Latest Deck Trend: ‘Monster’ Size, Mega-luxury

couple watching the surroundings from their deckThe Article Courtesy of Executive Home Inspections!

Move over mini — the new trend in decking is anything but small.

When it comes to the size of their decks, the majority of Americans feel bigger is better — as multiple surveys indicate decks are getting larger and more luxurious, RealtorMag reports.

Today’s decks dwarf the outdoor spaces of decades ago, and blur the lines between indoor and outdoor spaces with features like full kitchens, dining and entertainment areas, says Kim Katwijk, owner of Deck Builders Inc. in Olympia, Washington. Katwijk is a 20-year veteran of the deck-building business and co-producer of the upcoming web series Outdoors Outdone.

Sizable Changes:

Katwijk says the intersection of two major home trends is driving the growth of “monster” decks: homes are getting larger and outdoor living has reached mainstream status.

Last year, more than half of all new homes were 2,400 square feet or larger, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s “Characteristics of New Housing” report. In 1973, the average home size was 1,660 square feet. As homes grew, deck sizes have, too. RealtorMag reports one survey found that since 2014, the average deck size grew by 53 percent in the Northeast, to 406 square feet.

The Making Of A ‘Monster’ Deck:

So what makes a deck project “monster”? Size, design, materials, and amenities all combine in this nationwide trend.

  • Size — “Monster” decks are big — really big. Mark Kalady, a decking sales manager for TAMKO Building Products, Inc., says he’s recently seen residential decks grow to 3,000 square feet. Depending on the amenities included, a deck 1,600-1,800 square feet could also be considered “monster.”
  • Kitchens/dining — Cooking and dining areas are among the most requested luxury features, deck builders say. Luxury grills, built-in pizza ovens and full-cook stoves and sinks are becoming more common.
  • Water/fire — Fire and water features such as hot tubs, lap pools, fireplaces and fire pits are part of the trend of bringing the indoors out. These focal points serve as relaxation, exercise, and entertaining stations.
  • Seating — Katwijk says “conversational pits” designed specifically for extended entertaining allow deck-users to enjoy time together away from the cooking and dining areas.
  • Multi-story — “Monster” decks often include multiple levels, with each level serving a different theme or intended use, such as dining, conversation, swimming, etc.
  • Technology — Many of today’s larger decks include living room areas equipped with big-screen TVs, wireless speakers and gaming systems. But the technology used on monster decks can extend to retractable glass walls and skylights, and even the deck boards themselves. Katwijk says the technology behind man-made decking products like Envision composite lumber offers the luxury appearance of exotic woods, but with minimal annual maintenance.

“People want an environment where they can be outdoors, yet have all the creature comforts of their home — essentially creating a space where they can do all the things that they love,” Katwijk says.

 

How to Build a DIY Deck with Bench Seats

 

Ron Henderson, Executive Home InspectionsExecutive Home Inspections has been providing Professional Home Inspection Services, Infrared Inspection (Thermal Imaging), 90 Day Warranty, Sewer Gard, Mold Inspection, Roof Leak Protection, Recall Check On Appliances, Water Heater and Furnace to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Edmonton, St Albert, from Westlock to Leduc and Stony Plan to Sherwood Park and everywhere in between since 2008.

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 (780) 651-3608. Thank You.

Plumbing The Possibilities: Kitchens, Showers And Baths Highlight Outdoor Living Spaces

a shower outdoorThe trend toward outdoor living spaces that mimic the look, comfort, convenience and functionality of indoor spaces doesn’t have to stop at the backyard grilling station. A growing number of homeowners are exploring new additions to their outdoor spaces, including outdoor showers and powder rooms, and even garage entertaining areas anchored by sinks and wetbars!

While traditional plumbing techniques might once have limited just how homey you could make outdoor versions of kitchens and bathrooms, modern up-flush plumbing cost-effectively solves many problems. Above-floor macerating plumbing systems, like those from SFA Saniflo, U.S.A., allow the easy addition of a sink, shower or toilet outside, regardless of where plumbing lines are located inside. They also eliminate the need to cut through concrete if you’ll be placing your project inside a garage or on a concrete patio. Finally, the compact systems fit perfectly into smaller spaces, such as inside cabinets in an outdoor kitchen or in an outdoor powder room.

Here are four water- and drainage-dependent, outdoor living features that are more possible and popular than ever, thanks to up-flush plumbing.

  • Kitchens

Outdoor kitchens are in high demand, and have evolved to be true mirrors of their indoor counterparts. In addition to cooking facilities, such as a grill, cooktop, or pizza oven, today’s outdoor kitchen incorporates running water.

While a sink is an obvious necessity in outdoor kitchens, traditional plumbing can limit the location, configuration, size and capabilities of the space. Up-flush plumbing affords homeowners greater flexibility in designing an outdoor kitchen.

For example, using a Sanivite drain pump to remove wastewater more than 150 feet horizontally allows homeowners to install their outdoor kitchen where they desire, rather than having to rely on gravity and grading to move water. The pump is also capable of draining up to three separate fixtures, meaning you can have a sink and a dishwasher in your outdoor kitchen.

  • Showers

If you have a pool or are lucky enough to live near the beach, an outdoor shower can keep sand and other messes from getting tracked into the house. However, traditional plumbing practices can limit where you can locate your outdoor shower. Up-flush plumbing systems use pumps to move wastewater away from the drain, so you can locate an outdoor shower where it’s most convenient.

Products like the Sanishower fit into a small footprint and its low profile is easily concealed beneath the shower floor. Yet the system can handle drainage of up to 20 gallons per minute.

  • Wetbars

Whether you would like to add a wetbar to a patio or tucked into a corner of the garage, up-flush plumbing can make the process easy and cost-effective. Above-floor plumbing can handle wastewater removal in spots where no drain is present or possible. This means you can easily install a wetbar on a wooden deck, concrete patio or anywhere else where installing a traditional drain would be costly and inconvenient.

  • Powder rooms

When is an extra bathroom ever a bad idea? Imagine hosting a backyard barbecue or pool party without the need to make guests traipse through the house to reach the facilities, or wait in line inside the house while missing all the fun going on outdoors. Exterior bathrooms can solve those dilemmas, and up-flush plumbing can make it easy to add a toilet and sink outside the house.

While tying into existing traditional plumbing lines might require you to snuggle your outdoor powder room against the side of a house, above-floor plumbing allows you to position it virtually anywhere that’s convenient and appealing for your needs. The Sanicompact is a decorative one-piece system that combines a classic china toilet bowl with a built-in macerator/pump that can handle drainage from the toilet and a nearby sink. – (BPT)

 

Modern Outdoor Living Space Ideas

 

Ron Henderson, Executive Home InspectionsExecutive Home Inspections has been providing Professional Home Inspection Services, Infrared Inspection (Thermal Imaging), 90 Day Warranty, Sewer Gard, Mold Inspection, Roof Leak Protection, Recall Check On Appliances, Water Heater and Furnace to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Edmonton, St Albert, from Westlock to Leduc and Stony Plan to Sherwood Park and everywhere in between since 2008.

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 (780) 651-3608. Thank You.

Home Innovations That Protect Against Moisture

projects to do at home against moistureThere is an insidious enemy that every homeowner dreads: moisture and the damage and degradation it can cause if left unchecked. Luckily, home improvement manufacturers have discovered new ways to prevent moisture from penetrating the home in the first place. With new home product innovations, there is no reason to suffer the costly and damaging effects of rain, snow or ice.

Unique fasteners add longevity to decks:

Innovative fastening methods can extend the life of your deck and provide a beautiful fastener-free surface that also stands up better to weather and moisture. Although there are several kinds of deck fasteners that conceal the fastener, edge fastening is the latest method. “With edge fastening, which delivers real screws into the edge of the deck boards with a series of unique guides and drill bits, fastener-related splitting and cracking can be eliminated,” said Greg Palmer, Director of Marketing at National Nail’s CAMO Edge Fastening. “This can add to deck life because moisture is not seeping into those cracks and splits, causing accelerated degradation.” He adds that the company has also expanded its warranty to cover the deck boards, as well as the screws. “Edge fastening works great for composite, PVC and all types of wood decks and creates a safer, fastener-free surface.”

Exterior cladding that resists moisture:

When searching for alternative exterior products that have beauty and curb appeal, make sure they repel moisture, especially near the foundation or near the gutters at the roof line. It is now possible to have the look of rich wood cedar shake or a variety of stone looks to cover foundations or to upgrade the ugly space under decks. New technology enables polymers to actually be stained or finished to be indistinguishable from the real thing. “There are new levels of realism in shakes that resemble true cedar,” said Ralph Bruno, president, Tando Building Products. “Beach House Shake” by Tando is an example of this superb realism — it installs easily and is impervious to moisture with little to no upkeep.” He adds that homeowners can keep moisture at bay and have luxurious exteriors without sacrificing beauty.

Protect your home in every season:

As if heavy spring rains and winter’s melt-off didn’t threaten homeowners’ properties enough, the hurricane season is expected to be more erratic than in years past — with a predicted early start and activity right into late fall. Thankfully, there are new, affordable technologies to quickly remove standing water from homeowners’ properties, keeping it away from their foundations. “Having both dependable sump pumps and multi-use pumps are the first lines of defense against storm damage,” said Jeremy Cantor, VP of Marketing for WAYNE Pumps. “One example is the innovative WaterBUG Submersible Water Removal Pump, which can remove large volumes of standing water quickly and easily from flat grassy yards, basement floors, and even tight spaces like window wells because it has both top and side water flow.” He emphasizes that having reliable multi-use and sump pumps in your home can save thousands of dollars in property damage and basement repairs.

Seal it or patch it to keep water out:

Water damage doesn’t have to happen, and by having the right caulks, sealants and hand tools, homeowners can easily do the job themselves and save on contractor costs. And, if moisture gets ahead of you, there are ways to repair the damage and prevent it from happening in the future. After winter, check windows, under door frames, gutter lines, concrete and other vulnerable areas that need sealing or patching. Very often, the simple act of sealing these areas with the right type of caulk can make a big difference in keeping out moisture. “One of the most popular sealants on the market is LIFETIME Ultra, which is a perfect solution for outdoor fix-ups after winter’s damage,” said Alan Crupper, VP of Marketing, Red Devil, Inc. He added that premium acrylics like this work very well and are paintable, unlike silicones. “You need a caulk that has a tight seal, won’t sag or crack no matter the temperature and especially for outdoors, one that adheres well to any surface.”

No matter the season, moisture can put your home and valuables at risk, so don’t delay in taking preventative action or repairing damage where it starts. With innovative new technologies on the market, you can easily protect your home from nature’s wrath. – (BPT)

 

Controlling Moisture During Winter

 

Ron Henderson, Executive Home InspectionsExecutive Home Inspections has been providing Professional Home Inspection Services, Infrared Inspection (Thermal Imaging), 90 Day Warranty, Sewer Gard, Mold Inspection, Roof Leak Protection, Recall Check On Appliances, Water Heater and Furnace to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Edmonton, St Albert, from Westlock to Leduc and Stony Plan to Sherwood Park and everywhere in between since 2008.

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 (780) 651-3608. Thank You.

Smaller Metros Take Action To Draw Millennials Fleeing Bigger Urban Areas

bigger urban areasAre millennials getting ready to leave big cities in droves? Some experts in demographics, economics and real estate have predicted the millennial exodus from huge urban areas has already begun. If true, the question remains: where will they go?

Some may head to the suburbs, like their parents and grandparents did before them, but many will look for a different lifestyle, one that combines the advantages of suburban living with the best features of city life. Some smaller metro areas, like Wausau, Wisconsin, are banking they have the blend of economic opportunity, urban elements, affordability and lifestyle that will attract migrating millennials.

The draw:

“Economy has always been a factor in generational migrations, and while the nature of work has changed, economic opportunity is still key to where people want to live,” says Christian Schock, director of planning, community and economic development for the City of Wausau. “Everyone wants to find a place with the winning formula of urban activities, affordability and lifestyle. Businesses want to put down roots in that environment, too, knowing it will draw a bigger pool of skilled workers.”

In recent years, the City of Wausau has made concerted efforts to position itself with both big city amenities and small town assets. By many accounts, the efforts are paying off. In a 2016 Pew Research Trust analysis of income equality nationwide, Wausau ranked first in the nation, with the middle class constituting 67 percent of the city’s total population. Wausau also ranked highest in Wisconsin and eighth nationally on Area Development magazine’s list of hot spots for new and expanding businesses.

The formula:

Small to mid-size metro areas that want to attract millennials, as well as businesses and investors, need to address key areas, including:

  • Urbanity

In addition to the recreational and entertainment amenities often highlighted when discussing millennials, many mid-sized metros lack the diversity of housing types that can be found in a larger city which millennials might be accustomed to.

One strategy Wausau has focused on specifically is diversifying housing product. The City funded local architects to design an urban rowhouse — a housing style which did not previously exist. For over a decade, leaders proactively assembled parcels for new riverfront apartments, and continually worked with developers to seek tax credits which could be applied to renovating historic properties into unique multifamily offerings.

  • Affordability

Rising real estate costs are among the factors that kept many millennials living in cities longer than they might have liked, experts say. Mid-sized metros have an edge in making home buying more affordable for millennials — and homebuyers of all generations.

Recognized as a leader in economic development homesteading, Wausau’s Live It Up program is a partnership between local employers and the city to provide employees with a no-interest down payment assistance loan for the purchase of a home. In the last two years, the program has allocated more than $200,000 in no-interest loans to local employees.

  • Place

Millennials who came of age in urban environments have a strong affinity for multifunctional spaces, and are drawn to communities that are a walkable mix of business, retail, industry and residential. While the specific physical space needs may change, their own strong sense of identity makes them inclined to seek a region that has its own established sense of self.

Wausau has leveraged more than $100 million in new downtown development over the past decade and currently has another $100 million under construction, emphasizing the city’s identity as a vibrant, growing core. Wausau’s Riverlife Village project is reclaiming more than 16 acres of urban waterfront along the Wisconsin River to house a new park, river wharf, mixed-use office space, biking paths, apartments and a family entertainment center.

Perhaps the greatest testament to a mid-sized metro’s success is the recommitment of historic businesses to local growth. Wausau Insurance was an early innovator in workers’ compensation insurance, which evolved out of the necessity for local lumber mills to share the risk of worker rehabilitation. Now part of Liberty Mutual, the company recently announced a $50 million regional facility expansion. Wausau Window and Wall Systems and Linetec, both in the building materials industry, also trace their roots to the lumber industry, and have completed over $60 million worth of expansion and doubled the size of their workforce within the past five years, providing a strong foundation for continued economic development.

“Any resident, millennial or not, is looking for ways to connect with their community. Both businesses and residents are discovering that smaller cities can even be more responsive and creative than larger metros,” says Robert Mielke, mayor of Wausau.

To learn more about how the City of Wausau is attracting residents from big cities, visit www.wausome.org. – (BPT)

 

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Ron Henderson, Executive Home InspectionsExecutive Home Inspections has been providing Professional Home Inspection Services, Infrared Inspection (Thermal Imaging), 90 Day Warranty, Sewer Gard, Mold Inspection, Roof Leak Protection, Recall Check On Appliances, Water Heater and Furnace to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Edmonton, St Albert, from Westlock to Leduc and Stony Plan to Sherwood Park and everywhere in between since 2008.

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 (780) 651-3608. Thank You.

Uniquely You Hues: Decorating With Your Personality In Mind

decorating style and ideasWhether you realize it or not, the colors you select for your home and your personal belongings tell a lot about your personality. In fact, according to a recent survey by PPG, 58 percent of 2,500 consumers surveyed agree that colors selected for their home, car and consumer products – such as appliances and electronics – reflect their personality and style all or most of the time. In addition, 70 percent of those surveyed agreed color selection is important when purchasing paint for their home. So, how do these color preferences come about?

PPG, a global leader in paint and color, knows that consumers’ color preferences aren’t random. One’s desire for certain colors can be quite personal, as each color evokes different emotions based on our unique experiences, current events, memories and style preferences. By determining the paint color schemes that positively reflect your personality, you can identify your unique style and ultimately add a more personal touch to your home décor.

Pulling inspiration from your wardrobe is a great way to determine your color preferences. Evaluating what clothing items are your go-to staples will help inform you of the colors and styles you find most appealing. Do you live in dark denim? Paint a rich navy accent wall in your dining room. Do you love your little black dress? A front door painted PPG Paints Black Magic (PPG1001-7) makes a stunning first impression. Your favorite vacation spot can also serve as a muse in realizing your design sense. If thoughts of weekends at your family cabin bring warm memories, then deep, earthy tones will likely evoke nostalgia in reminiscing about your favorite spot.

To make paint color selection easier, the PPG Paints brand offers five-color collections that help consumers see various paint hues in context with the colors of other existing home elements, such as flooring, tile and furniture. Seeing these five-color pairings next to each other allows you to easily visualize how wall and trim colors will work with other colors in a space. Arranged by personality, style and the five senses, the collections can serve as a compass for determining which groups of colors best fit your design preferences, and ultimately, your personality.

* If you are a peaceful person that craves calmness, blues may be your go-to hue.

The Blue Persuasion paint color collection by PPG Paints provides a selection of blue paint colors, including Stormy (PPG10-14), Aqua Smoke (PPG1034-5) and Gale Force (PPG10-08), all perfect for creating a tranquil atmosphere to make you feel at ease. By incorporating minimalist and modern décor elements, you can further create a sense of serenity and clarity within your space.

* Do you consider yourself charming and carefree?

Then you may describe your home décor as pretty in pink. The brand’s Pastel Wonders paint color collection involves a wonderful mix of pink, red and beige paint colors that create dreamy ambiances that exude elegance. Colors such as Peach Brick (PPG18-26) and Subdued (PPG1015-4) provide the perfect muted backdrop for a bathroom or entryway. Consider adding a farmhouse feel to the space with distressed wood elements to embrace country charm and create a modern rustic look.

* For spirited extroverts, plum, cherry and purple hues may adorn your space.

The PPG Paints Precious Tones paint color collection provides majestic shades that radiate passion and sophistication, such as Amethyst Haze (PPG13-23) and Heart’s Afire (PPG13-14). Show off your bold nature by adding a touch of glam with metallic elements to infuse drama into the space.

Using the five-color pairings alone or in conjunction with the PPG Paints The Voice Of Color game, you can discover exactly which color collection best suits your style. In examining the color schemes that are most attractive to you, the décor elements that make you feel at home, and the sentiments that you value most, among other qualifiers, you will determine which five-color collection best represents your décor preferences and ultimately which colors to incorporate into your home to best express your unique personality. Once your perfect colors are chosen, you can digitally (and easily) paint your space in a variety of colors using the PPG Paints online room painter tool. Upload your own photos, browse designer color collections, and explore popular colors by visiting www.ppgvoiceofcolor.com/digital-color/paint-color-visualizer to use the tool. – (BPT)

 

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Ron Henderson, Executive Home InspectionsExecutive Home Inspections has been providing Professional Home Inspection Services, Infrared Inspection (Thermal Imaging), 90 Day Warranty, Sewer Gard, Mold Inspection, Roof Leak Protection, Recall Check On Appliances, Water Heater and Furnace to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Edmonton, St Albert, from Westlock to Leduc and Stony Plan to Sherwood Park and everywhere in between since 2008.

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 (780) 651-3608. Thank You.

3 Super-simple Ways To Create A Barefoot Friendly Backyard Deck

mother and daughter bonding in the backyard deckWhen the sun is out and the sky is blue, your deck should be one of the most popular areas in your yard. But, if deck boards leave you with splinters or burned feet on hot summer days, there may be little incentive to spend time in your open-air getaway. The good news is this problem is easily preventable. With the right plan, you can build a barefoot-friendly backyard deck that will be the hub of your outdoor living space for years to come. Start with these three super-simple steps. It’s a choice your feet and pets will appreciate.

1. Create a smooth surface underfoot

Few building materials take more punishment than decking. Whether it spends hours under scorching sunlight, withstands wintertime blizzards or gets soaked during water fights and pool parties, your decking is bound to take abuse from the elements. Selecting deck boards that can withstand these harsh conditions is critical to ensuring a smooth surface underfoot.

Exposure to moisture and the sun’s UV rays can deteriorate wood decking, particularly if it’s not maintained regularly and correctly. While composite decking provides greater durability, several brands have been known to rot, crack or warp as a result of moisture intrusion.

To keep your deck looking good no matter what the weather, consider composite decking made of small-size wood fibers that are fully encased in plastic. This protects against moisture intrusion all the way to the board’s core, and such boards will not rot or warp, preventing dangerous cracks and splinters from forming. To create an even smoother surface, install the composite deck boards with hidden fasteners. This technique eliminates popped nails, dimples from screws and other hazards to warm-weather fun.

2. Beat the heat

Once you’ve narrowed your composite decking selection to brands that can withstand the toughest Mother Nature can throw their way, look for ways to beat the heat. When the sun is blazing, the plastic in composite decking can retain heat and become uncomfortable to walk on with bare feet.

One great way to avoid the hot-foot hustle dance without compromising on your deck’s surface appearance is to use composite decking with innovative cooling technology. “Homeowners know even the most stunning composite deck will disappoint if it’s too warm to walk on during the peak days of summer,” said Randy Gottlieb, A.E.R.T. president. “Recently introduced products like ChoiceDek Premium composite decking with CoolDeck technology help solve this problem. By combining a durable core with a cap that is specifically engineered to optimize heat reflection and minimize heat absorption, the boards make for a more comfortable deck on sunny days.”

If you live in an area where the sun’s rays are hot year-around, you may also want to consider using shade structures to help provide relief from direct sunlight and reduce the temperature on deck. Pergolas, lattices and breezy overhead fabrics can block the sun beautifully and add to your deck’s style.

3. Prevent slips on deck

If you’re installing decking near a pool or hot tub, live in close proximity to the water or experience frequent rain, it’s also important to protect against slips. Composite deck boards with a textured, wood-embossed surface have a higher coefficient of friction and better slip resistance than PVC and composite decking products with a non-embossed surface. The added traction will help friends and family stay steady on their feet as they enjoy your outdoor living area, and help ensure the party never has to pause for injuries.  – (BPT)

 

Executive Home Inspections has been providing Professional Home Inspection Services, Infrared Inspection (Thermal Imaging), 90 Day Warranty, Sewer Gard, Mold Inspection, Roof Leak Protection, Recall Check On Appliances, Water Heater and Furnace to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Edmonton, St Albert, from Westlock to Leduc and Stony Plan to Sherwood Park and everywhere in between since 2008.

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.

Engage Kids’ Love Of Nature Through Bird Feeding, Ditch Their Devices And Get Them Outdoors

kids and mom feeding birdsIs it difficult to pry your kids away from their electronic devices to get them outdoors? From tots to teens, today’s kids love their electronics. After all, where could you find anything to compete with the bright sights and sounds of their favorite video game? The answer may be no farther than your backyard and the brightly colored songbirds visiting during warm weather.

Interacting with nature helps kids in many ways, from helping them understand science concepts and care for the environment, to lifelong physical and mental health benefits. One of the easiest, most enjoyable ways for children to interact with nature is to feed wild birds right in their backyard.

“Feeding birds, planting gardens, anything you do with children that’s nature-oriented helps them understand their connection to the natural world,” says Elaine Cole, president of Cole’s Wild Bird Products. Cole learned her own love of wild birds by feeding them with her father, company founder and birding expert, Richard Cole.

Cole’s offers some tips to help engage kids’ love of nature through bird feeding:

* Get kids off the couch, ditch their devices and introduce them to their backyard! Tell children what type of location is best for a birdfeeder, then let them hunt for the spot. Choose a location where a feeder can be seen from indoors (so they can enjoy watching their feathered friends), yet is safe from predators. Let math and critical thinking skills come into play by measuring the distance from the door to the feeder and from the feeder to the nearest shrubs where predators could hide and trees where birds can shelter.

* Take the opportunity to teach the importance of good nutrition — for the child and the bird! Explain how good nutrition helps living creatures stay healthy and energized. Help them understand the nutritional value of food they eat by explaining what birds like to eat and how birds need a healthy diet of nutritious food options like Cole’s Wild Bird Feed to support their health and well-being.

* Help kids understand wild birds have food preferences just as they do. Talk about how some birds like to eat bugs, grubs and worms, while others prefer berries and some like seed.

* The feeder you choose will influence the kind of birds that visit. Many types of birds will visit a bowl feeder, and its open shape makes it quick and easy for kids to fill with any type of feed and clean. Giving children the task of filling and cleaning feeders can teach them responsibility and basic life skills, plus they’ll take ownership of the feeder and nurturing backyard birds.

* You can also use bird feeding to help kids understand concepts of finance, including spending their money wisely. Try an experiment with them; buy a bag of cheap birdseed, fill the feeder and watch what happens. Fewer birds will visit and a mound of waste — the filler in cheap feed — will pile up under the feeder. Then replace the cheap feed with a Cole’s seed mix and observe results. Kids will see plenty more birds visiting and less waste under the feeder. The experiment can help teach kids that not everything low priced is a good deal.

Ultimately, feeding wild birds should be fun for families. Here are some types of bird feed that should appeal to children’s interests:

* Suet — While today’s high-energy suet comes in different, convenient forms, like Cole’s Nutberry Suet, and Suet Kibbles, kids will love the idea of serving up a big hunk of fat in the form of a Suet cake. Kids can stick it directly on tree bark and branches, which they’ll find fun!

* Seeds — Many songbirds prefer seeds. Serving high-quality seed, like black oil sunflower, can help attract songbirds. Learn more about seed mixes and birds who love them.

* Dried mealworms — The early bird may get the worm, but birds, such as bluebirds, flickers and nuthatches, prefer a tasty treat like dried mealworms. Kids will get a kick out of filling up feeders with something yucky-looking for their feathered friends.

“My dad got me hooked on bird feeding by challenging me to identify as many birds at the feeder as possible,” Cole says. “I did the same thing with my kids. My dad recently gave my 10-year-old daughter a birding journal. She loves to identify all the birds she knows and anything interesting about them.

“Kids taking part in attracting birds to their backyard is great fun; they’ll love getting out of the house, taking charge of their new feathered friends and they’ll learn a lot of good lessons through the process.”  –  (BPT)

 

Executive Home Inspections has been providing Professional Home Inspection Services, Infrared Inspection (Thermal Imaging), 90 Day Warranty, Sewer Gard, Mold Inspection, Roof Leak Protection, Recall Check On Appliances, Water Heater and Furnace to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Edmonton, St Albert, from Westlock to Leduc and Stony Plan to Sherwood Park and everywhere in between since 2008.

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.

5 Renovation Resolutions For Your Home This Year

dining area designIt’s no secret that springtime is synonymous with spruce-ups. But, as is often the case, homeowners hone in on prettying-up patios and backyards with fresh florals and new outdoor furniture, leaving the inside of the home as “same old, same old.” This spring, resolve to reinvent your home from the inside out with stylish décor sure to add the wow-factor it deserves.

The five refreshing projects below will to help create a beautiful setting worthy of the new season — and beyond.

Address those kitchen cabinets.

The cabinets are a major focal point in a kitchen, and even the smallest changes can have a major impact on its look and feel. Start with a subtle, functional update by replacing old hardware with modern metal accents. And, for a slightly bolder change, consider a fresh coat of paint to infuse a new design persona throughout the space.

Set the perfect scene.

Take advantage of the spring weather and longer days with perfect natural lighting. Hunter Douglas’ PowerView Motorization is a sophisticated wireless operating system that allows homeowners to program their shades to automatically adjust throughout the day to make the most of natural light as it changes. Start by creating scenes — different combinations of shade positions in one room or throughout the house — to achieve perfect room lighting, window privacy and energy-efficiency. Then, schedule the scenes to activate at the times you choose, like opening to greet each morning’s sunrise, closing mid-day to deflect the heat of the afternoon sun, and closing each night to protect your privacy. PowerView motorized shades also seamlessly integrates with other sophisticated whole-home automation systems to add another level of convenience to everyday living and greater connectivity to your smart home.

Add comfort and style to hardwood floors.

Hardwood floors are a popular style for any home, and adding comfort to the chic–but sometimes unforgiving–look is easy with the right accessories. Place comfortable, eye-catching rugs in key areas throughout the home, including the foyer or beneath the kitchen and dining room tables. These subtle accents will create a striking contrast, soften acoustics and add stylish comfort for your feet.

Keep cool as the weather warms.

Window treatments can serve as great accessory or accent, and the right window dressings will provide beauty and function in one. With Duette Architella honeycomb shades from Hunter Douglas, sophisticated fabric choices add a modern touch to any space, while its unique cell-within-a-cell design can significantly reduce the amount of solar heat transferred through windows to keep you cooler as the summer heat kicks in. This smart upgrade lends an elegant touch to kick off air conditioning season.

Build the bathroom of your dreams.

The bathroom is supposed to be an oasis, and if it’s lacking in spa-like comforts, now is the perfect time to whip it into shape. Enjoy a luxurious massage without stepping out of the house by swapping out outdated shower heads with high-pressured and multi-setting ones that transform water into soft mists, relaxing pulses, or powerful cascade indoors.

With these easy décor updates, making your home more comfortable and stylish is a bright idea sure to last all season and through the year. To learn more about PowerView Motorization and Duette Architella honeycomb shades, visit www.hunterdouglas.com. – (BPT)

Executive Home Inspections has been providing Professional Home Inspection Services, Infrared Inspection (Thermal Imaging), 90 Day Warranty, Sewer Gard, Mold Inspection, Roof Leak Protection, Recall Check On Appliances, Water Heater and Furnace to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Edmonton, St Albert, from Westlock to Leduc and Stony Plan to Sherwood Park and everywhere in between since 2008.

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.

Here’s How To Tap Into Your Home’s Not-so-hidden Potential

couple cooking together and looks happyYour most valuable asset is around you all the time. It’s above you, it’s below you and in many cases you don’t realize how much it can do for you.

According to the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., “Americans have a staggering amount of untapped equity in their homes.” How much? Altogether, $11,030,000,000,000. That’s 11 trillion, 30 billion dollars.

Yet despite this huge wealth possessed by homeowners, using it isn’t as simple as writing a check. You have to capitalize on your home’s equity.

What Is Home Equity?

Your home’s equity represents the difference between its current market value and the money that you owe on it.

Let’s say, for example, your home has a market value of $200,000, you made a down payment of $40,000 and you took out a $160,000 mortgage. At that point your equity is $40,000. You can always calculate this number by taking your home’s initial price and subtracting the amount you still owe.

Now, let’s say 10 years later you have paid off $60,000 of your $160,000 mortgage. At this point you still owe $100,000 on your home’s initial price of $200,000 so your equity is $100,000, assuming the home’s value has remained the same.

A little at a time

Each month when you make a mortgage payment, some of your money goes toward interest, some goes toward real estate taxes and homeowner’s insurance (if the lender is collecting for these and making the payments on your behalf), and some goes toward paying off the mortgage itself. This last portion grows your equity because it subtracts from the amount you still owe.

Your home equity can also grow if your home increases in value because the amount you still owe has not changed. A rise in value may be due to increased home prices in your area and/or improvements you make to the home.

Market home prices may rise and fall from one year to the next but given enough time, most real estate tends to increase in value. For example, current economic forecasts from CoreLogic project a 4.8 percent increase in home prices year over year in 2017.

Gaining access to your equity

Now that you understand what equity is and how much equity you have, your next question may be “How do I use it?”

Your first step is to contact a knowledgeable mortgage professional. They will be able to answer your questions as well as show you loans that use your home as collateral. You’ll want to do your research to determine which type of loan is best for you. You should also take the time to compare interest rates, offers and loan features.

And if you are age 62 or older, you are also eligible for additional home equity options such as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), which is an FHA-insured Reverse Mortgage loan. This loan may be taken as a lump sum, a line of credit, through fixed monthly payments or a combination and the loan can never be frozen or reduced.

The equity in your home empowers you with several financing options and the specifics of each loan may vary from lender to lender, so ask questions and do your own research. Once you understand all your options you’ll be able to determine which loan offering allows you to make the most of your most valuable asset.

To learn about HECM Reverse Mortgage loans and other special home-equity options available to homeowners 62 and older, visit www.reversemortgage.org/HomeEquity.  –  (BPT)

 

Executive Home Inspections has been providing Professional Home Inspection Services, Infrared Inspection (Thermal Imaging), 90 Day Warranty, Sewer Gard, Mold Inspection, Roof Leak Protection, Recall Check On Appliances, Water Heater and Furnace to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Edmonton, St Albert, from Westlock to Leduc and Stony Plan to Sherwood Park and everywhere in between since 2008.

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.

Changing Weather Patterns Leave Homeowners Underinsured

flooded areaThe U.S. has experienced significant shifts in the frequency, severity and locations of natural disasters — including floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires — during the past decade.

As a result, more than 800 emergency or disaster declarations were made in the U.S. from 2005–2015, according to FEMA data. The insured losses stemming from natural catastrophes such as these average $24 billion annually.

Homeowners face severe risks from these disasters, yet many have not connected the dots between these shifts and the impact on their home insurance needs. A recent survey commissioned by the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) found that fewer than 22 percent of homeowners view weather patterns or disasters as an important factor when updating their homeowners insurance policy. Missing these links can be costly.

“Changing weather patterns can dramatically impact what insurance should be carried on a property,” says Mike Consedine, NAIC chief executive officer. “When homeowners don’t regularly review their policies, important gaps in coverage can be missed. You should re-evaluate your risk profile at least once a year to ensure your existing homeowners policy provides the protection you need.”

Despite Consedine’s recommendation, the survey revealed that 56 percent of homeowners have not reviewed their insurance policies in more than a year. Fourteen percent are unsure when — if ever — they last reviewed their policies.

If it’s been awhile since your last insurance review, there’s no better time than the present. When evaluating your policy, consider the following questions:

1. Am I now at risk?

Are earthquakes, wildfires or other disasters now a threat in my state or region? If you live in Oklahoma, for example, the risk of earthquakes has significantly increased in the last decade. Do I need flood insurance? Some incidents such as floods are not covered by a typical homeowners policy, so you’ll need additional coverage.

2. What has changed in my home?

If you’ve moved in with your significant other or an adult child has returned home, consider the impact their belongings will have on your coverage. Create a home inventory and update it annually. The NAIC’s MyHome Scr.App.book app (available for iPhone and Android) lets you quickly capture images and descriptions of your possessions. Keep in mind personal items like jewelry, antiques and artwork may require special insurance coverage.

3. Do I save my receipts?

Take photos or save receipts from major purchases and store them in a safe place away from your house or apartment. Quick access to these receipts will make filing a claim much easier.

4. What home improvements have I made?

Renovations and additions can change the value of your home. Make sure your homeowners insurance policy reflects your home’s current value. Some security or smart home features may qualify you for premium discounts.

5. How can I learn more about being prepared?

Get educated about your insurance options now to avoid surprises later. Insure U’s new Disaster Prep Guides can help determine the best course of action before, during and after a disaster strikes. The guides include information and tips for tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes and wildfires.

For unbiased information and resources to help you rethink insurance, visit insureuonline.org. For insurance information specific to where you live, contact your state insurance commissioner.  –  (BPT)

 

Executive Home Inspections has been providing Professional Home Inspection Services, Infrared Inspection (Thermal Imaging), 90 Day Warranty, Sewer Gard, Mold Inspection, Roof Leak Protection, Recall Check On Appliances, Water Heater and Furnace to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Edmonton, St Albert, from Westlock to Leduc and Stony Plan to Sherwood Park and everywhere in between since 2008.

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.