Choose An Energy-Efficient System

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Replacing a furnace? A Dallas Home Inspector can help you decide.

By: Home Inspection Solution

If it’s time to replace your furnace, you may be wondering if it’s worth the extra investment to buy an energy-efficient system. Or, you may be unsure how to choose an energy-efficient system for your home.

 

“Energy-efficient heating systems can substantially lower your fuel costs over the lifetime of the system. It’s well worth investing the time and money to find just the right one,” says Chip Wade, HGTV(R) expert. “Depending on where you live, an energy-efficient gas furnace can be between 12 and 16 percent more efficient than standard models, according to ENERGY STAR.”

 

Wade offers some guidance for choosing an energy-efficient heating system that’s right for your home:

 

* The Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) measures how efficiently a gas furnace converts fuel into energy.

Generally, the higher the AFUE rating of a furnace the more energy efficient it will be. For example, a furnace with an AFUE rating of 90 percent means that same percentage of fuel gets turned into heat, and only 10 percent is lost through the chimney and elsewhere. You can find the AFUE rating on the yellow Energy Guide label on the furnace.

 

* Be sure to right-size your furnace.

A unit that’s too small for your home will have to work harder to maintain a comfortable temperature and will use more fuel. A unit that’s too big may also use more fuel than is actually required to adequately heat your home, and may also result in uneven temperatures throughout the house.

 

* Look for models like the YORK(R) Affinity(TM) Series modulating gas furnace that offers efficiency-enhancing features.

For example, the Affinity furnaces have a modulating burner that continuously adjusts heating levels in small increments to match the precise degree of comfort you need. Leading-edge technology also tailors the operation of the furnace to match the climate of your location. The system also self-monitors to make set-up and maintenance faster and easier.

 

* Choose a gas furnace that offers sealed combustion.

These furnaces draw air from outside and mix it with the fuel at a controlled rate. This maximizes the amount of heat the furnace can generate from the fuel. Most quality energy-efficient furnaces will have this feature.

* Pay attention to the warranty and be sure you understand just what it covers and for how long.

Furnaces are a big investment, so it’s important to choose one that gives you the best warranty. For example, Affinity furnaces offer a Complete Assurance Warranty Pledge that promises if the heat exchanger fails in the first 10 years, the company will provide the option to replace the furnace.

 

Finally, before you invest in an energy-efficient furnace make sure your house will work with the furnace to maximize its efficiency. Seal air leaks throughout the home, especially at windows and doors, and throughout duct work. Make sure you have the correct amount and type of insulation in your home for your climate. Have the rest of your home’s HVAC system inspected.  Ensure there are no problems that could hinder the efficient operation of your new furnace.

 

To learn more about energy-efficient furnaces, visit www.YORK.com. (BPT)

 


Home Inspection Solutions Dallas LogoHome Inspection Solution has been providing Home Inspection ServicesFoundation InspectionGrading and Drainage InspectionRoof and Attic InspectionWall InspectionCeiling and Floor InspectionDoor InspectionWindow InspectionMold Inspection, and other Home Inspection Services in the following areas of Dallas and Fort Worth since 2011.  

All Home Warranties Are Not Created Equal

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By: Home Inspection Solution

Having a home warranty is a smart way to help deal with the inevitable home repair problems that all property owners face at one point or another.

 

After all, a good home warranty can mean getting expert help when your HVAC system needs to be fixed, your water heater needs to be replaced, or your refrigerator requires a new part.

 

But unfortunately, all home warranties are not created equal. And shopping for a home warranty can be tough, especially if you aren’t familiar with home warranty coverage and providers.

 

So to find a home warranty that will protect your home and budget, here are three important questions to ask, along with a few tips on what to look for in a top-notch home warranty.

 

1. Covered

Some home warranties are only good for appliances. Others focus on systems within your house, such as your air conditioning, heating or plumbing systems. The best warranties offer broad protection at a fair price and even allow you to select from various coverage approaches based on your needs.

 

When shopping around, inquire about exclusions, limitations and non-covered expenses. Most, if not all, plans DO have these. For example, there may be a cap on the amount of coverage for a particular item; an environmental disposal fee, required in some counties, may be excluded from coverage; or modifications, not covered under the home warranty, may be needed to bring a covered system up to code or in compliance with new standards.

 

2. Is the price affordable?

Obviously, you’ll want to initially know the specifics of how much a warranty will cost you – not just for the annual price of coverage, but also for future service calls.

 

When purchasing an American Home Shield warranty, you choose a $75, $100 or $125 fee for your service requests. This gives you the flexibility to pay more or less for your annual contract. As with all home warranty companies, the price of an American Home Shield warranty plan varies based on multiple factors. It includes the specific type of plan you choose and your state of residency. But basic coverage starts at about $300 and goes up to around $600 annually for more comprehensive plans. A bargain considering the cost of replacing things in your house that will likely break down at some point.

 

When considering cost factors, also ask if all the items you want to be covered are included in the base cost of the plan, or whether you will need to add additional items to create the perfect plan for your home.

 

3. Does the home warranty cover just mechanical components?

Before you buy any home warranty, inquire about the extent of coverage different companies may provide based on normal wear and tear of an item – as well as any limitations.

 

Many components of home systems and appliances contain both mechanical and non-mechanical features. The primary goal of a home warranty is to repair or replace covered items so that they function mechanically. American Home Shield covers both mechanical repairs and certain non-mechanical items, such as handles, doors, knobs, and shelves.

 

That doesn’t mean everything is covered, of course. So let’s say your child stands on your dishwasher door and breaks the seal. Sorry, but that is NOT a covered repair because it is not “normal” wear and tear.

 

Also, what happens if a repair person comes to your home and, despite his or her best efforts, simply can’t fix something covered under your home warranty?

 

With an AHS home warranty, if a repair person can’t fix a covered item, AHS will replace it.

 

That doesn’t mean you will necessarily get the precise brand and color of, say, a washing machine or dryer. After all, you may have bought your laundry set four years ago, and the manufacturer might not even make those exact same models or colors today.

 

However, if your washer and dryer do fizzle out completely, AHS will install a replacement that has similar operational features.

 

What’s more, at American Home Shield, 98 percent of service requests are dispatched to local repair technicians within 24 hours.

 

Using your home warranty wisely

Regardless of the type of home warranty you buy or whom you buy it from, always follow the maintenance guidelines specified for your home’s appliances and systems. Likewise, it’s a smart idea to have those systems and appliances regularly serviced.

Taking both of those steps can prevent many service repair calls and help reduce your overall cost of homeownership. (BPT)

Ultimately, an excellent home warranty provides you with a solid asset that helps safeguard one of your biggest investments.

 

Written by: Lynnette Khalfani-Cox, The Money Coach, AskTheMoneyCoach.com, AHS Financial Partner


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House Hunting And Credit

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By now it is something of a cliche to call homeownership the American dream. But even if sitting on your own deck, looking over your picket fence and sipping lemonade doesn’t move you, homeownership is still one of the best ways to build wealth.

 

For many, owning a home is cheaper than renting. In the long run, the biggest investment they will ever make. It is also a practical financial move. Thanks to the fact that you’re likely building equity while getting a mortgage interest tax break.

 

It is perfectly fine to dream about backyard barbecues and the smell of fresh-cut grass. The path to owning your own home should also involve taking the time to do some financial sightseeing.

 

As a leader in creating credit scoring models, VantageScore Solutions has made it a priority to educate consumers on the important role a good credit history plays in buying a home.

 

Whether you’re about to set out to buy your first home or if you are getting ready to sell and buy another home, here are the basics of how credit impacts the home-buying process.

 

Basics

If you are like most people, you will probably need to take out a loan. If you are able to pay cash for your home instead, count yourself among the lucky few!

 

A huge part of taking out a loan involves your credit history and credit score. Basically, you must prove to lenders that you can be a responsible borrower. Also, trusted with a mortgage of many thousands of dollars. A strong credit score may provide proof of this trustworthiness.

 

Different types of loans have different credit requirements. Some loans require you to have a credit score of at least 620. Although it is possible (with some difficulty) to be approved for a loan as low as 580. But getting loan approval is only part of the story.

 

Better credit, better rate

Home loans come in all shapes and sizes. Some are fixed interest mortgages, some have adjustable rates or longer terms and the list of variables goes on. Just like anything else, some loans are better for you than others. To get the loan that has the lowest interest rate, which right now is around 4 percent, usually requires a higher credit score. Rates can be considerably higher when you have a lower credit score, and the result is paying significantly more monthly over the life of the loan.

 

The reason is that a higher credit score demonstrates that you are skilled at managing debt and have a history of responsibly paying back many types of loans. Therefore, the lender is taking on less risk when lending you money. The less risk for them, the better the interest rate for you.

 

While there are, of course, more nuances to the process, your credit score plays an instrumental role in determining the type of loan you may qualify for. Therefore, before you go to your first open house, check your credit score. Understand the factors that typically impact your scores. Many websites provide free access to your VantageScore, which is a perfectly fine barometer to use to directionally gauge your creditworthiness. Mortgage lenders use FICO scores in their underwriting.

 

You can stay on top of things by subscribing to the monthly credit scoring newsletter, The Score. In The Score, you can find information on VantageScore 4.0. The fourth-generation scoring model that will be available to consumers in early 2018.

 

Knowing your credit history and understanding the factors that could impact your credit score will help you plan, budget and come up with a realistic wish list for your house. (BPT)

 


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3 Steps To A More Secure Home

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Home Inspection Dallas can check out if your Door can give you a more secure home. 

By: Home Inspection Solution

 

More than 75 percent of Americans are concerned about the security of their home. Few think about door hardware when it comes to added protection.

 

In fact, out of those who have ever purchased a new lockset or deadbolt, only 19 percent have done so with the safety of their home in mind, according to a Harris Poll conducted on behalf of the Builders Hardware Manufacturers Association (BHMA). However, when it comes to protecting your home, the right lockset or deadbolt can provide the best first line of defense.

 

When purchasing new locks, it isn’t simply “one size fits all.” Choosing the right lock or deadbolt for your specific needs can sometimes seem overwhelming. Two in five Americans polled don’t even know what factors to look for when purchasing one.

 

Many of today’s locks deliver improved security for your home. Be sure to follow these easy steps to ensure you’re properly selecting and installing the product that best suits your needs.

 

1. Look for the BHMA Certified Secure Home label.

The hardware industry has strict standards when it comes to the quality of locks and deadbolts. The BHMA is the only organization accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) to develop and maintain these standards. Each lock or deadbolt that features the BHMA Certified Secure Home label on its packaging has been tested to these stringent standards – the highest performance standards for residential hardware. The label also indicates that the product has been certified in three different areas: security, durability, and finish. Products without the Secure Home label are not assured to have been tested and certified by a third-party laboratory.

 

2. Check the rating combination.

Once a lock or deadbolt is tested to ANSI/BHMA standards for security, durability and finish, it is given a rating of Good (C), Better (B) or Best (A) in each area based on its performance during testing. The rating system is defined by progressive levels of performance requirements. Be sure to select the lock or deadbolt that is rated highly in the area(s) most important to you. For example, when looking for a new interior lock, you may not require the same rating for security or finish as you would for a lock being installed on your front door.

 

3. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

After purchasing the lock(s) best suited for your home needs, consult the installation instructions provided by the manufacturer for proper application. A BHMA Certified lock – or any lock, for that matter – cannot function to its expectations if it isn’t installed correctly.

 

The added protection that locks and deadbolts can provide you and your family is not something to be overlooked. By fitting your doors – both interior and exterior – with certified hardware, using proper installation techniques and being diligent about using your locks when at home or away, you can greatly reduce the likelihood of unwanted company.

 

To learn more about BHMA Certified locksets and deadbolts, or the BHMA Certified Secure Home label, watch the short video at http://securehome.org/learning-the-label/ or visit www.securehome.org. (BPT)


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Ideas For Renovating Smaller Homes

small house with front yard flower garden - Home Inspection Solution Dallas - Big, smart ideas for renovating smaller homesBig, Smart Ideas For Renovating Smaller Homes

While newly constructed homes are bigger than ever, most Americans still live in modestly sized or even small houses – and many of these owners are choosing to remodel rather than move into a bigger home.

 

More than half of all American houses were built before 1980, according to the National Association of Home Builders. At that time, the average new home size was slightly more than 1,700 square feet, U.S. Census Bureau data shows. Meanwhile, interest in remodeling is at an all-time high, according to Metrostudy.

 

Homeowners looking to renovate their average-sized homes in order to get more living space don’t have to build costly additions. Many modern remodeling tactics, tricks, and tools are made to work well in smaller homes. Here are ways to get the most out of your home renovation:

 

Space-saving plumbing options

Plumbing can be problematic in any renovation, but adding plumbing in certain smaller-house locations can be especially challenging. Traditional plumbing may require you to open walls and floors. These connect to existing drainage lines or break through concrete to add toilets, showers, and sinks when finishing a basement.

 

Above-floor plumbing can solve a number of small-space challenges. For example, you may decide to add a powder room in the unused space beneath a stairway. However, if the space is very small, a standard toilet with water tank and traditionally plumbed sink might not fit. In such a situation, a compact, one-piece macerating toilet like the Sanicompact from Saniflo installs quickly, easily and conveniently in tight spots.

 

Traditional plumbing can also be a challenge in renovations. Where you’re adding plumbing below the main level, such as installing a bathroom with a shower or even a second kitchen in a basement setting. In southern states, most homes are built on slabs rather than with basements. Adding any kind of traditional plumbing would require you to break open the concrete in order to add pipes – an expensive and risky undertaking.

 

However, a Sanistar one-piece, wall-mounted toilet with built-in macerator allows you to add a basement bathroom without cutting concrete. For adding sinks or showers, gray water pumps such as the Saniswift can be as compact as a small wastebasket and can carry water away from new bathrooms or kitchens where no traditional plumbing exists.

 

Right-sizing utilities

If you’re adding a bathroom or kitchen in your average-sized, average-age home, it may also be a good idea to replace the water heater – especially if it’s 10 or more years old. An older water heater may fail or worse, leak, causing damage to nearby floors and walls.

 

Modern tank water heaters are more energy efficient, but also larger as a result of the insulation needed to achieve greater efficiency. If you’re replacing a water heater in an attic that’s accessed through pull-down stairs or in a crawl space or adding one in a closet or out-of-the-way corner, a traditional tank water heater might not fit.

 

Tankless water heaters require less room, solving space problems. Plus, they’re more energy efficient because they heat the water only when you need it, rather than using fuel to maintain the temperature in a large tank.

 

Natural light without sacrifice

If your home is older, it may have fewer or smaller windows than newly constructed homes. However, if you crave more natural light, you don’t have to sacrifice wall space to windows or incur the expense of opening a wall.

 

Skylights and tube skylights can bring more natural light into a home. Modern skylights are energy efficient and far less prone to leaks than older models. A standard skylight can easily be installed in rooms with direct roof access. The tube skylights can even bring natural light to ground-floor spaces. Plus, skylights allow you to preserve privacy in settings where it matters most, such as bathrooms.

 

Looking up

Older homes may have less floor space, but many older homes also have higher ceilings. Or, your smaller home may have a two-story family room or entryway. Using the extra height in your home to create storage space can allow you to free up floor space. For example, floor-to-ceiling shelves in a family room or entryway provide ample storage space.

Tall ceilings can also be an opportunity to add task lighting in work areas. Also, such as over kitchen islands or to create design statements through the addition of exposed faux beams.

Smart renovations can help make your home feel bigger. They function better for your family, no matter how big or small its square footage. (BPT)


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A Bathroom For Beauty, Function, And Safety

Bathroom Mirror with LED light - Home Inspection Solution Dallas Fort Worth - A Bathroom For Beauty Function And SafetyHow to perfectly light a bathroom for beauty, function, and safety

Good lighting is important throughout a home, and each room has different lighting needs. Kitchens require overhead and task lighting, while bedrooms and dining rooms can benefit from variable illumination. However, no room in the house requires more layers and nuances of lighting than the bathroom. Where lighting directly influences the room’s efficiency, utility, safety, and beauty.

Upgrading lighting in a bathroom can give the room a whole new look and improve its functionality for a fraction of the cost of a full renovation. As you’re planning your bathroom enlightenment, keep in mind the multiple purposes lighting plays in a bathroom, including:

 

Safety – Bathrooms are a prime spot for falls and injuries. A well-lit room can decrease the risk of someone stumbling or slipping.

Task – Whether you’re applying makeup or shaving, task lighting can provide the illumination you need to do the job well.

Visibility – Ambient lighting provides whole-room illumination that makes the space usable at any time of day.

Decorative – Lighting can minimize glare from shiny surfaces such as porcelain, glass or ceramic tile, and enhance the appearance of colors, fixtures, and accessories.

 

Here are tips for creating effective, attractive lighting for the bathroom:

Safety

Bathroom lighting affects safety the most during nighttime hours. A completely dark bathroom could lead to falls, as could the temporary blindness caused by switching on a light when your eyes are acclimated for darkness. A brightly lit space can also make it difficult for you to go back to sleep after using the bathroom.

Dimmable bathroom lighting, which can be set for less illumination at night, and strategically positioned nightlights can help users safely navigate the room at night. Equip low-wattage light sources that turn on with a motion sensor, so that soft illumination comes on when you enter the dark bathroom.

 

Tasks

The bathroom vanity is a hub of activity, where people shave, brush their teeth, fix their hair, apply makeup and generally get ready for the day. The lighting above your vanity or sink area is critical to how well the space functions.

Lights above the bathroom mirror, or to either side of it, can create glare and shadow. A better alternative can be to use a lighted mirror or medicine cabinet like the Verdera collection by Kohler. Lighted mirrors and medicine cabinets eliminate harsh shadows and light “hot spots” that can come from overhead lighting.

What’s more, Verdera lighted medicine cabinets feature a convenient built-in electrical outlet to allow you to use your favorite grooming accessory. LED lights make the mirrors and cabinets energy-efficient, and all are compatible with LED dimmers, giving you, even more control over task illumination. Visit www.us.kohler.com to learn more.

 

Visibility

Certain areas in the bathroom require basic visibility at all times, including showers and water closets. In these areas, overhead lighting can provide the ambient illumination you need. You can opt for a basic light fixture, a fan/light combination. Also, provides ventilation or even a skylight for natural daylighting.

Uplighting is also becoming a popular form of ambient light in bathrooms. Lights set beneath countertops or around the base of shower stalls provide soft illumination and character.

 

Decorative

Decorative bathroom lighting is your chance to have some fun. These lights may enhance ambient lighting or support task lighting, but their ultimate purpose is to add visual interest to the bathroom.

Depending on the size and style of your bathroom, you can choose decorative lighting. Options like chandeliers, wall sconces, pendant lights, recessed lighting and more.

Finally, be sure that every layer of light in your bathroom is as energy efficient as possible. Replace any incandescent bulbs with LEDs or CFLs, which use a fraction of the energy to produce a comparable amount of light, while lasting far longer. (BPT)


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Key To Improving Your Relationship

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Housework may be a key to improving your relationship

 

Cleaning the bathroom and emptying the dishwasher isn’t at the top of a couple’s “To Do Together” list, but it may be the real language of love. In fact, a recent survey from home appliance leader LG Electronics found most Americans (52%) get turned on by their partner doing housework. In fact, those who do chores with their partner (60%) are nearly twice as likely as those who don’t (37%) to believe a person who is good at chores is good in bed.

 

So what’s the key to a better relationship? Communication and housework.

That couldn’t be truer for celebrity couple Rachel Zoe, renowned designer and editor-in-chief of The Zoe Report. And her husband Rodger Berman, president of Rachel Zoe Inc., who have been together for 26 years. Rachel and Rodger are proof that communication and managing housework together could lead to a happier relationship.

 

“Rodger and I have young boys, so there is always something to clean or pick up around the house,” shared Zoe. “We work as a team to tackle the different housework so that we can spend more time together.”

 

Over their decades-long relationship, Zoe and Berman have some advice for how to handle disagreements over housework:

 

1. Divide and conquer

Splitting up household responsibilities makes it quicker and easier to get housework done. While one person prepares dinner, the other can set the table and then clear it afterward. This helps couples feel like they’re both doing their part and no one is putting in more effort than the other.

 

“We love to entertain, and there is always a lot of preparation before guests arrive,” Zoe said. “Rodger and I divide up the responsibilities, which makes it so much easier and faster. For example, I’ll cook, and he’ll load the dishes, so everything is clean and ready when people arrive.”

 

2. Find the right tools to make tasks easier

“When we have friends and family over, we want to spend time with them and not worry about running around doing a million things and cleaning up,” notes Zoe. “We make sure we have the right tools to help us – our newest trick of the trade is the LG QuadWash dishwasher. It looks amazingly chic in our home, but it also makes our lives easier. Because it has four powerful spraying arms, instead of the traditional two, we don’t have to worry about pre-washing or rewashing the dishes.”

 

Technology can help couples tackle cleaning and maintain their home together. Set reminders for whose turn it is to clean out the refrigerator or use the LG SmartThinQ® app. Monitor and check when the dishwasher is done. Using technology can help couples spend more time together and less time cleaning.

 

3. Specialize according to priorities and strengths

Specializing is one way to ensure everyone’s priorities are met, and housework gets done. Some people would rather clean the bathroom than load a dishwasher. While others don’t mind a layer of dust on furniture but can’t abide a sink full of dirty dishes overnight. The party who hates bathroom cleaning can be responsible for all dishwasher duties. It includes making sure the sink is dish-free at the end of the day. Meanwhile, the other party can tackle bathroom duties.

 

Zoe and Berman prioritize housework based on the other’s preferences. “I love cooking, and it’s important to me to always serve good meals, so I handle all the cooking,” she says. “Rodger likes doing the dishes, and he knows I can’t sleep. If there are dirty dishes in the sink, he always makes sure the dishes are loaded in the dishwasher before we go to bed.”

 

4. Never use housework as a tool for revenge

One in four people surveyed by LG said they have purposely messed up a partner’s laundry after a fight. Zoe admits when she’s angry with Berman she may not take the throw pillows off his side of the bed, or make his nightly frozen yogurt. However, she also verbalizes to him what she’s upset about.

 

“Sharing responsibilities has always been an effortless part of our relationship,” Zoe says. “That’s the way we have always approached our lives. We have always thought of ourselves as a team.” (BPT)

 


 

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Want To Catch Homebuyers’ Eyes?

House Sold Post - Home Inspection Solution - Want To Catch Homebuyers' Eyes? Follow 5 easy steps to a lush lawn

Want To Catch Homebuyers’ Eyes? Follow 5 easy steps to a lush lawn

 

When it comes to selling a home there are many different strategies and most of them focus on the home’s interior. However, what many sellers fail to realize is that it’s the exterior of the home that often makes or breaks a sale.

 

Curb appeal is necessary for that vital first impression. Much of a buyer’s opinion about a property is formed before they even enter the front door. Research shows curb appeal not only speeds the sale but also increases offer prices.

 

One of the biggest influencing factors of curb appeal is the health of the lawn. Think about how much property space the lawn covers. A sparse lawn dotted with weeds lowers a buyer’s opinion of the home, while a lush, green lawn elevates a home, and gives the impression it is well taken care of.

 

Lawn revitalization projects provide an impressive return on investment. According to the 2016 Remodeling Impact: Outdoor Features report, lawn seeding earns the top spot for return on investment, recovering 417 percent of the project cost at resale. Implementing a standard lawn care program recovers 303 percent and updating a landscape with a sod lawn recovers 143 percent. Lawn revitalization projects offer much higher returns than many other home improvement projects, including kitchen remodels and deck additions.

 

Lawn revitalization projects are surprisingly easy to do, so whether you’re selling your home or are staying put and just want to enjoy your property more, it’s a worthwhile investment. The experts at Grass Seed USA, a coalition of grass seed farmers and academic turf specialists, offer the following five simple steps to achieving a lush lawn fast.

 

1. Aerate

When the soil under a lawn becomes too compacted, water, air, and nutrients have a hard time reaching grass roots. Lawn aerators correct this problem by pulling small plugs of soil about 1/2 inch in diameter and 2 to 3 inches deep out of the ground. You can affordably rent an aerator for a day or hire a professional.

 

2. Reseed

If you have bare patches or your lawn looks thin, reseeding is an easy solution. Start by contacting a local turf specialist to determine the best seed or sod to purchase for your location and soil type. Then, rake the bare areas of your lawn and apply seed. Water lightly and regularly until new grass grows in. The spring and fall are good times to seed due to cooler weather, although it can be done any time of year.

 

3. Mow high

Never cut off more than 1/3 of the grass blade height at a time. If the grass gets too long, raise the height on your mower. Recommended mowing heights vary by grass type, but an easy rule of thumb for the most common types of the lawn is to mow to a 2-inch height when the grass blades reach 3 inches tall.

 

4. Fertilize

To keep your lawn healthy, aim to fertilize at least once a year; four times a year is ideal. Your local garden center can recommend the fertilizer best for your climate and grass type. Additionally, naturally fertilize your lawn by leaving grass clippings after you mow. As grass clippings break down, they enrich the soil with nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, the same nutrients found in fertilizer.

 

5. Irrigate

A thorough watering once or twice a week is better than lightly misting every day. Allowing the soil to dry before it is watered again encourages the roots to grow deeper into the soil and can help the lawn become drought tolerant in the future. What’s more, water during the early morning and evening hours to avoid excess evaporation. Watering during the heat of the day can actually scald and burn the grass.

 

Learn more about quick, easy lawn improvement and maintenance tips at www.WeSeedAmerica.comor follow @WeSeedAmerica on Facebook and Twitter. (BPT)

 

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Building A Sustainable New Home

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Must-Have Elements For Building A Sustainable New Home

By Home Inspection Solution 

 

When someone builds a home for you, you have the opportunity to make it as sustainable, eco-friendly and energy-efficient as possible. Not only are sustainable homes more cost-effective over the long-term. Hence, they have a smaller environmental impact and can be more appealing to home buyers when you’re ready to sell and move.

 

In fact, more than half of Realtor’s report consumers are interested in sustainability, according to the National Association of Realtors’ REALTORS and Sustainability report. What’s more, 70 percent say a home’s efficient use of energy is important to potential buyers.

 

If you’re having a home-built for you, it’s the perfect time to think about sustainability and energy efficiency. The experts at Coleman(R) heating and cooling offer some points to consider as you’re planning your sustainable home:

Choose a builder who specializes in sustainable homes.

While virtually all home builders today will offer eco-friendly or energy-efficient features, sustainable home builders take a whole-house approach. Their plans should include more than just high-efficiency windows and appliances and lots of insulation. Sustainability planning should also incorporate elements like the position of the home on its lot. Also, number and position of windows in the home, and shade and ventilation, among other considerations.

 

Heating and cooling typically represent the largest portion of a home’s energy consumption.

When choosing an HVAC system for your sustainable home, choose an option like Coleman(R) Echelon(TM) Variable Capacity Residential Systems, which use leading-edge technology to tune the system’s temperature settings and performance for optimum function give exterior conditions. The systems also self-monitor to ensure they operate at the highest level of efficiency. And the system will provide maximum heating and cooling comfort. Visit www.colemanac.com/comfort to learn more.

 

The orientation of your home can enhance heating and cooling efficiency.

For example, if you live in a colder region, placing your home with the maximum number of windows facing south can allow natural light to help heat your home in the winter. If you live in a warm climate, minimizing the number of windows on the west side of the home and planting shade trees on that side can help with cooling. Plant a tree that loses its leaves in the winter, and you can allow light to reach that side of the house when the weather is colder.

The more compact a home is, the more energy efficient it will be.

You don’t have to build a tiny home to achieve a more efficient design. A two-story home can be more compact and energy-efficient than a sprawling single-story design.

 

Insulation and air sealing can greatly improve a home’s energy efficiency.

Talk to your builder about the best kind of insulation for your needs. Learn about R-value and how it affects the efficiency of insulation. Discuss how the builder seals potential air leaks in the home. Paying close attention to windows, doors, and spots where pipes or wires enter the home.

Finally, a truly sustainable home is one that makes maximum use of recycled and recyclable materials.

Talk to your builder about the construction materials they will use. Are they sustainably sourced? Will they be able to be recycled someday down the road when they are no longer usable in your home?

 

Demand for sustainable homes is likely to continue growing, according to the NAR report. Choose to build your new home with sustainable materials. Systems and practices can ensure you reap the rewards of a more environmentally friendly home now and in the future. (BPT)

 


 

Home Inspection Solutions Dallas LogoHome Inspection Solutions has been providing Home Inspection, Mold Test, Foundation Inspection, Grading & Drainage Inspection, Roof Covering Materials Inspection, Roof Structure & Attic Inspection, Walls (interior & Exterior) Inspection, Ceilings & Floors Inspection, Doors Inspection and Windows Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Dallas and Fort Worth since 2011.

 

Improve Your Credit Score In 100 Days

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5 steps that can improve your credit score in 100 days or less

Low-interest rates, a strong economy and the turn of the seasons are all causing the real estate market to heat up. More homes on the market bring more competition to buy the inventory that is out there. And one way to stand apart from other buyers who are vying for their dream home is to take steps to improve your credit score now.

 

“Preparing your finances is a must before the busy real estate season,” says Barrett Burns, president, and CEO of credit score model developer VantageScore Solutions. “Knowing your credit scores and making improvements is essential to getting the best loan at the best rates. This also makes you a more attractive home buyer, especially in a competitive market.”

 

With limited time, you may think there’s nothing you can do to improve your score. Burns says that’s an incorrect assumption. While you can’t make dramatic jumps in just a couple months, there are several steps you can take that may influence your score to increase enough to get you prequalified for the loan you want.

 

Keep in mind, lenders will pull your scores from all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and the TransUnion), so it’s wise to check your credit report from each of them. You can do so for free once every 12 months at AnnualCreditReport.com. For best results, monitor at least one credit score from each of the bureaus. You also can check your credit score for free through a large number of online services, such as CreditKarma.com, NerdWallet.com or Credit.com. Other sites offering free VantageScore credit scores can be found at VantageScore.com/free.

 

Once you have your reports in hand, you can take steps that may have a positive impact on your scores.

 

Step 1: Check for errors

A credit report gives a comprehensive list of your lines of credit and payment history. The first step is to review your credit report for errors and take steps to make corrections, including past and present names, loan amounts and credit cards in your name.

 

When checking your credit score, bear in mind that some differences in credit scores across bureaus are normal. But if one of the three credit scores is an extreme outlier, it could be worth double-checking your credit report from that bureau to make sure it doesn’t reflect any questionable or erroneous activity.

 

Step 2: Don’t miss a payment

Creditors are interested in seeing how you manage credit, and the consistency of behavior counts. You should always pay at least the minimum amount due on bills on time every month. An easy way to ensure you don’t miss a payment is to sign up for automatic bill pay when available.

 

Step 3: Lower credit utilization levels

Credit utilization is the ratio of a credit card balance to the credit limit. If your balance is $5,000 and your credit limit is $10,000, then your credit utilization for that credit card is 50 percent. In general, a good credit utilization is less than 30 percent, so if you have a higher ratio, consider using your tax refund to pay down this debt.

 

Step 4: Don’t close old credit cards

If you have a credit card that is no longer used but was previously paid off on time each month, don’t close the account. Not only is this good for your credit utilization ratio, but it also is another indicator you’re a responsible candidate for a loan.

 

Step 5: Don’t apply for new credit

Avoid applying for any new credit, such as an auto loan or a new credit card account, between now and the time you will close on a home purchase. Lenders considering your loan application request your credit score from one or more credit bureaus. And these lender “inquiries” are recorded with one or more of the three national credit bureaus, which may lower your credit score by 10 to 20 points. The score decreases typically only last a few months, as long as you continue to make payments on time. But unless they’re absolutely necessary, try to avoid additional inquiries until after you’ve secured your mortgage.

 

If you follow these five steps, you may see an increase in your score within a few months so you can get a loan and be an attractive buyer when it comes time to put in a bid for your dream home.

 

Keep in mind, the more you can put toward the down payment, the more instant equity you’ll have, the lower your monthly payment will be, and the better your chances are of not needing private mortgage insurance (PMI), which can add hundreds of dollars to your monthly payment.

 

Plus, if you’re able to put down more than a lender requires, a mortgage company may be willing to give you a pass on other issues on your application, such as a less-than-stellar credit score. (BPT)


When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office. Thank You.

 

Home Inspection Solutions Dallas LogoHome Inspection Solutions has been providing Home Inspection, Mold Test, Foundation Inspection, Grading & Drainage Inspection, Roof Covering Materials Inspection, Roof Structure & Attic Inspection, Walls (interior & Exterior) Inspection, Ceilings & Floors Inspection, Doors Inspection and Windows Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Dallas and Fort Worth since 2011.