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Your 2016 Home Maintenance To-Do List

Thursday, April 28 2016 3:15 PM
Categorized In Default News Article Category

Homeownership is the American dream, but it’s also a lot of work. Your home is a significant investment and requires a consistent level of upkeep to maintain its efficiency and to protect its value.

As you make new resolutions for 2016, set aside some time to build a schedule of your ongoing home maintenance duties. Creating a calendar of anticipated maintenance needs will help you remember key milestones and better prepare for any big expenses.

The following examples of typical home maintenance should be completed at least annually. Consider your home’s specific needs to determine the relevance and timing of each task, and mark your calendar appropriately. 

In the spring:

  • Inspect the roof for snow damage.
  • Examine the condition of glazing compound, caulking, and interior and exterior paint.
  • Check for broken glass and screens in windows and storm doors. (It’s also a good idea to do this the fall.)
  • Look for evidence of termites such as sagging floors and ceilings or dry, brown tunnels in the ground near the home’s foundation.
  • Seed and feed the lawn, plant annuals and trim perennials that need pre-growth pruning.

In the fall:

  • Add mulch around perennials that need protection from winter weather.
  • Clear the lawn of leaves and reseed patchy areas.
  • Inspect the driveway for any cracks, and repair any damage with driveway filler and coat with a commercial sealer.
  • Look for any cracks or damage to the fireplace, and have the chimney cleaned by a licensed chimney sweep.

Before winter:

  • Inspect the roof, address any damaged shingles or flashings, and remove any debris.
  • Ensure gutters are securely fastened to the fascia board and clear them of any debris or build up that could inhibit proper drainage. 
  • Remove hose connections, then drain and store hoses to keep them from freezing.
  • Empty clay pots and planters of all soil, which can freeze and cause the pots to crack.

Anytime throughout the year:

  • Check all electrical connections for potential hazards. Pay special attention to any overloaded extension cords, and repair or replace any worn or frayed cords of electrical appliances.
  • Test your carbon monoxide, radon and smoke detectors. Clean each unit with a vacuum or cotton swab and replace batteries and light bulbs, if needed.
  • Have your heating and air conditioning system(s) inspected and cleaned. If your system has a filter, replace it once every three months.
  • Inspect all doors and windows for proper operation and ensure the weather stripping is not cracked or torn.  
  • Inspect the attic insulation to ensure the entire ceiling area is covered. Insulation should not touch the underside of the roof sheathing, nor should it block vents in the eaves, which could cause condensation buildup and poor air circulation.
  • Oil the motors of appliances as directed in their instruction manuals.
  • Periodically check storage areas, closets and the basement to ensure that any oily rags, gas cans, paint supplies, cleaning materials or other flammable items have been stored properly.
  • Check the functionality of your security system, inspecting each sensor and confirming the primary and backup batteries are in working order.
  • Inspect interior stairs and exterior steps for any damage that could cause someone to fall. Make sure handrails and railings are sturdy and securely attached.

The joys of homeownership come with a long list or responsibilities. But staying on top of these duties will help keep your home healthy as the seasons change and the years pass.

How to Evaluate Online Reviews When Choosing a Remodeler

Thursday, April 28 2016 2:57 PM
Categorized In Default News Article Category

Embarrassed by your outdated kitchen or tired of that ugly bathroom, but aren’t yet ready to move to a new home? Remodeling those rooms is your next best option. And there is no better time to consider a remodeling project than during National Remodeling Month in May!

But beware that even a seemingly simple modification to your home could become a dangerous task for even the most confident do-it-yourselfer. By first consulting with a professional remodeler, you could save yourself a lot of time, money and headache by getting the job done right the first time. Yet with so many remodelers to choose from, how do you find the right one for you and your home?

The easiest way to begin your remodeler reconnaissance is by going online.

 Proceed with Caution

The Internet makes it easy to find a wealth of information with just a few quick clicks of the mouse. Much of what you find will provide some useful background, but you can’t believe everything you see or read. When looking through customer rating sites, use good judgment to weigh the value of certain online reviews (positive or negative).

 Keep in mind:

  • Customers who had any sort of negative experience are much more motivated to post an online review than those who had a thoroughly positive experience.
  • A few negative reviews of a less-experienced remodeler carry far more weight than the same number of negative reviews of an established remodeler with several years (or decades) of experience.
  • An abundance of positive, brief, non-descript reviews can often indicate phony reviewers.
  • The Better Business Bureau, www.bbb.org, is a good resource to ensure the business doesn’t have any unresolved complaints. Other sites worth noting include Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, Houzz, etc.

Remember, the most accurate customer review will always come directly from the mouth of a previous client. If you don’t happen to know any former clients of the remodelers you are considering, simply ask those remodelers for references of recent projects.

To find a reliable Remodeling Council contractor that is a member of The Wichita Area Builders Association, click on “Find a Member” and then “Remodelers Council.” You will find a list of current members of the Council. Another good resource is our “Remodelers Council Directory and Resource Guide” which you can also access through our website at www.wabahome.com.

2016 Spring Parade of Homes Winners Announced

Tuesday, April 12 2016 11:39 AM
Categorized In Wichita Parade of Homes

The judging for the 2016 Spring Parade of Homes winners is completed and you can click below to see a complete list of the winners.

In addition to these winners, there are many great homes to look at during the Parade of Homes that you won't want to miss.

Pick up a Parade of Homes magazine from area grocery stores, Parade homes or download it from this website for more detailed information and a map of locations.

The Parade of Homes hours continue from Noon to 6:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, April 16 & 17 and 23rd & 24th!

Come and see the home of your dreams!

 

 Spring 2016 Parade of Homes Winners.pdf

New Homes Attract Consumers Looking to Save on Energy Costs

Wednesday, April 6 2016 8:46 AM
Categorized In Default News Article Category

The home building industry celebrates New Homes Month in April by sharing the top features that will be seen in typical new homes built in 2016. Once again, builders are responding to what home buyers want by offering greater efficiency in the design and function of the home.

"Today's new homes include features that will help homeowners reduce energy consumption and enhance the conveniences of modern living," said Ed Brady, chairman of the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) and a home builder and developer from Bloomington, Ill. "Our builders are telling us that energy efficiency continues to be a top demand from consumers."

 NAHB recently surveyed builders about the features they are most likely to include in new homes they build this year. Four of the top 10 features focused on energy efficiency: low-E windows, Energy Star-rated appliances and windows, and programmable thermostats.

 These features correspond to the list of features that consumers say are most important to them, as well. According to NAHB's latest survey of home buyer preferences, Energy Star appliances and windows, as well as an Energy Star rating for the entire house, are among the top five most-wanted features.

 In fact, home buyers are willing to pay more for a home if they can get lower utility costs in return. On average, they will pay an additional $10,732 up front to save $1,000 a year in utilities.

 Other popular features that builders said they are most likely to add to their homes include a walk-in closet in the master bedroom, laundry room, great room (kitchen-family room-living room) and a central island and granite countertop in the kitchen.

Top 5 Reasons Why Millennials Should Enter the Housing Market Now

Thursday, March 17 2016 3:09 PM
Categorized In Default News Article Category
With the economy and housing market still recovering, some potential first-time home buyers may be hesitant to invest in a new home.  Yet there are several reasons why now is a great time for Millennials and other first-time home buyers to start building their American Dream.

Interest rates are low.
Today's historically low interest rates are helping first-time home buyers find affordable housing options. Average weekly interest rates for a 30-year fixed mortgage remain under 4.5%.But it's important to keep in mind that interest rates are sensitive to market forces and can change quickly. There's no indication that rates will suddenly surge upward, but even a slight rate increase can push monthy payments to the point that a buyer might miss out on their first choice for a new home.
 
Huge downpayments are not necessary.

While lenders are looking more closely at borrowers today than in recent years, there are options for purchasing your first home without a 20% downpayment. For example, the FEderal Housing Administration (FHA) offers loans to first-ime home buyers with downpayments as low as 3.5%. However, these loans require mortgage insurance.To ensure that the financing process goes smoothly, buyers should consider pre-qualifying for a mortgage and having a financing commitment in place before shopping for a new home. Buyers also may find that some home builders have arranged favorable financing for their customers or offer financial incentives.

New homes are built to fit your lifestyle.

Designed to accommodate today's busy lifestyles, new homes - including urban condos and single-famiy homes - feature open floor plans, flexible spaces, low-maintenance materials and other amenities that appeal to younger buyers.With energy costs newar the top of consumer concerns, it's good to know that new homes can be more energy efficient than ever. Innovative materials and construction techniques mean that today's new homes are built to be much more energy efficient than homes constructed a generation ago.  Not only can they be more affordable to operate, new homes also are significantly more resource efficient and environmentally friendly.

Technology makes house shopping fun and easy.

Today's tech-savvy home buyers use mobile apps to quickly gather all of the key information on a property and to see extensive photos from their cell phones or tablets.  For example, Homesnap allows you to snap a picture of any home and get all the relevant property details, including any interior photos for homes on the market.If you're just beginning  your search, Realtor.com is a popular app becuase it generally contains the most accurate information gathered from more than 800 local MLS's (multiple listing services).There are also several free mortgage apps to help you determine how much you can afford and to compare real-time rates from multiple lenders.  Popular mortgage calculator apps include Zillow and Trulia.

Owning a home can help young families build wealthy and combat rising rents.

For most Americans, homeownership is a primary source of new worth and is an important step in accumulating personal financial assets over the long term.  Although property values have declined in many markets, Americans have more than $10.8 trillion of equity in their homes, and for most families, home equity represents the largest share of net worth.  At the same time, rent prices continue to climb - 2.8 percent in 2013 - as rental vacancies dropped to their lowest po int since 2000, according to a recent report from Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies. That makes now a great time to start investing in your future - insead of your landlord's.

Creating a Home Office that Works for You

Wednesday, September 2 2015 10:02 AM
Categorized In Press Releases
Home offices are becoming less of a luxury and more of a necessity with more people telecommuting or running their own businesses from their homes.  It is estimated that one in five Americans work from home. And with the fluctuating cost of gas and increased traffic causing longer commutes, that number is likely to grow even more every year.

Work space is no longer relegated just to the kitchen table or a corner of the guest bedroom; it has been promoted to a room of its own in the home. If you are looking to create a home office, or revamp an existing one, keep the following points in mind:

Separate Your Space
Although you are physically working in the house, it is important to set up your home office so that the lines between your home life and your work life do not get blurred.  By creating a barrier, you will be less tempted to take a television break in teh middle of your work day or work on spreadsheets when you are supposed to be "home form the office."

Design Your Office to Match Your Work Style
When choosing the furniture and layout of your office, make sure it fits the way you choose to work. For example, if you believe in "a place for everything and everything i its place," be sure to allot enough space for adequate storage and file cabinets. If you work on several different projects, set up separate, smaller work stations dedicasted to each task.

Show Off Your Style
There is no such thing as "one design fits all." While one person may prefer the look of dark woods and rich colors, comeone else may favor a more shimsical look with bright colors and clean lines. This is your chance to bring in designs and tiems that best reflect your personality and interests. Dont be restricted by what you think a home office should look like. Make it your own since you will be the one spending the most time there.

Make it Comfortable
When choosing the furniture and amenities for your office, make sure that you are physically comfortable and that your work space is conducive to productivity.

     *  You chair should be adjustable with adequate seat cushioning.
     *  Add a couch or armchair to allow for additional seating for guests or to provide a place to read away from your desk.
     *  Install recessed lighting which is less harsh on your eyes.
     *  Buy smaller desktop lights focused on task areas that are used for reading and writing to reduce eye strain.