Posts Tagged ‘house remodeling’

Natural Light in Your Home

Make More of Natural Light in Your Home And Be Happier

Natural Light in Your Home. In general I would say that having more light in your home makes for a happier home, particularly if you work from home like I do.

It is known that sunlight plays a role in moderating melanin, serotonin, and vitamin D which again plays a role in maintaining serotonin levels – all this is connected to mood .

One simple solution for dark rooms or hallways is to go out and get more electric lighting, but that should be a last resort because it leads to more energy consumption and puts more pressure on the environment unless you have solar panels and are electrically self-sufficient which isn’t the case for most people.

So in light of that (pun intended), here are a few tips for brightening up your home broken down into two sections:

More Light With Renovating

In this section I’m going to talk about a range of projects from the very simple, such as a coat of paint, to the more complex such as installing skylights, and a few other ideas in between.

Making surfaces more reflective

Although mirrors are the obvious tool for increasing the amount of light in a space, they’re not the only reflective surfaces you can have. By painting your walls light colors you will increase the amount of reflected light. And don’t forget about the other major surface – your floors. Polished hardwood floors and bright tiles can also contribute substantially to the amount of reflected light. If carpet is your thing, then choose a light color.

New doors & windows

If you have solid exterior doors consider replacing them with ones which contain a window. You can have bars or a security grill over it to maintain security, and best of all door replacement is one of the few remodeling projects that can easily turn a profit.

If you really want to open up and let light in then consider the larger project of knocking a big hole in your back wall to install sliding glass doors leading out to your back yard, deck, or patio.

Similarly, if you have small windows in a space you want to bring more light into then consider replacing them with larger windows.

Install skylights

For example you can get tubular systems which can reflect light through a curved tube so that the light taken in doesn’t have to be immediately above the light outlet in your ceiling. And you don’t have to have a big gap in your ceiling going all the way up to the roof as my childhood house had, the light outlet can be installed in the ceiling to look just like a regular recessed light.When you don’t have the option of bringing in light from windows and doors, particularly in the middle of your home, then skylights are the way to go. The technology behind them has improved considerably over the years and while you can still get the old traditional ones there are much more advanced options available today.

The diagram on the right from C illustrates the concept well, in fact some systems utilizing fiber optics can channel the light over much larger distances quite efficiently.

More Light Without Renovating

There may be many reasons why undertaking a major renovation project doesn’t suit your circumstances such as when you’re renting, you don’t have the funds or the time, or in some cases because you live in a building where it’s either too difficult to get approval or you are simply not allowed such as in apartments or heritage listed buildings.


This one comes down to simple physics. The more photons that are reflected, the fewer are absorbed by a particular surface and therefore will be concentrated onto other surfaces where they will be absorbed and reflected. Basically, they light up other things in the room to a greater extent. Mirrors also have the psychological effect of making a space look bigger.

Careful use of furniture

You’re obviously not going to place a huge bookshelf in front of a window, but you might not have considered how placing one immediately beside a window can cut down on light because the sides of any furniture beside a window will absorb some light, and reflect some light back outside. So keep tall furniture away from the sides of windows where possible.The same applies to placing large pieces of dark furniture immediately below a window – avoid placing large dark sofas beneath a window as it will block too much precious light from coming in.

Careful use of curtains In general go for lighter colored furniture, arrange it carefully , and it will reflect more light and have a similar effect to mirrors.

At my previous house, I had two layers of curtains (similar to the picture on the right) – regular ones plus an additional layer of sheer curtains closest to the windows.

The benefit of sheer curtains is that you can leave these closed to let in some light while maintaining privacy. Consider whether or not you really need that privacy or if you’d benefit more from the additional light by opening both layers of curtains – particularly during winter or overcast days.

So let the light shine in, save money on your electric bills, and be happier!

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Outdated Home Improvement

Tips to Avoid Outdated Home Improvement

Outdated Home Improvement. Let’s face it, no matter how much you would like your home to look like it is worth a million bucks, the sad reality is you most likely live on a budget. This being said though does not exempt you from being able to create an aesthetically beautiful home.

It seems too foolish to mention home improvement and be able to confidently say that you expertly know what to do. Honestly there are a lot of considerable ways to be able to recreate a wonderful home but you have to make sure to follow a path of creativity and at least have a pair of (or more) helpful hands ready to work with you.

Stick With the Basics

If you are unsure of what particular patterns and color combinations look good together go for furniture that are plain and have one general color. Keep the decorations and designs to a minimum and work your way to more detail once bigger pieces are set in place.There are a good number of people who tend to become overwhelmed with the idea of home improvement , so much so that they think the more design elements they work with the better looking their home turns out. Truth be told, the exact opposite which is to keep things simple, is what you really need to work with first.

Splash a Bit of Color

If there is one thing that is under rated when it comes to home improvement it would have to be adding in lively colors but make sure never to go overboard. Start things out as simple as you can through painting a particular color to the walls of your bedroom, choosing an accentuated color of throw pillow covers for your living room or placing a fun colored tablecloth on your dining table.

Remember that colors are there to make a room in your home come alive and look extra special, so avoid having just one color for everything inside the room. At the same time avoid having way too many colors popping out from every direction of the room after all you would not want to live like you were stuck inside a rainbow.

Learn to Redesign

As you go through home improvement, surely you would have your own point of view and style to consider, however it is best to learn a tip or two before starting out. Common personal mistakes reveal that those who redesign their homes based on just what they find appealing to them tend to end up with a home that looks like an unfinished classroom project.

Take the time to get a handful of inspiration from design magazines or the Internet and work your way to seeing what makes these particular designs stand out. Ask the point of view of others too if you find it difficult to select what particular designs look great together as for sure they can help prevent your home improvements from turning appalling .

Stay Away From Too Much Detail

Whether it is bizarre prints and patterns, way too many ruffles or feathers or even a ton of gold embellishes, steer clear of going overboard with way too many details unless you are aiming for a house from the past. Be reminded that home improvements are meant to turn your home to better quality and not the other way around.

Before braving through adding details to your home décor, establish a well planned and distinct design that work well together, for each of your living spaces. Also be certain that you are working on designs that are current and updated as it ensures that the additional details you will be adding to the furniture and fixtures are also up to date.

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Home moving

10 Tips to Simplify the Big Move

Moving industry insiders have a secret they don’t want you to know. It’s called the “full-service move hack.”

It’s a way for you to afford whatever help you need to make your move easy – yes, easy. And you don’t even have to hire one of those really expensive full-service moving companies. While they do everything short of carrying you out on a couch, that means they’ll be charging an arm + a leg + rights to your future first born child.

Since you most likely want to keep your baby and some of your money, here’s how to hack your move so even though you’re “moving yourself” you don’t lift a thing – and, most importantly, you’re still keeping costs down:

1. Go hybrid.

It’s not what you think. Going hybrid means combining elements of DIY moving with the benefits of hiring professional movers. You gather your friends and family, who are willing to pitch in (DIY), and then hire moving labor just to do the heavy lifting (movers). Thanks to the beauty of the world-wide-web, you can now find and book move help online through a number of moving labor marketplaces. When the moving crew you hire arrives you can assign them to pack and load everything or just have them load the heavy stuff.

2. Pack yourself.

Sure, you can hire the professionals to put all your worldly belongings in boxes, but you are charged by the hour and that’s probably the longest task in the moving process. Instead, get family and friends to help you to do that. Have the professionals load and unload the boxes and furniture onto the truck or portable storage unit (you know, those PODS containers you see sitting in driveways around town. We’ll get to those). Besides, packing yourself will allow you to pack everything by room, so unpacking will be easier for you.

3. Pay someone for the delicate stuff.

While you should pack almost everything yourself, you should consider hiring professionals to pack up delicate or difficult-to-move items, such as a piano, family heirlooms, or fine art.

4. Play truck driver…or not.

Price out your options for moving truck rentals that will allow you to carry your entire life from one destination to another. You’re not limited to U-Haul, by the way. There are others, including Penske, Budget, Ryder, and Enterprise.

If driving one of these big boys sounds like torture, you might consider portable storage units (also called portable moving containers) or professional transportation. Companies, such as PODS and 1-800-PACK-RAT will pick up your packed storage containers and transport them for you. And the likes of ABF UPack and Estes SureMove have professional drivers, who carry your load with other customers on their semi trailers and make deliveries along a specified route. Remember, these guys don’t offer any moving labor help, so you’ll still need someone for that.

5. Stick to a schedule.

Many of the additional costs surface because people take too long to load trucks or keep professional movers waiting. If you’ve hired professionals to pack the truck, make sure you have the boxes ready to be loaded when the movers arrive. Be ready to move – literally and figuratively – as soon as the clock starts ticking on your time with the rental truck, professional transportation, or portable storage units. If you stick with the schedule that you’ve agreed to with the rental services, you won’t end up paying extra. Everything will run more smoothly, too.

6. Learn the law.

Every city has its own rules and regulations about parking big trucks and storage containers. For example, Chicago and New York are notorious for their restrictions on dropping of portable storage containers on city streets – which means you may need to also rent a truck to shuttle your stuff from the container delivery headquarters to your new apartment.

Find out the policies both where you live and where you are moving. Follow the rules, or risk, at worst, paying fines and, at best, being inconvenienced on moving day.

7. Shop wisely for supplies.

Rental truck companies and other movers often offer the chance to buy boxes and other materials. You can save money by shopping around and looking for sales at office supply stores. Some stuff, such as packing tape, is often available at your local dollar store. What you might want to do is rent loading carts and furniture pads from the truck or moving container rental company.

8. Avoid supermarket boxes.

Free boxes sound like a good deal, and lots of people source their supermarket for them. But boxes that have carried food can be ripe with mold, mildew, and bugs. And you don’t want any of that getting into your stuff or your new place.

Rather, visit your local liquor store, book store, and/or coffee shop for free boxes.

9. Don’t forget the T.P.

Be sure to keep toilet paper on hand and in an easy-to-access place. Chances are someone will have to relieve him or herself before you take off or when you arrive at your new place.

10. Feed the help.

You’re saving hundreds, if not thousands, on the cost of your move by making a hybrid move, the least you can do is offer beverages and pizza to friends and family who are giving up their precious time to help you move. Besides, food and drink makes it seem more like a party and less like a job.

Moving to your new home, new job, or new life is exciting. It shouldn’t be stressful or expensive. Now you know how to hack your move to keep it cheap, without moving it all yourself.

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13 Things You Need To Know Before You Buy a Residential Lot

13 Things You Need To Know Before You Buy a Residential Lot

#1: Don’t Build on Fill:

Your foundation needs to rest on solid, undisturbed ground. It can take hundreds of years for ground to settle. Sometimes, a steep ravine may have been filled in and/or the land may have previously been a dump.

If you cannot dig down far enough to rest the footings on solid and undisturbed ground, then you run the risk of having the ground settle after you home is built. This can cause severe wall cracks or structural failures.

A shifting foundation can also cause doors and windows to stick.

Avoid building on top of fill dirt. If you need to build on fill, use compacted gravel for fill rather than dirt. Compacted gravel will settle less than dirt.

It may be possible to build on soft ground if you take extra precautions such as grade beams to make sure your foundation footings are supported by solid ground. If you fail to do this then you may experience major problems that will be very expensive to correct.

Foundation problems may not show up for several years (long after the builder’s warranty has expired).

#2: Don’t Build on Bedrock:

If the land has bedrock close to the surface of the soil it can be expensive to dig a hole for a basement. If this may be a concern, look at nearby foundations to determine how far down the bedrock is or ask neighbours who have already built if they had problems with stone.

You can also dig a few test holes to see if shallow bedrock will interfere with construction. Modern equipment has made it easier to dig through bedrock so this might not be as big of concern if the proper equipment is available in your area.

In some areas bedrock is not stable because of expansive soil. The term “heaving bedrock” means that the bedrock may shift and move and this type of soil is more difficult to build on.

#3: Avoid Clay:

The type of soil found on a site can also affect it’s suitability for construction. The soil will also affect how well you can grow trees and plants on the property. It’s best to avoid building on clay.

If you do build in clay, you may need stronger and larger footings to prevent foundation cracks. Clay soil can make it difficult to have a dry basement.

Also clay soil can make it harder to grow things. It’s a good idea to look at the street and surrounding buildings in the area you are thinking about building. If the street is cracking or sinking or other buildings have cracked walls then this could indicate the soil is unstable.

Some types of clay will shrink when dry and expand when it’s wet. This type of ground is called expansive soil. Expansive soil can be found in most parts of Canada. Extra care must be taken when building on expansive soil because there is greater risk to foundation damage.

#4: Make Sure You Ask For a Survey?

A survey will show you where the actual boundaries of your property are. A survey can also point out possible problems with the land (you encroaching on your neighbour’s property, or the other way around).

Land usually has stakes or markers showing where the property boundaries are. However these markers are sometimes incorrect because they were moved or improperly placed. A survey will give you an accurate idea of your property’s boundaries.

Before spending money on a survey, you may want to ask the landowner if they have a survey. If a certified surveyor has already done a survey then it may suit your needs. If they don’t have a survey it may be reasonable to request they pay for a survey. After all, how can you pay for a land to build your custom home, if you don’t know what you are buying?

#5: Make Sure You Have a Builder Look at the Lot Before You Buy…
Your builder can give you a good idea if the lot is suitable for the type of home you want. In particular, a builder can tell you if much fill dirt will be needed or if there may be drainage problems with the land. He will assist you with building your custom home.

#6: Perc Test – Why is it So Important?

A Percolation Test test involves digging a hole and filling it with water. This is done to determine how well water drains through the soil. If you need a septic tank, a perc test can tell you how suitable the soil is for this purpose.

If the ground isn’t suitable for a septic tank you may need to dig up the septic filed area and replace the ground. This will add thousands to building the septic system.

#7: What is Useable Area and How Much is Enough?

When evaluating a piece of land look at its’ useable area. If you have a 5-acre lot but it only has 1/2 an acre that is useable (due to drainage, topography, etc.) then the value of the lot may be similar to what a 1/2-acre lot sells for. Don’t overpay for a larger lot. Look at how useable the land is when determining a price.

#8 Developed Land vs Undeveloped…

When looking at land, also consider how much development is needed to make the land suitable to build on. Developed land usually costs more than undeveloped land.

A land developer typically adds things such as streets, city sewer, street sewers, city water, streetlights, phone lines, and electric lines. You may be able to buy undeveloped land at a lower cost, but after developing the land it may end up costing more than what it would have cost to buy land that was already developed.

#9: Watch Out For Water Tables…

It is common to have underground water. It’s a good idea to dig a test pit to see if the underground water will interfere with having a basement. The water table (the depth of underground water) varies during different times of the year and the water table is usually highest during the springtime. For this reason, it is best to do any testing of the water level in the spring.

The water table can determine the type of foundation you use. You might not be able to have a basement if your site has a high water table.

#10: Slope Is Only Good For Skiing…

If the land slopes, try to determine how big of a height difference occurs in the land from one side of the home to the other side. If the slope is right, the lot may be ideal for a walkout basement.

If the slope is too drastic, you may have to haul in a lot of fill and do extensive grading (which can get expensive). A slope can be deceiving – sometimes a gentle slope may actually be too much of a slope; especially if you have a wide house or want to build your home far away from the street.

You can use string, stakes, and a level to help you determine the elevation change of a slope. A more accurate way to measure slopes is to use an optical level and transit. The tools to use are tripods and viewfinders to measure slopes and you can usually rent them from a local rental shop.

It is best to have a spot to build on that is higher than surrounding parts of the lot. If you build on a lower spot then water is more likely to drain towards the home. If building on a slope you should make sure the ground is stable. If the ground is less stable additional work and expense may be needed to better anchor the home to the ground.

If the lot’s slope will affect your driveway then it may be more difficult to use the driveway when it has snow or ice on it. Also a driveway that has a quick change in its slope can cause the car bottom to drag on the pavement.
When building up slopes, use fill dirt rather than topsoil. Topsoil should only be the last level. Topsoil is more likely to erode or wash away than fill dirt.

#11: Wooded Lots – Does a Tree Make a Sound?

Wooded lots with nice trees can increase the value of your property. It will also increase the construction costs because you will need to clear away some trees before you start building. A lot with brush or unattractive trees may be worth less than a lot with no trees (because of the cost of removing the brush).

When looking at a wooded lot, try to visualize where the home, driveways, septic tank, pool, and anything else will be. If the lot slopes, determine where grading and fill dirt will be needed (you will probably lose trees in those areas). Some trees may need to be removed to allow large equipment to access your property when building the home.

#12: Utility Hookups – Surprise … Surprise…

If you are thinking about buying land before utilities have been run to the land, be sure you know where the utilities are going to be placed. If you don’t know this, you might be in for some surprises.

For example, a fire hydrant might be put in the place you were planning to run your driveway, or you might have an unattractive electric box or pole in front of your home. Utilities can also impact the grade of your lot.
The cost of your utility hook-ups is directly proportional to the length of your driveway.

#13: House Plans Suitable for Lot or Lot Suitable to House Plans?

Before buying a lot, you may want to see if you can find a house plan that is suitable for the lot. First determine the amount of buildable area you have on the lot. Keep in mind that setbacks and easements will reduce the amount of space that you can use when building a home.

Make sure the lot has the characteristics suitable to the type of home you want to build. For example if you want a side garage or L-shaped garage then you will probably need a wider lot or a corner lot.

Ranch style homes need a larger lot than a 2 story home. Try to make the house fit the lot rather than changing the lot to fit the house. It can be very expensive to modify a lot if it is not suitable for the type of home you want to build.

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Bathroom Design Ideas

In our day and age it is actually possible to over accessorize a bathroom. With so many bathroom decorations on the market, from toilet seat covers to over the toilet shelving, it is very easy to get carried away with decorating the smallest space in your home.

Your bathroom design should be based on one simple concept; keeping it simple. Creating a visually appealing bathroom while sustaining its functionality will create comfort for your guests and your family. A bathroom should be considered the extension of a guest room in that it should be kept clean and comfortable.

Hardware options are basic concerns when designing a bathroom. Faucets and spigots, as well as tubs and toilets, manufactured in a number of shapes and materials can become the centerpiece of your bathroom. Open showers are very popular and claw-foot bathtubs are always considered to be classic and attractive. By simply choosing a certain style tub, you can create a sense of “old world” charm, or heighten your guest’s sense of modernism. Quick Tip: Evaluate privacy issues first; don’t put the toilet and tub too close together.

Is it possible to design your bathroom around a favorite theme? The answer is most certainly “yes.” Keeping in mind that less is more, have fun hanging pictures and displaying unique hand towels and candles. Simply remember the bathroom is a small space and should be kept clean and uncluttered. Choosing a decoration pattern that will coordinate with the rest of the home will open many design possibilities. Finding a color or pattern inspiration from your favorite artwork may be the first step toward creating a bathroom masterpiece.

When designing a bathroom’s tiling, take the time to shop around through different hardware, decoration and craft stores. When choosing tile, you should look for durability, aesthetic value, and a non-porous surface. It should be easily cleaned and sanitized, and it needs to install easily without any expensive or caustic glues or cements. Be creative. The tile you choose doesn’t have to be made of porcelain.

After the design and production of a space-conscious and attractive bathroom have been completed, focus on decoration accessories to bring out personality and individualism. The bathroom should be a comfortable and private room. Placing knick knacks on the walls or shelves is an interesting way to create a sense of comfort and relaxation. Even though the bathroom may be the smallest room in your home, it can still be one of the most interesting. Keep your bathroom clean, functional and simple.

The KBH Outlet specializes in Elegant Home Decor Accents, Outdoor Garden Decorations and Wood Furniture. Find more home decorating and gardening ideas at our Home Decorating Resource Center. Copyright © 2006 The KBH Outlet

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The Cost Of Home Improvement

Dreaming of building a new home, but worried about the expense? Long before you draw up the final plans, it pays to do some “guesstimating.” Knowing how much the project might cost will help you modify your plans to meet your budget.

7 Tips To Lower Home Construction Costs…

1. Contact Local Builders: talk with several custom builders in the geographical area in which you plan to build to get a rough idea of what it may cost to build your house. Builders can give you a range of costs with the associated quality/features. If you are serious about building and feel comfortable with a particular builder, consider having the builder work up some more detailed plans and an estimate of costs as part of a design-build process.

2. Start With Plan The Builder Has Used Before: It may be to your advantage to start with a plan that the builder has used before and “customize” it to suit your objectives. The builder already knows how much it cost to build and what it took to build that particular model.

3.Standardize The Size of Home: When building a home, it’s best to work with even numbers. Have your home size rounded up or down to increments of two feet. This reduces wasted materials. Also, it’s most economical to build a home which is no deeper than 32 feet. If the depth exceeds 32 feet, then your roof trusses may need to be specially designed and will be more expensive.

4. Some Features Cost More: The most expensive areas in a home are usually the bathrooms and kitchen. The number of windows and the size and quality of windows can also affect the cost. Vaulted ceilings and high roof pitches can increase the cost of a home. When using other homes to calculate an estimate, be sure the home has a similar style and features of the home you plan to build.

5.Shape of Home: Homes that have a rectangular or box shape cost less to build. Having more angles and corners in the shape of your home can increase the amount of labour and materials needed to build a home. Dome shaped homes also make efficient use of materials and tend to cost less than other shapes.

6.Chose A Relatively Flat Lot: Preparing a site for construction can have a big impact on the cost of a home. Building on a flat lot will usually cost less. If you have to haul in lots of dirt, do a lot of grading, clear trees, or blast through large rocks, then site preparations can become more expensive.

7.Careful Planning: Usually the finished cost of a home is more then the original bid price. Cost overruns occur from overspending the allowances, making changes and encountering unforeseen problems. Proper planning can greatly reduce cost overruns. Builders love change orders and it is so critical that you have as few of these as possible which means that your specifications must be as detailed as possible. In general, it is a good idea to allow an additional 10% to cover unexpected costs.

Courtesy of:

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How To Repair A Foundation

If your house or any part of your property experiences foundation failure, it is not a job you want to correct yourself. In order to do this properly you would have to be extensively trained and have a fast knowledge on the subject. This is not your everyday fixer upper project. Chances are to get the job done right; you are going to need to hire a professional.

If you are like some people, this might make you a little uneasy. After all, how many times have you heard about contractors taking advantage of their customers? Some not so ethical contractors will charge you more than the job is worth. If you are a little uneasy calling in a professional, here are some basic guidelines for what to expect from a good foundation repair contractor.

The first thing any foundation repair contractor should do is an initial investigation and then a foundation failure report to some extent. Report will explain how severe the problem is and list the proposed repairs needed. If they are going to have to pier, they much included pier spacing and foundation lines in the reports. This takes some time. It might not be a one visit evaluation.

A foundation repair contractor may have to come out, do an investigation and then present you with a formal report at a later time that will detail all the work. If you find a contractor who quotes you a price right then and there, chances are they are not a good one. Also do not be surprised if you are charged a fee for the inspection and the report. Most fees range from a few hundred to almost $1000 dollars. Make sure you ask if that fee will be deducted from the final price of the job once ordered. A qualified and ethical contractor will tell you yes. If they say no…stay away from them.

Once the investigation is done and a report is ready, a reliable foundation repair contractor will go through it with you and give you the quoted price. They will also explain that quote and answer any questions you may have. If you are getting quotes by a few foundation repair contractors, bear in mind that the prices should not vary much if they are all doing the same work. This is because the materials should pretty much be the same price for all foundation repairmen.

One of the possible reasons for the difference of prices between contractors is the amount of experience they have. A knowledgeable, skillful and experienced contractor might cost a little more money than one who has less experience. Keep this in mind when considering the cheapest contractor. Ask questions about their experience to help ensure you are making the best decision for you, your house and your budget.

Once all the work has been done, you should be given a report that contains all the hydraulic measurements and depths regarding the piers. This report should be saved as it will come in handy if you ever decided to sell you house.

Having foundation failure fixed is a costly project, but by following these guidelines, you will be able to find a foundation repair contractor that you are confident with. Make sure they are one who take pride in their work and are not looking for the quick buck.

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Taking Your Final Walk Through

Before you close on your custom new home, you and your builder will “walk through” the house to conduct a final inspection. This is the best opportunity for you to learn how your new home works and to notice items that need to be fixed or adjusted.

At the same time the builder will inform you about the following items:

  • The operation of the house’s mechanical systems.
  • The homeowner’s responsibilities for maintenance and upkeep.
  • Warranty coverage and procedures.

With a new house, you will be receiving a stack of instruction booklets all at once. It helps if someone can take the time to show you how to operate all of the kitchen appliances, the heating and cooling systems, heat recovery ventilator, the water heater, alarm system, and other features in the home. Such an orientation is particularly useful considering that when moving into a new home, people often are so busy that they have trouble finding time to read instructions.

All new homes come with a one-year warranty on workmanship and materials for the most part. Structural defects are covered for up to seven years depending on the problem and the place. These types of warranties do not cover problems that develop because of failure to perform required maintenance. Should a warranted problem arise after you move in, the builder is likely to have a set of warranty service procedures to follow.

Except in emergencies, requests for service should be in writing. This is not because the builder is trying to be bureaucratic. Rather, it is to ensure that everyone clearly understands the service to be performed.

The person receiving a service request is not likely to be the person performing the work, and you don’t want to rely on word of mouth for transmission of your service order.
Many builders schedule two visits during the first year — one near the beginning and the other near the end — to make necessary adjustments and to perform work of a non-emergency nature.

You should not expect a builder to rush out immediately for a problem such as a nail pop in your drywall. Such problems occur because of the natural settling of the house and are best addressed in one visit near the end of the first year. With respect to inspecting the house, an effective way to handle this is with a checklist. The list should include everything that needs attention, and you and your builder should agree to a timetable for repairs. Builders prefer to remedy problems before you move in, because it is easier for them to work in an empty house.

Some items may have to be corrected after move-in. For instance, if your walk-through is in the winter, your builder may have to delay landscaping adjustments until spring. It is important that you be very thorough and observant during the walk-through. Carefully examine all surfaces of counters, fixtures, floors and walls for possible damage.

Sometimes, disputes arise because a buyer may discover a gouge in a counter top after move-in, and there is no way to prove whether it was caused by the builder’s workers or the buyer’s movers. Many builders ask their buyers to sign a form at the walk-through stating that all surfaces have been inspected and that there was no damage other than what has been noted on the walk-through checklist. Ask a lot of questions during the walk-through and take notes on the answers. Never be afraid to appear stupid by asking too many questions. It is important to view the walk-through as a positive learning experience that will enhance your enjoyment of your home.

Here’s a check list to help you through this process:

  • Does the ground around the foundation slope away from the house?
  • Make sure the water does not pond in swales.
  • To check, water the areas with a hose, if possible.
  • Are there signs of erosion?
  • Is the water pooling on the driveway?
  • If the house has a basement, are the basement window wells clean and graveled?
  • Are the shingles flat and tight?
  • Is the flashing securely in place?
  • Do the gutters leak?
  • Do the gutters, downspouts and splash blocks direct water away from the house?
  • Are the windows and doors sealed and protected by weather stripping?
  • Is the caulking placed correctly?
  • Are the trim and fittings tight? Are there any cracks?
  • Does the paint cover the surface and trim smoothly?
  • Are all doors and windows sealed?
  • Do they open and close easily?
  • Is the glass properly in place? Is any loose or cracked?
  • Is the painting satisfactory in all rooms, closets and stairways?
  • Did the painters miss any spots?
  • Are there any paint spots where they should not be?
  • Are the trim and molding in place?
  • Is the carpet tight? Do the seams match?
  • Are there any ridges or seam gaps in vinyl tile or linoleum?
  • Are wooden floors properly finished?
  • Do all of the appliances operate properly?
  • Check all faucets and plumbing fixtures, including toilets and showers, to make sure they operate properly.
  • Check all electrical fixtures and outlets. Bring a hair dryer to test the outlets.
  • Do the heating, cooling and water heating units operate properly? Test them to make sure.
  • If the home has a fireplace, do the draft and damper work?
  • Are there any nicks, scratches, cracks or burns on any surfaces, including cabinets and countertops?
  • Test the doorbell. Also test the intercom system, garage door opener and any other optional items.
  • Are there indications of dampness or leaks or mould?
  • Is there significant cracking in the floors or foundation walls?
  • Are there any obvious defects in exposed components, such as floor joists, I-beams, support columns, insulation, heating ducts, plumbing, electrical, etc.?
  • Is there Occupancy Permit from your local municipality?

Some problems may not be readily apparent during the walk-through. Even a professional inspector might miss a few. Most warranties cover any such problems that are the result of faulty workmanship.
However, warranties usually exclude problems that result from owner neglect or improper maintenance.

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