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. 

 

7 Ways to Improve Indoor Air Quality

We often think of air pollution as something that could affect us outside. However, as Americans spend about 90% of their time indoors, keeping indoor air as clean as possible is essential. 

You can make simple changes to reduce the number and exposure of air pollutants in your home. Here are seven things you can do right away to improve the air quality in your home:

Get Rid of Mold

In bathrooms and kitchens, mold and mildew can easily grow where moisture levels are higher than the rest of your house. Plus, the hot summer months can bring about incredibly humid conditions. Exposure to mold can lead to respiratory issues like allergies and asthma. Invest in a dehumidifier in an HVAC system to reduce humidity levels and create comfortable living conditions in your home. 

Purchase an Air Purifier

Using air purifiers is another effective way to limit air pollutants. There’s a variety of indoor air quality products on the market to combat common indoor pollutants. Place purifiers in the house’s most commonly used areas, including the kitchen, bedroom, and living room. 

Invest in Indoor Plants

Houseplants can detoxify indoor air naturally. Spider plants, Chinese evergreens, snake plants, and aloe vera are all plants that NASA recommends for the best air purification.

Increase Ventilation

Proper airflow and ventilation are crucial for good indoor air quality. Over time, dust and mold can accumulate in your ducts. Opening your windows and cleaning your ducts allows harmful air pollutants and allergens to circulate outside, thereby limiting your exposure to it. 

Clean and Vacuum 

Rugs and carpets can easily trap dust particles in their many fibers. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, strong suction, and rotating brushes to suck up all the dust and dirt. Try to vacuum once or twice a week, and don’t forget about furniture, shades, and sheets. 

Keep it Outside

People can track all sorts of chemicals from the dirt on their shoes. Put a large floor mat at every entrance. By simply wiping your shoes off, you can reduce the amount of dirt and pollutants fin your home. 

With summer nearing an end, many of us will be spending more time indoors. Determine what you need in place to keep your indoor air quality high all winter long. 

 

Penthouse Sale Breaks Two Records

Earlier this month, a contract was signed marking the sale of the Leete penthouse at the Residences at 66 High Street. 

 

It was a sale that broke two records in New Haven County. 

 

The penthouse is the only condominium unit to sell above $3 Million in New Haven County – and the second-highest also belongs to 66 High Street. They are the only two condominium units to sell above $2 Million to date. 

 

In addition, the penthouse also broke 66 High Street’s previous record for the highest price per square foot in New Haven County, at over $912 per square foot. 

 

All units within our award-winning development are unique. With attention to detail, finishing touches by residents, and differing layouts, the residences offer unparalleled luxury and craftsmanship. The 4,000 square foot penthouse encompasses the top floor of the Leete building and boasts panoramic views of Long Island Sound. 

 

“These are luxury residences in the best location with the best amenities. There’s nothing in the state of Connecticut like 66 High Street.”

– Kenny Horton, Founder and Partner of the Horton Group.

 

For us, this doesn’t just mark another sale. As we get ready to welcome another member to the development, it represents Horton Group’s vision and commitment to quality construction, exceptional luxury, and community.

 

Interested in the Residences at 66 High Street? There are currently four units left in the Leete Building, all available for immediate closing. Contact us for more information. 

Builder Confidence Increased in July 2020

News about low inventory and historic low mortgage rates has been garnering a lot of attention in the housing market. While real estate agents have been noticing a recovery in the market for the past couple of months, the latest NAHB/Wells Fargo Housing Market Index (HMI) is also showing an increase in builder confidence. 

 

July 2020 Builder Confidence

 

In July, builder confidence in the market for new single-family homes jumped to 72 points, up from 58 points in June. This is a significant increase from April, when builder confidence plummeted to a low of 30 points, the lowest level since 2012.

 

The HMI is a monthly survey that has been conducted for 30 years. It gathers information about builder perceptions and buyer traffic for single-family homes. Anything above 50 points indicates a positive outlook for the market, and below 50 indicates a negative outlook. 

 

The Appeal of New Construction

 

Buyers are actively searching for homes. With low inventory and the desire for a floorplan to meet needs created by the pandemic (like home offices and outdoor living spaces), builders are seeing more interest from prospective buyers. 

 

“Builders are seeing strong traffic and lots of interest in new construction as existing home inventory remains lean,” said NAHB Chairman Chuck Fowke.  “Moreover, builders in the Northeast and the Midwest are benefiting from demand that was sidelined during lockdowns in the spring. Low interest rates are also fueling demand, and we expect housing to lead an overall economic recovery.”

 

Low mortgage rates aren’t just for existing homes, they extend to new construction. If you are a prospective buyer who isn’t haven’t luck with current inventory, consider building new or looking at new developments.

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