How many lots does it take to build a commerical property? And what do you do when your family owns a vacation home and no one wants to pay to fix it up? WGN Money Saving expert is here with the answers.

Dear Ilyce: I own several contigiguous lots. Can I build a single commercial property across all the lots or would I need a variance?

Harry, the answer to your question depends entirely on the zoning laws in your area. Start your quest by paying a visit to the local village or city building department. While you won’t be able to build a 10-story office building in a neighborhood of single-family homes, there are other possibilities.

If you decide to go forward, you’ll need a solid commercial building team, including a good zoning or real estate attorney who can help you with the legalese, an architect who can create drawings that will pass muster with the village zoning board and a lender who can help you finance construction of the property.

Dear Ilyce: I want to buy my first car, but don’t know how to tell which car is best. Do you have any advice for me?

Mohammed, first you have to figure out what kind of car you want.

Do you want something new or used? Do you want a flashy car or are looks not that important? Do you want something reliable? Do you need a big car to haul around your family or other stuff or do you just need a small car for yourself? Finally, do you want something that gets great mileage or is a gas guzzler?

Start by reading up on various car manufacturers and models. You can get rankings of different cars at Other good places to go is and

Used cars will typically be less expensive than new cars. And you should test drive a few models once you start to figure out what you like. Finally, no matter whether you go with a used or new car, be sure to line up your financing ahead of time.

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June 8, 2004