Blog :: 01-2018

Winter Home Safety Tips

Here are some tips for keeping your house safe through these long winter months:

We have had fairly severe temperature swings this winter, so, during one of the thaws, check and trim tree branches near your house before another ice storm and heavy snowfall occur.

While it can make economic sense to turn down the thermostat when you leave, make sure you leave enough heat running to keep pipes from freezing. Most experts suggest leaving the temperature set at a minimum of 55-58 degrees. Leave a faucet on an exterior wall dripping slightly and open cabinet doors under a sink to help keep those particular pipes from freezing.

When leaving your home, make sure all space heaters are turned off and candles are blown out.Make sure exterior doors are fastened properly – a strong wind can inadvertently lower your home’s temperature to freezing and cause your furnace to go into overdrive.

Finally, keep your driveway plowed for any emergency vehicles that may have to find you.

Most importantly, let’s all think spring!


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    Tempted to Winterize?

    With the recent cold spell in our Tri-State area, the cost to heat our homes increases and some second-home owners are tempted to “shut down and turn off.” Understandable, but potentially dangerous. We all know the risks of frozen pipes, but there are other factors as well.

    Even with all precautions taken, most homes are not built to withstand frigid temperatures. When our walls, floors, and ceilings freeze, we’ve created conditions that can lead to harm as they thaw.  Frozen surfaces condense as temperatures rise, leading to mold and mildew. Insulation increases this problem. Material expansion/contraction opens cracks, gaps, and flaws that aren’t only unsightly but offer refuge to pests. Paint and caulk distort, boards warp, and many of our smart appliances suffer; furniture can be impacted, too.

    Protect your investment.  While away, 55° is safe; lower than 50° is inefficient. Wi-Fi compatible thermostats let you control your home from afar; most alert you to problems.

    Home concerns? Need a change? Give us a call!


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      Choosing the Right Countertops

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      The choices for kitchen and bath-room countertops are extensive. Granite, which has been around for 30+ years is extremely durable and impervious to heat and cold.  However, granite--like any natural stone--requires a sealer and periodic reapplication.

      Other natural stones, such as marble and soapstone, have a luxurious look, but are quite porous and require routine maintenance also. Manufactured quartz stone, which used to be limited in selection, is now offered in many different colors and designs.  Quartz can be visually indistinguishable from natural stone, have the same durability and require no maintenance.  Concrete, although still not a mainstream choice, is great for a more rugged or industrial look.  It can be tinted and polished, or left a natural color.  It also needs to be sealed.   

      My current favorite is wood tops featuring marine finishes. Made of mahogany, walnut, and other hardwoods, these countertops do not have the durability of stone, but they make up for that shortcoming with a friendly, warm touch. Don’t forget about good old plastic laminate either!


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        Thinking of Buying a House?

        If buying  a house is something you plan to do this year, now is the perfect time to set some resolutions that will help you reach your house hunting or goal.

        Find a good realtor.  Working with a knowledgeable real estate agent should be first on your list. Realtors can help you set your goals in motion — making for a very smooth transaction.

        Save money. Figure out what price house is affordable for you and what price your mortgage lender will approve. Then save based on your current disposable income and how soon you want to buy that house.

        Check your credit score — and work to raise that score if necessary. Your score will affect whether you’re approved for a loan and determine your interest rate. Good mortgage rates are generally offered to those with scores 720 and above.

        Gather your files. When you make an offer, you’re going to need a lot of information: tax returns, income statements, bank statements, credit card information, etc.

        Get pre-approved. You will know just how much you can spend.  While pre-approval is no guarantee of future financing, it tells the seller that you’re most likely qualified.


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