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Top 10 Spring Home Maintenance Tips

Categories: Tips & Secrets | Posted: April 10, 2018

Although spring technically arrived on the calendar a couple of weeks ago, in true Virginia climate fashion, it surely hasn’t felt like it with colder temperatures and a lingering nor’easter or two.. However, it’s looking like actual springtime warmth is right around the corner! Have you prepared? Longer days and brighter sunshine are shedding light on what winter and early spring did to your home, and giving you more time to think about the maintenance required in the coming months. Many things in and around your home require attention in order to brighten up its curb appeal, ready it for rain and sun ahead, and extend its life by keeping it in top shape.

Fall Cleanup - Leaves in Gutter1. Clean and inspect your gutters. Many trees continue to drop leaves through the winter, so it’s definitely wise to check your gutters now like you did in the fall. Also, inspect gutters’ connections and downspouts to ensure there is nothing loose or leaky. Finally, make sure there is no debris at the bottom of the downspouts and water flows clearly away from your foundation.

2. Inspect and tune your AC. In case you forgot to change your filter (ideally should replace them once every month), do so now. Dirty filters cause the system to work harder than it should, which results in higher energy costs and could potentially shorten its lifespan. For about $100-200, have a reputable HVAC company inspect and tune up your entire AC system to manufacturer-rated efficiency. Doing this early in the spring means you aren’t caught off guard when the 90s roll in and you’re desperate for air conditioning!

3. Caulk the cracks. Inspect all windows and doors inside your home, and take a stroll along the outside as well. If you notice cracks between walls and trim, fill with caulk that matches your trim color. Creating a better barrier between the inside and the outside will save you money on air conditioning in the summer!

4. Look for rot or exposed wood. While you’re outside caulking cracks, also keep an eye on wood trim that may need attention. If paint has peeled and wood is exposed, it is best to scrape, sand, prime, and paint before damage occurs. If there is noticeable soft spots or rot, the wood will need to be replaced so the interior walls of your home are not damaged.

Repair your roof5. Inspect and repair your roof. Wind, ice, and snow may have damaged, loosened, or removed some of your roof’s shingles. If possible, use a pair of binoculars to really zoom in and look (and stay safe on firm ground). If you notice any issues or there are areas of the roof you can’t see, it is relatively inexpensive to hire a qualified handyman or roofer to climb ladders for you and replace shingles as necessary.

6. Pressure wash your home’s exterior. Give your home a fresh start to the spring and summer by removing any dirt, mold, or stains that may have accumulated since the fall. A pressure washer is only about $75 a day to rent, or you can hire a local pressure washing company to do it for you. In addition to siding, it is also good to pressure wash walkways and decks, however be careful not to damage your decking as pressure washers can have a lot of force behind their spray.

7. Repair concrete sidewalks and driveways. In addition to general settling and erosion, moisture in the soil that freezes in the winter can cause movement and damage to concrete surfaces. If you see cracks, chips, or flaking in your sidewalks or driveway, fill these imperfections with concrete filler or caulk. Many easy-to-follow tutorials can be found on YouTube. It is also important to reseal your concrete every 2-3 years to increase its longevity.

8. Check your decks. If you followed directions above and power washed your decking, follow up with this by resealing your deck’s surfaces with either clear sealer, stain, or semi-transparent stain. Check your deck’s supports to make sure there are no weak spots or rot.

9. Get ready to mow. Who doesn’t want a great looking lawn that is the envy of all friends and neighbors? Get a jumpstart on maintaining yours by making sure all lawn equipment is in tip top shape. Clean and tune all gas and electric powered lawn equipment, and sharpen your blades. A dull mower blade shreds rather than slices, which could could lead to damage from sun, insects, and disease.

10. Let the water flow. Turn on all exterior hose faucets that you (hopefully) shut down for the winter if you haven’t already. If you can block the flow of water of with your finger, you most likely have a burst pipe and it will need to be repaired. This is a common occurrence when we have winters as cold as this last one!

 

Winterize It

Categories: Tips & Secrets | Posted: December 12, 2017

Would you leave your bedroom window open all winter? How about tacking on EXTRA money to your Dominion power bill, just for the heck of it? Not winterizing your home and preparing for the upcoming cold season is the equivalent of doing just that.

So while you’re digging sweaters, jackets, and mittens out of the bottom of the closet for yourself now that the temperatures are dropping, remember to give your home its own button-up to save on energy and potentially expensive future repair bills. Just follow these simple steps!

Read the rest of this entry »

Fall Home Maintenance Tips

Categories: Tips & Secrets | Posted: September 26, 2017

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Fall means a trend towards crisp fall air and the inevitable path to winter in Hampton Roads. As homeowners we need to make sure we get a head start on planning ahead for the colder fall and winter months. Your house will thank you! The fact is, proactive and preventative maintenance is essential to preserving the value of your home. According to Houselogic.com your home could lose 10% of its value if regular maintenance is skipped. Regular, routine maintenance enhances curb appeal, ensures safety, and prevents neglected upkeep from turning into costly major repairs.

Check your heating system. Don’t wait until temperatures drop down into the low 40s before realizing your HVAC needs maintenance or doesn’t work! As we stress at our Home Buyer Seminars, ideally you are under an annual contract with a favorite HVAC service company for seasonal checkups. But if not, schedule an appointment with a heating and cooling pro to get your heating system checked and tuned up for the coming heating season. Costs generally run $50-$100 for a checkup, but it’s small price to pay to prevent feeling cool air when you’re looking to warm up. Also, vacuum your air vents and swap out your filters (which we recommend doing 4-6 times per year).

Tune up your fireplace. In preparation for cozying up to the gas fireplace in your Family Room, have a qualified technician service the appliance, including having the airways of both the pilot and main burners cleaned to ensure they are operating correctly. Also, replace the batteries in your smoke detectors!

Seal and save. While the the temperates are still moderate, grab a couple of tubes of color-matched exterior caulk ($5 for a 12-oz. tube) and make a journey around your home’s exterior, sealing up cracks between trim and siding, around window and door frames, and where pipes and wires enter your house. Preventing moisture from getting inside your walls is one of the least expensive, and most important, of your fall maintenance jobs. You’ll also prevent warm interior air from leaking outside, reducing your energy bill when the temperatures dip!

Check your roof. Look for warning signs: shingles that are buckled, cracked, or missing; rust spots on flashing. Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately. Black algae stains are just cosmetic, but masses of moss and lichen could signal roofing that’s decayed underneath. Call in a pro roofer for a $50-$100 evaluation. A plumbing vent stack usually is flashed with a rubber collar, called a boot, that may crack or loosen over time. They’ll wear out before your roof does, so make sure they’re in good shape. A pro roofer will charge $75 to $150 to replace a boot, depending on how steep your roof is.

Fertilize it. During the fall, your lawn is getting ready to go dormant for the winter. Roots do actually continue to grow during the winter, so fertilizing and power seeding during this period is vital for a healthy, dense, and lush lawn in the spring.

These are just a few of the many things you can do for fall maintenance! For an exhaustive list, check out: http://www.bobvila.com/articles/1499-fall-home-maintenance-checklist/#.Vk3TKt-rQ2I

Tankless Water Heater Maintenance

Categories: Articles, Tips & Secrets | Posted: October 6, 2015

tankless

In three of the newest Napolitano Homes communities (Viridian Reserve at Hickory, Hanbury Manor in Great Bridge, and The Townes on the Square in northern Suffolk), we build EnergySense Homes as a standard feature. In addition to energy saving (and thus money saving) building elements such as efficient floorplans, Energy Star rated appliances, low flow faucets, low-E windows, a properly constructed home envelope, and much more, we also include tankless water heaters in each new home that we build these three neighborhoods. Tankless water heaters are more efficient, smaller, and never run out of hot water when compared to a traditional hot water heater, and if maintained properly, will last 5 to 10 years longer.

So, if you own a home with a tankless water heater, what do you need to do in order to get the most life out of it? Despite being smaller and simpler than a large traditional hot water heater, tankless water heaters do require regular maintenance and cleaning to keep it running at maximum efficiency. Over time, minerals from our water supply accumulate in the tank’s chamber and filters (a process called “scaling”), which can erode the walls and shorten the unit’s life. Proper maintenance means flushing the system at least once a year to mitigate the damages caused by these mineral deposits.

Required Items:

  1. 2.5 gallons of vinegar
  2. Rubber connect hoses kit (for example http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001G0MFT2/)
  3. Sump/Utility pump (for example http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B001DEMD9I/)
  4. Large 5 gallon bucket

Basically, all you need to do is flush your tankless water heater for about an hour using normal household vinegar and a pump. Follow this video below to see step-by-step instructions and visualizations, and save yourself hundreds of dollars by not needing to call a plumber to do it for you!

Rent vs Own in Suffolk, VA

Categories: Articles, Home Financing, Homebuying, Tips & Secrets | Posted: February 25, 2014

New Homes in Suffolk, VA

Are you currently renting and wondering why you’re helping to pay someone else’s mortgage, but think it’s too expensive to own your own home? With the real estate market stabilizing (and home values beginning to increase in 2013), is now the time to buy a new home? Napolitano Homes has two new homes communities in Suffolk, Virginia that offer a premium condominium lifestyle without needing to break the bank!

The Nouveau Series in The Vineyards

The Nouveau Series in The Vineyards at Bennett’s Creek Square has homes that start right at $200,000. At this price, you can get The Atwood which is a 2 Bedroom, 2.5 Bath home with over 1,500 square feet of living space. Homeowners in this neighborhood enjoy walking trails, a Community Center, pool, and gorgeous landscaping! To learn more about The Nouveau series, contact Diana Jordan at 757-284-1845 to schedule a showing.

Edgewood new homes in Suffolk VA

Edgewood at BelleHarbour is another Napolitano Homes new homes community that starts at extremely reasonable pricing. Starting at just $194,900, The Crawford model is a 3 Bedroom, 2.5 Bath home that has over 1,600 square feet! At that price, it’s possible to OWN a home at about $1,200 a month (speak with one of our preferred lenders to find out exact monthly payments based on loan type, down payment, and other factors that decide mortgage payments). To learn about the Edgewood neighborhood, contact Charles Cox at 757-237-7615.

Of course, deciding whether to buy a new home is far more complicated than comparing mortgage price to monthly rent. One way to help decide whether to continue renting or to buy a new home in Suffolk, VA is to check out this Rent vs Buy calculator. Just type in your current rent price, home purchase price, anticipated down payment and loan type, and presto! This handy tool shows if/when home ownership makes sense!  Another cost calculator to check out is from MSN Real Estate, and takes into account almost all costs associated with both renting and owning: http://money.msn.com/home-loans/rent-or-buy-calculator.aspx

February Home Maintenance Tips

Categories: Tips & Secrets | Posted: February 4, 2014

Brrr, it’s still really cold out there! Hopefully in the late fall and early winter you followed our home maintenance tips that are designed to reduce energy bills and minimize damage caused by ice, snow, and clogged gutters.

Even with the chilly temperatures hanging around, it’s time to start thinking about spring thaw, and what we need to do in order to prepare our homes for the warmer months ahead. Here is an exhaustive list from MSN Real Estate of things you can do around your house to prevent moisture damage, check for leaks, and start organizing for warmer weather.

Batten down the hatches. Find and seal energy leaks. Grab a pad and pencil to note any spots that you can’t address right away. Arm yourself with a tube of caulk to fill small cracks and a spray can of insulating foam sealer for larger gaps. Tour your home feeling for cold air entering through cracks in chimneys and window and door frames, and cracks around appliance vents, electrical and plumbing fixtures and furnace ducts. Remedies might include adding weatherstripping to a door frame or applying fresh caulk to window frames.

Change the shower curtain. While you’re checking for leaks in the bathroom, see if the shower curtain needs replacing. Damp shower curtains can grow unhealthy mold and mildew and contribute to mold problems in the tub and shower, so swap yours out periodically and make sure to open and air out the shower enclosure when you’re done bathing.

Run the numbers. Get an idea of how much energy a home the size of yours typically uses by entering detailed information about your dwelling into the Home Energy Saver tool. The tool lets you calculate your home’s energy use. It also lets you estimate the energy savings from a variety of improvements, such as adding insulation, replacing windows and purchasing high-efficiency appliances. Experts from the Energy Department, the Environmental Protection Agency and other state and federal agencies collaborate in sponsoring the site.

Clean out storage areas. Get a head start on spring cleaning by attacking a cluttered storage space. Whether you go after the garage, attic, laundry room or garden shed, your home benefits when you get rid of rusting tools, leaking fluids and household chemicals. Start by taking everything out of the space and piling it up outside. Clean the empty space, then go through the items, trying to let go of everything you haven’t used in the last year. Make four piles: stuff to keep, trash, donations and recycling, and hazardous waste. Open paint cans to dry the paint completely before disposing. Recycle batteries so the lead they contain doesn’t contaminate ground water. Rules for disposal vary by locale. Call your waste-disposal company or the county landfill to learn where and how to dispose of hazardous waste.

Outside
February is a transitional month in much of the U.S. Winter storms may continue to cause damage to home exteriors and landscaping, but spring is in sight and you can begin working in the garden to prepare for warmer weather.

Check for storm damage. While you’re outside, walk around the house looking for missing or damaged siding and shingles. Remove fallen branches and storm debris from around the house.

Clean the gutters. It’s easier to scoop up the leaves and debris in your gutters when the stuff is wet, so pull out your ladder and clean the gutters after a soaking rain. You should do this at least twice a year, but may need to do it monthly if your home is surrounded by trees. For more information, see “Gutter cleaning and care.”

Mulch garden beds. By the end of the month, the ground has thawed in many parts of the country and it’s time to start warding off weeds. If you didn’t mulch in early winter, now is the time to add a layer to discourage weeds.

Prune ornamental grasses. Clean up pampas grass and other ornamental grasses by cutting them in early spring, before new green shoots get tall. Cut the old grass about 2 to 4 inches above the new green shoots. Wear gloves and use a chain saw on big, unwieldy pampas grasses. Tackle others with pruning shears or hedge clippers. Cut straight across the top of the clump and rake away the dead stalks to clean up the plant.

Pumpkin Decorating Ideas

Categories: Articles, Tips & Secrets | Posted: October 23, 2013

Other than mass quantities of candy and bellyaches, pumpkins are the universal symbol for Halloween. With the holiday just around the corner, it’s about time to head to your favorite pumpkin patch or grocery store to pick out the most perfectly shaped gourds to adorn your front yard. The question is, how should you decorate them? If you’ve used every variation of triangles you can think of, check out these suggestions in order to have the most creative pumpkins on the block!

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1. Make a Pumpkin Planter

Cut a generously sized hole out of the top of your pumpkin, and hollow it out like you normally would for carving. Cut out a drainage hole at the bottom, and half fill it with a potting mix made for use in container gardens. Add some seasonal plant or flower offerings from your local garden center, and water thoroughly!

 

 

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2. Drill Bit Pumpkins

Have you completed all of your October Maintenance Tips, but still feel the need to use power tools and release your inner handy-person? How about making interesting pumpkin carvings using nothing but different sized drill bits? Scoop out the seeds and flesh like you normally do (and put aside for delicious pumpkin recipes), and sketch out different patterns in pencil such as diamonds, vertical lines, and circles prior to drilling.

 

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3. Painted Pumpkins

Don’t feel like dealing with the mess of pumpkin seeds and gooey innards? Do you have extra cans of paint lying around? Try leaving the pumpkin intact and just paint the exterior! You won’t get the glow at night, but interesting painted patterns will look great during the day. You could paint small pumpkins white and use them as a centerpiece inside!

 

 

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4. Etching

Rather than carving all the way through, try etching. Light will still shine through (and at different brightnesses based on how deep you etch into the rind), so you have a much greater freedom to make more intricate and detailed pumpkin designs. Try using these for inspiration!

 

 

Home Decor Color Trends of 2013

Categories: Tips & Secrets | Posted: January 4, 2013

Do your New Year’s plans include looking for a new home? Napolitano Homes has several beautiful communities in Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, Suffolk, and Moyock to choose from. After picking the perfect model for your dream home, it’s time to start thinking about interior design. What colors should the walls be? What decor should you use as accent colors? Here is a helpful list of color palettes that are trending for 2013 according to Benjamin Moore. Get creative!

ARTISAN

A rich and inviting palette evocative of treasured antiques, eclectic finds and distant journeys.

URBANITE

This palette of chic, crisp hues and unexpected contrasts conveys a cool, cosmopolitan vibe.

NEW TRADITIONAL

A fresh interpretation of classic elegance showcases bold colors and patterns that create a warm, inviting retreat.

COASTAL

This refreshing, nature-inspired palette is infused with a contemporary sensibility that transcends the expected.

COLOR OF THE YEAR 2013

Wyeth Blue (HC-143)
Much more versatile than you may think, blue is truly a classic color. It has universal appeal, never goes out of style, and is overwhelmingly chosen as a color favorite across North America. It evokes the sea and sky, physically calms us, and symbolizes trust and commitment.Because of the influence that blue has in our world today, we have chosen wyeth blue (HC-143) as Benjamin Moore’s 2012 Color of the Year. It’s a beautiful, calming hue that has an element of heritage and offers grounding rootedness, providing comfort and stability.

 

Why Buy All Brick?

Categories: Homebuying, Tips & Secrets | Posted: October 10, 2012


This home is for sale, see it here.

The look of an all brick home is very traditional and beautiful, this enduring substance has certainly not lost it’s appeal. So, what is it with this building material that has made it stick around so long? A brick is described as a block or single unit of ceramic material used in masonry construction. When it comes to maintenance of these nifty little ceramic blocks there really isn’t any. It will never need painting and you will never Read the rest of this entry »

Not Your Grandma’s Wallpaper

Categories: Homebuying, Tips & Secrets | Posted: August 3, 2012

We all remember the days of bad wallpaper. Some of those are not gone, but we must say that there are some amazing choices and advancements out there today when you’re looking for something to slap up there on that empty wall. More and more we are seeing wallpaper not used only to cover a whole room but to replace paint on an accent wall. The above image is Read the rest of this entry »