Prep Your Yard for Winter

Prepping your yard for the winter is encouraged regardless of your kind of climate. In the fall, it’s known that the lawn responds better to treatments. Grass typically grows more robust thanks to nutrients being fed and stored in the winter. Think of this like hibernation. When the woodland creatures stock up on food, it’s to help them last through the colder season as it becomes more challenging for them to survive. These tactics are going to help you better take care of your lawn.

Pack Up Last Summer

Worse than seeing those back-to-school commercials is putting away patio furniture. Saying goodbye to summer is always a hard thing to do, but packing it up can maximize safety protocols. Outdoor furniture, regardless of it being able to handle environmental conditions, should be washed down and tucked away in a garage, shed, or any kind of storage unit. Lawn chairs and tables can rust over time; putting them away pushes back buying a new set and saving you more money for the following summer break. 

Winterize

Fall fertilizing, also known as winterizing, is necessary to help your garden and yard work maintain their beauty throughout the wintertime. Almost like packing leftovers in the freezer, winterizing helps the grass remain fresh and vibrant when spring comes and melts away the snow. Use the appropriate fall fertilizer to avoid any new growth damage in the grass depending on your typical climate weather and the time mark for when seasons change.  

Pave The Way

Get it done! Repair pavements such as the driveway, walkway, and that crack in the front step you’ve meant to take care of all year. When the snow starts to fall, any damage that is not catered to can worsen over time. Unsafe conditions can lead to damage repairs, which means more money on home maintenance.

Trimming

Trimming your branches is highly advised before winter reaches. The icy snow can be hefty on the brittle branches, causing them to snap at any moment. They also carry very sharp icicles, which can be dangerous when loved ones play in the backyard creating snow angels. Best to cut them down now before any unlikely harm comes knocking at your door.

Protect The Plant Babies

Preparing your yard for the winter might seem like a chore. If you are someone who cares deeply for their garden and array of plants, you won’t be so happy when those critters come nibbling on them for a snack. Tree guards or other forms of plant screenings could help best when up against nature’s animals. But in the long run, when the ice and snow start melting away, left behind is the same untouched, beautiful, plush grass you’ve maintained the rest of the three seasons.

Protect Your Home From Flooding

An unexpected flood can be devastating and damaging to your home. Hurricane Ida has shown us how under-prepared Connecticut truly is. To better protect yourself and your home, here’s our advice on how to keep safe in case of a flood emergency.

Flood Insurance

Repairing your home after a flood can cost up to $25,000 for just an inch of water. A few houses were reported to have water up to your knees after the last hurricane. It is essential to be prepared with flood insurance, especially in a high flood-risk area. Not that flood damage isn’t already included in a regular home insurance plan, but flood insurance should be purchased separately. Only some insurance companies, by name, can better protect you from the destruction caused by a flood.

Invest in a Sump Pump, Flood Sensors, and an Automatic Shut-Off Valve

Invest in protective measures to minimize the damage. A sump pump will pump water out of the basement. Flood sensors will alert you immediately to any water where it shouldn’t be or a cracked pipe, allowing you to respond quickly. An automatic shut-off valve will shut off the main water supply when activated.

Build a Barrier Around Your House

If permitted by your local building codes, consider a floodwall or levee around your home. A temporary solution that can be a tremendous last-minute line of defense is piling a wall of sandbags, 1-foot tall, around your home.

Keep Important Items Safe

If living in a flood-risk area, elevate expensive appliances like your water heater, washer/dryer, and electrical panel off the ground. This includes any electrical appliances that can short circuit in the basement, such as a laundry unit or a second kitchen. You should also keep all your private documents like your passport or birth certificate in a waterproof lockbox on a shelf higher up.

Be Prepared

Be better prepared the next time a hurricane comes flying in. Work out a flood plan beforehand, so you know what you need to do and what essential items are to be fully stocked in case of an emergency. Your emergency kit should include first-aid, medicine, flashlights, and batteries, and sometimes non-perishables.

Conclusion

Some people may not know that they live in flood-risk areas, so you should always make suitable investments to protect your home. Have more questions or need expert assistance building these safeguards into your home?

A Home Maintenance Guide For Homeowners

About to purchase your first home and not sure what kind of maintenance will come with it? Like many things in adulthood, owning a home comes with a lot of responsibilities. Aside from paying the light bill and Wi-Fi, the up-keep is just as essential as cleaning out your garbage disposal. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common maintenance needs as a homeowner.

Frequent Maintenance

When you first move in, change the locks! While it is uncommon for previous owners to break into your home, you always want to lower the possibility of anyone other than yourself having access. Every month or so, be sure to change the batteries to all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. If you hear any beeping sounds, don’t ignore them. That’s its way of alerting you to change the battery pack. 

Ever wondered why you always get a stuffy nose at night? Or why do you constantly have an urge to sneeze from time to time? Try changing your HVAC filters. When left untouched, all that dust and debris can build up and will likely be the cause of your restless nights. Try it out. You’ll see a change in your sleep pattern and HVAC appliances.

Check for leaks around the house, and if you need to recaulk the bathroom or windows, replace them. You don’t have to worry about it so soon if done professionally, but it can wear down after a while. 

Inspect your fire extinguisher. While it’s true fire extinguishers don’t come with an expiration date, forever isn’t promised. You’d be surprised how little previous owners checked theirs.  It’s always better to be safe than sorry in case of emergencies.

Finally, locate essential items like the water shut-off valve and circuit breaker. This is second-hand knowledge that could be helpful if inspectors plan a visit or any kind of renovation that needs to be done regarding sinks, showers, toilets, lighting, etc. 

Long-term Maintenance

Moving forward are some examples that need to be handled less often but should always be kept in mind for the future. The following repairs or replacements can get expensive, so it is crucial that you do your research. Think ahead of the uncertainties and set aside money to properly maintain your at-home paradise. 

Inspect your chimney, mainly if it’s not being used often or adequately. Cover your AC unit, empty your lawn mower fuel tank, and winterize any exposed pipes before the seasons change. Check for any winter damage like the roof and siding, and clean out those gutters every spring. During the summer, reseal your deck, open up your pool (if you have one), tend to your landscape paradise, and inspect for pests. 

After every six months, clean your refrigerator coil, vacuum your air vents, and clean your showerheads. After a year, drain your water heater, clean out the dryer vent, and get your septic cleaned out too. We know this may sound like a list of chores, but imagine all the money you’d be saving if you didn’t have to pay for heavy-duty replacements all at once. 

From 5 to 10 years, replace the dishwasher, microwave, and kitchen sink. In the meantime, set applicable appliances, like the dishwasher to self-clean. Get rid of that old water smell and mold that could be growing. After about 15 years, and if you still live in the same home, replace your water heater and refrigerator. Also, and this is something that usually gets overlooked, replace your garage door opener or motor. 

Conclusion

Many people think in an “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix” scenario which isn’t always the safest idea. Your home is your greatest investment, and it’s important that you maintain its beauty. Do your research and follow up on the signs like random puddles of water by the fridge, or clanking pipes by the boiler. Beeping usually means changing the battery, and a stuffy nose can lead to clogged AC filters. While we hope this list helps you prepare for your homeownership journey, contact us if you have any questions.

Look For Credentials When Hiring

If you’re planning a home remodel and want to hire a professional, then you’ve likely heard some horror stories.

No one wants to be taken advantage of – whether it’s your time, money, and especially not your home. When researching contractors in the area, make sure you look at their credentials just as much as their portfolio online. A pretty picture is nothing without a few testimonials.

Remodeling professionals have the training, experience, skills, and solid references. Homeowners can hire the best remodeler for the job by checking credentials and choosing the most qualified candidate.

Ask about these credentials when hiring a professional remodeler:

Insurance and Licensing

All professional home remodelers should be insured and able to display a certificate proving possession of insurance. While not all states require remodelers to be licensed, the ones that do, contractors are mandated to share proof of licensure. Up-to-date insurance and licensing demonstrate that the remodeling firm is in good standing. 

Education

The most skilled professional remodelers not only have experience on the job but education. There are many ways contractors continue their education and numerous certifications, designations one can hold. Find a professional who continues to invest in professional development to keep their remodeling and business skills sharp and better serves their customers.

References and Reviews

Happy homeowners enjoy sharing their good experiences and appreciation of their newly upgraded space. Take a look at reviews online, or ask friends and neighbors for their referrals. 

Business Skills

Experienced remodelers know how to manage their business, which provides stability and security for their customers. These professionals will provide a written contract for a home remodeling project, a scheduled timeline, and guarantees and warranties for their work. 

Another vital sign of honest business practices from a remodeler is outlining a clear payment schedule and not requiring large amounts of cash upfront. Professional remodelers should also have a good reputation with the Better Business Bureau and a good credit report, indicating stable business operations.

Association Membership

Many successful remodelers are members of trade associations like the National Association of Home Builders because it offers business resources and continuing education. Membership also provides opportunities for professional growth and expanding knowledge of the remodeling industry.

Conduct thorough research when hiring a professional home remodeler so that you hire someone with good credentials. Verifying intelligent business practices and remodeling experts will better ensure that your home remodel will be completed successfully and safely. Remember, it’s always better to be safe than sorry rather than trusting someone’s word.

Reasons To Build A New Home

Not sure whether building a new home is right for you? Let’s consider the benefits to building a new home. 

Here are some of the top reasons that building might be a good choice for you.

Want Something New

The idea of living in a home that wasn’t previously owned before sparks interest. Since all inspections are up to code when you move in, any surprises or unexpected repair jobs won’t be a concern. Your home will be equipped with all modern conveniences and will be truly ready to move in. 

Go Green

Incorporate smart home technology with new modern appliances and luminescent lighting. Adhering to all up-to-date codes, you can live environmentally-friendly which saves you money. With modern eco-friendly and energy-efficient features, take pride in going green. 

Specific To You

If you are someone who cares about keeping up with the latest design styles, building a new home is the best way to achieve this. It gives you the ability to customize it exactly to your needs and wants. You can design a floor plan that is specific to you and your lifestyle, customize aesthetic features tailored to your liking, and install any kind of walk-in closet, boudoir, or master bathroom your heart desires.

Live Where You Want 

You have the perfect home in mind, now you need the perfect location. Find an available plot of land, then build your dream house in your dream location. Imagine choosing between the kind of neighbors you’ll be inheriting or no neighbors at all. Give yourself more privacy by installing a fence around the property or remain completely isolated by utilizing a tree-lined environment. 

Choose Your Builder

Building a new home enables you to pick your own builder. If you do your research and pick a high-quality, professional builder, you can be rest assured that you’ll end up with a sturdy, well-built home. You’ll be entering an exclusive relationship dedicated to making your needs a priority. This requires building communication skills and being fully transparent with what you want. 

Don’t Rush Your Decision

Bidding wars can make you feel rushed when buying a home. If you want to take your time making a decision rather than rushing into a very expensive purchase, building property is the right choice for you. It’s a very slow paced process, and you’ll have full autonomy and final say. Not to mention this takes away competition. 

Conclusion

There are many perks to building a new home. A home is an expensive investment and building is the best way to ensure you get exactly what you want. It’s important to be carefully detailed with what you and who you’re working with. When presented with tile or hardwood floor options, be sure to take your time. 

Want to learn more about home construction?

Aging-in-Place: Accessible Housing Tips

According to a 2018 AARP report, 76% of Americans ages 50 and older say they prefer to remain in their current residence and 77% would like to live in their community as long as possible. In order to make this wish a reality, homes must be designed with age-in-place features to help older homeowners stay comfortable and independent in their own homes for as long as possible. 

Here are some of the top features to include for aging in place:

Overall Design

Your home should be designed in a way that even as you get older, you’ll still be able to navigate the entirety of the house, or at least the areas you use most often. 

The simplest way to do this would be to choose a one-level house with an open concept. If you do have a house with more than one floor, try moving everything to the main floor. That way it is much more accommodating to get to your everyday needs as you grow in age. If you’re looking to move, keeping an eye out for a first-floor master bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom should be top priority.

If you regularly need to access the second floor of your home, we recommend a motorized stairlift. Some homeowners are even installing elevators in their homes.

Build wide doorways (36”) and halls to accommodate wheelchairs or other walking aids. The home should have a level walking surface. This means no areas that you have to step into and no tripping hazards like thick throw rugs.

Doorknobs should be replaced with easier-to-grasp levers, and lighting should be ample to accommodate failing vision.

Smart home features are also great for aging homeowners! Any process that can be automated or controlled by the push of a button will save a mobility-challenged homeowner from straining or possibly injuring themselves.

Bedroom

Your bed and bedroom furniture should be low and easy to access. Install handrails near the bed. In the closet,  install lighting and pull-down rods.

Bathroom

Bathrooms can be dangerous for elderly homeowners. Avoid step-in tubs and opt for a shower instead. Install a shower seat and handrails in the shower and near the toilet.

Kitchen

Make sure everything in the kitchen is within reach. Low storage options are preferred rather than storing items in high cabinets. Install chair-height countertops and appliances and touchless faucets. Choose appliances with buttons on the front so you will not have to struggle to reach towards the back.

Outdoor

As you get older, it may become difficult to maintain your outdoor space. Choose low-maintenance plants and install a sprinkler system. It also wouldn’t hurt to ask any younger kids in the neighborhood to help out. They’re great in company, and affordable. 

Financial Assistance

Aging-in-place modifications can be expensive, but there is financial assistance available. Medicare, Medicaid, or private insurances may cover some modifications. You can also check with your local state Aging or Housing agency for assistance.

Conclusion

Aging in place is certainly possible with careful planning and the proper home modifications. If you have more questions and would like to speak with a remodeling expert, please reach out.

The Multipurpose Garage

Many people are underutilizing their garage to just park their car and store their rarely-used or seasonal items. Garages have the potential to be a wonderful add-on to your living space when organized and used creatively. 

When done right, repurposing your garage can add a fantastic bonus room to your house! Here are some great ideas to get you started.

Why the Garage?

There are several reasons that garages are a great space for a multipurpose room. They are usually large, making them suitable for a variety of different uses. Opening the door can provide you with great ventilation for messy projects, or cases where you are dealing with dangerous fumes. Garages can also allow you to be noisy without disturbing the rest of your household. Best of all, if you already own a home with a garage, you don’t need to build a costly addition to expand your home. Your garage is a spacious bonus room just waiting to happen!

How to Prep Your Garage as a Multipurpose Space

If you’re going to use your garage for something other than just storing your vehicle, you’ll want to make sure to add these features:

  • Make sure it is well-insulated and install a heating and cooling system, so that it can remain a comfortable temperature year-around. 
  • Install good lighting, and have it equipped with plenty of electrical outlets. 
  • Consider more comfortable flooring for your feet, as most garages are made of concrete.
  • If you want the convenience of a sink while getting your hands dirty on a project or prepping some snacks, have appropriate plumbing installed.

You will also want to make sure to optimize storage space with creative storage solutions. It is important to find ways to minimize clutter to make the most use of your garage space for other purposes.

Multipurpose Garage Ideas

Now that your garage is prepped, here are some fun ways to use your new living space:

  • A Workshop or Art Studio – Your garage is a great place to get messy! Outfit your garage with workbenches to do your art, crafting, or construction projects. 
  • A Home Office – With work-from-home situations becoming more common nowadays, you might be struggling to find a suitable workspace in your home. Have you considered a home office in your garage?
  • A Home Gym – A garage is a great place to get sweaty, especially when the weather is nice and you can open up the door to get some refreshing air.
  • An Entertainment Room – You can create the ultimate entertainment space in your garage. Consider a game room, arcade, or even a home movie theater!
  • A Lounge or Guest Room – With the proper insulation, lighting, electrical, and flooring, you can even repurpose your garage to be basically another room in your house – perfect for lounging or hosting guests.
  • A Kid’s Playplace – Tired of seeing your kids’ toys strewn all over the house? Turn your garage into the ultimate playroom for your kids.

There are so many creative ways to make the most of your garage space. What does your dream garage look like?

Must-haves in the Kitchen and Bathroom

Homeowners of the future are not what they used to be!

In a recent study by NAHB, it was found that homebuyer preferences for kitchen and bath features can vary significantly because generations have different needs from one another. 

The study, What Home Buyers Really Want, 2021 Edition, compared what millennials, Gen X, and Boomers find most desirable in the kitchen and bathroom. Keep reading to learn what each generation wants!

Kitchens

The study reviewed different kitchen features, with respondents deeming what was essential in a new home. Millennials and Gen X’s scores were often close, but Boomers have a much different view of what is desirable in the kitchen.

A double island is essential to 53% of Millennials and 55% of Gen X, but only 27% of Boomers. On that same note, 63% of Millennials and 64% of Gen X would prefer a central island with an oven rage, but just 37% of Boomers wanted this. 

More than 50% of Millennials (with Gen X not far behind), also value a steam oven, trash compactor, and wine cooler in the kitchen, while Boomers don’t seem to have strong desire for any of the these features.

Bathrooms

The results for the bathroom yielded similar results, with Millennials and Gen X on the same page, and Boomers looking for other features.

A skylight is one of the most desirable features in the bathroom overall, with 60% of Millennials and Gen X stating it is essential, and 35% of Boomers agreeing. Millennials and Gen X also desire ‘His & Her’ baths, with only 28% of Boomers on board with separate bathrooms. 

Other features looked at in the bathroom were bidets and dual toilets, both of which hovered around 50% for Millennials and Gen X, but between 20-25% for Boomers. 

Do any of these features make your ‘must-have’ list for the kitchen or bathroom? Let us know in the comments!

Am I ready to build a house? 6 Questions to Ask Yourself

Dreaming of having a custom-built house perfectly suited to your family’s needs? Or a house built to your taste with everything totally brand new? 

Building your own home comes with both pros and cons. Here are six questions you should consider before diving in without a plan.

1. Can I decide on a house quickly?

The competition to buy an existing house is incredibly high, with many homes selling in just a few days. The pressure to make such an expensive and important decision, while racing against other buyers, can be overwhelming. If you are someone who takes a while to think things over, and you want to make sure you get exactly what you want from a home, building might be the better option for you.

2. What is the biggest advantage to building a home?

The biggest advantage to building a home is getting a custom-build that perfectly meets the needs of you and your family. Everything in the house will be brand new, and you won’t have to worry about any costly repair jobs or issues that can surprise you in a pre-existing home. Just make sure you find yourself a high-quality, professional contractor who can properly understand your needs and bring your vision to life. We recently wrote a blog on how to find a professional remodeler, and much of the same advice holds true when building a new construction.

3. What is my Budget and how is my Credit?

Your first step is to make sure you fully understand your budget. Meet with a mortgage lender and discuss your options, so you have a firm number whether building or buying. 

The loan process for new builds is a little more complicated than obtaining a mortgage for a pre-existing home. When building a home, typically you begin with a construction loan, and then refinance into a traditional mortgage after construction is complete. In order to do this, you will need good credit and little to no debt. Once you figure out your budget, it is also important to factor in some wiggle room in there for any unforeseen expenses.

4. Do I need this home ASAP?

A new build typically takes up to a year to complete. If you are in a rush to move into a new home, buying a pre-existing home may be the better option for you.

5. Am I ready to put down roots here?

Building a new home is costly and time-consuming. As such, it is not the best option for someone who expects to move around. If you aren’t ready to settle down just yet, then renting or buying an existing property probably makes more sense for you.

6. What are my future needs?

When building a home, it is important to plan for your future and not just your current needs. Do you plan on having children some day? Will your parents move in with you at a certain age? Factor that into your building plan to avoid a costly home addition or stressful move later down the road.

Conclusion:

Taking the big step to build your own home is an important decision that you shouldn’t rush into. Consider the six questions we have listed here, and be sure to do some additional research before you dive into an expensive construction project.

Tips for Designing a Multi-Generational Home

Multi-generational living can be challenging. You want everyone to have their privacy and space, all under one roof. If you are currently living with multiple generations in your home, or anticipate this situation in the future, here are some tips to design a living space that works for everyone.

Design Your Home with Accessibility in Mind

With multiple generations under one roof, you’ll want to make sure the living space is accessible to the oldest of the household’s members. 

Make sure you have spaces wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs. Build bedroom suites on the ground floor, so people with mobility challenges won’t need to navigate stairs. If you have a large budget, you can even consider motorized countertops or cabinets that can adjust height to accommodate everyone’s needs.

Design your bathroom with safety in mind. Choose step-in showers, rather than a bathtub  that an elderly person will struggle to climb into. Install handrails or seats in the showers.

Lastly, make sure there is ample lighting in the house for older members who may have trouble seeing. Adjustable lighting is a great option to make everyone happy.

Design Private Spaces and Communal Spaces

There will be times where you’ll want to spend time with your family members, and times where you’ll want some privacy. This can be difficult to achieve in a multigenerational home, but there are solutions. You can build a separate suite in the basement, or even elsewhere on your property like a guest cottage. You can also consider separate entrances into the home, so every generation feels like they have a space of their own.

You’ll want some communal and accessible open-concept spaces, but you’ll also want some separate rooms for privacy. Pocket doors are a great solution to accomplish something in-between open and private. With a lot of people in the house, you’ll also definitely want to make sure your rooms are well-soundproofed.

Maximize Your Indoor and Outdoor Space

With a full house, it’s essential to maximize every inch of your home. Design plenty of creative storage solutions. Lots of people means lots of stuff!

Even if you don’t have extra family members living with you NOW, you can design for your FUTURE needs if you anticipate you will one day have extra members in your household. Design your spare rooms to meet standard bedroom requirements so that they can be used as bedrooms later, even if you’re currently using them as an office or exercise room.

If you have the yard space, designing a spacious, comfortable outdoor courtyard or deck where the whole family can come together for bonding time while having their private spaces indoors is a great way to achieve balance between alone time and social time.

Conclusion:

Living in a multigenerational home can be a challenge, but creating a harmonious living environment starts with the design of your house. It is important to design a space that is physically accessible to every member of the household, and that accommodates both togetherness and privacy.

Need help coming up with a design that fits your multi-generational needs? Get in touch today.

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