Landscaping Your Home The Right Way

When selling or improving your home, the interior of the house is the place which we spend most of the time worrying about.  Is the kitchen up to date with the appliances? Are the countertops in good condition?  Is the bathroom on the first floor well maintained?

If selling the home your priority this year, make sure the outside of the home is being taken care of, and the landscaping makes a good impression to the potential buyer.  Shrubs, gravel, unleveled driveways, branches hanging from trees, are some of the easy to spot maintenance jobs you need to do before putting your home for sale.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


7 Landscaping Trends to Avoid When Selling Your Home

Aside from location, location, location, your home’s landscaping is one of the first things to make an impression on a potential buyer. And it’s not just curb appeal, although that is important.

Amenities like an outdoor fire pit or brick barbecue pit are not all created equal. The same goes for trees, shrubs, and outdoor lighting. If you don’t want to spend some real money on dressing up the outdoor space around the house, then don’t spend anything at all.

Jennifer Geddes at Realtor.com has created a list of seven landscaping trends to avoid as you get your home ready to sell. Her list follows.

Landscaping laid out with a ruler
Nice, neat lines used to be the trend for planting flower beds and bushes, but today’s outdoor look is much more natural.

The same cheap trees everyone has
Choose trees wisely, including eastern red cedar, sugar maple, Colorado blue spruce, and myrtle. Steer clear of the ones that rain leaves and needles (pecan, oak, sweet gum, eastern white pine), and your look will be neater and easier to maintain. And when it comes to placement in your yard, think strategically.


Certain landscaping materials prone to fast-spreading fire, officials say

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – What materials do you use in landscaping your yard? Myrtle Beach Fire Rescue released a new public service announcement warning homeowners and property management companies against using pine straw and similar products.

“When landscaping, use noncombustible material like rock instead of pine straw or mulch,” urges Lt. Jonathan Evans with MBFR. “If it can catch on fire, don’t let it touch your house.”

Fire officials warn that it’s not just landscaping material that can fuel fires near your home.

“Dry grass can be fuel for wildfires, so keep your grass and lawns hydrated and maintained,” suggests Lt. Evans.


Consider investing some green in your landscaping to increase your home’s worth

SIOUX CITY | If you want to turn your backyard into an oasis as seen on HGTV, be prepared to spend some money.

Mike Lutt, owner of Country Nursery Inc. in Wayne, Nebraska, said that makeover could cost anywhere from $1,000 to more than $200,000 depending on your wants, needs and square footage. The average cost of an outdoor patio is $12,000 to 15,000.

“People are going from wooden decks and synthetic Terex decking to a raised paver patio for the same cost,” said Lutt, who said multi-level raised paver patios allow homeowners to incorporate more elements and designs into their outdoor spaces. “It used to be just slapped up against the house. Now, they bring it out further.”

Lutt said there are benefits to using VERSA-LOK retaining walls, made of high-strength, low-absorption concrete, and Willow Creek Paving Stones, composed of high-strength aggregates. He said these materials don’t have to be stained or sealed as wood does, and they don’t fade.

Protecting Your Basement From Spring Rains

Spring weather is here and along with it comes the rain.  It is inevitable that as homeowners we want to ensure the basement of our home is dry and free of humidity, mold or mildew, and that is a safe place to spend time with our kids.  Knowing if you have a problem with your basement, is the first step in solving a problem that may go undetected for years.  The humidity in your basement may be an early indicator to problems with water leaking into the basement of your home.  Taking care of humidity issues right away, ensure your foundation won’t sustain damages that are more troublesome and can jeopardize the structure of your home.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


Many people associate a wet basement with seeing water, but that’s not the only symptom of a potential problem, according to Wes Pfleiger, marketing manager at Mid-Atlantic Waterproofing.

In addition to water seepage, loose or crumbling mortar between stones and plaster, mold and mildew, musty odors and cracks or dark spots in basement walls and floors can all be signs of a basement with a water problem.

Mid-Atlantic Waterproofing is primed to educate consumers as a vendor at the Northeastern PA Home and Better Living Show April 8 and 9 at the Lodge at Montage, 1000 Montage Mountain Road in Scranton.

The event is presented by the Home Builders Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania and sponsored by Scranton Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram, Window World and Bath Fitter/Kitchen Saver.

Pfleiger said trained professionals from the 52-year-old company will be on hand at the event to answer “any and all questions” about basement waterproofing. Mid-Atlantic Waterproofing will also offer free, no-obligation basement inspections for home show visitors.


Basement flooding season begins

(WTNH) — I have been lucky to never see basement flooding in my house, but whether you’ve lived in your house for 20, 30, or even 40 years, it does not mean it can’t happen to you. So how do you prevent it from happening in the future, and if it does, what can you do to make sure it doesn’t happen again? Well let’s find out.

Weeks of above average rainfall and lots of snow melt have helped us hugely to lower our drought numbers, but with a saturated ground and more rain on the way, your basement may flood over the coming weeks, so what can you do?

“It’s real imperative for residents throughout the state to be looking for signs of water seepage. Is it damp around cracks, and the floor wall seam. Is it damp to the touch? These are all indications that the soil around the outside of the house is over saturated and it could be poised to flood any time,” said Mike Lane, Sales, Connecticut Basement Systems.

There are some things you can do to help prevent this. Buy gutter extenders to keep water from dripping close to your foundation, and try to make sure that if you live on a hill, rain water gets routed away from your home. If all else fails, call a professional.


Home Repairs That Can Save You Money

Maintenance is the key to keep your cars running smoothly, your appliances working, and your house looking beautiful.  There are a few maintenance tips for your home that can help you avoid costly repairs later.  Cleaning the gutters of your home and making  sure they are not loose or clogged can save you repairs  due to leaking water to the basement, or damage done to the roof. Making sure the water downspouts adapters are firmly attached, and are taking the water away from the foundation of your home, can save you from having water sitting around the foundation and eventually finding a way to the basement. Prevention is the key to saving hundreds or even thousands of dollars in unnecessary repairs.

For more about this and other topics, follow the links below.


5 Home Repairs to Make Now to Avoid Problems Later

If you put off fixing a wobbly fence post or squeaky door hinge, it’s probably not going to end in a homeowners insurance claim. Other home repairs, if left unchecked, can quickly domino into major disasters. Water is a factor—if not the primary cause—in the majority of high-risk situations. Here’s how to identify priority home repairs and handle them at their source:

Runaway Rainwater

Telltale signs: Rain pouring over gutters and puddling along foundation walls.
Why you need to act: Water can deteriorate siding and foundation walls, eventually finding its way to interior spaces and damaging them.
What to do: Inspect the entire gutter system for clogs and corrosion; you can clear clogs yourself, but if your gutters are corroded, you’ll want to talk to a pro about having them replaced. Check that the soil around your home’s foundation slopes away from the house at least 1 inch per foot for 6 feet or more. Regrade the soil if the slope is insufficient.


Tips from the happy homeowner playbook: Don’t let your cash go down the drain or out the window.

Whether your live in a 19th-century farmhouse or 1990s colonial, chances are you’re leaving real money on the table each year in the form of excessive energy consumption. Simple behavioral changes, such as turning off power-hungry video game consoles, can add up to serious savings. The following energy-efficiency advice also includes high-hanging fruit, like upgrading your water heater and making the investment in rooftop solar.

Eliminate Drafts

Here’s an easy way to pinpoint air leaks in your home that make for drafty rooms in the winter and can drive up annual heating costs by $100 or more. First, turn on every exhaust fan in the house, including a whole-house fan and kitchen range hood, and hold an incense stick up to suspected leaks around windows, doors, and even electrical outlets. If the smoke blows sideways, you have a leak large enough to undermine your home’s comfort and efficiency. For around $30 worth of caulk, weatherstripping, and expandable foam sealant, you can plug the leaks for good.


How to Afford All Your 2017 Home Improvements

A leaky roof or a sagging gutter can be hard to ignore. The same goes for some old-school wood paneling in your den or that hideous palm tree wallpaper you put up in a (misguided) attempt to recreate your honeymoon. Unfortunately, most home improvements don’t exactly come cheap.

In fact, it may even feel like you’re basically saving up another down payment on your home to fix it up. There are some ways, however, to sock some dollars away and have your new sink and bathtub in the new year, too.

Here’s how to work some much-needed home improvements into your 2017 budget.

1. Save

Sure, you may feel inclined to rush into renovations — and when it comes to certain home repairs, things must be readily done. But it still behooves you to save where you can before crossing things off the to-do list. One trick?

“[Set] an automatic transfer from your checking account to your savings account to take place every two weeks on your payday so that the money leaves your account before you ever have a chance to spend it,” Brian Davis, director of education for real estate blog SparkRental, said.


 

Is Your Sump Pump Working?

This winter in Northeast Ohio hasn’t been bad.  Temperatures are nothing compared to what they used to be a few years back, and snow accumulation has been minimal — my daughter is still waiting for enough snow to build our annual igloo — and unless February brings too much snow to make up for January’s, the climate in Northeast Ohio is not too shabby.

Spring will come sooner than you think.  The rains will undoubtedly come too, and with the rains come flooded basements in many homes around here.  We are humans, and busy humans to boot.  We don’t check many things around the home, unless we have an emergency or pay someone to do it for us.  For example: When was the last time you checked the sump pump to make sure it works? Do you know if you have one?  A sump pump can be an incredible help if you have a flooded basement, and making sure is in working condition can be very beneficial for your whole family.

If you have a sump pump and are wondering what to do, these are some of the basic things you need to check to make sure it’s working properly.

  1. The electrical system of the sump pump can suffer from damages over time.  Power surges during storms can damage it and leave you with a sump pump that no longer works.
  2. If you are testing the sump pump, make sure you go outside to make sure that is discharging the water.
  3. Replace the battery every couple years.
  4. Make sure the motor of your sump pump is not making strange noises when running it.  If it is, follow the manufactures’s instruction to fix the problem, or call a knowledgeable company to fix it for you.
  5. Make sure the drain lines are clean, and will not block the water exits.
  6. Maintenance is key for your sump pump.  The manufacture’s instruction booklet can give you clear instructions on how to properly maintaining your sump pump, and keep it working for years.

If you have already one installed, checking it before the rains arrive can be a very helpful aid when you most need it. Look into the manufacture’s booklet to know what steps to take before you test it, or call a knowledgeable person or company to do it for you.

Looking at any Home Depot, or Lowes store, you will find that there are hundreds of sump pumps to choose from.  Make sure that if you are going to replace the one you have, you need to make sure it is the right one for your home.  A too little or too big sump pump for your home cannot be good and even shorten its life. Talk to a professional if you are unsure what to buy.


Flood Sensors and Other Solutions For Your Basement

When we offer articles in this magazine about cost effective solutions to waterproof your basement, and you think you can do the job by yourself, we want you to think carefully first about the problems that you are facing.  If your basement’s problem is only humidity, a humidifier will do wonders to the place.  If on the other hand you have water sitting on the basement floor or there is seeping as well, the problem is no longer as easy to fix.  A basement waterproofing company with a long history in your community can be the only solution you have.  Contact us, we will offer you a  hassle free consultation for your basement needs.


Flood sensors for your basement

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: D-Link’s Water Sensor is smartly designed and features all the important perks to make it an effective flood detector.

The bad: D-Link’s only real weakness is that it relies on being plugged in, which means power outages are its Achilles’ heel.

The cost: $57 to $90

The bottom line: The D-Link Water Sensor is one of the best flood sensors on the market. If you’re considering buying such a device, this should be the first option on your list — especially if you don’t already use a smart-home hub.

Fibaro Flood Sensor

Cnet rating: 4 stars out of 5

The good: The Fibaro Flood Sensor combines clever design with an open interface, allowing users to creatively pair it with sirens, complementary sensors and more.

The bad: The tilt sensor can be hit-or-miss, and the price is definitely steep, especially if you want to monitor multiple areas at risk of water damage.

The cost: $60

The bottom line: The Fibaro won’t be for everyone, but its versatility and reliable design make it one of the best water sensors for homes at risk of flooding.


Wet basement? Try these cost-effective solutions before calling a contractor.

Wet basement? Thinking about calling a basement waterproofing contractor? Stop.

Many contractors will propose the installation of expensive interior drainage systems — even if you don’t need one — when most moisture problems can be solved through less expensive means. You’re more likely to get good results and save a lot of money by exploring other solutions and hiring a basement waterproofing contractor only if absolutely needed. If your home was built within the past few years, check the builder’s warranty for clauses on seepage.

Most basements get wet when rainwater runs toward the walls of houses from roofs, yards and driveways. So your first step is to force it to run away from your home.

Start by cleaning your gutters, repairing holes, and making sure they slope toward downspouts and have not come loose from the house, allowing water to fall directly from the roof to the ground. Test downspouts to make sure they spill water at least four feet away from the house.


What To Do If You Have Water In Your Basement

There is an approximate rain precipitation in the Akron area of about 36.06 inch every year. That’s nothing compared to the precipitation that Aberdeen Reservoir, Washington gets of 130.6 inches of rain every year.  But, the 36 inches of rain a year that we get can still play havoc with your home if your basement has issues.  There are many homes in the Northeast Ohio area that are older homes, and their basements need work.  But, if you have a flooded basement after a heavy rain, do you know what to do first? Below there are three articles about basement flooding and what to do right away.  If you need help finding a solution to your basement problems, contact us, we will be happy to talk to you.


Niles homeowners say flooded basements a recurring problem

NILES, Ohio –

Flooding on Thursday caused some problems for Niles homeowners, and they say this isn’t the first time.

21 News arrived at a home on Brown Street after the rain had passed but, water was still gushing out from the home’s basement pump.

The owner Joan Grusha said the pump became necessary after she spent $14,000 waterproofing the basement but, still experienced flooding.

“Every time is rains real hard we get it,” said Grusha who has lived at the home for 48 years. “I have had water in my basement, I don’t know how many times I’ve had to go down there and clean it up even after I had it waterproofed.”

Just around the corner on East First Street, Pamela Wolfe said her flooding problems are also on repeat.

“My furnace is out, my hot water tank is under water, my washer, my dryer, they’re all brand new because I had to replace them from the last time,” said Wolfe.

And although she said she followed advice to have her drain cleaned out, she fears that only paved the way for more overflow. Her main concern is that the flooding comes with more than just water.

“It’s sewage and water. Somehow they’re connected together, they said ‘Oh when these houses were built they probably hooked your sewer and your storm sewers together.’ There’s been things floating in my basement that weren’t from me,” said Wolfe.


Draining the water too fast could cause the collapse of the cellar walls, floors, and foundation of the house. The water must be drained slowly to equalize pressure on both sides of the wall.

Although the flood has receded, water still in the ground outside your house may be pushing hard against the outside of your basement walls. The water in your basement is pushing back. If you drain your basement faster than the water in the ground is draining, the outside pressure may be greater than the inside pressure and may cause the foundation or the floor to crack or collapse.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Iowa Emergency Management Division (IEMD) recommend the following procedures be followed when pumping a basement to avoid serious damage, collapse, or injury:

  • Begin pumping when floodwaters are no longer covering the ground outside.
  • Pump the water out one foot at a time. Mark the water level and wait overnight.

Water & wind could lead to leaky basement

The tiniest bit of ice can create the biggest problems. For the second morning in a row, the commute was slow because of slick roads. Now, incoming rain could lead to problems inside your house.

Columbus resident, Robert Giehl gave a tour of his basement while it was being waterproofed. A crew had to do repairs on the inside and outside after he discovered water had seeped into his walls and floor. He smelled mildew and knew there was a problem.

Scott Seneff of EverDry Waterproofing says water in the basement is more common in the winter than you might think. The ground is expanding and we are also seeing a triple threat this week of melting snow, power outages and rain.

Scott says you need to attack the water from the outside and inside.

“You should have a sump pump with a back up battery system attached to it, that you can get a few hours up to a day or two in case you lose power.”


 

Home Improvement Projects For 2017

We hope you a had a great 2016, and if you made New Year’s resolutions, and home improvements made the list, then this is a good place to start.  For many families, home improvements that they can do themselves is economically sound, and they do tackle those improvements themselves, but there are some home improvements that hiring a professional to do them, is the smart thing to do.  Basement waterproofing is one of those improvements that you do need to hire a professional company to do it, and we will be happy to offer you a free estimate to see if we meet your needs. Contact us, we’ll he happy to talk to you.


5 Home Improvement Projects for the New Year

It happens every January. Motivated by the sense of a fresh start for tackling those home improvement projects that never got done the year before, many of my clients come to me with a wish list of to-dos–primarily inspired by the latest trends in design and remodeling. This year I thought I would beat them to the punch and compile my own list of what I think contractors–and DIYers–will be called upon to do the most in 2013.

1. Install Garage Organization Systems

Why it’s popular: Getting organized is probably the top New Year’s resolution of home improvement enthusiasts. What’s great about starting out with the garage is that the area can then serve a workshop for other projects. Plus, there are just tons of options to choose from in home improvement stores.

Expert tip: It may sound obvious, but remember to leave room for car.

2. Update Lighting

Why it’s popular: Again, because there are so many great options to select from. Home owners can add recessed lights, spotlights, ceiling fans (with light fixtures), under cabinet lights… the list of interesting styles of lights available looks to continue to grow in 2013. My personal favorite for really making an impact fast is the addition of a tube skylight. They can be installed in less than a day and they bring sunlight directly into the home, but they have the profile of a recessed light, so they won’t draw too much focus in the room.


Three easy home improvement projects you can tackle right now

During the milder months — like summer and fall — homeowners naturally tend to prioritize working on the exterior of their houses, because the weather is nice. But in the winter, we’re more apt to tackle smaller home improvement projects inside. This seems like a no brainer, right? After all, no one wants to redo landscaping when it’s 35 degrees outside.

With that in mind, Chip Gaines, host of HGTV’s Fixer Upper and lead contractor/owner of Magnolia Homes, offers these three easy home improvement projects to help you make the most of your winter indoors.

Repaint your walls

While you’re holed up inside the house decorating for the holidays or just escaping the cold, you may start noticing places on your walls in high-traffic areas with one too many scuff marks or kids’ grimy handprints. Whether they come from the kids, the pets or even yourself, erasing them is quick and easy.

KILZ Hide-All primer and sealer can take care of these marks and more. This high-hiding product only needs one hour of dry time before you apply your topcoat, so there’s no need to set aside a whole weekend to cross this project off your list.


Only certain home improvement projects will pay you back

In many markets and today’s economy, most of your home improvement projects and remodeling projects are not going to make you money. You won’t see a good home improvement return on investment for all your remodeling projects. The money that you spend remodeling your bathroom, adding a deck, or finishing a basement will unfortunately not translate dollar for dollar in new home equity.

If you spend $10,000 remodeling your master bathroom, that rarely converts to $10,000 in added home equity if you were to put your home on the market immediately afterward. Some projects have a higher impact or rate of return. One great rule of thumb is that anything with running water, such as bathrooms and kitchens, have a high correlation when it comes to increasing your home’s value relative to the money you spend. Many recent studies have shown that you can only expect a 70% to 80% return on your investment in a kitchen remodel should you decide to sell your home.


 

Buying A Home in 2017? Read this First

Are you thinking about buying a new home this coming year? Chances are, before you are done looking at many houses, you will find one with a wet basement. There are many houses in northeast Ohio that because of their age have problems with the basement, or even the foundation of the house.

If you are buying or selling a home, the basement and foundation of your home are two of the places that can make or break the deal.  A basement with water on the floor can leave the buyer unwilling to make an offer, even if the upstairs is lovely.  If the foundation has problems, it is very unlikely you will get a good offer for the house.

Read more about what to look for when buying or even selling a home by following the links below.


Homebuyers: 7 Red Flags to Search for When Touring a Basement

When you compile your list of must-haves in a home and compare it with what’s on the market, a finished basement is almost always a big plus. You get additional square footage for living, entertaining and storage without having to put up the effort and money to finish the space yourself.

But before you fall in love with that finished-basement abode, approach the space with a critical eye. The basement, after all, houses most of your home’s key functioning systems, from plumbing to electrical and gas. A poorly constructed or maintained space might lead not only to costly repairs, but also cause damage elsewhere in your home.

Consider the consequences of taking on a troubled basement. If the finished below-grade space lacks permits or proper waterproofing or contains amateur craftsmanship, you could face municipal fines or risk sickness-causing mold and future fire hazards.

When it comes time to negotiate with a seller on purchase conditions, consider these basement red flags a bargaining chip to ensure you’re getting a well-maintained home. “I would make sure it got resolved before they actually purchase the home,” says David Schrock owner and founder of Basement Spaces Inc. in Aurora, Illinois.


Tips for a finished basement that’s mold-free

Q. I want to get your input on the correct way to finish, in this case refinish, a basement. I believe the previous owners missed one or two critical steps, causing mold to grow on the backside of the drywall.

The house is about 60 years old with a poured-concrete basement foundation whose walls are in good shape. The concrete walls were not painted/waterproofed on the inside. There are no signs of water leaks or holes in the walls.

The previous finishing was done by putting in untreated 2-by-3s as studs ¼ of an inch from the concrete walls, stapling R13-value pink insulation to the studs, then putting up regular drywall on top of that. Twenty-five years or so later, mold appeared on the bottom portion of the drywall (on the back ), and some of the untreated-wood sill rotted. These items are now gone. There is an appropriate-sized dehumidifier in the basement.

To insulate, seal, and finish the basement properly, what are the best steps for the money that meet the necessary building code standards? It seems there are a number of ways to go about this.


The rise of the basement: Tips for a better space

OMAHA – With fewer homes for sale and good returns on the remodeling investment, more homeowners are reclaiming their lower levels and remodeling their basements.Basements are coming out of hiding these days. And they’re doing it in style, with before-and-after transformations featured everywhere from HGTV to Pinterest and YouTube.

What’s driving this trend? A tight housing market, for one thing. With houses at a premium – and a proliferation of DIY how-to’s – more homeowners are inspired to reclaim their unused space and expand their living area.

A smart, affordable upgrade

Updating your lower level is a sound investment in your home. Remodeling magazine’s 2016 Cost vs. Value Report put the average basement remodel at $61,303, with a 70.3 percent payback – a far better investment return than adding a bathroom or garage.

Props for your property value

Depending on local regulations, the additional space can often be added to your home’s total square footage, making your market listing more appealing to buyers and potentially increasing your property value.

To recoup the most from your remodeling efforts, make sure your design and decorating choices are attractive and functional – not too quirky or customized.


Buying A New Home in 2017?

 

How to Keep Your Basement Dry

Basement waterproofing and foundation repairs can be very extensive and serious problems if you let small issues become bigger.  There are basement and foundation problems that are very different from home to home that you need to be aware of.   A draught can cause the soil near the foundation of your home to become dry unevenly, making some parts of the structure of your home to sit lower than other parts, causing cracks and possible structural damage to the foundation.

Water sitting around the foundation of your home is a good indicator that you need to make the area around the home slop away from the foundation to avoid water seeping into the basement.

If you have one or more issues with the foundation or basement of your home, contact us, we will be happy to talk to you and offer you a  hassle free consultation.


How to prevent water in your basement

Many Michigan homeowners spend time in the fall prepping their home for the coming winter months. You may have added more insulation in your attic or caulked around your windows and doors, but what about your basement? That winter snow will eventually melt and there is nothing worse than coming home to find your basement full of water.

Ed Krieger of Ayers Basement Systems said the first thing any homeowner can do is to check the exterior of the home.

“Check that your downspouts are connected to the gutter system properly and that they run at least 10 feet away from your basement walls,” he said. “If that all looks good, then you need to check the grading or slope of your yard and concrete.”

Grading refers to the level of the ground around a home. Over time, the ground shifts and if a yard has poor grading, water from rain or melted snow can run back toward the home. If you think this is an issue for you, you may need to contact a professional landscape company to take a closer look.


How to Winterize a House: Tips to Prevent Ice Dams, Drafts, and More

When the weather turns chilly, your house needs to button up, too. And the way to do that is to learn how to winterize your house. No, not once the snow starts falling, but now. Trust us, you’ll want to nip any issues in the bud before the temperature drops too much.

Here’s a handy list of things to check on your house to keep it cozy, save on energy bills, and prevent a nightmare’s worth of damage you’ll have to tackle come spring (or even worse, in the dead of winter).

Conduct a pre-winter inspection

First, size up how prepared your house is for winter by taking a walk around its perimeter and eyeballing these features, says Bob Hanbury, a Newington, CT, builder for 40 years and a board member of the National Association of Home Builders: