New Year, New-To-You Home

New Year, New-To-You Home

Featured Home of the Week from the Upstate Parade of Homes: The Cambridge at Braxton Ridge by Aurthur Rutenberg Homes.

By Matt Shouse, APB, President, Home Builders Association of Greenville and Partner, LS Homes

It is the New Year, and you would like to rejuvenate your home. You are not going to move walls or add on. But you would like to breathe some new life into where you live. Here are a few easy updates that will make your house seem instantly new to you.

Paint the trim. Refresh your main living space by painting the trim. Crisp baseboards and moldings go a long way to revitalizing the whole room.

Replace or recover a piece of furniture. Even one new chair or a reupholstered sofa can refresh an entire room. Create a new focal point with a new coffee table, mirror, or area rug. Even without new furnishings or upholstery, rearranging your furniture will breathe new life into a room.

Add fresh accessories. Pillows and throws can quickly change a room’s style by adding vibrant colors or calming neutrals, while also enhancing warmth and comfort. Floor-to-ceiling drapes just outside a window’s width expand a room up and out.

Make your home a little smarter. There are a variety of economical smart-home hubs to choose from today.  It is easier than ever to take that first step into the world of smart-home living. From there you can add smart appliances, door locks, garage door opener, thermostat, and home security system.

Give a small bathroom a new character. Bright-colored walls really make a small bathroom pop, and feel larger. Meanwhile, colors and patterns can overwhelm a large room, so go the other way and make a larger bathroom an oasis of serenity with light blue-grey walls.

Look at lighting with new eyes. Is there an area that could use more light? A warmer glow? Add a lamp to a table in a dim corner to open up the room.  Pendant lights are not just for dining areas — a stylish pendant fixture hanging next to the arm of the sofa or guest bed is an object of interest as well as a source of light. In the kitchen, install LED strip lighting under cabinets where work surfaces below could use a little illumination.

For more information about taking the next step and remodeling your home, and to find an Approved Professional Remodeler to help you with your project, visit HBAofGreenville.com.

Home Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Home Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Family gatherings and festive celebrations are hallmarks of the holiday season, but home safety concerns are also very characteristic of this time of year. Holiday lights and decorations brighten our homes as the days get darker, but they can also pose fire hazards.

Since travel, holiday events and shopping take us away from home more than normal, here is a quick safety checklist to help keep your home and family safe during the holidays.

Home Security

  • If you have a lot of packages delivered while you away, consider installing a doorbell security camera.
  • Inside your home, keep your gifts in a safe place that is not easily visible from the outside, so it is not an easy target for burglars.
  • If you plan to spend the holidays away, ask a friend or neighbor to watch your home and request the post office to hold your mail.
  • When you are away from home overnight, consider putting your lights on timers set to your normal living pattern.

Lights and Other Decorations

  • Inspect the wiring on all holiday lights. If they are worn or frayed, throw them away to avoid any potential fire hazards.
  • Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord, don’t run electrical cords under rugs and turn decorative lights off before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Candles are a top cause of fires during the holidays. Place candles and other open flames away from decorations, never leave burning candles unattended and always supervise children and pets around candles. Better yet, use battery-operated candles instead.

Christmas Trees

  • Place trees a safe distance from radiators, vents, fireplaces and any other heat source that may dry the tree. It is also important to inspect and water your tree daily.
  • Do not block doors or hallways with your larger decorations.

Keep a fire extinguisher near your tree and make sure your family has a fire emergency escape plan.

Get Your Fireplace Ready to Safely Enjoy this Holiday Season

Get Your Fireplace Ready to Safely Enjoy this Holiday Season

There is nothing better than cozying up to a glowing fireplace on a winter evening. However, whether you have a wood-burning or gas-burning fireplace, it works safest and best with proper maintenance and care. Before lighting a fire, consider the following:

Gas Fireplaces
A gas fireplace requires far less maintenance than a wood-burning one. Even so, it is better to have your gas fireplace inspected and adjusted by a professional every year. An inspector will check to ensure that all the parts are intact, the ignition is working well, ventilation pathways are clear and the heat output is correct. Whether it is a vented or ventless fireplace, it should never produce a gas odor. If it does, turn off the gas and have it inspected by a professional.

Wood-Burning Fireplaces
Hiring a professional chimney sweep at least once every five years (and more often if you use it frequently) is the best way to ensure your chimney is safe to use. Since flammable by-products from your wood-burning fireplace build up inside the chimney, it is important to have those cleaned to prevent a fire. A chimney sweep will also inspect your chimney to be sure that it is in good condition.

Wood Fires
When the time comes to make the first fire of the season, clean the firebox of any ashes and dust, check that your home’s smoke and carbon monoxide alarms are in working order, and lastly, make sure that the screen fits and is in good condition to contain sparks and embers. Fires should always be built on a grate to protect the fireplace floor. Further, air flow under the grate also helps produce an efficient fire.

Seasoned hardwood is the best fuel for a wood fireplace. Green hardwood and pine logs have more sap than seasoned hardwood and therefore tend to build up creosote in the chimney more quickly.

After you have finished enjoying the warmth of your fireplace, it is important to put it out as you should never leave a fire unattended.

Shop Local this Holiday Season

Shop Local this Holiday Season

Now that you have helped your budget during the Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, help your friends and neighbors who own our local small businesses by shopping locally.

It can be a refreshing change of pace to stroll into a locally-owned shop or restaurant and enjoy their personal, distinct flavor.

Now is a great time to try out some local small businesses for your holiday shopping needs. Afterwards, stop in for coffee at a local coffee shop or lunch at a locally-owned restaurant, and in the process, you will help create jobs, boost the economy and sustain our community.

Small businesses are not just for consumer goods and eating out. Many Approved Professional Builders, Remodelers, Specialty Contractors and professional service providers are local companies that play an important role in paying jobs, taxes and supporting our economy. Did you know that five percent of our nation’s economy is rooted in Home Building?

So when you are looking for someone to remodel your kitchen, refurbish your deck or build your dream home, take a look at the businesses based in our community to see what they have to offer.

According to the federal Small Businesses Administration, in 2015, small businesses nationwide created 1.9 million net new jobs and represented 99.9 percent of firms with paid employees. Our small businesses are invested in our community. They all have a deep interest in making sure the places we live are safe, clean, attractive and vibrant.

Nothing makes a bigger local economic impact than Home Building. Based on a study conducted for the Home Builders Association of Greenville, Home Building in 2014 created 7,795 jobs, $523 million in wages and business income and $53.5 million in federal, state and local taxes and fees. When small businesses like Approved Professional Builders succeed, we all succeed.

Prepare Now to Buy a Home this Spring

Prepare Now to Buy a Home this Spring

Featured Home, 2018 Upstate Parade of Homes: The Odessa at Brookwood Commons by Ryan Homes.

By James Speer, APB, President, Home Builders Association of Greenville and Partner, CarsonSpeer Builders

If spring looks like the time you will buy a new home, now is not too early to lay the groundwork. After all, you will need to get your finances in shape, get ready to apply for a mortgage, settle on a budget, and decide where you want to live. These things take time, so it is never too early to get started.

Price range and down payment.

Most banks and online real estate sites have affordability and mortgage calculators that can help you settle on a budget.

To determine your down payment, assess what you have in hand, including the equity in your current home, if you have one, and what you can realistically save between now and spring. Don’t forget there will be closing costs.

Neighborhood.

Once you have a budget, research where you would like to live.  Consider schools, commute, housing density, even amenities, and which factors are most important to you.

Check online real estate listings.  Go to open houses.  And most importantly, visit your preferred neighborhoods at different times of day to assess things like traffic.

Credit score.

Check your credit report now.  If you need to dispute anything, get to that task early in the process.  Your credit report is available to you free from each of the three major credit reporting agencies through annualcreditreport.com, the only authorized website for free credit reports, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission.

Here are some ways to maintain and improve your score:

  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Pay down credit card.
  • Avoid applying for new credit cards or closing old ones.

Mortgage.

Check mortgage rates at various lenders.  But keep in mind that the ultra-low rate you found online line might come with lots of headaches when it comes time to close and you have to deal with a lender by phone 1,000 miles away.

About a month before you plan to buy, choose your lender and get a pre-approval letter from them.  With that in hand, you will be able to show a seller that you are a qualified buyer.

For more information about the home buying process, and to find an Approved Professional Builder to help you with your new home, visit HBAofGreenville.com.

Home Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Home Safety Tips for the Holiday Season

Featured Home, 2018 Upstate Parade of Homes: The Williamsburg at Saddlehorn by Saddlehorn Living.

By James Speer, APB, President, Home Builders Association of Greenville and Partner, CarsonSpeer Builders

Family gatherings and festive celebrations — the hallmarks of the holiday season.

This also a time for home safety concerns. Holiday lights and decorations brighten our homes as the days get darker, but they can pose fire hazards. Travel, holiday events and shopping take us away from home more than normal.

Here is a quick safety checklist to help you keep your home and family safe during the holidays.

Home Security

  • If you have a lot of packages delivered while you are not home, it may be time for a doorbell security camera.
  • Inside your home, consider keeping gifts in a safe place that is not easily visible from outside.
  • Ask a friend or neighbor to watch your home if you plan to spend the holidays away. And request the post office to hold your mail.
  • When you are away from home overnight, put your lights on timers set to your normal living pattern.

Lights and Other Decorations

  • Inspect the wiring on all holiday lights. If they are worn or frayed, throw them away.
  • Use no more than three light sets on any one extension cord, don’t run electrical cords under rugs, and turn decorative lights off before you go to bed or leave the house.
  • Candles are a top cause of fires during the holidays. Place candles and other open flames away from decorations, never leave burning candles unattended, and always supervise children and pets around candles. Better yet, use battery-operated candles instead.

Christmas Trees

  • Place trees a safe distance from radiators, vents, fireplaces and any other heat source that may dry the tree, and inspect and water your tree daily.
  • Do not block doors or hallways with your larger decorations.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher near your tree, and make sure your family has a fire emergency escape plan.

For more information on home safety and maintenance, and to find an Approved Professional Remodeler to help you with your home improvement needs, visit HBAofGreenville.com.