Home Maintenance Checklist

Whether you move into a newly constructed home or one previously lived in, home maintenance is must. By staying on top of upkeep, your home will not only look and run more efficiently, but it will also help keep your resale value high.

Each year, plan on saving 1-3% of your home’s value for regular home maintenance. By sticking to a schedule, you protect your biggest investment while maintaining a comfortable living situation. 

Here are monthly and seasonal checklists to help you to keep your home in top shape. 

Monthly

Check the interior and exterior of your home every month. With a quick walkthrough, you can check off these items and help eliminate surprises down the road:

  • Clean HVAC filters and change furnace filters.
  • Clean faucet aerators.
  • Inspect drains and look for leaks.
  • Inspect grout and caulking.
  • Test smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Clear indoor and outdoor air vents (including the kitchen vent hood).
  • Check water softener (if applicable).

Fall

When the temperatures are still moderate, get in as much yard clean up as you can, and prepare the home for winter:

  • Schedule another HVAC checkup.  You don’t want to realize there’s an issue after temperatures drop!
  • Inspect and clean the fireplace.
  • Clean gutters (after the leaves fall!).
  • Check the roof for missing shingles.
  • Check weatherstripping on doors and windows.  
  • Winterize exterior plumbing. 
  • Patch and seal driveway.

Winter

During the colder months of winter, pay attention to these interior needs: 

  • Touch up interior paint (as needed).
  • Clean grout in kitchens and bathrooms. 
  • Clean sink, tub, shower, and dishwasher drains.
  • Check the basement for leaks. 
  • Watch the roof for ice dams.
  • Check for drafts.

Spring 

As the weather begins to warm up, many people are eager for some fresh air and spring cleaning. In addition to a deep clean and yard cleanup, make sure you complete these tasks:

  • HVAC checkup by a professional. 
  • Inspect the roof, siding, and outdoor living spaces.  
  • Clean gutters.
  • Inspect driveway and walkways. 
  • Check for air leaks around doors and windows. 
  • Look for rotting wood or insect damage.

Summer

Complete these tasks early in the season so you can fully enjoy your summer:

  • Oil garage door and chain, and all door hinges.
  • Trim plants and hedges near the HVAC system.
  • Power wash exterior of the house.
  • Inspect foundation and crawlspace. 
  • Check sprinklers or lawn irrigation system. 
  • Check the damper in the fireplace.

Home Design that’s Trendy and Timeless

A new home comes with endless possibilities – including the overall design. The best part about new construction is you have a blank slate to create the home of your dreams. While recent home design trends can be fun to incorporate, they don’t always last long.

No matter your preferred style, you can customize your home, so it is both trendy and timeless. Keep reading to learn how!

Start with Function

When meeting with your builder, decide on an overall layout that meets your needs. An open floor plan often allows for flexible living spaces that can be modified to fit your changing lifestyle. In addition, a bedroom option on the main level creates the opportunity for one-level living, should you or a loved one need it. Review the pros and cons of floor plans with your builder to determine what works best for you. By starting with a practical floor plan, you’ll be able to enjoy the space for years to come. 

Go Classic with Big Items

Big construction items are generally harder to change out, and therefore more expensive. If you want a design you’ll love for years, select classic options for exterior finishes, flooring, countertops, and cabinets. Selecting quality materials for finishes ensures these items will last in terms of function and design. While they may be more expensive upfront, high-quality finishes are both luxurious and timeless.

Sprinkle in Trends

If there is a trend you love, incorporate it in a way that can easily be altered. Paint color can easily be changed, as well as furniture and decor. Light fixtures and hardware can have a drastic effect on the overall style of a room. These small ticket items can easily be upgraded should you get sick of them in a few years. 

We’d love to know – do you prefer a classic look or love to switch it up with the latest trends?

Flooring Options

Your choice in flooring is one of the most crucial decisions you have to make when it comes to home improvement. Different flooring can add texture, warmth, and functionality throughout your home. The material is an essential part of your interior design, and because it lasts for years, you want to make sure the flooring you choose fits your needs. Before you make your decision, learn more about the most common flooring options.

Hardwood Flooring

Hardwood flooring continues to be the top choice for homeowners and homebuyers due to its clean look and long term return on investment. Hardwood floors are often the most expensive option as well, with an average installation price of $4,750. These floors are a durable option for main floor plans and easy to clean. 

Carpet

Carpet allows you to create soft, comfortable rooms while limiting noise pollution. Often found in bedrooms, carpet is one of the cheapest options averaging $7.25 per square foot for instillations. Although carpet may require more upkeep, it is a great economical solution and very kid-friendly. 

Laminate Flooring

Laminate floors are a popular and affordable option for almost anywhere in the home. Durable, affordable, and easy to install, laminate flooring comes in countless designs and textures to match a natural wood feel. The only disadvantages for laminate floorings are that they are prone to moisture and buckling, requiring a moisture barrier during installation. 

Vinyl or Linoleum Flooring 

Vinyl or linoleum flooring is multi-dimensional in regard to its durability and many different designs. These synthetic floors efficiently mimic wood, tile, and stone, therefore making it the perfect material to put almost anywhere in a home. This option is also affordable and easy to install. 

Natural Stone Tile Flooring

Natural Stone tiling is a classic look that includes granite, marble, sandstone, limestone, and travertine. Of course these looks are a bit more expensive, however they bring a real solid feel to the bathroom, laundry room, and mud room. These natural stone tiles also may require different care depending on what finish is added to the floor, such as polished marble scratching easier than a granite slate. 

Ceramic Tile Flooring

Ceramic or porcelain tile flooring is a durable and non-porous option that accents bathrooms, kitchens, and entrances beautifully. Due to its water resistance, these floors are easy to maintain and secure for your home. Unlike wood or carpet floorings, tiled floors are able to be repaired without having to redo the entire floor. 

Different floors provide different designs to bring into your home. Many homebuyers or home renovators look to preserve as much hard wood as they can due to how expensive it is to replace. Depending on the condition, vinyl and linoleum floors should be replaced in older homes, mainly because newer synthetic floors are much more appealing and affordable as well. The decision is all up to the homeowner, just make sure to educate yourself on these types of floors before purchasing the material!

Prepare Pipes for Winter

Whether we admit it or not, winter is coming, and it won’t be long before the first frost!

So what does that mean for your home? 

Winterize. 

Winterizing plumbing pipes is a process that prevents cracks and leaks by preparing pipes for freezing temperatures. Freezing temperatures tend to cause excess water within the pipes to freeze and expand, often causing damage.

Preparing for Winterization

Winterizing is most commonly recommended when a home is left vacant for an extended period of time, with no water running through pipes. This process ensures you don’t have any structural damage done to your plumbing system. 

The process entails emptying the water heater, draining all water from the pipes, and filling all fixtures with an antifreeze solution. Here are seven simple steps to winterizing:

  1. Shut off the main water valve, then turn off the water pump and water heater.
  2. Open all drain valves and taps.
  3. Blow excess water out of the pipes using an air compressor.
  4. Open the drain in your hot water tank and let it discharge until empty.
  5. Drain all the water left in the holding tanks, especially the one used along with the tank to build pressure. 
  6. Flush toilets to remove as much water as you can from the tanks and the toilet bowls.
  7. Check all sinks and tub drains that could have drain traps, and add antifreeze to prevent water from freezing and cracking within the traps.

How to Prevent Freezing Pipes 

It is important to know about your home, inside and out. Before winter each year, check for poorly insulated areas and pipes located on exterior walls or by windows. It is also recommended to inspect your home for any cracks or holes in any exterior walls, floors, and ceilings. If any blemishes are found, simply caulk them to keep the cold air from entering. The key is to control indoor environments by keeping your home secure and adequately insulated. 

Here are some extra tips to prevent frozen pipes:

  • Insulate pipes with insulation sleeves, using slip-on foam pipe insulation.
  • Inspect the exterior of the property to ensure all visible cracks are sealed. 
  • Maintain a heating source inside the home to protect pipes from cold.
  • Maintain a slow faucet drip, allowing the water to flow freely and continuously. 
  • Drain outdoor hose bibs and insulate them with covers.
  • Heat tape can also be used to winterize plumbing. 

Benefits of Underfloor Heating

Underfloor heating is a popular trend in new construction. Stepping onto a heated floor in winter months adds a feeling of luxury – not to mention warmth. 

Types of Underfloor Heating

There are two main types of underfloor radiant heating: electric (or dry) and water-based (or wet) systems. 

Electric-based systems are comprised of heating cables that are spread on the ground and connected to the thermostat before the flooring is laid on top. These are generally easier and cheaper to install, but are more expensive to run than wet systems. 

Water-based systems are typically connected to the boiler. Continuous plastic pipes are laid out on a subfloor, and the final surface is laid on top. Hot water is pumped through plastic pipes to create heat. Although more difficult to install, wet systems are more cost-effective over time. 

Regardless if you choose electric or water-based underfloor heating, they both provide benefits over traditional heating systems. Keep reading to learn what they are!

Energy Efficient

Underfloor heating saves energy compared to forced-air or radiator heat. When air is delivered from above, fan power is required to push the hot air down. In addition, more heat is needed to compensate for uneven heating throughout the room. These factors lead to more energy being used and a higher energy bill. 

Underfloor heating starts at ground level, distributing warm air using natural convection. This means less energy is used. Water-based systems use even less energy than electric underfloor systems, because heating water with a boiler uses less energy than heating with electric radiant cables. 

Improved Comfort

One of the main benefits of underfloor heating is it eliminates cold spots. Traditional heating systems can make a room feel too warm, followed by a period of being too cold. There might also be cold spots or drafts, depending on where the heat is coming from.

With underfloor systems, heat is evenly distributed, rising up from the floor. These systems are both silent and efficient, creating the perfect temperature and added comfort for all. 

Improved Air Quality

Forced airflow can have a negative impact on air quality, as it spreads dust, particles, and pathogens. In addition, forced air systems require a higher heat output due to uneven heat distribution. This dries the air, causing dust and pollutant particles to stay airborne longer, plus added irritation to eyes, skin, and respiratory system. Underfloor heating reduces air movement and even distributes heat, which helps to improve air quality. 

In new construction, underfloor heating is often a requested feature, for both comfort and efficiency. What room in your home would you most love to have underfloor heating?

Join us at the 2020 Parade of Homes

The 2020 Parade of Homes is taking place this weekend! Will we see you there? 

Twenty-three properties in central Connecticut will be showcased this year, including the Residences at 66 High Street, Horton Group’s award-winning luxury development in Guilford. Join us on October 17th or 18th for fall refreshments and a tour of the development.   

Parade of Homes

The Parade of Homes has been helping residents find housing for over seventy years. The concept started in Minnesota back in 1948. Throughout the 1950’s, this event grew even more popular due to soldiers returning home from war and looking for property. This process made property shopping far simpler and more interactive. 

The event began to transform into its more modern form in the 1990’s when an online tour option was available for use. From there, the Parade of Homes expanded in all directions of the real estate market to include different price points and different types of construction, allowing a variety of buyers and homebuilders to follow the event. 

The Central Connecticut Parade of Homes is put on by the Homebuilders & Remodelers Association (HBRA). Take the self-guided tour to learn more about the latest trends in home design and meet Connecticut’s top builders and developers. 

Home Builders & Remodelers Association

The Home Builders and Remodelers Association of Central Connecticut is a team of professionals striving to protect and enrich housing opportunities for both developers and residents, creating jobs and homes. HBRA represents the very best in their industry; whether a builder, remodeler, developer, or associated trade or supplier, HBRA is committed to their clients and wishes to expand opportunities through exposure and marketability. 


The HBRA 2020 Parade of Homes is a ticketed event that will take place this weekend, October 17th and 18th from 11am- 5pm. Purchase your tickets to the HBRA 2020 Parade of Homes by clicking here!

Open Floor Plan Trends

For the last thirty years, residential architecture has been dominated by open floor plan concepts. The trendy design is accepted due to its ability to join rooms and create more of a social experience within the home. 

 

History 

 

Open floor plans are a relatively new concept in residential home design. Pre-World War II homes were constructed in a basic, one-dimensional layout, often connecting enclosed rooms with a long hallway, positioning the kitchen at the back of the house to be used for service. These configurations were not meant to accommodate modern gatherings. Throughout the 1950s, gatherings were still formal, which means the kitchen was off-limits to guests. 

 

It wasn’t until the post-war years that American families began to change their ways and reform to a more casual form of living. This slowly sculpted the open floor plan in modern construction, allowing families to grow in a spacious environment. By the 1990s, open floor plans became almost the norm for new construction, especially in suburban settings, and that trend holds true today. 

 

Innovation In Construction 

 

An open floor plan in residential architecture refers to a dwelling in which two or more common spaces have been joined to form a larger space by eliminating partition walls. Instead of interior load-bearing walls, heavy-duty beams carry the weight to create a spacious and sound living area. 

 

Simultaneous to American residential reform was the innovation of residential construction. Stronger materials and modern methods allowed open floor plans to be more practical and easier to build. Steel structural beams, central heating systems, drywall, and cinder-block construction made it easier to build larger rooms efficiently. 

 

Floor Plan Configurations 

 

  • Kitchen and dining room: Often, a kitchen and dining area share one common space. Sometimes a kitchen island or peninsula acts as a visual dividing line between the two areas.
  • Dining room and living room: A dining area and living room occupy one shared area. A visual dividing line may be in the form of thoughtfully placed furniture, two different paint colors, stairs leading to a sunken area, or a handrail.
  • Kitchen, dining, and living room: All three areas may be open in a large great room, often with a vaulted ceiling.

 

Advantages of Open Floor Plans

 

  • Better traffic flow. Without doors to open and close and no walls to hinder traffic, people can move through space unhindered.
  • Improved sociability and communication. Without walls, it’s possible to talk to one another across rooms.
  • Shared light. Interior spaces that were once without windows now get natural light from windows in exterior walls.
  • Improved real estate value. In almost every instance, an open floor plan is highly desirable and increases your home’s value to prospective buyers.
  • Easier to watch kids. Parents cooking in the kitchen or setting the dining room table can easily supervise children in the living room.

 

Disadvantages of Open Floor Plans

 

  • Costly to heat and cool. Great rooms with high ceilings are often energy drains, especially when the outer walls are equipped with large windows, as they often are. While traditional floor plans allow you to heat or cool only certain rooms, the entire space must be heated or cooled with an open floor plan.
  • Higher construction cost. Without partition walls, open concepts depend on steel or laminated beams for support. These are costly to install.
  • Poor sound control. Without partition walls to block noise, open concept homes can be very noisy.
  • Lack of privacy. Open floor plans are great for social activity, but they make it hard to find quiet spaces for private reading or study.

How Homebuilding Can Aid Economic Recovery

2020 is a year like no other, where communities must join forces (socially distanced, of course) and make a collective effort to support local businesses in an attempt to keep small-town economies alive. 

A major proponent to flourishing local economies is steady home building. People attract business, and housing attracts people. This year more than ever, the market is experiencing low housing inventory in many suburban communities across the United States. Housing developments create new jobs for citizens and provide desired housing options that attract residents. 

The National Association of Home Builders has tested these economic effects and have divided the economic influx into three phases. 

Phase I

Phase I includes the effects that result directly from construction activity and local industries that contribute to it. This consists of all contracted services, such as electricians, plumbers, architects, and engineers. Phase I also includes related jobs, such as truck drivers, developers, and bankers.

Phase II

Phase II includes the effects that occur as a result from the wages and profits from Phase I being spent in local economies. 

Phase III

Phase III is an ongoing effect that includes property tax payments and local spending by the occupants of the new housing units. 

As shown in the NAHB three-phase economic process, multiple forms of local income can be generated through residential construction. From more basic flows of income, such as workers spending their hourly wages on local goods and services, to more steady streams of income like annual property taxes paid. Local governments prosper from new residencies and more activity within the community. 

Hot Water Heaters

When the time comes to replace your old water heater, you’ll want to choose an energy-efficient water heater unit that will provide enough water for your household. Ultimately, water heaters provide a fast, effective method for getting hot water instantly to faucets and fixtures. If you are looking to buy a new water heater for your home and wondering what your options are, this guide walks you through the most popular types. 

 

Tank Water Heater 

A traditional tank water heater uses insulated storage tanks to hold large amounts of water, keeping it hot until needed, then releasing it through the pipes. They’re powered by natural gas, electricity, or propane, and the water always stays heated. Tank water heaters are the most popular because they are easier to maintain and repair and less expensive than tankless water heaters. 

 

Tankless Water Heater

Tankless gas water heaters or electric tankless water heaters are also called instantaneous or on-demand units. In replacement of a storage tank, the water circulates through a coil system that heats the water as needed. It saves energy by only working while you’re using hot water. Since they don’t have storage tanks, they’re usually smaller than storage water heaters. 

 

Condensing Water Heater

Condensing water heaters have a tank like a conventional storage-tank water heater, but they capture the extra gas fumes that would generally be expelled from home out of the flue. Condensing water heaters are a highly efficient water heater for homes with natural gas and are an energy-efficient option. This type of heater is also suitable for a household that requires around 55 gallons of hot water or more. 

 

Solar Water Heaters

A water heater that is solar powered draws its energy from the sun and is practical in any climate. This type of water heater features two parts: a solar collector and an insulated storage tank. The unit can be installed on the roof or even in the yard. 

 

Heat Pump Water Heater

Also known as hybrid water heaters, this design captures heat from the air and transfers it to the water. Although they are pricier than standard electric heaters, they use about 60% less energy. However, keep in mind the heat pump is placed on top of the water heater. Factor in around 8-feet of open space from the floor to your ceiling.

 

 

 

Masonry Construction

Building with masonry is a timeless art form that goes back many centuries. Nowadays, masonry construction is a choice for many homeowners due to the aesthetic appeal it adds to a home. 

 

Masonry consists of assembling structures from single units that are laid and bound together with mortar. This construction technique is popular for various projects due to its many advantages. Here are a few of the great benefits of masonry construction: 

 

  • Masonry is non-combustible and offers high resistance against rotting, termites, mold, and fungus.
  • Masonry structures have long lifespans and require less maintenance than many other building materials.
  • Being both durable and resistant, masonry withstands large amounts of weight and heavy storms, heat, and cold.
  • Finally, this construction technique can add insulation, ultimately lowering your utility bills.

 

Brick, stone, and concrete blocks are the most common materials used in masonry construction. We’ll dive into the advantages and disadvantages of each material.

 

Brick Masonry

brick masonry

Bricks are easier to handle and transport, not to mention cheaper than stones and concrete. Depending on the structural requirements, they adhere to different types of mortar. On the downside, bricks are less durable than stone and concrete. There are also fewer options in regard to size and color. 

 

Stone Masonry

stone masonry

This construction technique is used for building foundations, floors, retaining walls, arches, walls, and columns. Stones used for masonry construction are natural rocks and are the most durable building materials. Compared to bricks, one of the main benefits of stones is the variety of colors, sizes, and textures. However, stone masonry does require skilled workers due to ensure the structure is safe. 

 

Concrete Block Masonry 

concrete masonry

Also known as concrete masonry unit (CMU), concrete block masonry consists of solid or hollow blocks found in many sizes and colors. Concrete blocks can be manufactured to meet any size requirements for specific projects. The material is the most resistant to weather, mold, and pests. On the other hand, concrete masonry requires more manpower. Concrete blocks also increase the amount of steel to reinforce cement concrete structures. 

 

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