5 Home Improvement Trends for 2017

Spring is in the air and that means DIY and home improvement projects are on the mind. Whether you’re a homeowner, builder or contractor, it’s always fun (and important) to keep up with the latest trends in home improvement. As a homeowner, this will help you get cued-in to what improvements will keep your home up-to-date and desirable, and for contractors and builders, it will enable you to stay in-tune with the desires of your clients.

We’ve put together the top 5 home improvement trends for 2017 to help you stay in-the-loop. Which trends are you most excited about?

1. Promoting a Healthier Lifestyle

It might not sound like a home improvement trend, but it is. A recent Houzz study found that ⅓ of homeowners report leading a healthier lifestyle after a kitchen renovation. And, the push for a healthier lifestyle is creating an entirely new market in the home improvement and products industry.

Indoor gardening, for example, was quite popular at the recent Consumer Electronics Show. Tower Garden, edn, and others have been growing in popularity —and homeowners are looking for new ways to incorporate indoor gardening in their homes. This home improvement trend doesn’t stop here. We’re also seeing things like food recyclers and compactors being added to high-end kitchens.

2. Incorporating Smart Home Technology

Smart home technology has come a long way over the last few years. Companies like Ring have broadened their product offerings, as homeowners continue to show interest in ways to protect and automate their homes. Ring not only offers video doorbells, they’ve added the world’s only motion-activated HD security camera with built-in flood lights, a siren alarm and two-way talk.

Some smart technology is worth the investment, but do your research to make sure the products live up to their promises. For example,  all of GE Appliances’ WiFi-ready models feature a digital assistant called Geneva that communicates with Amazon’s Alexa, making hands free communication a breeze. However when we tested WallyHome, the home sensing solution failed to detect a leak even though the sensor was sitting in pool of water.

If you’re taking on a home renovation, it’s a smart idea to include smart technology!

3. Smaller, But Fancier

According to a recent Consumer Reports article and US Census Bureau data, for the first time since 2009, the average size of new homes built in 2016 went down from the prior year, to 2,634 square feet. But, with all the smart home technology they’re getting more modern.

Because they’re not splurging on McMansions, homeowners are able to splurge in other areas like kitchen appliances, high-end design finishes and other upgrades that may have previously been considered unnecessary.

4. Keeping Easy Cleaning in Mind

Homeowners are also keeping the ease of cleaning in mind when remodeling or upgrading their homes. From surfaces like tile and granite that are relatively easy to keep in good condition to high-tech appliances like this self-cleaning toilet (yes, you read that right), we’re looking for upgrades that will help make life a bit easier.

Touchless faucets and smudge-free stainless steel appliances are other examples of this trend coming to life.  

5. Color, Color Everywhere

Another easy-to-do yet popular home improvement trend for 2017 is color. We’re seeing everything from jewel-toned kitchens and bathrooms to color used as an accent to increase the depth and visual appeal of big, open spaces.

Painting is perhaps the easiest way to DIY your home improvement, and can easily be modified as trends change.

Making Home Improvements That Count

These home improvement trends offer insight into the many ways homeowners are advancing their living spaces this year. As a homeowner or construction professional, achieving any of these trends will bring your home into the 21st century —keeping it up-to-date and appealing should you decide to sell.

Whether you’re aching for the latest smart home gadgets or are planning a big remodel, 2017 is the year to modernize and live better. Spring is a great time to get your home life on track, and, if you’re still a bit behind the times, consult the smart home gift guide to see what you’ve been missing.

How Much Does it Cost to Replace a Refrigerator?

With good maintenance and care, your refrigerator can have an average lifespan of 14-17 years. That’s not too shabby! But, all good things must come to an end —even our trusty refrigerators.

When it comes time to replace your refrigerator, there are a number of things to consider and some important must-have features to look for. Remember, it’s going to be with you for a while, so it only makes sense to do your research, choose wisely and take great care to prolong its life.

With that said, here’s how much it costs to replace a refrigerator and some of those must-have features you should watch out for. Plus, we’ve included a little advice on knowing when to replace your fridge so you’re not left hanging with a bunch of melted ice cream on a hot summer day.

Is Your Refrigerator Dying?

Knowing that your fridge can last between 14 and 17 years is a great way to start planning ahead and budgeting for a new one, but you also need to be proactive and watch for the signs so you’re not stuck with a fridge full of spoiled food.

Some of the symptoms of a dying fridge include:

  • Excessive condensation — If you notice that your fridge is “sweating” more than usual, this could be a sign of inaccurate temperature control.
  • A hot motor — It’s normal to feel a bit of heat coming from behind your fridge, but if it’s getting really hot it might mean the coils are going bad.
  • You can hear it running — If you’re hearing your fridge running during the day, it’s likely that it’s having to work too hard to keep cool.
  • Frost buildup — If you notice a lot of frost buildup in the freezer, this can also be a sign that the coils are going bad. Defrost the fridge and wait to see if it happens again.

If your refrigerator exhibits any of these signs, it might be time to have a technician come out to do an inspection. Sometimes things like coils can be replaced for a fraction of the cost of replacing the entire refrigerator. On average, the cost to repair a refrigerator ranges from $292 to $413  —depending on model, repair and supplies.

Things to Look for When Replacing a Refrigerator

The best refrigerator for your home is the one that suits your family’s needs, offers enough space, and works with your current kitchen setup. In addition, consider these following tips when replacing your refrigerator:

Style #1: Top Freezer (Priced from $500+)

This is the traditional style of refrigerator that we all grew up with. The freezer compartment is at the top, with the refrigerated section below.

Why you’ll love it:

  • This no-frills refrigerator often offers more usable space than those with features like in-door water/ice, which takes up space.
  • If you have a slim space, these are often the best bet. Typical widths are 30-33 inches.
  • They use 10% to 25% less energy than bottom-freezer and side-by-side door models.
  • They’re usually the least expensive.

Style #2: Bottom Freezer (Priced from $700+)

Flipping the traditional style, refrigerators with the freezer on the bottom are popular for their convenience —putting the refrigerated compartment at eye-level where things are easy to see and reach. They can also accommodate wider trays of food.

Why you’ll love it:

  • Everything is easily reachable with little bending to get things in and out.
  • Those with double doors (french) are more energy efficient, as only one door is being opened and it minimizes the amount of cold air that escapes.
  • French door models don’t require as much room for the doors to swing open as other models.

Style #3: Side-by-Side (Priced from $900+)

Side-by-side models offer an equal balance between freezer and refrigerator space, which is popular with families who eat a great mix of frozen and fresh foods.

Why you’ll love it:

  • These allow for easy access and viewing of food in both compartments.
  • Perfect for family members with disabilities who need to access food without bending or a stepstool.
  • Typical widths are 32 to 26 inches, but keep in mind the divider between fridge and freezer means there’s some unusable space.

Style #4: Cabinet- and Counter-Depth (Priced from $2000+)

These models provide a custom look if overlayed with cabinet faces and are offered in shorter depths so they don’t stick out past cabinets and counters.

Why you’ll love it:

  • These models create a clean, custom look that can be the finishing touch in a luxury kitchen.
  • They often come in various sizes and configurations, such as under-the-counter beverage refrigerators or under-the-counter produce drawers.
  • Various depths and widths are available to create a truly custom kitchen.

Other Costs and Features to Consider

There have been a lot of advances in refrigerator technology over the past decade. If you haven’t purchased a fridge in the last few years, some of these options and features might surprise you. Keep these in mind as you shop:

Smudge-Free Stainless — Stainless appliances are all the rage, but the fingerprints left behind aren’t! Some manufacturers have developed smudge-free stainless options. Just remember that finishes vary from brand to brand and might not be a perfect match to your other appliances.

Smart Refrigerators — Believe it or not, your refrigerator can tell you what groceries you’re running low on. For $5,000, you can buy (Spring ‘17) the Samsung Family Hub refrigerator, which you’ll be able to digitally access from your phone while in the grocery store to see what you’re missing.

Water and Ice — In-door water and ice has been a must-have feature for a number of years, particularly with families that use water/ice often. Just keep in mind that this option takes up a lot of interior space, is susceptible to problems and can be messy. It also increases the cost of the fridge.

Installation and Removal — As with any new appliance, also factor in the cost of installation and the removal of your old refrigerator. Installation and removal charges vary by vendor and location, so always ask ahead of time. If your fridge is still in good working order, you should consider donating it to a local charity, which might pick it up for free.  

More on Replacing Appliances …

If you’re looking for more information regarding how much it costs to replace other household appliances, please don’t hesitate to consult our blog. Our team offers an ongoing series on this topic, so you have all the tools you need to maintain your home.

How to Maintain my Deck or Patio

Outdoor living spaces add tremendously to your home’s value, as well as your everyday enjoyment. A rustic stone patio or sleek modern deck can be the perfect gathering place for family and friends. Throw in some comfortable seating and perhaps a firepit, and you’ve got a real amenity.

The materials used for decks and patios vary as widely as home styles. They should be chosen with their intended use in mind. If the space will be used for dining, for example, it’s wise to choose a smooth, regular surface, like brick pavers or concrete for your patio. A more casual space might call for gravel or flagstones.

Here are some of the most popular materials for outdoor living spaces:

Deck Materials

These days, you can choose between many different natural surfaces, as well as a range of composite and artificial decking materials that may extend the life and reduce the maintenance costs of your deck.

Option #1: Wood

The most common choice for wood deck materials is pressure-treated or “PT” lumber. This is inexpensive, and can easily make for a sturdy, attractive structure. On the other hand, PT is also highly susceptible to warping, cracking and splitting, so it has to be treated regularly for weather resistance.  A deck made with PT lumber will last around 15 years, and the cost is around $1.32 per lineal foot.

An option for longer lasting wood decks would be redwood or cedar, which are naturally resistant to warping, cracking and pests. These woods are about three times as expensive as pressure treated lumber.

Tropical woods like ipe (pronounced e-pay), cambara, and ironwood, fall into the same price range. These are very dense and pest resistant and considered to be some of the most beautiful decking materials available. These are also relatively expensive, averaging $2.00 per foot, but they last for about 25 years.

Option #2: Composite

Composite wood is composed of wood fibers and recycled plastic, and comes in a wide range of colors and stains. It won’t warp, split or crack, and is an environmentally friendly option. It doesn’t need to be stained or painted, but should be scrubbed regularly to prevent mildew.

Patio Materials

Your first consideration in choosing patio materials is what you’ll be using the patio for most. If you’re like most folks, the answer is “general outdoor entertaining.” This usually includes dining, which means you’ll want a solid, flat surface and should consider patio materials like brick, concrete, cast pavers, or flat stone like slate.

Uneven surfaces like fieldstone, pebbles, or gravel aren’t recommended (unless you want to make eating and sitting comfortably more challenging).

Understanding Outdoor Patio and Deck Maintenance

Like any other feature of your home, your deck or patio is only an asset if it’s properly maintained

Even though pressure-treated lumber resists insects and decay, it’s still vulnerable to moisture and the sun’s rays. Eventually these forces will have your deck looking gray or grimy, so regular maintenance is necessary.

The first consideration in deck maintenance is a good cleaning. Deck cleaners come in bleach and non-bleach formulas. Either can remove surface and ground-in dirt. Bleach cleaners lighten the wood, while non-bleach ones gently remove dirt and grime without damaging the wood fibers or the wood’s natural color.

Here are some steps for cleaning a wood deck:

  • Sweep away all the leaves and other debris.
  • Gently rinse off the deck and the surrounding bushes and grass with a garden hose.
  • Using a roller, sprayer or a bucket and brush, apply the cleaner, being sure to remember to wear gloves to protect your hands. Don’t forget vertical surfaces, like posts and railings.
  • Let the cleaner set for 15 to 20 minutes, then rinse, using a pressure washer to remove stubborn grime.
  • After cleaning, allow the deck to dry for a few days and then make any needed repairs: drive in any protruding nails and replace boards if necessary.
  • Finally, apply a protective stain or clear coat to bring new life to the deck.
  • Cover all the surrounding areas with a cloth tarp
  • Apply the wood finish according to directions
  • Let it set for about 20 minutes to penetrate.
  • Brush out any puddles to avoid shiny patches, and then apply a second coat.

Just like your deck, patios need regular attention to optimize usefulness and visual appeal. Check at least annually for needed repairs and cleaning. Some common patio problems are easy enough to solve with these steps:

Uneven Pavers

Weathering and settling can cause pavers to be less level, and this requires some adjustment. Pull up the offending stones or bricks and re-level the bedding material (ideally crushed stone) before replacing them.

Dirty, Moldy, or Faded Pavers

Clean and seal pavers every 2 or 3 years, using an acid-based masonry detergent, then apply a sealant.

Weeds and Debris Between Pavers  

Pressure wash the joints, clean the pavers, and sweep in polymeric joint sand, which solidifies with moisture, creating a solid and permanent bond.

A New Approach to Home Maintenance with Glasshouse

Not all homeowners have the time to maintain their homes in the way they know is required. Enter Glasshouse. Designed for the modern homeowner, Glasshouse Service Providers take care of your home so you can spend your time enjoying it. Learn more about our scheduled preventative maintenance service today.

8 of the Most Neglected Home Maintenance Tasks (Don’t Ignore Them!)

Your home is likely your biggest investment. You use it every day. It’s important. Despite these facts, many of us struggle to keep up with important maintenance tasks that are really essential for retaining our home’s value. When it comes to home maintenance, paying attention to the little things can save you lots of money, time and house-repair headaches.

Preventative maintenance means that you avoid costly breakdowns and repairs. Taking the initiative to care for systems and structures before there is a problem can be difficult. We all have busy lives, and the squeaky wheel gets the grease. If you want to do yourself a favor, though, see about attending to some of these frequently neglected household maintenance jobs.

Change HVAC filters

The furnace and AC in your home work tirelessly, and you may not ever give them a thought –until there’s a problem. Depending on its features, you can expect to get 10-15 years out of an air conditioning unit. Furnaces last a little longer: 15-20 years.  Once it’s time for a replacement you can expect to pay between $8000 and $20,000 for your new system and installation.

Regularly changing the filters will make these systems last as long as possible, and it’s a quick, inexpensive job. You should change the filter at least twice a year, when the seasons change. As a bonus, clean filters help your system run more efficiently, saving energy costs.

Clean dryer vents

Many of us are not aware that clogged dryer vents are a leading cause of household fires. They also make your dryer much less efficient. It’s easy to check the exterior vent occasionally to make sure it’s not blocked, but many people don’t make time for this task.

The vent should be checked annually. It’s as simple as going outside, taking the cover off and vacuuming the dryer vent tube.

Clean gutters

Many homeowners neglect the gutter system on their house, and this can be a costly oversight.  If a system is not maintained, water may pool in the gutters and damage eaves, leak into the house, and damage walls and flooring. Clogged gutters can cause extensive damage to your home’s roof, which then leads to moisture problems.

Thoroughly cleaning and inspecting the gutters once a year can prevent all these problems. Get a sturdy ladder, some stout gloves, a hand trowel and a garden hose, and go to it. Or hire a pro. Either way, make a point of addressing this important maintenance task.

Roof inspection

It’s wise to inspect your roof closely once a year. Even if you haven’t detected any leaks, check for loose shingles, cracks, and damage.  Look for sun rot, cracked caulk, rust, or algae. These issues should be addressed immediately. A small leak in the roof can cause major damage over time, including the creation of cracks and weakness in the foundation, which can be painfully expensive to repair.

With good care, the average asphalt shingle roof lasts about 20 years, and cement shingles last a few years longer. A slate or tile roof can last as long as 50 years. Considering that a new roof will set you back thousands of dollars, it makes sense to invest a little time now to prolong the life of your existing roof.

Flush out hot water heater

The water heater is another appliance that we rarely think of until it fails us and our teeth are chattering in the shower. Besides the risk of a breakdown, neglecting your water heater can lead to damage. Water heater failures make up 20 percent of residential water loss incidents.

Caring for the water heater is easy. Just inspect for leaks, and fully drain the tank about once a year to minimize sediment buildup.

Clean refrigerator coils

You may have never even heard of condenser coils, but they need you. They’re at the back or bottom of your fridge, and they can get clogged with dust and hair. That makes the fridge work harder, which translates to shorter life and higher energy costs. Fix that by cleaning the condenser coils once a year with a brush and vacuum.

Check for high water pressure

High water pressure can waste a lot of water, and also harm pipes, connections, and appliances. With a very inexpensive (about $25) pressure gauge, you can check to see if pressure is too high, and if it is consider installing a new pressure-reducing valve, available at home improvement and hardware stores.

Snake your main drain

This task isn’t something you need to do annually, but it’s a good idea to clear your main sewage drain every few years. Over time tree roots can push in and create cracks and blockages in these lines, which can lead to a major mess and high repair costs.  This job is best done by your plumber, and it’s one of the most frequently overlooked home maintenance tasks.

Get Help

Don’t have the time or energy to tackle these home maintenance jobs? Let Glasshouse help. Learn more about our regularly scheduled maintenance programs today!

Decoding a Home Inspection Report: What Buyers Need to Know

The home inspection is a critical step in the home buying process. It generally confirms the buyer’s favorable impression and perhaps identifies a few issues that should be part of negotiations. In some cases, however, the home inspection can uncover real problems that can throw the entire deal into question.

For the typical home buyer, it can be difficult to interpret a home inspection report, know which points are especially significant —possible deal breakers— and which are common and easily addressed. It’s a good idea to get familiar with some of the components of a home inspection report and to know what sorts of questions to ask along the way.

The Big Red Flags

The purpose of a home inspection is to verify that the home’s structure and systems are in good shape and working order. It protects the buyer from inheriting problems that weren’t obvious in touring the home, and is absolutely a necessary step, no matter how pristine the property appears. Generally, a few minor issues won’t derail a deal, but there are some things that should give the buyer pause, and definitely indicate some re-negotiating, at least.

Forbes recommends watching for these home inspection red flags:

foundation-cracks

1. Problems with drainage or grading

This can cause a multitude of problems ranging from rotting wood frame to the shifting and/or cracking a home’s foundation over time. A good inspector will notice possible signs of foundation movement. If this is noted on a home inspection, understand that repairs will be costly.

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2. Worn out roofing

Watch for any mention of signs of aging such as cupping, curling, blistering, lifting, splitting, insect damage, cracking, rotting and missing granular/sections. These symptoms of an aging roof may be warning signs of future water intrusion unless a new roof is installed; and once again there is a hefty price tag to this sort of project.

Wondering how to maintain a roof? Here are some tips.

Broken electric cable.

3. Unsafe wiring

Defective electrical wiring is a common cause of residential fires. Also, be aware that the number of electrical outlets in the home is significant. Too few outlets can lead to the overuse of extension cords, which places too much stress on the electrical system. You should also be mindful of any exposed wires. Remedying any of these problems will require a professional and the associated costs.

Plumbing

4. Faulty plumbing

This can indicate substantial problems that may even necessitate replacing the entire system. Pay attention to the smallest leak, since the potential for damage is considerable.

Other signs of trouble include mold, water damage, foundation damage, or insect infestations. All of these can be the result of poor maintenance, which has a negative effect on the property as a whole.

What to Do With the Report

Once you’ve received an inspection report, what’s the next step? Be sure to reach out to the inspector if you have questions or if you feel that information is missing. How you handle the report has a big impact on your actual purchase price and on the condition of your new home.  Here are some tips for how to proceed:

  • Discuss it with your real estate agent

Share the report with your agent. They see dozens of reports, and will be able to quickly identify any areas for concern.  They can also recommend contractors to handle needed repairs.

  • Get an estimate for repairs

Have the contractor come to the house and share the inspection report. Make sure that the estimate you’re given covers the specific repairs called for in the inspection. Get a firm timeline for when the work could be accomplished.

  • Negotiate with the seller

Based on your meeting with the contractor, decide which repairs are most important to you, and what issues you may not be interested in addressing. Discuss the inspection report and required repairs with the seller. Negotiate how those will be covered: the seller may make the repairs or may provide compensation for repairs that you arrange.

The ideal scenario is a clean inspection, although it’s rare that a home has no issues at all. A favorable inspection boosts buyer confidence, as it should. It indicates a home that has been well cared for, and helps deals move forward more quickly.

Improving Value with Glasshouse

If you’re selling your home, being able to demonstrate meticulous maintenance is a big plus. Our Glasshouse customers have 24/7 access to detailed maintenance reports on their property, and can document that their home has been on a comprehensive maintenance schedule. We like to think that we make the inspector’s job easy.

Whether you’re thinking about selling your home or simply understand the importance of preventative maintenance, connect with our team at Glasshouse to learn more about our preventative maintenance service.

How To Maintain Your Range/Oven?

The kitchen range is your home’s workhorse. Rarely does a day pass without the use of this appliance to create the food we enjoy, so a working range is pretty much essential to a smooth-running household. With good maintenance, a range will last up to 15 years.

Regular maintenance can keep your range working efficiently and prolong its life. This is mostly a matter of routine, thorough cleaning. Here are some basic steps in caring for different types of kitchen ranges:

The control panel

Use a light-duty cleaner or simply soap and water with a rag. Using abrasive pads or too harsh of a cleaner can wear off the decal indicators, which identify the knob controls for each burner.

Smooth electric stove tops

If a heavy spill occurs, use a razor scraper to remove large food deposits. Apply a cooktop cleaner. Remove the remaining residue with a scratch-free pad and then apply a coat of cooktop protectant.

Gas stove tops

Some gas stovetops are made of porcelain-coated steel and can be cleaned exactly the same as an electric smooth top. Stainless steel tops should be cleaned with heavy-duty degreaser and a non-abrasive pad. Avoid using too much water when cleaning, especially around the knobs, as this can cause a short.

The oven interior

Whatever model you own, you should clean the interior of your oven three to four times per year. Spills and drips should be removed as soon as possible, as they will smoke and may eventually catch on fire.

Self-cleaning ovens

Carefully follow the manufacturer’s instructions when using the self-cleaning function. This feature heats the interior of the oven to a temperature high enough to incinerate food particles and spills. The process generally lasts for 2 to 4 hours.

Important: Never use a cleaning solution to clean the interior of a self-cleaning oven unless it is made specifically for self-cleaning ovens.

Non-self-cleaning ovens

Simply wait until the oven is cool to the touch, remove the oven racks and spray oven cleaner directly onto the interior surface. Wipe with a clean rag.

Racks

Clean the racks by letting them soak in the sink. Then, scrub the racks using regular kitchen sponges. Don’t leave racks in an oven during a self-clean cycle.

Range hood

Clean your fan blades with warm soapy water on occasion to prevent buildup of dirt and grease. This will help avoid excess stress on your motor and keep it from overheating. Clean the filter frequently as it is the part that will collect grease the fastest.

How to Choose a New Range

Once your range has reached the end of its useful life, there are many considerations in choosing a replacement. Pricing can range widely, with many good options at $1000-$1500. High-end brands like Kitchenaid, Viking, Thermador, and Jenn-Air have models selling for up to $6000.

There are a variety of range types. The most popular and easiest to install are freestanding ranges. With this model, the oven control panel is typically on the back panel, above the cooktop surface. Some kitchens have slide-in ranges, which easily slide in between surrounding cabinets and give a custom, built-in look. The oven controls are on the range front and there’s no back panel, which showcases your backsplash.

Most electric and gas ranges are 30-inches wide. Pro-style ranges usually span 36 inches or more. Capacities generally range from 2 to nearly 4 cubic feet.  Ranges can be fueled by electricity, gas, or a dual-fuel system, which pairs a gas cooktop with an electric oven. Both power sources have their advantages. The type of range you choose may be dictated by the existing setup in your kitchen.

#1. Electric smoothtop

Ranges with electric radiant smoothtops are the most popular type. Most models have at least one high-power burner and expandable dual or triple elements that let you switch from a large, high-power element to a small, lower-power element within it.

One downside of this type of cooktop is that there is a lot of residual heat, so when reducing the temperature it can take a few minutes to reach the lower setting.

#2. Electric Induction

Electric ranges with an induction cooktop use magnetic coils below the ceramic glass surface to quickly generate heat directly to the pan, offering precise simmering and control.

Magnetic cookware is needed for induction to work. If a magnet strongly sticks to the bottom of a pot, it will work with an induction cooktop. Some stainless-steel cookware is induction-capable, and some isn’t.

#3. Gas

Gas stoves provide more responsive and precise heat.  The flame makes it easier to judge the heat, to get a feel for it, and to quickly move from a high setting to a lower one. Most ranges have four surface burners in three sizes, and some have a fifth burner instead of a center section.

Once you know which type of range you want, it’s time to take a look at the available features. Here are some popular ones:

Control lockout—These let you disable the oven controls, and are especially good for homes with small children.

Double ovens- Great for cooking a big meal. You can cook at different temperatures simultaneously.

Expandable elements- these can accommodate griddles and larger pots for more efficient heating.

Convection- Convection ovens use one or more fans to circulate hot air and reduce cooking time.

Time/Delayed Start- This lets you set a time for the electric or gas oven to start and stop cooking.

For more on “How to Maintain” various items in your home, check out our list of popular blogs below:

How to Maintain my Roof

How to Maintain my Gutters

How to Maintain my HVAC System
And, don’t forget to download a free copy of our whitepaper: What does Home Maintenance Really Cost?

How to Prevent Water Intrusion

One of the more significant budget lines you add when you become a homeowner is for home maintenance and repair. U.S. News reports that on average, homeowners will spend between 1 to 4 percent of a home’s value annually on maintenance and repairs, and the costs tend to increase as the house ages.

Luckily, there are plenty of steps you can take to minimize repair costs. Looking after your home’s structure and systems can extend their life and often prevent damage that will lead to costly repairs. One of the most damaging elements your home is exposed to is moisture. That’s why it’s so important to keep water out.

Water does more damage to your home than anything else, and the damage is usually gradual. Even small leaks, left unrepaired, lead to mold and mildew, rot, and eventually termites and carpenter ants. You can avoid a lot of expensive repairs just by keeping an eye out for moisture. Water can affect different areas of your home in different ways, so here are some tips for keeping things dry in key locations.

Insurance Institute of Business and Home Safety tells us that these are the most common places where water intrusion occurs:

        Windows and doors

        Roof

        Foundation and Exterior walls

        Plumbing

Surprisingly, kitchens and baths are not listed. They will fall under plumbing, and there’s certainly the potential for water intrusion there. Other places to check regularly are the clothes washer and water heater.

Common Area #1: Household plumbing

If leaks in your kitchen pipes go undetected, the damage can be extensive. Long-term drips will ruin the cabinet under the kitchen sink, and can run down into the floor sheathing and joists underneath, causing mildew and rot. This will require a structural repair, plus new cabinets and new kitchen flooring.

Watch out for dark spots under pipes or changes in water pressure that may indicate a leak somewhere in the system. Remember to check the water lines to your icemaker and dishwasher regularly, in addition to the sink.

In the bath, check the floor around your toilets, tubs, showers, and sinks. Look for any soft spots or moisture. Check for leaking faucets, dripping or “sweating” pipes, clogged drains and faulty water drainage systems.

Don’t forget to check the caulk. Replacing old or mildewed caulking is a basic home repair, requiring only a few tools and inexpensive materials, and it helps keep water where it belongs.

In the laundry room, inspect washing machine hoses for bulges, cracks or wetness. These should be replaced every few years, or sooner if problems are found. Take a minute occasionally to inspect the water heater for signs of rust or water on the floor.

Promptly repairing plumbing leaks can save the average homeowner about 10 percent on water bills, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Common Area #2: Doors and windows

Check for leaks around your windows and doors, especially near the corners. Check for peeling paint, which can be a sign of water getting into the wood. Look for discolorations in paint or caulking as well as swelling in windows, doorframes and surrounding materials. Keep caulk in good repair and seal leaks promptly.  This has the added benefit of reducing your energy costs.

Common Area #3: Roof and gutters

Check the roof regularly for any signs of leaks or damage. Leaks are particularly common around chimneys, plumbing vents and attic vents. Replace or repair missing or damaged shingles promptly, and keep the surface clear of debris that can allow damaging moisture to build up.

Getting water off and away from the house as quickly as possible is the best way to keep it from doing any damage. When gutters back up and overflow, water seeps under the shingles and begins its insidious work on vulnerable materials. Keeping your gutters clear can greatly extend the life of your roof. Clean and inspect gutters at least once a year.

Common Area #4: Foundation

Foundation repairs can be disruptive and expensive. Prevent water intrusion through regular inspections. Look for cracks or holes in the foundation or external walls, and seal them promptly.

You can keep water away from the foundation by ensuring that downspouts empty at least 2 feet from the foundation, and that the ground slopes away from the house to keep water from pooling at the foundation. Keep an eye out for dripping outdoor faucets, which can wreak havoc on foundations over time.

Some other quick tips for preventing water intrusion from damaging your home:

  • Investigate changes in your water bill; a spike may indicate a leak.
  • Keep plantings away from foundations and water lines. Roots can cause unseen damage.
  • Disconnect your hoses. If the water sitting in them freezes, it may back up into the pipe and cause problems.
  • Install water detection devices. These can alert you to low moisture levels or slow leaks that are harder to detect with the eye.

If home maintenance seems overwhelming, it doesn’t have to be. Learn more about how Glasshouse can automate your home’s maintenance with regularly scheduled maintenance visits.

10 Easy Home Upgrades to Tackle in a Weekend

One of the pleasures of owning a home is making gradual additions and upgrades that make it more comfortable, convenient, and beautiful. For many of us, the only time to get these done is to devote a weekend to the project.

Weekend projects can be a great change of pace and really give you a sense of satisfaction. There are probably some little improvements around your home that you’ve been pondering for months. With some solid planning you can accomplish a surprising amount on the weekend.

Here are a few projects that are simple enough to tackle in a single weekend and will add to the enjoyment of your home for many more weekends to come.  

#1: Mount that flat screen

Hanging your TV frees tabletop space and also makes it visible from more parts of the room. Plan to get this job done one weekend. It’s really just a matter of careful measuring and driving a few screws. You’ll need these tools to do the job:

  • Cordless drill
  • Tape measure
  • Stud finder
  • Screwdrivers
  • Adjustable wrench
  • Socket/ratchet set
  • Level
  • Drywall saw
  • Utility knife
  • Masking tape

Follow the instructions including with your particular mounting hardware, paying close attention to setting the bracket level. You will likely need to have a couple of helpers on hand to help hold the TV in place for measuring.

#2. Add some storage

Another very effective project for making your home feel more spacious is the addition of shelves to help control clutter.  Shelves can also serve a decorative function, providing a place to display your favorite art or books, adding personality to your home.  

Installing custom shelving is a great weekend project, and there are many options and approaches to choose from. How you build yours can depend on the space you have available, the materials you want to use, and what they’re designed to store.

#3. Assemble new furniture

This is a project that you can’t rush, so the weekend can be best for tackling any sort of assembly. You may have a new accent table or some exercise equipment to put together. With a few basic tools, the task is ideal for the weekend.

#4. Repair a fence

Fences can be a great enhancement to your property, but they do require maintenance. Fixing loose boards or sagging gates can instantly revive a fence, and boost your home’s curb appeal.

#5. Install safety upgrades

Keeping your loved ones safe in their home is a great goal, and many safety upgrades are quick and easy. You can add child guards to cabinet doors, safety gates on stairways, and accessibility ramps anywhere they’re needed. Bracing furniture (like bookshelves) is also a great idea, especially in areas prone to earthquakes.

#6. Repair torn screens

A small detail, but well worth tending to. Torn screens are unsightly, and they don’t fulfill their function of keeping insects outside where they belong.

#7. Seasonal decorations

Decking your house out for holidays can be a really fun weekend project. Creating a festive and welcoming atmosphere can make special times at your home even more memorable. Keep in mind that the decorations have to be taken down and stored, as well, so allocate a weekend for that as well.

#8. Outdoor living upgrades

Another seasonal aspect of your home is the outdoor living space. One great project to prepare for the summer months is a complete cleaning and servicing of your barbeque equipment. You can prolong the life of your grill with thorough cleaning. Corrosion and rust will keep a grill from performing at its best, so it’s important to get to parts like the burners and fire box, and to replace worn or broken parts.

#9. Add weather stripping

This weekend project may be invisible to the casual observer, but you can bet that it will be plain to see in your future energy bills. Refresh the weather stripping around doors and windows to keep your home more comfortable year round while also keeping energy costs under control.

#10. Install new light fixtures

This instantly updates the look of your home. You can add an eye-catching fixture on the front porch, or make your kitchen more functional by adding task lighting where you need it.

Getting the Help You Need

There are plenty of projects around the home that can be done in a weekend and have a big impact. For some of us, weekends are for relaxing and enjoying our home, not working.

If you’d like to get some upgrades done but can’t spare the time yourself, remember that Glasshouse can handle these jobs for you, as part of our on-demand services for members. Check out our site to see how a Glasshouse home maintenance subscription can free up your weekends and keep your house in tip-top shape.

Selling Your Home? Give Buyers Confidence with Glasshouse

Preparing to sell your house means shifting your perspective a bit. You have to start seeing it not as your home, but as a place where others might want to live. As you probably know, there are dozens of things you can do to make the property more attractive to potential buyers.

Of course the initial impression that a home makes is critically important. That is what fuels the drive to improve curb appeal, make any necessary repairs, and upgrade fixtures and appliances.  It has spawned a whole industry, devoted to preparing and staging the home to make it more visually appealing, so that buyers can picture themselves living there.

Once prospective buyers get past the initial impression they are looking for indications of the home’s value. They want to decide whether to make an offer, and if so, how much the home is worth. Well-maintained features and systems show that a home has been well cared for, and buyers feel more confident about making an offer.

Keeping up with maintenance tasks, large and small, help a home retain its value. Industry observers tell us that neglecting maintenance can result in a 10 percent decrease in the value of a home. Without maintenance, an average home can depreciate by thousands of dollars.

When the time comes to sell that house, inspectors are likely to find a laundry list of needed repairs, and potential buyers can easily be scared off by the types of problems that will come to light.

A university study showed that regular maintenance boosts home value by about 1% per year, so maintenance slows down depreciation. That fact, combined with the fact that real estate prices overall tend to increase over time, means more value in a well-maintained home.

For the most part, if you’ve practiced good maintenance over the years, it will be evident. Any of the exterior features –siding, roof, landscaping –as well as the cosmetics inside are easy to observe, but what about when it comes to your HVAC system, plumbing, electrical, and other systems?  Unless you’ve been able to keep scrupulous records and receipts, you may not be able to demonstrate to potential buyers how well they’ve been maintained.

A sale can hang on considerations like these. Indeed, financing a purchase may be impossible for some buyers when a home requires certain repairs.  FHA loans, for example, won’t be granted for homes with structural issues.

The more you’re able to assure the buyer that the home is solid and well maintained, the more comfortable they’ll feel. Having a third party validate your statements about home maintenance can be the kind of assurance that will help buyers reach a decision.

Working with the house managers at Glasshouse can be the ideal solution. We can provide complete records of the maintenance completed on your home, along with information on the age and condition of its systems and structural elements.

Having Glasshouse as your ally means never having to wonder whether you’ve covered all of the important preventative maintenance that your home needs. A detailed and personalized maintenance calendar means that nothing is neglected or left to chance.  

Our dedicated house managers make quarterly visits to complete a preset list of maintenance tasks, building a digital catalog of the home’s systems and appliances with each visit.  They will also provide informative maintenance reports following each visit.

This comes in handy when the time comes to sell. Not only will you have few, if any repairs to make before putting the house on the market, which can save considerable time, but you’ll also be able to provide the potential buyer with peace of mind.  They can hear about how the home has been professionally cared for by the professionals who handled the job.

Preventative maintenance can save thousands in repair costs. It’s estimated that every $1 spent on home maintenance saves $100 on repairs. Explore our site to see how Glasshouse works to make it easy to keep your home in peak condition, so you can enjoy it now and maintain its value so you can find the right buyer when the time comes to sell.

Give potential buyers confidence in the value of your home with Glasshouse.

7 Ways Homeowners Can Add Real Value to Their Properties

Whether we’re talking resale value or day-to-day enjoyment of your home, making upgrades and improvements are a sure way to enhance your property’s value. For resale, today’s buyers are often looking for up-to-date, well-maintained spaces and keeping your home in tip-top shape can help you stand out in a sea of available properties.

For homeowners considering making improvements, it can be hard to know which options and projects are best. The idea is to make changes that make the home work better for you and also increase the potential sale price down the road.

For these purposes, several upgrades and improvements are historically the best options.

glasshouse_7-ways-homeowners-can-add-real-value-to-their-properties_infographic

Click here to download the full infographic.

#1. Add Attic Insulation

Adding attic insulation is a project that returns as much as 116 percent of the cost. Depending on the size of the home, this can carry a price tag of $2000 and up, but you’ll recoup that cost and more, while also saving considerably on energy costs.

#2. Replace the Garage Door

A new garage door freshens up the whole façade of your home, instantly increasing curb appeal. The cost, which starts around $2000, can be nearly all recovered. On average, 91 percent of the cost will be reflected in an increase of resale value.

#3. Upgrade the Entry Door

Simply replacing a faded or out of date entry door is an instant facelift for the home, and you can expect to recoup over 90 percent of the cost. Depending on materials (wood and steel are popular options), the installed cost can range from $1500 to over $5000.

#4. Complete a Minor Kitchen Remodel

The kitchen and bath are the rooms that buyers look at most closely, so improvements here can have a big impact on selling price. Homeowners can recoup just over 80 percent of the cost of a minor kitchen remodel. This would involve new paint and flooring, countertops, hardware, and cabinet doors. The cost would run about $25,000 for this level of upgrade.  

#5. Window Replacement

An improvement that has a really profound effect on a home’s overall appearance, as well as energy efficiency is window replacement. You can expect to recoup 72 percent of costs associated with this upgrade, and it will significantly cut heating and cooling costs.

The price for window replacements depends upon the size of the house, and also on the material used. Vinyl windows are very low maintenance and prices begin around $15,000 for a small, 3-bedroom house. Wood frame windows are slightly more expensive, starting around $25,000.

#6. Update Your Home’s Entrance

For some homes, it makes sense to upgrade the entire entryway, rather than only replacing the front door.  You’ll recoup about 70 percent of costs on this project, and it can add tremendously to the home’s visual impact and first impression.

This involves replacing the entry door, adding sidelights and upgraded casings. New entry lights will complete the transformation. The cost for this project will start at $10,000.

#7. Regular, Documented Maintenance

The condition of a house for sale has tremendous influence on the sales price as well. No matter how many upgrades it has, a poorly maintained home will lose value. U.S. News reports that “someone will pay $15,000 more for a well-kept house that’s move-in ready than they will for a house that needs $5,000 worth of work.”

Without proactive maintenance, your home could lose 10 percent of its value, just because it looks worn. A study by researchers at the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University suggests that maintenance actually increases the value of a house by about 1% each year.

The money spent on maintenance, coincidentally, should average about one percent of the purchase price of your home. Making that investment is essential to prevent more costly repairs that can be necessary when systems or materials fail. Preventative maintenance is far more economical than reacting to damage or breakdowns.

The key to benefiting from conscientious maintenance when the time comes to sell is good record-keeping. Being able to show clear maintenance records will assure buyers that your home is in top shape. Glasshouse keeps meticulous records for each client, available electronically, when you need them, in real time.

Dedicated maintenance managers develop a schedule to handle all of the essential upkeep on your specific property, so you know that everything is covered. Beyond that, they keep detailed records of everything they do. So you can verify the filter size your furnace needs using your phone and you can also demonstrate to a potential buyer that your home has had an optimal level of maintenance. Smart move!