Regular maintenance is the best way to protect your home - and investment - from deterioration, but even vigilant homeowners can overlook some common defects that are found in many homes.
The following list contains the most common home defects that are discovered during home inspections:
Poor drainage - it's normal to get a little moisture in your basement after a heavy rainstorm, but if you notice standing water, a musty smell that won't go away, or mildew you may have a problem. Make sure that your gutters and downspouts remain clear of debris and that your yard slopes away from your foundation. If you continue to have water in your basement, call a plumber. A dehumidifier or sump pump can also help to keep your basement dry.
Old heating and cooling systems - by replacing outdated heating and cooling systems with newer, energy-efficient models you can save on your monthly utility bills and lower the risk of carbon monoxide fumes being emitted into your home.
Environmental hazards - like lead-based paint, asbestos and mold can often be found in older properties. If you suspect any of these harmful substances may be present in your home, contact a certified inspector promptly. You can also install carbon monoxide and radon detectors, in addition to smoke detectors, to help protect your family.
Roof problems - inspect your roof annually. Look for any loose, missing or broken shingles. Also check that all caulking and sealants are in good condition, and that the bricks and mortar of your chimney are not crumbly or damaged.
In addition to watching for these problems, you should also perform regular checks and maintenance on your home's ventilation, plumbing and electrical systems; and check any wooden decks or structures and the exterior siding on your home for signs of rot or damage.
If you care for your home, it can be a place where you and your family can make many happy memories for years to come.
Whether you are replacing existing windows or building a new home, high-quality, energy efficient windows are worth considering.
High performance windows with state-of-the-art glazing technologies not only reduce energy costs but make homes more comfortable by eliminating cold winter drafts and decreasing solar heat gain in warmer months. They are also resistant to frost and condensation, while still providing a clear view.
Once installed in your home, your new windows can dramatically increase your home's beauty and comfort, and save you money on monthly energy bills - which means that your replacement windows will pay for themselves through time.
Choosing the right lighting fixtures can enhance the beauty of your home, but there are other ways to brighten rooms and make the most of interior light.
For example: Glossy surfaces tend to reflect light, while matte surfaces absorb light. Replace dark furniture and carpeting with lighter versions that will reflect more light. For a less expensive solution, opt for pale slipcovers and area rugs. Selecting white or neutral shades of paint in a glossy finish for your walls and ceilings will also make your rooms brighter.
Adding mirrors to your home décor also adds light, especially if you hang them directly across from windows.
Keeping your windows sparkling clean will allow more sunlight into your home and help to open a dark room. You should also remove from windowsills any knickknacks that block your view and replace heavy draperies with sheers to take advantage of natural light.
If your home still seems dark, you may want to consider adding more windows or installing a skylight.
I recently purchased a new home and would like to infuse it with my own sense of style, but I don't have the time to decorate it myself. How do I find someone to do this for me?
If you would like someone with an unbiased opinion to liven up your home's interior, you may want to consider consulting a design professional. Before you sign a contract, however, be sure that you are clear on a couple of specifics. Two of the most important details when hiring a designer are choosing one who has a design style similar to yours and affordability. The following information should help you to select a design professional who will accommodate your needs.
Designers may have more experience and training than you, but that's no guarantee that their tastes will match yours. Visit the designer's showroom or ask to see photos of past projects.
As you interview interior designers, keep in mind that each may have a different fee arrangement. It is important to get all fees in writing. Many independent designers set their fees depending on the type of services you use, such as an hourly or a flat rate for a specific project. One popular fee arrangement for a store-based consultant is a cost-plus arrangement, which means you are charged a percentage, usually 30 percent to 40 percent, above the designer's cost for each purchase in the store.
Brass has always been a popular choice for exterior hardware on doors and windows, but these days, homeowners are choosing to accessorize their homes with everything from stainless steel to antique nickel. And hardware designs are as varied as the materials from which they are made, so you should have no trouble finding the right piece.
When shopping for new hardware, visit a few stores to see what you can find to fit within your budget. Outside of price, you should also be looking for items that will match the style of your home. For instance, brushed stainless steel will suit a contemporary home, while oil-rubbed bronze will add to the beauty of a traditional home. Here are some more tips that may help you select the best exterior hardware for your residence:
Stainless steel. These accessories are low-maintenance and resist moisture. In addition to door handles, stainless-steel pieces are a good choice for locks, bolts, knockers and other hardware. Since it can't be forged, you'll find the designs to be simpler than items made from other materials.
Bronze. These pieces usually develop an attractive green patina or a grayish-black cast through time. Bronze accessories are sturdy, classic and easy to maintain; they are, however, relatively expensive.
Pewter or nickel. These gray shades are an interesting departure from what is typically used. They resist corrosion and develop a patina similar to that of bronze. Although not as durable as other metals, these are an excellent choice if you are looking for a hand-forged style.