What to Expect from 2021's Housing Market

The Michigan real estate market is no exception, especially after such an unpredictable year that 2020 was. Of course, no one can predict with 100% accuracy what is to come this year. However, we can make some guesses based off the information that realtors all over provide. Remember, housing market predictions can only give you an idea of what to expect if you buy or sell a house this year. Don’t let them dictate your housing decisions – only your personal situation and finances should do that.

Housing Market Forecast

Experts are predicting that after 2020 there will be a post-pandemic rebound in 2021. This would involve steady mortgage rates, job recoveries, and the law of supply and demand working together to get home sales rolling. In 2020, there were so many unknowns of the pandemic that caused many home buyers and sellers to feel uneasy about making the big move. However, this time has allowed real estate agents to adapt to the ways they can respect social distancing guidelines when needed.

Due to the low inventory on the market and the excessive number of buyers trying to enter it, experts believe that low mortgage rates and the rise of remote workers with flexible schedules will keep home sales booming in 2021. Home sales and the prices for which they are sold are likely to be higher in 2021 as opposed to last year.

Several Buyers will Enter the Market

Buyer traffic in the market has been consistently stable over the past few months. Often time there are more buyers than sellers which has created a very competitive market to be in. This is a great sign for sellers. Millennials are also reaching the point in their life where they are having to make the decision of continuing to rent or becoming a homeowner. Due to rent prices rising it is becoming increasingly affordable for them to choose taking on a mortgage payment.

Not Enough Homes will be Listed for Sale

Experts predict that low inventory will continue into the new year, which will make it a great time for sellers. This trend will result in homes selling quicker at a higher price. Therefore, it is more important than ever for buyers to have a real estate agent they can trust to get them the quickest access to homes one they’re on the market. Buyers will have to work a little harder to find their dream home.

What Does This Mean for Home Buyers?

If the experts are right it is going to be a very competitive market this year, so buyers are going to have to bring their A game when they are ready to start looking for a home. In order to make sure that you are prepared for the heavy competition as a buyer make sure that you have a pre-approval ready when you start looking at homes and a real estate agent that you can trust!

What Does This Mean for Home Sellers?

With many motivated buyers on the market and the existing low inventory this will create the perfect opportunity for sellers to get multiple high-priced offers on their homes. Due to this low inventory, there will also be a low number of sellers for you to compete with. We have no doubt that a trusted real estate agent will be able to provide you with the knowledge and experience in your market and will be able to guide you to reach top dollar for your home. As a seller in 2021 you should have no problem selling your home!

Aug. 18, 2021

Matching hardware for your cabinets

Whether it’s with knobs, pulls, handles, or some other hardware, you need to have some way to access your cabinets. If your cabinets are relatively new, that hardware is probably fairly modern. But for older cabinets, you may need to replace the hardware, and it might be kind of tricky to figure how to get it. This can make replacing old cabinet hardware stressful, especially if you’re not sure where to start. While your success will depend on the specific pieces that you’re looking for and how recently they were manufactured, here’s some info that will hopefully point you in the right direction if you find yourself on a hardware hunt.

The Need to Match Hardware

Why do you need to match old cabinet hardware, anyway? There are a few reasons. The most common is that handles and knobs sometimes become damaged or break over time, especially if the cabinets see frequent use. You may also find yourself adding new cabinets or other fixtures that you want to match as closely to the older cabinets as possible, including similar finishes and hardware. In some cases, it may even be a matter of hardware being removed to repair or replace cabinet doors and then getting lost or accidentally tossed out. Whatever the reason, you want matching hardware, and it doesn’t seem to be available in stores anymore.

Sources for Older Hardware

When trying to match old hardware, it’s important to start by checking if it’s actually available. Visit cabinet or woodworking shops in your area with pictures of the hardware you need (or the actual hardware itself) to see if anyone can recognize it and know where to order it. If that doesn’t pan out, check the internet; there are a lot of stores online that specialize in older items, and this can include out-of-production hardware and other materials. Even if you can’t find the specific hardware from its original manufacturing run, you may be able to locate visually similar reproductions that will at least match the look of your existing hardware.

If that doesn’t work, spend some time searching online auction sites to see if you can find the hardware that you’re looking for there. While online auctions can be a mixed bag, there are a lot of people who post used or out-of-production items that they have a surplus of to make some money off things that they no longer need. It may be worth checking a few times on different days, as new items are listed all the time, and you never know when someone is going to list that handle or knob that you need for a few dollars.

Unable to Find a Match?

Unfortunately, there may be some cases where you simply can’t find a match for your old cabinet hardware no matter how hard you try. If this happens, you typically have two options: You can upgrade all your hardware to a new style, or you can find something that complements your existing hardware to create a mix-and-match arrangement. It basically comes down to whether you want to upgrade some of your existing hardware or all of it with something a bit newer. You can choose pieces that complement your cabinets, hardware that goes well with sinks and other fixtures in the room, or even something significantly more modern than the cabinets to create a visual contrast between the cabinets and the hardware. Regardless of what you choose, be sure to pick something that you enjoy.

Posted in Home Maintenance
July 30, 2021

Intro to Metal Roofing

 

Your roof is one of the most important parts of your house, as problems with your roof can end up causing damage to a variety of other parts of your home. While most people are familiar with shingle roofs when it comes to home roofing options, there are actually a few different roof types available. One that is gaining a significant amount of popularity in recent years is metal roofing, due in part to its extreme durability and resistance to environmental factors that can damage traditional shingles.

 

 

Once upon a time, metal roofing was largely made up of flat panels which seemed more at home on businesses or other non-residential structures. The material has come a long way since then, however. Modern metal roofing often mimics the look of shingles or tile roofs, adding a unique beauty to your home while also conveying a number of advantages over other materials.

 

Advantages of Metal Roofs

There are several benefits to choosing a metal roof. While the full list of advantages will differ depending on the type of metal roof you choose and where you live, here are some of the most common ones:

  • Longevity: Traditional asphalt shingles have a life expectancy of around 10 to 15 years on average, though some may last up to 20 years or more under ideal conditions. Metal roofs, on the other hand, have a life expectancy closer to 70 years.
  • Customizability: When choosing shingles, you’re limited by the color options and layouts that are available at the time of purchase. Metal roofs are often paintable to give you a wider range of options.
  • Fire Resistance: Unlike shingles, metal roofs will not ignite in the event of fire or lightning strikes. And contrary to myths, they do not attract lighting to your home.
  • Energy Efficiency: Because metal roofs reflect UV rays, they tend to stay cooler than other roofing materials during the heat of summer. This can result in less radiant heat buildup, which in turn will reduce your home cooling costs.

Metal roofs also typically contain a significant amount of post-consumer recycled material and can themselves be recycled instead of scrapped once they are replaced. This is a great benefit for those who want to have more control over their environmental impact.

Installing a Metal Roof

When it comes to installing a metal roof, things are a bit more complicated than they are for traditional shingle roofs. The additional work required is worth it, though, as it helps to ensure a leak-free roof that will last for decades.
Most of the time, the existing roof is stripped off completely and the underlying sheathing and flashing are inspected and replaced as needed. Additional plywood or similar materials may also be installed if necessary to provide a firm backing for the metal roof. A waterproofing underlayment is also added to the entire roof deck, along with slip sheets that go between the underlayment and the metal itself so that the metal will be able to move slightly as it expands and contracts.

The roof itself is installed in panels, with polyurethane sealants used to adhere to the metal and allow for movement and expansion as the weather changes. The edges of panels are crimped together to ensure a leak-free fit, providing seams that blend in naturally with the pattern of the roof. Chimneys and other edges are sealed around, and the eaves are capped to prevent water from getting behind the panels at the edges.

Professional Installation

Installing a metal roof can be a big job, and in order to get the most out of your roof it’s important that it’s done right. This is why many people choose to have metal roofs professionally installed, trusting in the skill and experience of roofers who know what they’re doing and have worked with the materials before.

Posted in Home Maintenance
July 23, 2021

Choosing a door for your converted garage space

When you think of a garage area, most likely the first thing that comes to mind is a place to store your car or other vehicles. You might also picture some shelving or storage on some of the walls, but for most people, the garage is largely a single-purpose structure. It doesn’t have to be this way, however; for an increasing number of homeowners, the garage is becoming a multipurpose room with easy access to fresh air, light, and the outside in general via the garage doors.

There are a lot of options available when it comes to converting a garage into some other space. To really get the most out of these conversions, you might consider upgrading or changing your garage door as well. The type of door that you have can make a big difference in the overall effectiveness of your converted space, so here are some things you should keep in mind when choosing your new garage door.

What Will You Use It For?

There are several ways that you could use a garage for something other than just storing your car and little bits of assorted outdoor junk. Common garage conversions include building a personal gym, making a craft room or other creative space, creating a lounge area that connects to an external patio, or even making a learning space for children who are learning from home. You might be surprised at how much of a difference some paint and the right flooring can make when it comes to a garage space!

Regardless of what you use the space for, you’ll likely want to change out the garage door to get the most out of the space. While having the option to open the door to increase access to your garage space is usually desirable, having a solid garage door probably won’t be ideal for the garage’s new purpose. That’s why it’s important to think about the actual purpose of the room, since that can affect the type of garage door you need.

Choosing the Right Door

There are a few different garage door options that you might choose depending on your needs. While some garage doors have small window spaces and that can be useful if you just want to add a little bit of light, garage doors made of clear plexiglass panels can provide much more light and a largely unobstructed view, which is ideal if you are using the garage space as a lounge area or have plants growing inside. Side-mounted garage doors that roll back along a side wall instead of the ceiling can also be useful, allowing you to control the size of the entryway if the converted area is being used more as a standard room. If you plan to decorate the door like you would any other wall, a single-panel garage door that opens without bending or rolling might be your best bet.

These are only a few of the options that are available when it comes to picking a garage door that meets your needs. Some options even work as add-ons that can work with many door types, such as a screen that allows fresh air and light in while the door is open but keeps out the bugs and other unpleasantness much like a standard screen door would. These sorts of add-ons provide even more possibilities and allow you to further customize your garage space to meet your specific needs.

Garage Door Installation

Whether you’re doing a complete remodel of your garage space or simply want a different door to make the area more useful, you’re likely going to want your new door professionally installed. You may even need a contractor to help you convert your garage into the convertible space you have in mind.

Posted in Home Maintenance
July 15, 2021

Smart Faucets for your Kitchen

So-called “smart” devices are increasingly popular, adding new features and functionality to just about every room in your home. One room that you might not consider for a smart upgrade is the kitchen, but you should. There are a number of sensors and connected devices that can transform your kitchen into something special. One great option that’s often overlooked is the addition of a smart faucet to your sink.

While smart faucets aren’t as well known (yet) as other smart home add-ons such as smart lighting and smart thermostats, they can have a significant impact on how you use your kitchen. Not only can you turn the faucets on and off in different ways, but you can also have your smart faucets automatically save you money on your water bill. If you’re wondering whether a smart faucet might be a good addition to your home, read on for more info on just how these faucets can help you.

Smart Faucet Controls

One big advantage to smart faucets is that there are multiple ways to control the flow of water. In addition to standard handles or levers, many smart faucets contain features such as touch panels and motion sensors that allow you to turn the water on and off with little to no contact with the faucet itself. This adds convenience to using the sink in general, and can help keep your kitchen area clean if your hands are dirty or covered with batter or other substances that you wouldn’t want to clean off of everything later.

Depending on the model, some smart faucets can also be controlled remotely using apps or voice controls. In most cases, you can even pair the apps on your smartphone with digital assistants such as Alexa and the Google Assistant. This lets you control the faucet using Amazon Echo and Google Home devices, turning the water on and off as needed while doing prep work or otherwise getting things ready for the water.

Smart Water Usage

Another big benefit of smart faucets is the way that they help to control your water usage. The water-saving features of smart faucets help prevent wasted water by cutting off the flow when you aren’t actually using the sink. This keeps you from accidentally leaving the water running when you’re doing something that takes too long and can also help prevent drips and other problems that might occur when you don’t close a valve all the way.

Some smart faucets also let you track your water usage over time via their connected apps. This can make you more aware of how much water you’re using in the kitchen and may help you to ratchet back on your usage over time. Eliminating unnecessary water use will save you money and help the environment as well, and the awareness of how much water you’re using is a big part of cutting back on that unnecessary use.

Installing Your Smart Faucet

For the most part, installing a smart faucet is a lot like installing any other faucet. Depending on the faucet model, its smart features will be powered either by batteries or a nearby outlet; if the faucet is outlet powered, you’ll need to make sure that there’s a source of power close enough to hook the faucet up for it to work properly. Once installed, some smart features may require additional setup, especially if you plan to use the faucet with external devices such as an Echo or Google Home.

June 16, 2021

14 ROOKIE MISTAKES WHEN BUYING A HOME

You’ve done everything right, saved for a down payment, built your credit, and now you’re under contract to settle on a new home. These 14 items listed below could cause your purchase to go sideways.

  1. Don’t change jobs, quit your job, or become self-employed just before or during the loan process. Your mortgage lender craves job stability and reliability of income for the distant future, so changing jobs before you close on your new home would send up red flags. Obviously, quitting your job during the process wouldn’t go over very well. Lenders like to see 2 years of tax returns, so this also applies if you’re in business for yourself.
  2. Don’t lie on your loan application. Not only is this just wrong, it’s also called loan fraud and the penalties are steep.
  3. Don’t buy a car. There are three major categories that a lender is going to look at when approving you for a loan: Credit, Assets, and your Debt-to-Income Ratio. Purchasing a new vehicle will likely affect all three of these items for most people.
  4. Don’t lease a new car. Banks treat lease payments like any other debt and, most of the time, there is a fair amount of money that needs to be put down in order to lease a car. You want all of your money and credit available at least until you close on your home.
  5. Don’t get credit card happy. This goes along with obtaining new credit. You want your debt-to-income to be the same or better when you are nearing closing day. Do your best to not add any additional debt on your cards.
  6. Don’t apply for a new credit card. New inquiries for credit confuse mortgage lenders, and they throw up major red flags. Your credit score will be checked again just before closing to make sure that everything is the same as when you were approved. Because new credit translates into a higher risk to the lender, it’s best to wait until after closing before establishing new credit.
  7. Don’t close existing credit accounts. While this may sound like a good idea, it’s not while trying to get a mortgage because it could lower your credit score. If you do close a credit account, you are reducing your available credit. So, if you have balances on other cards, your percentage of credit “utilization” is going to increase.
  8. Don’t ignore lending requirements. There are two people that you have to satisfy when getting a home loan: the appraiser and the underwriter. The underwriter who is working your loan may require a number of documents in order to give you a “clear to close”. Give every effort to getting them what they need in order for your loan to close on time.
  9. Don’t co-sign a loan for anyone. Even though you’re not making the payments for this loan, it’s a risky financial move whether you’re getting a mortgage for yourself or not. Of course, your lender would have to factor these other loan payments into your debt-to-income ratio.
  10. Don’t get behind on bills. Paying your bills on time is a track record of responsibility, so skipping a bill or having to make a late payment strongly affects you being able to secure a mortgage loan.
  11. Don’t spend your savings. There are a number of expenses that your cash will have to go towards, like your down payment, closing costs, inspections, appraisal, etc. The lender may also require a certain amount of cash reserves in addition to that, so unless you’re loaded, go easy on your savings.
  12. Don’t buy big ticket items on credit. You’ve been fully approved, inspections are over, and you are a couple of weeks away from closing. You’re feeling great and find out that the furniture store down the street is having an 80% off sale. Resist the urge to splurge! Remember, the underwriter is going to check your credit standing just before closing, so wait until after closing to avoid any hiccups.
  13. Don’t panic if the appraisal for your new home comes in low. Every once in a while, we see a situation when the appraisal comes in lower than the sales price. While this could be problematic, it’s not the end of the world and there can be resolutions. Since getting an appraisal is a contingency for obtaining a loan, the seller would have to drop the price of the home or you could get out of the contract. You could also pay more for the home or meet somewhere in the middle with the seller.
  14. Don’t be alone. If you’re working with a realtor, they can actually take a lot of the burden off of you by scheduling inspections, negotiating repairs, and communicating with your lender and the title company. They are there to take some of the weight off of your shoulders and make things run as smooth as possible. It’s our job.
Posted in Buying a Home
June 14, 2021

Is it time for your windows to be replaced?

Your windows are one of the most important features of your home. They provide you with natural light and visibility while also giving you the option to let fresh air in when your home gets stuffy. As with everything else in your home, your windows will start to accumulate some wear and tear over time. Eventually they might even have to be replaced. How do you know when it’s really time to replace your windows, or when a little maintenance will keep them in operation for a while longer? While this varies a lot depending on the specific windows that are installed, how well they’re maintained, and what the average temperature and other environmental factors are like, here are a few things you can look out for to see if you need new windows.

Leaks and Drafts

Two big signs that your windows might be having problems are drafts and leaks around your window. Both of these problems can cost you money and make your home less comfortable overall. Drafts can drive up heating and cooling costs, while leaks can cause water damage that in some cases may need a significant amount of work to repair.
Sometimes these issues might not be readily apparent at first. A small leak may disguise itself by traveling along seams in wallpaper or similar wall features, so you may not even discover it until it has been there for a while. Drafts can also start small, requiring you to come toward the window from a certain direction before you feel the draft at all. These small issues can become much larger problems if left to fester over time.

Cracks and Condensation

Visible cracks are also a sign that there is some problem with your windows. These cracks can appear on the frame of the window itself or in the surrounding wall. In some cases, cracks in the window glass may be visible as well. Regardless of where the damage occurs, cracks in your window are bad news, since each crack is a potential entry point for drafts, water, and other problems that could become costly to repair down the line.

Some of these problems may not be immediately visible if you don’t know what you’re looking for. Condensation between the panes of double-pane glass is often seen as a big red flag, since the condensation means that water is getting in somewhere. That little bit of moisture can eventually lead to mold and mildew in your windows as well as other damage occurring within the walls.

Replacing Your Windows

If you do need to replace your windows, finding the right new windows for your home is important. You’ll want to make sure that the windows you choose are well insulated or have other features to help control the temperature in the summer and winter. If you want to add security alarms or other sensors, it’s important that you choose windows that are compatible with these devices as well.

Most people don’t see window installation as a DIY job, since depending on the window layout and materials involved it might be a significant undertaking without assistance. If you think that it’s a bit more than you can handle, don’t be afraid to consult a contractor or professional window installer. They can help with everything from the installation itself to selecting styles and materials that go best with your home. 

June 7, 2021

Making your HVAC system more efficient with high ceilings

Many people like homes with high ceilings because of the spaciousness they convey and the vertical space they provide for hangings, artwork, and a variety of other items. There are a few drawbacks to high ceilings, though, and one significant one is how difficult they can make heating and cooling your home. If you aren’t careful, those high ceilings that look so nice can result in a significant increase in your heating and cooling costs when compared to similar homes with lower ceilings. This doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to spend a lot on heating and cooling, however; there are a few things that you can do to make your HVAC system more efficient in your home even if you do have high ceilings.

Improve Air Circulation

One big thing that you can do is to get the air in your home moving by using ceiling fans or other types of fans. Even though the fans won’t heat or cool the air on their own, they do move the hot or cold air around to provide a more comfortable environment overall. This can be especially important during the hottest parts of summer and the coldest parts of winter, as in both instances fans keep hot air from collecting up high and cool air from staying too low for you to really enjoy.

A whole-house fan can help in this regard as well, especially in the heat of summer. This type of fan will remove the hottest air from your home, which keeps your attic from heating up the rest of the house or trapping warm air. Once the days start cooling down, the fan can then be shut off and insulated to keep warm air from escaping.

Make Use of the System Fan

Most people keep their HVAC system on automatic, which uses the system fan to circulate air while the air conditioning or heater is on and then shuts it off afterward. Just like with ceilings fans, though, the system fan can help to circulate air even when the unit isn’t actively heating or cooling the air. This circulation helps to eliminate stagnant, still air that can seem uncomfortable regardless of the temperature you’re shooting for.

Turning on the system fan can be useful throughout the year, but it’s especially useful during the summer when it’s coolest near the floors. HVAC registers at the floor level will move that cool air higher into your home. The added air circulation also provides some benefit in winter too, helping to get heat out from around the high ceilings and down into the rest of the house. During the milder spring and fall, you can enjoy the added air circulation if you wish or simply switch the fan back to auto.

Consider Your HVAC System

If your HVAC system can’t keep up even with additional air circulation, it may be that your unit is too exposed outdoors or simply isn’t powerful enough to fully heat and cool your home. If possible, your HVAC unit should be in the shade for at least part of the day to keep its components as cool as possible even during the heat of summer. Installing a shade or awning over the unit can be one way to accomplish this, just so long as you don’t use large supports or side pieces that could restrict airflow. If the unit is too small, though, there’s not much that you can do other than installing supplementary air conditioning or heating solutions or upgrading the whole system.

Posted in Home Maintenance
May 20, 2021

Are you considering a yard pond?

Ponds are increasingly popular water features for homeowners. Having a small decorative pond in your yard can help you unwind, provide a unique ecosystem for certain animals, and just generally add some beauty to your property. With that said, it’s important to realize that installing a yard pond is a bigger task than just digging a hole and adding some water. Before diving into a pond project, it’s important that you stop to consider everything that’s involved with the installation, as well as some of the things you’ll need for upkeep once the pond is finished. This isn’t meant to discourage you, just to make you sure that you’re aware of all of this before you get too far into your planning.

Installing a Yard Pond

Yard ponds can range in size between a small 550-gallon pond to one that holds 2,000 gallons or more, so it’s important to take the time to plan exactly how large you want your pond to be. Try outlining your pond with a rope to get an idea of its dimensions, then add an extra 2 feet or so around the entire border to account for transitionary plants, rocks, and other border features. You’ll want to keep an eye on the area once you have it outlined, since most pond plants require at least six hours of sunlight or more per day to thrive.

You’ll also need to have a way to get power to the pond to power any pumps or fountains that you use to circulate water, and a means to add additional water as needed if your local rainfall isn’t sufficient to counter evaporation. Other necessities include a pond liner to keep the water from simply soaking into the ground, any fish or plants that you want to add to the pond once it’s installed, and a pond net or skimmer to keep leaves, seed pods, and similar items from clogging up your pump in the spring and fall. In addition to all of that, you may also need permits or other legal documents before you can break ground, and you will likely have to have a survey to mark underground pipes and wires to avoid potential fines.

Yard Pond Upkeep

Once a pond is installed, there are some things you should keep in mind as part of your ongoing maintenance plan. You’ll need to check your pond every week for leaves, debris, and other things that might gunk up the works and potentially harm fish or plants, though this can be negated with a pond net during the fall or other times when a lot of potential debris is likely. Checking the water level is also important, especially during the summer. If you have cold winters, you may also need a heater or air bubbler to keep everything from freezing as well. In most cases you will only need to spend around 15 to 30 minutes a week checking on these issues, but that can vary depending on where you live.

Another thing you’ll want to consider is insects. While dragonflies and similar insects are often a welcome sight around ponds, water features like this can also be a breeding ground for mosquitoes if you aren’t careful. Making sure that the water is sufficiently circulated or adding products that are designed to prevent mosquito growth without harming fish or other animals are good ways to take care of this problem, though some of these treatments may have to be repeated multiple times per year. Certain fish may also help to keep the mosquito population under control. 

Posted in Home Maintenance
May 14, 2021

Your HVAC Estimate Checklist

There’s nothing like the feeling of a rush of cool air from your air conditioning system, but what happens when that cool air turns lukewarm, or worse, won’t kick on at all? It may be time to get that ailing HVAC system replaced.

Talking to an HVAC professional about an air conditioning replacement can be intimidating. There’s a lot to know, and it’s probably not going to be cheap. But considering that a typical air conditioning unit lasts 10 to 15 years, what you invest today will help pay for itself in the longer term. That being said, it’s still important to know what to ask and the pitfalls to watch for.

Always Ask About Licensing and Insurance

Before you so much as let someone start to quote your HVAC job, ask about their licensing and insurance status. Not only will this save you a ton of time by weeding out anyone who isn’t actually a practicing professional, you’ll avoid issues that can arise if, for example, your HVAC is installed without a permit, or there’s a jobsite accident without proper coverage. HVAC installers should always be licensed according to your state and local guidelines.

Your installer should also carry the proper insurance policies. For example, a comprehensive policy will protect you should there be damage to your property as a result of a mistake made during the installation. And Workers Compensation insurance can also help by protecting you from being held liable should your HVAC workers have an accident on the job. Be aware that small shops don’t always carry Workers Compensation because of rules on who can be insured, so if your installer doesn’t carry Workers Compensation, be sure to get a liability waiver.

Your HVAC Estimate

As far as the estimate itself is concerned, there are several questions you should ask right up front. These questions and their answers should also be included on the estimate itself, as it serves as a sort of informal contract on the job you’re having done. Make sure you’ve hit these points:

  • What’s the brand and SEER rating of the unit that will be installed? If you’re having both your furnace and air conditioner replaced, ask about the fuel type and efficiency of the furnace, as well. If you’ve got a standard heating and air conditioning system, this is your opportunity to switch to something a bit more energy efficient, like a heat pump, so be sure to ask if there are other options that can use your existing ductwork.
  • What size is the unit that will be installed? Make sure to note the size of the unit you’re having removed and how well it worked during its service. A single like-for-like replacement unit should be the same size if the performance was good, or should be adjusted slightly depending on your actual needs. Note that you will need a matching A-coil if you change air conditioner sizes without changing your furnace, too.
  • Will you need ductwork? Ductwork can usually be reused, but as it gets older it can develop damage, come apart, or rust through, depending on the materials and conditions it’s subjected to. If any amount of ductwork is being replaced, make sure to have this noted and broken out in the estimate, because ductwork costs can add up fast. On the other hand, this is also a great time to add additional registers or cold air returns in older homes to help improve efficiency.
  • What other things will be done while they’re working? HVAC companies do more than just install heating and air conditioning units. They can remove old furnaces left behind in crawl spaces, clean your ductwork, install smart thermometers, or provide you with electrostatic filters, just to name a few. If any of this work is being done, have it included in the estimate and later ensure it was completed as promised.
  • Is there a warranty? Most importantly, make sure you have all the details on any warranties offered. Most HVAC systems will come with warranties on the individual parts, as well as a separate warranty on labor. This information can be extremely useful should your air conditioner need unexpected repairs, like a replacement control board or compressor.
Posted in Home Maintenance
May 10, 2021

Picking your nursery plants this spring

Spring is a great time to get things done around the home, and this includes revamping your landscaping. Maybe you’ve always wanted to add flowers and other plants but have never had the time, or you just want to expand on what’s already growing around your home. Regardless of why you’re shopping for new plants, knowing what to look for to find the best new plants will save you a lot of frustration and wasted effort in the long run. Here are some things to keep in mind the next time you hit the nursery.

Check the Leaves, Stems, and Roots

A lot of people buy plants based on the early appearance of flowers and buds, but that can be misleading. If you want a better idea of how healthy a plant is, there are much better places to look. Some of the biggest indicators come in the form of the leaves and stems. You want to pick plants with undamaged leaves that have vivid colors that are even across the plant, with no signs of wilting, yellowing, or drooping. Stems should have smooth surfaces, as opposed to cracks or rough patches which can be signs of insect damage or other problems.

Another way to check the health of a plant before buying it is to examine the container it’s growing in for signs that the plant may be rootbound. While you won’t always be able to tell, there are a few signs that could indicate a problem. Plants with root tendrils growing out of drainage holes in the container or obvious root growth across the surface of the soil have clearly been in containers that are too small for too long. It can take a long time for rootbound plants to recover fully, and some never will, so avoid plants that show signs of this problem.

Look for Signs of Trouble

It was mentioned that you should look for signs of insect damage when looking at leaves and stems, but holes in the leaves or marks on the stem aren’t the only indicators that a plant might have been damaged by insects. Spots on the top or bottom of leaves, signs of webbing, or oddly shaped leaves and buds can also signal that insects have been on the plant. Feel the leaves and stems as well to see if they feel sticky or excessively soft, both of which could indicate small insects have infested the plant itself. Also, take a look at the soil for signs of insect activity, especially if it looks like something has burrowed down into it.

You should also compare the plant you’re considering to others of its type. Look for signs of disease, such as the plant being generally paler than others, or spots or discolorations on its stems and leaves that are either darker or lighter than the rest of the plant. Color patterns or patterns on leaves or stems that appear on one plant and aren’t present on the others can also be a sign of disease that you don’t want to spread to other plants around your home.

One other potential sign of trouble that you should keep an eye out for is grass, weeds, or other types of unexpected plants growing in the same container as the plant you’re buying. While these often won’t directly attack your plant and can be easily removed, they are still competing with the plant for the same water and nutrients in the container. This can weaken the plant and lead to growth and development problems down the road.

Getting a Second Opinion

If you aren’t sure about which plants are best, don’t be afraid to ask the nursery workers about the various plants you’re considering. They can give you an additional insight into the health of these plants and how well they’ll do in different lighting conditions in your yard. They’re there to help, so be sure to make use of that resource.

Posted in Home Maintenance