed in service while having many different owners. In the 1980s massive renovations were done including the addition of clubhouses and townhouses with luxury suites.The Haunting: A tap dancer named Boots Berry haunts the third floor of this inn. Born in 1840, Boots was actually born in the servants quarters - now hotel room 302. He gained local notoriety after he stopped spooked horses from running away with the stagecoach. Boots was treated to one too many drinks and became a bit of an alcoholic and lost his job at the inn. Boots left the area and, as legend has it, was arrested in New Orleans where he learned to tap dance from his cellmate. After a life of a traveling vagrant he returned penniless. During a winter snow storm a girl was stranded on the roof of the inn. Since Boots was familiar with the area (right above the same servants quarters) he found a way to her and helped her to safety. He however slipped and fell to his death. Now it is said during winter storms you can hear Boots tap dancing on the third floor.The Viewing: There is lot to do in the area and at the inn itself. Ice cream, chocolate and wine tasting - yes please! Click here to find out more. More on this spooky site...www.greenmountaininn.comwww.greenmountaininn.com/bootsberry.htmlwww.associatedcontent.com/article/408542

Ghost ImageVirginiaYorktown - Moore House The History: The land was first inhabited by colonists in the 1630s but the home was likely built in the 1730s when it, along with 500 acres, was called Temple Farm. Augustine Moor purchased the property in 1760. During the siege of Yorktown in 1781 he and his family fled the area. In their absence, their home was used to negotiate the surrender of British troops with General George Washington. After the Revolutionary War the house changed hands frequently. During the Civil War it was damaged. In 1881 the house was refurbished to celebrate the centennial of the British surrender at Yorktown. In 1931 another round of restoration by the National Park Service (one of the first of its kind), restored the house to its former condition.The Haunting: It seems that Augustine Moore Jr. still sleeps in the beds and can be also felt following group tours around the house. There may also be other entities as other areas of the house also show ruffled sheets or depressed cushions from unseen loungers. Perhaps these ghosts are just a bit tired.The Viewing: The Moore House is now part of the Yorktown Battlefield National Park. You can tour the park for a nominal fee, for more information click here. More on this spooky site...www.nps.gov/york/historyculture/moore-house.htmwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/va/moore_house.cfmBack to TopWashingtonLakewood - Thornwood Castle The History: Thornewood Castle was built for Chester Thorne, a successful founder of the Port of Tacoma. This Tudor/Gothic estate was completed in 1911. Inspired by the estates in Britain, the stained glass windows were even imported from a castle in Europe. The castle has many different imports that add to the structure and contents of the building. One of the more interesting aspects is the "wishbone sticks" left by the Native American workers who helped in the construction. These sticks help to ward off evil and are found at the foundation in the basement.The Haunting: There are multiple photographs taken of orbs throughout the castle and reports of objects moving on their own. Tape recorders have picked up voices, one of an unknown child. One child did drown in the lake and is said to haunt its shore, perhaps they visit the house as well? Overall, the spirits at Thornwood seem to be a good natured sort. There is not a violent history attached to this home. Although the wife of Mr. Thorne is said to haunt the halls, this is more because she likes the place rather than she is out to get anyone. In fact, some believe Thornwood Castle acts as a vortex and can attract ghosts from the other side. Some guests have reported making contact with loved ones from their lives who have no connection with the castle.The Viewing: You may stay in the castle as it is now a B&B. There are Candle Light Tours: for $100 and the cost of a room you can spend the night exploring the haunted halls with a small group of ghost hunters. To spend the night, click here. More on this spooky site...www.thornewoodcastle.comwww.legendsofamerica.com/WA-ThornewoodCastle.htmlwww.prairieghosts.com/rosered.htmlBack to TopWashington, D.C.The White House The History: The White House became the home to our presidents in 1800 with President John Adams being the first resident. There have been many presidents and first ladies in the home and some have decided not to leave... The Haunting: President Abraham Lincoln is the most popular ghost with the most sightings. The first to see him was First Lady, Grace Coolidge. He has also been spotted by guards and guests. Other presidents that like to make an appearance are President Benjamin Harrison, President Andrew Johnson, President John Tyler and President Andrew Jackson. First Ladies that have made appearances include Abigail Adams and Dorothea Madison. There is also the apparition of a black cat which has been said to be seen before national tragedies such as the stock market crash of 1929 and before the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963. The Viewing: Of course you can still visit the White House today. For information about tours or for a virtual tour, click here. More on this spooky site...www.whitehouse.govhttp://paranormal.about.com/library/weekly/aa022100a.htm http://georgewbush-whitehouse.archives.gov/ghosts/

Ghost ImageWest VirginiaHarpers Ferry The History: Known mostly for its connection with John Brown and his failed slave rebellion, this town offers a unique look at 19th century history. In 1799 a US Arsenal and Armory factory was built here and industry grew in the area. In 1859 John Brown tried to seize the arsenal to arm slaves and begin a revolution for their freedom. His raid failed and he was found guilty of treason. During the Civil War (between 1861-1865) the town suffered from its strategic location and changed hand between the North and South eight times. In 1867 Storer College was started here with the mission to educate freed slaves but was also open to any student of both genders. However, segregation later etched away at the school's initial universal intent. The Haunting: Despite the fact that many park volunteers dress in period garb, park employees, volunteers and guests have also seen 19th century dressed apparitions around the town. Considering his violent end, John Brown has been seen around town and in the Kennedy Farmhouse (his old headquarters) and appears rather friendly and smiles at visitors on the street. However, there are some sad spirits in this war scarred town. A unknown man in the National Park Service Guest House glares at visitors and even pushed one. A young drummer boy who was tossed out of a window still can be heard crying for his mother and the crash of a chimney that killed a small baby during bombardment can still be felt to shake another house.The Viewing: Run by the National Park Service today, Harpers Ferry is a unique combination of Civil War time capsule, living history museum and general tourist destination. For information on visiting, click here. More on this spooky site...www.nps.gov/hafe/www.harpersferryghost.20m.comwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/wv/harpers_ferry.cfmwww.prairieghosts.com/ferry.htmlBack to TopWisconsinMilwaukee - Brumder Mansion The History: George Brumder had the home built in 1910 for his son, George Jr. After they sold the home, the house was everything from a boarding house to an activity center for a Lutheran church. They used the home for office space, a theater, and later opened a coffee house with a live music venue. The current owners purchased the home in 1997 and opened the renovated space as a B&B in 1998. The Haunting: The Gold Room was once the room of one of the Brumder daughters who never married after suffering a broken heart early in life. She is said to still stay in the room, in fact she was quite appalled and upset when the current owner spent the night in this room with her dogs - no dogs allowed! Your dreams will be haunted if any dogs sleep on the bed!The Viewing: It's a Bed & Breakfast, so take the plunge and spend the night - request the Gold Suite! You can even join a ghost hunting seminar or enjoy a haunted history dinner! For more information, click here. More on this spooky site...http://milwaukeebedbreakfast.com/www.milwaukeeghosts.comwww.hauntedhouses.comBack to Top Ghost ImageWyomingLaramie - Wyoming Territorial Prison The History: Built in 1872, this prison was one of the few in this broad territory but it did not house the most notorious killers as these were sent to Cheyenne. The most famous resident was Butch Cassidy. It only housed about 1000 prisoners as after 1890 a new prison was founded in Rawlins and the University of Wyoming took over the Territorial Prison for stock yard training and experiments. No prisoners were executed here or even died here as they were sent home to die to save the state the trouble of burying them. One inmate did die of a heart attack, Julius Greenwich and it is said his ghost now haunts the place.The Haunting: Julius was convicted of 2nd degree murder because he murdered his wife in a rage after he found her working in a brothel he frequented. He was a cigar salesman and even set up a cigar factory in the prison so yes, you guessed it, cigar smoke often fills the air mysteriously. He has also been spotted standing in the doorway that used to be his cell.The Viewing: This site was restored in 1989 and includes exhibits about Laramie and frontier living as well as the history of the prison. For more information about visiting, click here. More on this spooky site...http://wyoparks.state.wy.us/Site/SiteInfo.asp?siteID=25www.wyomingterritorialprison.comwww.wyomingheritage.org/territorialPrison.htmlwww.hauntedhouses.com/states/wy/wyoming-territorial-prison.cfmBack to Top Still can't get enough? No problem! Here are some websites that list even more haunted hotels, inns, castles, historical sites, cemeteries, tours, and other ghostly fun. Just a quick note: many haunted houses seem to get their start from murder or untimely death. Although we have not gone into graphic details here, please note that some of these sites do go into much more (sometimes gruesome) detail!American Hauntingshttp://www.prairieghosts.com/This site is a bit busy, but if you look through it there are some great excerpts from their books and fun ghost tours they run.Haunted Accommodations.comhttp://www.hauntedaccommodations.com/A ghostly list of haunted hotels, tours, and city sites in the U.S. and abroad.Haunted Houses.comhttp://hauntedhouses.com/A great selection about haunted homes, places, movies, ghost towns and more! The site is very well done with good pictures and fun stories.Haunted World.comhttp://www.hauntworld.com/ This site lists and reviews haunted houses but also has other tales and ghost hangouts listed by state. A little bit of everything, it is a fun site.Real Hauntshttp://www.realhaunts.com/Another fun collection of haunted and spooky places to stay or see on your vacation. Attractions listed by state.The Shadowlands: Ghosts & Hauntingshttp://theshadowlands.net/ghost/This site lists all the stories that exist about spooky places in your neighborhood. Entries are short and to the point.Still want more? How about a Haunted Vacation? Check out our list of Haunted Hotels, Inns and Castles!Looking for a little adventure, but it's too wet outside to play? Why not snuggle indoors and thrill your imagination with a haunted vacation? Many hotels, inns, and even castles offer spooky weekend getaways. Perhaps a friendly ghost will fold your clothes and lay them out on the bed; a mischievous one might turn on the lights and radio at 2:00AM; or perhaps one with a chip on his shoulder might give you a little "bump in the night" to remind you he is there. You might find it a good laugh or a little fun to shake up the fall and winter humdrums. Click on the banner below to read our previous article that lists scary places to stay for a haunted vacation. We tried to collect from across the U.S. and added in a few international destinations just in case you prefer a ghost with an accent! Enjoy and have some fun!

How to Become a Home Inspector

Home inspectors must have a good knowledge of homes, and drive to learn more.

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Owning a home is a popular investment. As with any investment the buyer wants to be certain there are no problems with the home. It is also beneficial to be aware in advance of any flaws that may need to be corrected. Thus enters the profession of home inspection. Home inspectors are usually hired by the home buyer, realtor or mortgage brokers to review the home to be purchased. They are asked to do a thorough check of the indoor and outdoor condition of the home. This invaluable home check is a type ofinsurance for the home buyer and money lender. They gain detailed information about the quality and condition of their investment. So how does one become a home inspector? Home inspection is an involved career that requires self motivation, great people skills and small business acumen. If you ever wondered how to become a home inspector then read on and review the links provided for a quick guide to this growing career. Part I: What It Takes There are many skills one must have to be a home inspector. Some may assume that one need only a knowledge of homes and home repair andmaintenance to work in this field. Home inspection requires a great deal more. It is true, home inspectors must have a good knowledge of homes but they must also have the drive to learn more if they want to have the most up-to-date information for their clients. Home inspectors must also be very good with people. Home inspection requires a great deal of customer service. They should expect daily interaction with clients, realtors, lenders, and even other inspectors. Finally, home inspection is most often a small business. Home inspectors are either starting their own small business or joining another small business in the area. Each of these skills deserve a closer look and further explanation. But first, it will help to map out a typical day in the life of a home inspector. A typical day for a home inspector does not follow the an 8 to 5 schedule. Instead home inspections may take place after normal work hours and even on the weekends. It usually depends on what works best for the client. When scheduling an inspection, most home inspectors encourage the client to be present at the time of the inspection so that they may follow the inspector through the process. This is especially the case when the client is the home buyer. On the scheduled day, after a short introduction with the clients, the inspector begins to assess the home. As the inspector reviews and takes notes, they also point out good and questionable details to the client. Because the client is with them during the inspection they may ask questions and get clarification about what may be done to fix problems or how to adopt better preventive maintenance. Home inspectors always prepare a report for the client and will often remind them that whatever they point out during the review will be in more detail in the report later. A good inspector will do all the easily accessible indoor and outdoor inspection with the clients. After this they usually inspect the roof, attic, under the house and other hard to reach places on their own. Once the inspection is over the inspector will wrap up with the clients and arrange to send them or their realtor the final report. Nowadays, most inspectors take their notes and enter them into computer programs to give good, detailed reports to their clients within in 24-48 hours. This quick turn around time is important as an offer for a home may be waiting for the results of the inspection to close. After this inspection the inspector may not have time to run back to the office or run the notes through on the laptop; thus it is imperative they took good notes. Instead they may leave one inspection directly for another. At the end of the day they may finally get the chance to sit down, review notes and polish final reports. So what does the inspector review and place in the report? Home inspection is a thorough review of a home. It requires knowledge of homes and home maintenance and repair. Usually those entering the home inspection field either have a background as a home professional, i.e. contractor, plumber, electrician, or they are already a good all around handyman, i.e. their relatives actually trust their help on home repairs! But to become a home inspector they must continue their education and round out their knowledge of the home. The areas they will investigate (and therefore must have knowledge of) include: Foundation: i.e. spotting structural defects and damage Plumbing: i.e. pipes, fixtures and corrosion Electrical: i.e. grounding, fuses and breakers Roofing: i.e. roofing materials, draining systems and detecting leaks Equipment: i.e. stoves, furnaces, and air conditioners Interior: i.e. cabinets, fire places, and doors & windows Exterior: i.e. patio, decks, driveway and walkways The above list is only a brief review but illustrates the broad range of knowledge the home inspector must have. To inspect all of these items they must be a sort of jack-of-all-trades. The home inspector must be able to review the construction and wear on a home with a critical eye. They must understand enough to be a little bit of everyone: plumber, electrician, carpenter, maintenance mechanic, roofer, contractor and mason; to name a few. Having the knowledge is the first step, being able communicate that knowledge to clients is another necessity for home inspectors. One must be a "people person" and a great communicator to enter the home inspection business. Home inspectors work with a diverse clientele. Most of the clients are home buyers, and as homes vary in price and personality, so do the people buying them. Many times the clients accompany the home inspector through the review of the home. During the inspection, the home inspector gives initial impressions of the state of the home. The clients often have questions and want further explanations. Inspectors should expect this and be patient when clarifying their information. A rapport with the client also makes the long process, usually over an hour, go by more quickly. And although the inspector knows their stuff, they will also want their relaxed personality to convey this to the client who may be anxious about their potential home. Besides the home buyer, home inspectors will also work with realtors and home sellers. Here they face the pressures of pleasing their client with their professionalism but not holding back when their critical eye may see something the seller did not expect. This may be harder customer service as it is never an easy task to tell the client bad news. Finally, home inspectors may work with other professionals such as lawyers. A knowledgeable home inspector may include expert witness testimony as a service to the professional community. But opportunities as an expert witness only come to those who can communicate their knowledge clearly. Being a good communicator and a "people person" will help the home inspector in this predominantly small business field. Most home inspection businesses are small companies run by an individual or a small group of individuals. The flexible hours and little overhead make this an ideal small business to start. If one individual wants to set up their small business, most states make this easy to accomplish. However, many states do have regulations for home inspectors to follow (see links listed below for detailed information for your state). The benefits of the small business, setting your own schedule, determining your pay, etc. also come with a cost. The small business owner must be self motivated. There are times when the work day will easily stretch past the 8 hour norm. Small business owners must be willing to promote themselves and get their name out there. The small business owner is their own boss, marketing manager, project planner, secretary, and sometimes accountant. If a home inspector joins a firm, these are generally small businesses as well. Here staff may not do everything, however, as in all small businesses, it works best when everyone is willing to do a little more than their usual workload for the well being of the company. The perks of these smaller business groups is that they often have their employees best interests at heart and will work hard to make a good working environment for everyone. Small business has a different culture than most jobs and the home inspecting profession fits well into this group; anyone interested in the home inspection trade should be aware of everything a small business has to offer. Home inspection is an involved career. It has variable workdays with new people and places every day. Home inspectors are interested in learning about homes and all their components. They take time to learn the details and are patient when sharing and explaining that information with clients. Home inspectors can work with a diverse audience and may even have the communication skills to be an expert witness. They are self motivated small business owners and/or members. To them, the benefits and rewards are greater than any of the challenges a small business may offer. All these traits together are the basic skills one needs to be a home inspector. Now, how does one get the well-rounded education and connections they need to start? Check out Part II of our article to find out Where to Start. Part II: Where to Start A career as a home inspector is sounding like the perfect fit for your lifestyle and business preference. You are handy around the house or already have some education in one of the home professional fields. To you, homes are a playground with all kinds of potential. But now where do you go? To become a home inspector you will want to start with classes. After taking a class there are many home inspection associations out there to join. Finally, you will want to decide if you want to start your own business or if you want to join a firm in your area. Then you will be ready to tackle your first client! But first, where do you go to learn the home inspection trade? There are many associations and companies that offer home inspector training. Most have correspondence courses by video/mail or Internet. These classes vary, but sites that do list cost show average prices over $1000 for a complete course. Many of these groups also offer smaller programs to learn or review specific areas of home inspection. These are useful to those with some starting background or home inspectors already in the field that want to increase their specific knowledge. Specialized courses for home inspectors already in the field may be used as continuing education credits which is required by most organizations. These continuing education courses also help inspectors expand their services. For example some inspectors may choose to include commercial inspections or learn more about becoming an expert witness (to learn more about continuing education see our links below). Some organizations do have in person classes available, depending on location. Many of these classes are geared towards the adult learner who may be working around another full time job. Most of these training programs come with a comprehensive test and more information about state specific rules. Another great benefit about a lot of these programs is that they include small business and general customer service overviews. Students learn how to start and promote their business. Often, information for creating professional relationships with realtors and others in the real estate business are included. This may prove to be extremely helpful to those starting home inspection as their own small business. Finally, these programs often demystify the process of writing clear reports for clients. They may also cover the various types of software and tools available to the home inspector writing reports. These classes are great in training future home inspectors about how to inspect, where to find clients, how to set up the business and what tools are available to make their trade easier. With the class taken and exams passed, the home inspector will want to look at joining a professional organization. Home Inspection associations offer membership benefits to those in the career. To join, home inspectors must usually show some competence in the field. They may either do this by providing their state license (if their state requires it) and/or taking an exam. Most associations do have a means of reviewing the inspectors that join (see our list of membership links below). Home inspectors must adhere to the 'Standards of Practice' for the organization. By providing clear guidelines to follow, these associations protect the home inspector, consumer and the profession. Many consumers are looking for home inspectors that belong to one or more organizations because the high standards these groups expect for their members. In this way, membership may be used as a positive advertising tool. Once a member, it is usually required that inspectors keep their knowledge updated through continuing education. Most associations offer continuing education classes and seminars for their members. Besides educational opportunities, these organizations also offer newsletters, discussion forums, example cases and other materials to aid the home inspector. Finally, many associations have local chapters. Through these local groups home inspectors may connect with others in the profession. Some associations offer mentorship programs through local chapters as well. Thus, home inspector associations offer training, professional guidelines, aids, and local connections. Home inspection is traditionally a small business and it is up to the inspector as to how much of the business they want to control alone. To start a one person small business is possible for the home inspection career. However, this takes self discipline and direction. There are also requirements and rules that must be followed in each state. Contacting the local Better Business Bureau is a good start. But also a small business class or contacting a lawyer will help clarify the paperwork and process of starting a small business. Another option is to buy into a home inspection franchise (see business aid links for examples).After they have a good foothold, some home inspectors may hire a small staff that can help with scheduling, reporting and bookkeeping. As the business grows the home inspector may start a small firm and hire on other inspectors. Some inspectors prefer to start with a firm already in place. These smaller groups offer guidance and mentorship for those new to home inspection. When set up as a company, they may also offer the individual legal protection under the business name rather then having their own personal name at risk. Traditionally a small business, it is up to the home inspector to find what kind of small business works best for them. Once an interest is established the road to becoming a home inspector is clear. One must first educate themselves about running home checks, writing reports, and working with clients. Joining a home inspection association will help further the home inspectors education, resources and connections. One of the toughest choices for the new home inspector would be if they want to start under the guidance of another in a small firm or if they want to start out on their own. Once these steps are taken the home inspector may take on the first clients and begin their career. Conclusion A home inspector is a well rounded individual who is both flexible and knowledgeable. They are jack-of-all-trades around the house and are dedicated to continuing their education to know the latest about their field. Home Inspectors are great communicators and enjoy working with various people in a job that changes daily. They have the dedication and interest in working in a small business. After testing their knowledge, they usually join an association with a good 'Standards of Practice' they agree to follow. The 'Standards of Practice' provides clear guidelines to follow, thus protecting the home inspector, consumer and the profession. The finally decision of the home inspector will be if they want to start their own small business or join another firm already started in their area. Whichever they choose they enter it understanding the great benefits and hardships of a small business. Home inspection is fast growing career with many benefits and challenges. If contemplating the career, take some time to look over the links provided for Training, Membership Information, State Regulations, Continuing Education, Small Business Aid. Home Inspection Training Allied Home Inspection www.homeinspectioncourse.com The course is available online or through traditional correspondence. The textbook used in Allied's course is one of the most comprehensive texts available. It covers the inspection process from start to finish (including quizzes at the end of each chapter, an inspection checklist for each topic and a glossary). This book can be used as an inspector's guide in the field. In addition, Allied's course provides supplemental reading which will reveal dozens of special techniques used by professional home inspectors, what they look for and the inspection methods they use. Allied's Home Inspection Course has 13 comprehensive lessons which provide "hands on" instruction. ASHI School of Home Inspection www.ashi.org/inspectors/training.asp ASHI [American Society of Home Inspectors] has created several educational opportunities for prospective home inspectors to learn about the profession and gain the skills and knowledge necessary to become a competent home inspector. Depending on your learning style and preference, you can take courses from the convenience of your home, your local community college or through one of ASHI's endorsed independent training schools throughout the United States. Certified Inspection Training, Inc. www.certifiedinspectiontraining.com Certified Inspection Training, Inc, successfully teaches people how to become home inspectors and just as importantly, how to set up and run their own home inspection business. Classes include: a stand alone Home Study Course, a 3-Day Course combined with the Home Study Course, a one day Structural Pests and Dry Rot Class and a Home Study Pests and Dry Rot Course. The class training is professional and intensive, with study both in the classroom and most importantly, in the field with hands-on practice. HE - A Better School of Building Inspection www.hometraining.com HE - A Better School of Building Inspection (a leader in home inspection training materials) has trained hundreds of home inspectors across North America with home study, live instruction, a combination of both, and advanced coursework on commercial inspections and new construction inspections. We are nationally recognized and affiliates of ASHI, NAHI, FABI, and CREIA. Our training is also accepted in many of the states which currently require licensing or continuing education of home inspectors. Our coursework is also approved by Allen Insurance Group and FREA (home inspector errors and omissions insurers) as an approved training affiliate. Come visit our site to learn more about our videos, live instruction, inspection report disks, tools, etc. Also, check out our Weekly Internet Specials. Home Inspection Institute of America www.inspecthomes.com The Home Inspection Institute of America provides expert home inspection training courses, home inspection certification, home inspection continuing education, top-notch inspection products, and a wealth of information for home inspectors and home buyers. Inspection Support Services Inc. www.inspectsupport.com/courses.htm Inspection Support Services offers the following courses along with other home inspection training courses and and a number seminars including Defect Recognition and Report Writing for both residential and light commercial properties. For further information contact us with your training needs - we will be glad to help you! InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. www.inspectamerica.com/Home_Inspector_Training/ InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. offers a home inspector training program for persons interested in entering the home inspection business, as well as for home inspectors who are interested in improving their home inspection service skills and receiving feedback on their home inspection techniques. Home inspector training is also available for persons with a casual or related interest, such as real estate agents, appraisers, mortgage lenders, real estate attorneys, etc., who are interested in learning more about the home inspection business. Our home inspector program can help make you more knowledgeable and proficient in your own business. Our program is also available to home owners who want to know more about the ins and outs of their home. ________________________________ Click here for more links on Continuing Education for Home Inspectors. ________________________________ Inspection Training Associates www.home-inspect.com ITA offers the most complete home inspection training available, with licensed home inspection schools nationwide. Our specialty inspection classes offer specific training on the largest variety of inspection topics. In 1987, ITA founded North America’s first licensed home inspection school, and today we continue to help thousands of people create successful home inspection businesses. ITA has more experience than any other home inspection training school and is backed by Kaplan Professional Schools, one of the world's largest providers of career education. Our instructors are the voices and experts of the profession – many have served as past or present officers of the leading professional associations in the industry. NACHI's Inspector University www.nachi.org/education.htm NACHI [National Association of Certified Home Inspectors] Education today launched the first part of its on-line home inspector education program. The initial published course concentrates on the NACHI Standards of Practice and how they should implemented. There are several non-scoring quizzes built into the system which allow the student to evaluate their understanding of the material presented. Many of the questions written for this course have been added to the SOP exam database, which is the final exam for this course (its completion is an existing membership requirement). National Institute of Building Inspectors® www.nibi.com The National Institute of Building Inspectors® (NIBI®) has provided educational and training programs for the home inspection industry and related professions since 1987. NIBI evolved from training programs developed for the HouseMaster® franchise system, and is recognized as one of the oldest and most experienced home inspection training institutes. While continuing its affiliation with HouseMaster, NIBI offers training for the entire home inspection profession and has developed an enviable reputation for raising inspection standards and increasing awareness of the need for formal home inspection training. Professional Home Inspection Institute www.homeinspectionschool.biz At PHII we have devoted our efforts into creating the best at-home course in the nation. Rather than give you thick books full of information you don't need, or endless hours of video tapes with no interaction, we provide an easy-to-master, interactive course you can complete in just a few weeks with the help of your home computer! We also offer a variety of additional hands-on training opportunities to give new inspectors the experience they need. Professional Inspection Training Institute www.homeinspectiontraining.net We understand that choosing the right Home Inspection school is an important decision. We want to assist you in making a decision that will meet your personal and financial goals. At the Professional Inspection Training Institute, we provide the training that you need to learn the "hottest" growth profession of the decade - home inspection. Our advanced Home Inspection Training is designed to give you in-depth knowledge on current Home Inspection practices, while our hands-on technical instruction will acquaint you with building systems and construction. Cash in on the growing demand for Professional Home Inspectors by training with the Industry Leaders! Thompson Education Direct www.educationdirect.com/inspector/ There are certain skills you need to begin a career in home inspection. The Education Direct Home Inspector training program helps you develop them quickly and conveniently. You’ll learn about: Construction methods; Inspection standards and building codes and regulations; Interior and exterior inspections; Inspecting electric, heating, air conditioning, and plumbing systems; Starting your own Home Inspection business. And you’ll learn it all at home – no classroom needed! This Education Direct distance learning program is like having your own personal Home Inspector school! More Links Home Inspection Membership American Association of Home Inspectors www.aahi.com The American Association of Home Inspectors Inc. is a professional membership organization of "Certified Home Inspectors"TM nationwide. AAHITM was organized in 1989 by the American Institute of Home Inspectors, who has been training home inspectors since 1981. AAHITM is the only National Association that certifies Home Inspectors using a Certification Mark granted by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (Reg. No. 1,662,100) in 1991. The Certification Mark is to be used to certify certain person or persons that have met the education and/or experience criteria as set forth by AAHITM . Current members of AAHITM are granted the right to use this Registered Certification Mark. AAHITM is the Nation’s leading Home Inspectors Association and is not controlled by a group of selected inspectors and does not require sponsorship or approval by your competition for membership. AAHITM has members in 48 states, Canada and Puerto Rico. American Society of Home Inspectors www.ashi.org The American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) Web site is your most valuable source of information about home inspection. Home buyers, sellers, real estate professionals and home inspectors alike recognize our resources, educational programs, our Standards and Ethics and our newest program, the ASHI Experience as models of professionalism and superior customer service. We welcome you and invite you to join us in shaping the future of the home inspection profession. For 28 years, ASHI has provided home inspectors with the best in education, resources and professional networking opportunities. Increase your chances of success and join ASHI today. Foundation of Real Estate Appraisers www.frea.com The Foundation of Real Estate Appraisers (FREA) was founded in 1991 to fill a gap in the market for appraiser continuing education. At the time, obtaining education was expensive and difficult. It involved earning a designation that required thousands of dollars in classes from an association, and years of subservient service to someone who was already designated. FREA began offering continuing education classes in the San Diego area and within a few months had more than 150 instructors teaching classes all over the country. In 1996 FREA created a home inspection division, offering the same benefits to home inspectors as they had been offering to appraisers, including low cost E&O insurance. Due to the large numbers of members, FREA has substantial buying power with insurance companies, helping to keep the program strong while other insurance providers have fallen by the wayside. Housing Inspection Foundation http://iami.org/hif.htm The Housing Inspection Foundation (HIF) is an organization of professionals dedicated to the promotion and development of Home Inspection. The Housing Inspection Foundation was created to provide members with Information, Education, Standards, Ethics, and Professional Recognition. The Home Inspection industry is the fastest growing profession today. This creates new opportunities for those who are involved in the real estate, construction or environmental fields that are willing to learn how to perform this vital services, including Home Inspectors, Building Inspectors, Real Estate Professionals, Construction Inspectors, Remodeling Contractors, etc. National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers www.nabie.org National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers, a chartered affinity group of the National Society of Professional Engineers. Since 1989, the National Academy of Building Inspection Engineers has worked to establish the highest standards for the building and home inspection industry and to verify the qualifications of individuals offering these services. As an organization, NABIE strives to protect the integrity of the home and building inspection industry, and thus, the general public. We review legislation, examine court cases, and monitor relevant government activities in all states. We interface with affiliated real estate associations and commissions, state engineering boards and other standard setting organizations. National Association of Certified Home Inspectors www.nachi.org The National Association of Certified Home Inspectors (NACHI) is the world's largest, most elite non-profit inspection association. Our home buying clients enjoy the HI Experience™ only NACHI Certified Inspectors can provide. Our inspectors have all successfully passed NACHI's Inspector Examination, taken a Standards of Practice Quiz, completed a Code of Ethics Course, adhere to Standards of Practice, abide by a Code of Ethics, attend required continuing education courses, and are NACHI Certified. NACHI...the very best home inspectors. National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. www.nahi.org The National Association of Home Inspectors, Inc. (NAHI) was established in 1987 as a nonprofit association to promote and develop the home inspection industry. The mission of the National Association of Home Inspectors is to promote excellence and professionalism in the Home Inspection industry; to provide a standards of practice and a code of ethics; to educate its members; and to inform the public of the benefits and scope of a professional home inspection. NAHI now has over 1900 members in 49 U.S. states and Canada. By working together to develop and maintain standards of excellence, NAHI members benefit from professional development and the exchange of ideas through continuing education and seminars. Information and support are available for members regarding their business and inspection practices and service to their clients. NAHI's promotional activities educate the public and promote the importance of a reputable home inspection as an integral part of the residential real estate transaction. A national referral service helps consumers find facts about the industry and NAHI standards, and unites NAHI members with new clients. National Institute of Building Inspectors www.nibi.com The National Institute of Building Inspectors® (NIBI®) has provided educational and training programs for the home inspection industry and related professions since 1987. NIBI evolved from training programs developed for the HouseMaster® franchise system, and is recognized as one of the oldest and most experienced home inspection training institutes. While continuing its affiliation with HouseMaster, NIBI offers training for the entire home inspection profession and has developed an enviable reputation for raising inspection standards and increasing awareness of the need for formal home inspection training. NIBI offers conventional Classroom Courses at its dedicated Training Center and distance learning programs through its Online Campus. Both educational programs have been approved by the major home inspection associations and many states as meeting the requirements for membership, licensing, and/or continuing education. NIBI Certified Inspectors are required to not only complete educational courses and field training work, but must also participate in a yearly re-certification program. Being NIBI Certified is indeed the mark of home inspection professionalism! When home buyers are ready to make that home buying decision, they should insist on a Certified NIBI Inspector for their home inspection, and buy with confidence. Organization of Real Estate Professionals www.orep.org OREP specializes in placing errors and omissions insurance for real estate appraisers, home inspectors, real estate agents/brokers, mortgage field service professionals, mortgage brokers and others. OREP offers the lowest rates on appraiser's insurance with same day coverage & confirmation (most cases). Society of Professional Real Estate Inspectors www.sprei.org The Society of Professional Real Estate Inspectors is a national educational organization dedicated to providing the highest level of educational achievement for home/building inspectors. Anyone who is interested in improving his or her skills as an inspector is welcomed to join the Society of Professional Real Estate Inspectors. SPREI does not require past experience or background in the inspection profession. All that is required in becoming a member is a willingness to apply ones self to self-education. By simply filling out the application form and submitting the low annual fee, you will start yourself on the way to becoming an educated and informed real estate inspector. STATE SPECIFIC Arkansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors www.ark-homeinspectors.com The Arkansas Association of Real Estate Inspectors (AAREI) is an Arkansas-wide association of professional Home Inspectors. It was founded in 1992 to: Provide a forum for home inspectors to exchange experiences and to enhance the technical knowledge of its members. Promote excellence in the Home Inspection industry in Arkansas. Provide a source of information about home inspection services for the home buying public. To maintain awareness of the laws and regulations which affect the home inspection industry in Arkansas. California Real Estate Inspection Association www.creia.org The California Real Estate Inspection Association (CREIA) is a voluntary, nonprofit public-benefit organization of real estate inspectors. Founded in 1976, CREIA provides education, training and support services to its members and the real estate community. CREIA's Code of Ethics and Standards of Practice are recognized by the California Business and Professions Codes and are considered the standard of care by the real estate industry and legal profession in the state. CREIA Inspector Members have successfully passed a comprehensive written examination on the myriad of systems and components in the construction and maintenance of residential dwellings. CREIA's educational mission is to expand the technical knowledge of its members through continuing education. Inspector members must complete a minimum 30 hours of continuing education annually. Educational credits are obtained through monthly chapter educational meetings, chapter toolbox seminars, CAMP, state conferences in the spring and fall, and other CREIA approved sources. CREIA membership activities and programs encourage the sharing of experience and knowledge resulting in betterment of the real estate profession and the consumer public, which it serves. Connecticut Association of Home Inspectors www.ct-inspectors.com CAHI is the largest independent home inspector organization in the state. View our "members" directory above to find the most extensive list of licensed home inspectors in Connecticut. CAHI provides top quality monthly and special continuing educational seminars that meet the minimum requirements as set forth by the CT. Home Inspection Licensing Board. Our seminars provide inspectors with information about techniques and components from the past and present including new innovations and technologies that may be found in homes today. CAHI's mission is to educate the home inspector with valuable and pertinent information, the tools that will make them the best home inspectors in the marketplace. Florida Association of Building Inspectors, Inc. www.fabi.org Florida Association of Building Inspectors, Inc. has promoted professionalism in the industry through qualifying their members to assure the public’s confidence. Applicants to FABI must pass a written examination, have their inspection report reviewed and show proof of a required number of inspections in order to qualify for membership. They must also adhere to FABI’s Standards of Practice, Code of Ethics and earn continuing education credits by attending regular seminars/workshops to maintain their membership and keep their proficiencies current. Through its growing membership, FABI maintains an active Ethics Committee to ensure compliance of the Association’s ethical, moral and industry standards. Georgia Association of Home Inspectors www.gahi.com GAHI has promoted higher standards for professional home inspectors since its inception in 1989. Since the State of Georgia does not license home inspectors, GAHI’s membership requirements, the most stringent in the country, fill this void. The organization requires all members to be certified in the One & Two Family Code (IRC / CABO), carry the appropriate level of insurance and posses a business license. Not only does this better equip the home inspector to conduct new construction inspections, but it also sharpens skills for inspecting existing homes. Kentucky Real Estate Inspection Association, Inc. www.kreia.org The Kentucky Real Estate Inspection Association, Inc. (KREIA) was formed in 1992. Its purpose is to promote excellence within the real estate inspection industry by providing and promoting the following: Promote Customer Service through our Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics. Promote and maintain high standards of conduct for its members. Provide its members with education and training opportunities to enhance their professionalism. Provide and promote the KREIA Certification Program to and for our members. Maryland Association of Home Inspectors www.mdahi.org Our goal is to provide you with useful information about our organization that we hope makes it easier for you to do business with our members. Maryland Association of Home Inspectors has been serving the Real Estate community since 1995. We specialize providing a source of the best qualified and reputable Maryland home inspectors. At this site, you will discover what area each member provide home inspection services, and to contact them. Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors http://mshi.org Since 1979, the Minnesota Society of Housing Inspectors has set a high Standard of Excellence within the inspection industry. Membership in this not-for-profit society of private, licensed, fee-paid home inspectors encourages continuing education and improvement of performance. MSHI is the only Minnesota organization that offers its members continuing education on a monthly basis. Nevada Association of Certified Real Estate Inspectors www.nacrei.org The Nevada Association of Certified Real Estate Inspectors is an organization formed for and by the Certified Real Estate Inspectors of Nevada. Representing the Certified Inspectors of Structures in Nevada and boasting membership of over 50% of the active inspectors in Northern Nevada, NACREI has been recognized to be a viable source of information and training for inspectors as well as a voice to the Division of Real Estate in Nevada. Working with the various entities involved in the legislative process and other areas we have been successful in maintaining our mission statement of Promoting the Professionalism, Integrity, and Qualifications of Professional Home Inspectors in the State of Nevada, as well as becoming, as State of Nevada Certified Inspectors, an important party in the transaction of Real Estate. With membership being open to all State of Nevada Certified Inspectors of Structures, NACREI invites you to join the ranks of our organization and share the success of our labors, as have the others in our membership. Associate memberships are available as well. Southern Nevada Association of Professional Property Inspectors www.snappi.org SNAPPI is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing educational opportunities for its inspector/members and working to inform and educate the public about the benefits of home inspections. We also work with our state officials to reform state law and administrative codes to reflect changing market conditions, industry trends and the needs of our clients, the home buyer. New York State Association Of Home Inspectors www.nysahi.com The New York State Association Of Home Inspectors (NYSAHI) provides this site as a tool to help New York State Home Inspectors stay current with the changing face of home inspector regulation in our state. Our industry is changing. It is evolving from a unregulated service industry to a licensed profession. As recently as ten to fifteen years ago the concept of a home inspection being part of the home buying process was a new one in many parts of the country. Now, about half the states in the union have some form of home inspector regulation. The New York State legislature passed the "Home Inspector Professional Licensing Act" in the 2004 legislative session and Governor Pataki signed it into law on August 12, 2004. This law is set to take effect December 31, 2005. Home inspectors are encouraged to use the links on this page to educate themselves about home inspector licensing in our state to help in preparing for, and prospering in, this new regulated environment. North Carolina Licensed Home Inspector Association www.nclhia.com As of October, 1996, all home inspections in North Carolina must be performed by a North Carolina-licensed home inspector. Licensure is accomplished by meeting stringent requirements set by the State of North Carolina and passing a comprehensive examination. Continuing education is required each year in order to keep this license in force. Being licensed by the North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board, and adherence to the North Carolina Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics are the only legal requirements for performing a home inspection in North Carolina. The North Carolina Licensed Home Inspector Association (NCLHIA) was formed in 1997 to provide a professional organization for all home inspectors licensed in North Carolina. Pennsylvania Home Inspectors Coalition http://phic.info The Pennsylvania Home Inspectors Coalition (PHIC) represents the two nationally recognized inspection organizations that have offered verifiable proof of compliance with ACT 114, so that the Coalition can act as the eyes and ears of the Home Inspection profession within this State. Because of the new Home Inspection Law, which went into effect 12/20/01, ASHI® and NAHI™ Chapter Presidents and Vice Presidents came together to form a coalition to reflect each Chapter membership’s point of view. In turn, this can be communicated to the Coalition so that the Coalition will act as the one voice for the home inspection profession in Pennsylvania Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors www.tarei.com The Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors (TAREI) is a statewide professional organization formed in 1977 with a current membership of over 750 inspectors and related professionals. TAREI promotes a professional code of ethics for its members, reviews and upgrades minimum standards, provides recommendations to the Texas Real Estate Commission, and conducts statewide continuing education programs for all inspectors. Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors www.wahigroup.com In 1994, home inspectors throughout Wisconsin began meeting monthly to improve skills and to discuss with other inspectors what they had learned during the conduct of home inspections. In early 1995, we established our name as the Wisconsin Association of Home Inspectors, Incorporated (WAHI). Our goal is to improve the competency of home inspectors through training and professional interaction. Our monthly education programs focus on home inspections as well as industry concerns. Currently, we have over 350 members and many of them are members of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) and the National Association of Home Inspectors (NAHI). Our members include engineers, builders, electricians, building tradesmen, journeymen, basement specialists, etc. Each of them is involved with the home inspection industry in one way or another. Back to Main Menu State License for Home Inspectors (N/A = state does not current require licensure) Alabama Building Commission www.bc.state.al.us/HI%20Menu.htm Alaska Department of Commerce www.dced.state.ak.us/occ/home.htm Arizona State Board of Technical Registration www.btr.state.az.us/AZ%20Ashi%20Standards.htm Arkansas Home Inspector Registration Board www.sosweb.state.ar.us/ar_rules/rule_final/198.00.03-003F.pdf California N/A - www.commerce.ca.gov/state/ttca/ttca_business_display.jsp?path=Permits+&+Licenses&childPath=License+Handbook Colorado N/A - www.colorado.gov/colorado/permits.html Connecticut Dept of Consumer Protection www.dcp.state.ct.us/licensing/professions.htm Delaware N/A - http://dpr.delaware.gov/default.shtml Florida N/A - www.stateofflorida.com/Portal/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=25 Georgia N/A - www.sos.state.ga.us/plb/ Hawaii N/A - www.hawaii.gov/dcca/areas/pvl/ Idaho N/A - www.state.id.us/business/licensing.html Illinois Division of Banks & Real Estate www.obre.state.il.us/realest/homeinspect.htm Indiana Professional Licensing Agency www.in.gov/pla/bandc/home/ Iowa N/A - www.state.ia.us/government/com/prof/home.html Kansas N/A - www.accesskansas.org/operating/operating-resources/index.html Kentucky N/A - http://hbc.ppr.ky.gov/generalinformation.htm Louisiana State Board of Home Inspectors www.lsbhi.info/LSBHIweb.nsf/Home?OpenForm Maine N/A - www.maine.gov/portal/business/professions.html Maryland Division of Occupational & Professional Licensing www.dllr.state.md.us/license/real_est_app/reareq.htm Massachusetts Division of Professional Licensure www.mass.gov/dpl/boards/hi/index.htm Michigan N/A - www.michigan.gov/statelicensesearch/0,1607,7-180-24786_24814-81259--,00.html Minnesota N/A - www.state.mn.us/cgi-bin/portal/mn/jsp/ Mississippi Home Inspector Board www.mrec.state.ms.us/default.asp?siteid=3 Missouri N/A - www.state.mo.us/mo/business.htm Montana N/A - http://discoveringmontana.com/dli/bsd/bc/index.asp Nebraska N/A - www.nebraska.gov/business/html/342/index.phtml Nevada Real Estate Division www.red.state.nv.us/insp_licreq.htm New Hampshire N/A - www.nhes.state.nh.us/elmi/licertreg.htm New Jersey License & Certification Guide www.state.nj.us/commerce/CEG_LCI/html/licguid.html New Mexico N/A - www.rld.state.nm.us/Division%20&%20Proffessions.htm New York State Division of Licensing Services www.dos.state.ny.us/lcns/licensing.html North Carolina Home Inspector Licensure Board www.nchilb.com/OSFM/Engineering/HILB/NCHILB.asp North Dakota N/A - www.ext.nodak.edu/extpubs/agecon/market/ec752-4w.htm Ohio N/A - http://ohio.gov/ Oklahoma Department of Health www.health.state.ok.us/program/ol/info.html#home Oregon Construction Contractors Board http://egov.oregon.gov/CCB/home_inspectors.shtml Pennsylvania Home Inspection Coalition http://phic.info/ Rhode Island Contractors Registration Board www.crb.state.ri.us/docs/hilawsfinal.pdf South Carolina Department of Labor, Licensing & Regulation www.llr.state.sc.us/POL/ResidentialBuilders/ South Dakota Real Estate Commission www.state.sd.us/sdrec/home_inspect/homeinspections.htm Tennessee N/A - www.state.tn.us/commerce/boards/contractors/hinspcontractor.html Texas Real Estate Commission www.trec.state.tx.us/inspector/default.asp Utah N/A - www.dopl.utah.gov/directory.html Vermont N/A - www.vermont.gov/doing_business/profession.html Virginia Department of Business Assistance www.dba.state.va.us/frameset.asp?URL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww%2Edpor%2Evirginia%2Egov Washington N/A - www.dol.wa.gov/main/biglist.htm West Virginia N/A - www.business4wv.com/Public/content/DynamicContent.asp?pagename=licensesearch&Type=Regulatory Wisconsin License, Permit & Registration Service www.wisconsin.gov/state/app/ Wyoming N/A - http://plboards.state.wy.us/ For a more detailed summary, check out these two great resources: American Society of Home Inspectors www.ashi.org/inspectors/state.asp HE-School of Home Inspection www.hometraining.com/certif.htm Home Inspection Institute of America www.inspecthomes.com/regulate.htm Back to Main Menu Continuing Education for Home Inspectors Certified Inspection Training, Inc. www.certifiedinspectiontraining.com/continuing_education.html Classes are held in many areas of the country twice each year. Please check the "Calendar" page for dates and locations. Classes are held on the West Coast in most instances. These classes are approved for Continuing Education credits by many states including the State of Oregon. The Certification Classes are approved for up to 10 education points to sit for the Oregon Certification Tests. Plus you also get 3 "Ride-Along" points. Please check with your state to determine existing requirements. HE - School of Building Inspection www.hometraining.com/continuingEducation.htm Quality Continuing Education Hours MRC's (ASHI), CEU's (NAHI), or State Continuing Education Hours A Better School of Building Inspection offers high-quality material to help you earn your continuing education requirements. With our material you get your hours and get something out of them too!!! By purchasing our 4-Point Residential Inspection Home Study Package, you help reduce the cost of obtaining continuing education hours and get them done when it fits your schedule better. Home Inspection Institute of America, Inc. www.inspecthomes.org/cont_education.htm Continuing education courses on topics of concern and interest to home inspectors are offered at the Institute at various points throughout the year. Schedules will be posted on this site. The courses are submitted to various membership organizations and state licensing boards for appropriate recognition. Attendees receive a Certificate of Attendance at the end of each course, detailing the credit earned. Infinity Schools Continuing Education www.infinityschools.com/HomeInspection.asp Our complete line of training products includes textbook based training modules, resource manuals, and cutting edge CD-ROM And Video Training products, all developed in cooperation with educators, instructional designers, and technical artists, along with extensive research and contributions from home inspectors across North America, specifically to be the premiere education and training program for home inspectors. InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. www.inspectamerica.com/Home_Inspector_Training/ InspectAmerica Engineering, P.C. offers a home inspector training program for persons interested in entering the home inspection business, as well as for home inspectors who are interested in improving their home inspection service skills and receiving feedback on their home inspection techniques. Home inspector training is also available for persons with a casual or related interest, such as real estate agents, appraisers, mortgage lenders, real estate attorneys, etc., who are interested in learning more about the home inspection business. Our home inspector program can help make you more knowledgeable and proficient in your own business. Our program is also available to home owners who want to know more about the ins and outs of their home. Inspection Support Services www.inspectsupport.com/courses.htm Inspection Support Services offers the following courses along with other home inspection training courses and and a number seminars including Defect Recognition and Report Writing for both residential and light commercial properties. For further information contact us with your training needs - we will be glad to help you! Inspection Training Associates www.home-inspect.com/courses/cehomestudy.asp Need Continuing Education credits, or just need to study up on a specific area in home inspection? Now you can take individual 8 hour home study courses on the inspection topic(s) of your choice! Each correspondence course includes an on-line final exam*, which you are required to pass with a 70% or better grade to receive CE credit. [Also includes other specialty inspection courses on this site.] National Institute of Building Inspectors www.nibi.com The National Institute of Building Inspectors® (NIBI®) has provided educational and training programs for the home inspection industry and related professions since 1987. NIBI evolved from training programs developed for the HouseMaster® franchise system, and is recognized as one of the oldest and most experienced home inspection training institutes. While continuing its affiliation with HouseMaster, NIBI offers training for the entire home inspection profession and has developed an enviable reputation for raising inspection standards and increasing awareness of the need for formal home inspection training. Professional Inspection Training Institute www.homeinspectiontraining.net/docs/conted.asp The Professional Inspection Training Institute offers the following 2 day, 1-day and 1/2 day continuing education courses in the inspection field: EIFS & Stucco Inspections, Electrical Inspections, Foundation & Structural Defects, Mold, Mildew & Moisture Intrusion, Radon Testing & Protocols, Sales & Marketing Seminar, Heat Pump Inspections, Carbon Monoxide & Improper Venting Back to Main Menu Small Business Aids All Business - Champions of Small Business www.allbusiness.com American Home Inspectors Training Institute Start-Up Packages www.ahit.com/products/packages/startup_pkgs.htm Better Business Bureau www.bbb.org Business.gov www.business.gov Business Owners' Idea Cafe www.businessownersideacafe.com Entrepreneur.com Solutions for Growing Businesses www.entrepreneur.com IRS Small Business/Self-Employed www.creditreport.org/get-the-most-out-of-the-irs/ More Business.com www.morebusiness.com National Association of Certified Home Inspectors - Business Success Tips www.nachi.org/success_tips.htm SCORE Counselors to America's Small Business www.score.org Small Business Administration www.sba.gov FRANCHISES AmeriSpec www.amerispecfranchise.com If you're looking to start your own home inspection franchise, you've come to the right place! AmeriSpec offers the best home inspection franchise opportunities available in North America. With over 350 independently owned and operated businesses that conduct over 150,000 inspections annually, AmeriSpec's 17 years of experience provide us with the know-how to offer the best training, support, and tools to get your franchise off the ground fast. A Pro Home Inspection www.a-pro.net/business.html With an annual potential of over 6 million transactions (translated into an estimated $1.8 billion in home inspection fees) the home inspection business is booming. In fact, Money Magazine has rated our industry as one of the "Top Ten Highest Income Home Businesses, and Entrepreneur Magazine calls home inspection "one of the best opportunities…" And now, you can turn that boom into a successful career! Joining the A-Pro® Home Inspection team can literally change your life. You’ll enjoy greater independence, as well as the personal and financial rewards of owning and operating your own home inspection business. National Property Inspections, Inc. www.npiweb.com/subpages/buildYourFuture.html Looking for the blueprints to build a successful home inspection business? Then National Property Inspections is the right opportunity for you. Go ahead--compare us to the competition. In fact, we want you to. Because we're confident that when you measure our franchise business package, including start-up costs, tools, home inspection training, and support, you'll agree that NPI is the right home inspection franchise to help you build your future. Pillar to Post www.pillartopost.com/franchise/index.cfm if you are looking for a business opportunity with an industry leader in a growing field, Pillar To Post® is the answer. You do not have to be an engineer or building contractor to succeed. What you really need is an ability and willingness to work with people. The most successful home inspectors are those who are able to develop strong trust with the real estate professionals who will refer clients to them, as well as with home buyers and sellers. That's why we focus on technical skills and marketing in our initial two-week training program and in our ongoing training and upgrading efforts. World Inspection Network www.winfranchise.com Join World Inspection Network (WIN) as we build a World-Class Brand in the billion-dollar home inspection industry. When you become a home inspector as a WIN franchise owner, the freedom, flexibility and financial rewards of running your own business can be yours. The home inspection industry continues to demonstrate strong growth and has already proven to be an integral part of the real estate transaction process. Over the past decade there has been a steady increase in the overall volume of home sales and the percentage of homes inspected, confirming that the home inspection business is a high demand service in a solid industry. As a WIN home inspector, you will share information with home buyers and sellers by giving them the knowledge and confidence they need to make an informed decision on one of life's biggest investments.

Gardening

Tools & Resources Online

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Garden (noun): a) plot of ground where herbs, fruits, flowers, or vegetables are cultivated b) a rich well-cultivated region c) a container (as a window box) planted with usually a variety of small plants [Merriam-Webster Online]. As seen in the preceding definition, gardens can be functional providing herbs & veggies or they can be landscaped areas of beauty with flowers and other cultivated plants. Whether for an apartment with window boxes and porch containers or a house with acres to play, everyone can create a garden if they want one. There are many wonderful resources online that can help those who want to add plants around their home environment.

First we collected some good, free, online landscaping planners that help you plot out your yard and garden before you plant a single seed. Most come with some plant information but we have also collected a list of plant reference sites that detail plant climate preferences, light requirements and much more. Finally, we have listed sites that offer ideas for unique and complex garden solutions or not so common alternatives to liven up your bit of green.

Part I:

Planning Your Garden Masterpiece Part of the fun of gardening or landscaping a home are the random finds at the local nursery. Ooh! That hasta is beautiful and would look great next to my window! Never mind the poor sage that now gets no light and begins to wither away! Granted this doesn't always happen and not everyone has the time (or the budget) to pre-plan and selectively purchase everything for their yard at one time. However, free online landscaping tools are easy to use and are a fun way to get a little more structure to your garden before you start tossing dirt around. Most of these planners are ideal for large scale sketches. Once the big picture is sketched out, you can more easily concentrate on the smaller parts of the project. It is easy to become overwhelmed by all the plant choices and concepts you may like to try around your home. Having a plan eases the work of the anxious gardner working towards a larger masterpiece. Better Homes & Gardens Plan-a-Garden www.bhg.com Website: Plan-a-Garden lets you design anything from a patio-side container garden to your whole yard. Use your mouse to "drag-and-drop" more than 150 trees, shrubs, and flowers. Add dozens of structures like buildings, sheds, fences, decks -- even a pond. Homecheck Review: You must sign up for online membership to access, but it is free. Opening quick tips offers the only tutorial. Plants are more ‘cartoonish’ which makes it easier to draw out spaces but doesn't help the plant-challenged who may not know what the heck a real Heuchera looks like! There is a option for more plant info that offers info about temperatures and growth height; but very basic at best. I do really like the drag-and-drop with the mouse to place objects. Also easy rotation, zooming and hiding controls. Don’t forget to save your garden; one perk to having an online account is that you may save work on projects and come back to them later. gardenplanner www.smallblueprinter.com/garden/ Website: Arrange plants, trees, buildings and objects using an easy to use 'drag and drop' interface. Use tools to quickly create paving, paths and fences. Then produce a high quality color print out of your design. Homecheck Review: This is a paid program but there is a free trial version you may download to your computer or try online.This program is very basic with both objects and their shapes. This is a better concept planner where you can draw out what you want the yard to look like and then fill in plant details later. Program itself is easy to use, just click drag and click you objects wherever you want. Homestore.com The Garden Designer www.homestore.com/homegarden/gardening/tools/landscapeplanner/ Website: Homestore.com's Garden Designer is the easiest way to visualize the perfect outdoor design! Homecheck Review: There is a simple introduction to the program that gives information by answering common questions. There is no membership requirement to use this program. Like the others it includes a drag and drop interface. Objects are easy to size. Although plants are again clip art, they do offer more variation in look so it is easier to distinguish which plants you place on your grid. However, no information about plant lighting, size and other details are provided. Quick and easy to use, just have a good idea of your plants ahead of time. Lowe's Landscape & Garden Planner www.lowes.com Website: If your outdoor inspiration needs a little help, here is the tool you need. Use Lowe's Landscape and Garden Planner to help build the yard of your dreams. With our design tool, garden and landscape planning are as easy as clicking and dragging. Homecheck Review: This site does request user registration to use freebies. It offers free online newsletters at the time of registration and you can opt out if you choose. Once in the Planner there is a great opening tutorial - turn on your speakers as it is narrated! This program is easy to use with a point-and-click and drag-and-drop tools. When you begin your layout you will be prompted for width and depth of the lot and your region on the US climate map. Hardscapes or objects like your home, driveway and fence are basic images. Plants are listed by sun requirement and type. Plant pictures are basic drawings rather than real images which is not as fun to plan with for those of us with less plant knowledge. Nice features include the sectioning off of areas on the plan so you may work on smaller plots one at a time and printable shopping lists of of your design. NOTE: I used this site the first time a couple of months ago (1/05) and LOVED it, great detail and real images of plants! Recently when I reviewed it again (6/05) it was too simplistic and buggy - many of the radio buttons brought up 0 options to choose from when I logged in the first two times; at the third log-in things started working. And now cookie-cutter-clipart plants rather than images of the real thing? What were they thinking? Blah! Not sure what happened to this once awesome program? Still good and easy to use but not as stellar as before.

Part II:

Plant Reference Sites Solanum Tuberosum? I just wanted a potato... Sometimes the most frustrating or overwhelming aspect of planning your yard can be finding the right plants. Knowing your climate zone is only the first part of the battle. A plant's happiness in your yard will depend on sun exposure, watering, soil make up and all other types of fussy tid bits.Then there is the not so obvious questions of what will the plant look like in 5-10 years. Having a good book to flip through is a good start. The power of the internet is that you have the ability to refine searches and find new hardier plants that may not have been originally strong enough for your region. Below are some online plant guides that can help demystify the abundant world of flora. BBC Gardening Plant Finder www.bbc.co.uk/gardening/plants/plant_finder/ Website: Look up detailed information about thousands of plants using our searchable database. You will find descriptions of the plants and tips about growing them. Homecheck Review: Okay, we know it is not local and there are certain quirks - using centimeters instead of inches!? But seriously, this is an easy to use database. The pictures are great and there are good short plant bios. Burpee www.burpee.com Website: The Burpee company was founded in Philadelphia in 1876 by an 18 year-old with a passion for plants and animals and a mother willing to lend him $1000 dollars of "seed money" to get started in business. Within 25 years he had developed the largest, most progressive seed company in America. By 1915 we were mailing a million catalogues a year to America's gardeners. Homecheck Review: Granted this is a site interested in selling products. But the garden wizard is easy to use and full of good information and pictures. A nice feature is the ability to describe what type plant you need: sun, sow, height and difficulty. The search results come with pictures that may be selected for more detail. This was an easy tool for getting information about vegetable garden plants. Again, due to the fact that they are limited to products they sell not every plant out there will be available for search. Dave's Garden http://davesgarden.com/pf/ Website: Welcome to PlantFiles, the largest plant database in the world with 101,549 entries, 76,918 images and 45,373 comments. Currently entries are from 350 families, 3,587 genera, 22,207 species, and 68,483 cultivars. PF continues to grow through the collaborative efforts of 11,388 gardeners from around the world, most notably the Uber Gardeners. Any registered user may add new plants, images, details, comments, and ZIP codes. Homecheck Review: Finally a database worth checking out! Easy to search, great pictures, and great information about how to sow, grow and maintain the individual plants. An extra plus is that visitors may post comments about their experiences growing the plants listed. HortiPlex Database from Garden Web www.gardenweb.com Website: The HortiPlex database contains plant images and data as well as links to information sources, images and vendors at other sites. Searches may be limited to: just those records with images or links to images; records with vendor links; or, records of botanical taxa. Homecheck Review: Some of the plants listed have information in the actual database which is provided users who leave remarks and pictures. For the most part this database lists other listings out there that reference a particular plant. It is bare bones and somewhat difficult as it is not at first obvious where to click for more information. Disappointing in that most plants only have links to other databases. Would be much better if more users participated and left remarks about the plants they have used or know about. GreenPlace.com (Part of Home & Garden Showplace) www.gardenplace.com Website: Need gardening information and inspiration? Help is just a click away. Homecheck Review: Number of plants are limited to the more common variety. Probably based on what the store carries as well. Easy to use search - really like the show everything option. Nice pictures of the plants. Information for the individual plants is basic, similar to what you would find on the the plant tag at the store. Home Depot Plant Guide www.plant-guide.com/HomeDepotForm.asp Website: Get the information you need to design your garden like a pro. Find out which plants are right for your landscaping project or learn about a particular plant you purchased at Home Depot. Homecheck Review: This site is easy to use. I find doing a broad search by climate and plant category to give the most results. When doing a search like this the results can be substantial (in the hundreds!). Results include list of scientific and common names. Clicking on selection takes you to a more detailed description that includes pictures, scale, uses and much more. For an online freebie, I really liked the usability of this tool. Martha Stewart Living www.marthastewart.com Website: Finding plants for your garden is as easy as picking the features that are most important to you. For instance, for plants that attract butterflies, check that box and your Zone, and click on Search. Homecheck Review: The plant search is very detailed. You may also want to browse by plant type if you are still in the broader planning stage. Pictures are good, usually of the plant feature, flower or fruit). The detail about the plants is wonderful. Definitely a great resource about most plants out there. Another fun addition to this planner is the ability to search plants by 'theme gardens'. Great lists and good way to plan various sections of your yard. Plants Database http://plants.usda.gov/index.html Website: The PLANTS Database provides standardized information about the vascular plants, mosses, liverworts, hornworts, and lichens of the U.S. and its territories. It includes names, plant symbols, checklists, distributional data, species abstracts, characteristics, images, plant links, references, crop information, and automated tools. PLANTS reduces costs by minimizing duplication and making information exchange possible across agencies and disciplines. Homecheck Review: It is not the easiest to browse this database. However, if you know what particular plant you are looking for it is probably in here. Plant information is more scientific. Some plants have pics and some do not. Best for general information about your plants but not necessary a gardening tool. Rock Garden Database www.kadel.cz/flora/kvSearch.html Website: Welcome to the Rock Garden Plants Database. It contains 11253 species with 560 photos and is still growing. For each plant you will find here known synonyms of its name, short description, territory and altitude of its natural location, size, color, bloom, if it is calciphile (Ca+) or calciphobe (Ca-), its type (rosette etc.), cultivation and propagation. Homecheck Review: This site is specialized but has some fun information. Not easy to search but fun to browse. A work in progress shows but still information about plants that aren't as common. MORE SEARCHING... Check out local nursery websites as well. Many of these sites list their plants with pictures and all kinds of good information. Plants will be limited to their selection, but it is another fun way to browse the possibilities. Part III: Unique & Complex Garden Solutions Rooftop need a bit of green? Want to soften and add a natural retreat to your patio? Apartment living have your options limited? No problem! These sites give great ideas for complex and limited spaces. They also offer ideas for container gardens or unique features that any home may enjoy. Finally, these sites also offer advice for various garden problems. We have collected a few examples below. Not every subject for each site is listed below; so take a look at the main link and see what other helpful treasures you may find. About.com-Gardening http://gardening.about.com/ Garden Pests: The following photos illustrate some insect pests and diseases you may encounter in your garden. Mole Control: Mole holes are unsightly on lawns and can be disruptive to the root systems of garden plants. Xeriscape Gardening: Xeriscaping was a term coined back in 1970s in Denver, CO, to mean water wise or water efficient landscaping. Better Homes & Gardens http://netscape.bhg.com/ Container Garden: Create a movable feast of color to match your needs -- whether you live in a country cottage or a New York sky rise. Water Garden: Use water to add sound, sparkle, and movement to your landscape. Wildlife Garden: Make your garden into a delightful refuge for wildlife creatures. Do It Yourself Network www.diynetwork.com/diy/gardening Condo Garden: Even those who live in apartments or condominiums, where space is truly at a premium, can convert a tiny area into an idyllic garden that satisfies the senses and soothes the soul. Container Gardens: Artist and gardener Keeyla Meadows enjoys using containers to experiment with plant textures and colors. Paul James, host of HGTV's Gardening by the Yard, explains how to use container plants creatively. Small Space Garden: Small-space gardening can be a challenge. This segment describes a small Chicago garden that had too much sun on one side and too much shade on the other. Urban Garden: How to transform small spaces into fresh, stylish areas of tranquility, using hip hardscapes and cold hardy perennials. Water Garden: Pond builder Richard Koogle of Lilypons Water Gardens offers advice on maintaining a water garden. Wildlife Garden: [Many subjects from attracting humming birds and butterflies to deterring deer from your yard with plant choices.] Environmental Design & Construction www.edcmag.com Rooftop Garden: The garden roof assembly or “green roof system” has been available in the United States for more than 70 years. Construction consists of two equally important phased applications: the waterproofing application and the garden assembly. The ultimate success of a rooftop garden depends largely on the proper design and installation. Garden Guides www.gardenguides.com Container Garden: Even the smallest patio or porch can boast a crop of vegetables or a garden of flowers in containers. Planter boxes, wooden barrels, hanging baskets and large flowerpots are just some of the containers that can be used. See other Tips & Techniques Organic Gardening www.organicgardening.com Organic Garden: We've gathered the basics of organic gardening for you here. You'll be able to find where to get your soil tested, learn how to manage pests without using chemicals, and read growing guides for vegetables and flowers. Conclusion The above collection of resources is only the beginning. Many more articles, blogs, photographs, and other tid bits about gardening are available on the web. Hopefully this article served to illustrate what a great resource the Internet can be when planning and improving your garden. We have covered landscaping planners, plant reference guides and various garden solutions from problems with pests to space. If you find some of the bits in this article resourceful, be sure to bookmark this page to review it in the future. Happy gardening!