With schools back in session and temperatures starting to cool slightly, now is the time to focus on a few simple home maintenance projects to prepare for the fall weather. Not all maintenance projects require a significant amount of time or money. Instead, seasonal projects are low or no-cost DIY projects that can also help you save money on your energy bills. Incorporating these home maintenance tasks will help increase the longevity of your home. Here are a few projects to check off your to-do list this September:
Fill in Air Gaps
Often undetected, air escapes your home through gaps and cracks. With fall months ahead, air can enter your home on cold and windy days. Checking your home for air leaks can prevent this from happening. In addition, heated air can escape from gaps that develop where building materials meet. Experts recommend inspecting areas where building materials may have pulled apart and caulk or seal any cracks that have formed. The best place to start is by checking around roof and foundation lines, chimneys and where pipes protrude through walls or roofs.
Add Heat-Absorbing Insulation
During the cooler months, you will want to keep the heat inside. Unfortunately, heat rises, which means it can also escape through vulnerable roof areas. The most efficient way to stop that heat loss is by ensuring your ceiling and roof are properly insulated. This is a job that is best left to professionals, and you can find many great Chattanooga area insulation specialists in the membership directory at HBAGC.net.
Weatherstrip Your Windows
Weatherstripping your windows allows you to stay warm and cozy in your home during the winter months. Inspect your windows by looking for cracks around glass, sashes, and window frames. Experts recommend repairing any broken windows before applying any weatherstripping materials. Consider replacing old windows with ENERGY STAR-certified windows, which could lower your household energy bills by an average of 12%. A professional remodeler can help you install and replace new windows and recommend keeping your home more energy efficient.
Clean Gutters and Clear Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts are easy traps for leaves and pine needles, and squirrels often use them to store food. Be sure to clean gutters thoroughly and pay special attention to elbows and bends in the downspouts. Keep hangers fastened securely and plug any holes and cracks. Touch up any sections showing signs of rust with rustproof paint. Finally, touch up any sections showing signs of rust with rustproof paint.
Inspect Your Heating Unit
Make sure ducts and pipes located in unheated spaces are insulated. Dirt streaks around your ductwork, especially near the seams, are evidence of leaks. To keep your heater functioning at an optimal level, have your unit checked and cleaned by a professional. Ashley Loprinzo with Rivertech Heating and Air shares, “Regular maintenance not only helps prolong the life of your system, but it also helps us find smaller problems before they cause system failure and more costly repairs.” Loprinzo continues, “We offer preventative maintenance contracts and recommend service in the spring and fall to keep your A/C and heat working at its best year-round.”
Performing routine home maintenance is essential and well worth the time and effort to keep energy bills low, protect your investment, keep your family safe and prolong the life of your home. A wonderful place to get more ideas and connect with local area professionals to help with all your fall maintenance needs is the upcoming HBAGC Fall Home Show. Be sure to join us on September 24 and 25 at the Chattanooga Convention Center or check out more info at homeshowchattanooga.com.
Individuals across the country are reimagining their career paths following the height of the pandemic. One industry worth exploring is residential construction. Even as the United States is entering a period of economic easing, all projections show continued strong demand for new housing, making home building a stable and lucrative career choice. According to a recent National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) analysis, there were 440,000 open construction jobs in May 2022.
Pivoting to a career in construction has many benefits; consider the following:
The Industry is Hiring
Since the Great Recession, the United States has had a significant shortage of qualified professionals in the construction industry. As a result, home builders across the country and here in the Chattanooga area are seeking skilled workers — such as carpenters, framers, and roofers — to help them build the American Dream.
A recent NAHB survey found that home builders reported widespread shortages of various construction-related occupations. For example, home builders said framing crews, carpenters, bricklayers, and concrete workers were among the top labor shortages. Therefore, many builders in our area seek qualified professionals to fill those positions. Nicole Gosciniak with the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga shares, “The Chattanooga building market has exploded in recent years, and many of our members are paying top dollar and benefits to attract and keep good employees. Skilled laborers will always be needed. It is a great time to start a construction career.”
Compensation is Competitive
Many jobs in residential construction pay the equivalent – if not more – than jobs requiring similar experience levels and a college degree. Residential electricians, for example, earn an average of more than $61,000. And these careers begin with no or minimal student loan debt.
Management Opportunities Abound
Careers in construction are not limited to what some may perceive as traditional roles of plumbers, framers, etc. A variety of management positions are available. This challenging role requires critical thinking, technical skills, academic knowledge, and leadership skills. According to an NAHB analysis, out of the 13 highest paid trades in construction, 12 are management roles. The highest-paid managers in construction are architectural and engineering managers, with half making over $135,900 and the top 25 percent on the pay scale earning over $170,940 annually.
Training is Available
There are numerous opportunities to gain experience and training in the skilled trades. The Home Builders Institute (HBI), a national leader in career training and NAHB’s workforce development arm, offers educational programs in forty-six states. Through the organization’s industry-recognized curriculum utilized in nearly 400 programs, HBI trains in various skills, including carpentry, electrical, plumbing, building construction technology, HVAC, and masonry.
HBI Job Corps programs are located in 118 job centers and offer pre-apprenticeship training in ten residential construction trades. The training programs are national in scope but implemented locally using proven models that can be customized to meet the workforce needs of communities across the nation. Those who graduate from the program enjoy a 92 percent job placement rate.
To learn more about training and job opportunities in the Tennessee Valley, visit the Home Builders of Great Chattanooga’s website at www.HBAGC.net
While we are still experiencing record high temperatures as summer wanes on, schools are getting back to the books and all things pumpkin spice are already appearing in stores around Chattanooga. And with those first hints of fall, we are excited that the 2022 Annual Fall Home Show is just around the corner, scheduled for September 24-25. The Annual Fall Home Show is the premier event for the local home industry with hundreds of booths featuring products and services for new home construction, whole house renovations, kitchens, bathrooms, landscaping, and more. If your business has not registered for a vendor booth just yet, here are some reasons you should book now.
There is no better way to reach your target customers and garner awareness for your business than the Annual Fall Home Show. You will meet with thousands of homeowners who are currently shopping for products and services, and you can sell products and provide quotes directly on site. You also have the opportunity to collect high quality leads for future sales, meaning a continued return on your investment.
“The main reason we come back every year to the Annual Fall Home Show is we always get quality leads for new window, door and siding customers,” shares Trey Moon, owner of Window Works of Chattanooga. Moon continues, “As a local and family-owned business, we find this is one of the best ways to connect personally with both our customers and other local businesses.”
On top of meeting directly with your target audience, you will also be able to network with other home industry professionals. This is a wonderful way to spread the word about your business, as well as secure projects with complementary businesses.
The Annual Fall Home Show also offers a straightforward way to learn about your direct competition. Browsing the show floor not only allows you to get an idea of what other businesses are offering but can also help you find new ways to better reach your customers. Being a vendor at the show helps you stay on top of the best marketing practices and top home industry trends.
And lastly, you may be surprised to hear that you do not have to be an HBAGC member to join the show. Booths are available to all local home industry businesses and professionals. However, if you choose to become a member, you can receive a discounted rate on your booth space when registering.
For more information and to sign up for the 2022 Annual Fall Home Show, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s Home Show website at www.homeshowchattanooga.com.
Despite the news headlines, individuals continue to buy and sell homes. According to an National Association of Home Builders (NAHB) analysis, in May 2022, 88% of homes sold were on the market for less than a month. For many Americans, owning their own home is worth the time and investment. Loni Marcus with Lake Homes Realty shares, “Even as interest rates increase, they are still relatively low compared to previous decades. As a lake real estate specialist, I continue to see a strong demand for lake homes in the Chattanooga area.” Marcus continues, “These homes are good investments in addition to providing a gathering place for family and friends. For those looking to sell or buy, now is a good time before interest rates increase even more. Lake homes and housing in general are great investments and buyer activity remains strong but is less chaotic. Today, we may see four or five offers on a house as opposed to 20 or more a year ago.”
The benefits of buying a home are numerous. New homes available on the market today are designed to accommodate a variety of lifestyles, from busy on-the-go families to flexible spaces ideal for spending more time at home. In addition, many new homes feature a variety of floor plans and amenities to complement everyday family activities.
And today’s homes are more energy efficient than ever. With innovative materials and construction techniques, new homes are built to be much more energy efficient than homes constructed a generation ago. As a result, not only can they be more affordable to operate, but new homes also are significantly more resource-efficient and environmentally friendly.
Building standards have changed a great deal over the decades, almost as fast as technology has evolved. Due to this evolution, new homes can accommodate today’s advanced technology and can be customized to meet the individual homeowner’s needs. And knowing that the house was built by a qualified professional to adhere to the latest safety codes gives the owner added assurance.
Many benefits are not tangible but similarly valuable. For example, one of the built-in benefits of many new homes is the forming of a new neighborhood. When families move into a new community at the same time, lasting bonds of friendship and neighborliness often form right away. Many home builders will host community block parties in these developments to help neighbors of all ages meet and connect.
For many people, a home is the single best long-term investment and a primary source of wealth and financial security. The contrast of wealth-building opportunities between homeowners and renters is striking. On average, someone who owns their home has a household wealth of $255,000 compared to a renter with an average household wealth of $6,300. Americans count on their homes for their children’s education, retirement, and overall personal sense of well-being.
For more information on the benefits of home ownership and local real estate professionals in our community, contact the Home Builders of Great Chattanooga at www.HBAGC.net.
If you are ready to put your home on the market, you’ll likely want to sell it quickly and secure the best price. Most homes have general wear and tear, and potential home buyers will take notice. At the same time, you may not have a large budget to spend on your current home, especially if you’re trying to buy a new home. To help you focus on the areas of your home that will attract buyers, consider the following simple home repairs.
Refresh Your Home Exterior: Once you put your home on the market, you want your home to stand out and make a good first impression. Leatha Eaves with Coldwell Banker Pryor Realty shares, “Evaluating your home’s curb appeal is the best place to start, but an exterior refresh doesn’t need to involve a complete landscape redesign. Do a quick clean-up to remove dead or dying plants and add new blooming ones. Always ensure your front entry and porches are clean. Add a fresh coat of paint to your front door and replace the doorknob if needed. These things can give your home an instant inviting look.”
Once your front yard and entryway is tidy, check your home’s exterior for wear and tear. Consider adding a fresh coat of paint to the outside of your home and repair any cracked or chipped siding.
Inspect Your HVAC unit: Home buyers do not want to be faced with a repair bill immediately after purchasing a home. If you have a central air conditioning unit in your home, make sure it’s working optimally. If cool air isn’t filling the entire home when the unit is turned on or if your unit makes loud noises, it’s a sign your unit needs to be repaired. It is best practice to have the HVAC unit inspected before your home is put on the market. Future buyers can rest assured their new cooling system will work properly.
Ensure Your Flooring is Acceptable. Snagged carpet, broken tiles and stains on flooring detract home buyers. The floors in your home should be in good condition. Dirty carpet should be cleaned or replaced. Make sure any new flooring is consistent with the style and color of existing flooring to avoid a patchwork design. Buyers want to be able to visualize the space they will live in, so a neutral/tan colored carpet works best. If you find wood flooring in good condition under the carpet you are replacing, you should consider keeping it in place. Wood flooring is much more attractive for many home buyers.
Spruce Up Your Bathrooms: You will be surprised by how much a small repair, such as caulking around the sink or tub, can provide big results. Taking time to remove the dirt and grime from the bathroom in your home can make a positive impression on buyers. The flooring condition is as important as it is in the other areas of your home. Fix any broken or chipped tile and steam clean the floors.
Investing in these small home repairs before selling your home can potentially increase your sell price and help ensure your listing doesn’t last long. For more information on home buying, selling or new home construction visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s website at www.HBAGC.net.
The record temperatures this summer come with their own set of challenges for your home, from higher utility costs to extra stress on your HVAC system. However, a few simple improvements can help you avoid significant home repairs and costly utility bills, while increasing the value of your home.
Temperature Check: Installing a programmable thermostat can help you save on heating and cooling costs. This device allows you to customize your indoor temperature throughout the day, which could lead to utility bill savings. Many smart thermostats also alert you to ways you could save more and if there are any issues with your HVAC system.
HVAC Tune-up: Check the condition of your air conditioner and replace your filter regularly. Dirty filters are one of the leading causes of HVAC system failures. When the summer heat is especially intense, keep in mind that most systems are only able to cool homes approximately 20 degrees below the outside temperatures. However, if your system doesn’t seem to be keeping up, you can check with a professional to make sure it's working properly. Additionally, installing ceiling fans if you don’t already have them and adding curtains or shades to windows will keep your home cool and decrease the stress on your HVAC system.
Replace Windows: If you own an older home with original windows, new windows can increase your energy efficiency significantly and provide a return on investment. If old windows are replaced now, the new ones will help prevent heat loss during the winter months as well and provide more indoor comfort. Kim Anderson, owner of Window World of Chattanooga, shares, “When deciding to replace windows in an older home, homeowners need to look for energy-efficient products to improve the value of their home. Window World offers energy efficient windows, siding, doors, and roofs. Not only will the products help with a homeowner’s energy bills but can enhance the appearance of an older home.”
Inspect and Clean Your Dryer Vents: Dryer vents get clogged with lint, which can keep your dryer from functioning well. If your vents are not clean, not only will it take longer for your clothes to dry, but your utility bill may also increase along with the risk of a house fire. A professional can inspect and clean your vent and ensure your exhaust system is working properly.
For a list of qualified professionals to help with your summer home improvements, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga member directory at www.HBAGC.net.
Housing affordability has continued to be a challenge for the housing market as it grapples with a lack of inventory, due in large part to five key factors: labor, land or lots, lending, lumber and other material costs, and laws and regulatory burdens. COVID-19 has exacerbated a number of these factors — notably material costs and labor shortages — and kept inventory low, which have caused housing prices to soar and priced numerous Americans out of purchasing a home.
According to recent research from the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), higher mortgage rates and double-digit growth in home prices are discouraging a growing share of buyers from engaging in the purchase process. At its peak in mid-2021, 61% of perspective buyers were actively trying to find a home to buy; that share has dropped back to pre-pandemic levels at 46%.
Nationwide, of the buyers who were actively engaged in the process of finding a home in the first quarter of 2022, 67% have spent 3-plus months searching for a home without success. Although the majority will continue to search for a new home, a growing segment of prospective home buyers are choosing to wait. According to NAHB’s latest Home Trends Report, the share of prospective buyers postponing their home search until next year has risen steadily from 20% in the second quarter of 2021 to 25% in the first quarter of 2022.
Chattanooga-area prospective buyers may be wondering if they should buy now or postpone. We posted this exact question to Patty Becknell, Loan Officer with PrimeLending to find out. Becknell responded, “This is a question most people are asking right now due to the current economy. The fear of higher interest rates, general inflation and home price inflation are in the back of every person’s mind. What we need to remember is that the interest rates are still at a low level and with inflation causing prices to go up, the longer we wait to buy a home, the higher the cost we will incur. Now is the time to plan to buy your home - whether it is an immediate goal, or a long-term goal – count on us to assist you in reaching your homeownership goals!”
For more information on NAHB’s efforts to combat housing affordability and a list of professionals in helping you purchase your new home, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s website at www.HBAGC.net
Buying or selling a home is one of the largest financial decisions made in a lifetime. With the current housing market conditions of rising interest rates, high home prices and inventory shortages, choosing the right real estate agent to list or purchase your new home is an even more daunting task. Here are a few tips to help you find the perfect fit for you.
Ask for Recommendations
If you have friends or family who have recently purchased or sold a home, check with them for an agent referral. Word of mouth continues to be one of the most popular and successful ways to find a good realtor. Be sure to ask the question, “Would you work with this agent again?” Hiring a professional realtor who is a friend or family member is also an option, however, it is always wise to exercise caution when going this route as it could jeopardize the relationship if things do not go as planned.
Research Prospective Agents
Do some background work on potential agents by checking them out online. Start with their website, current or recent listings, social media profiles and reviews to get an idea of their professional background and personality. Think about the characteristics you value most when reading reviews. For example, you may prioritize an agent that is focused on the numbers or perhaps you prefer a realtor who offers great customer service. Browsing websites and listings will also give you insight into an agent’s experience with specific areas of towns and types of homes. Community involvement is also an important trait to consider. Being a part of the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga and other area organizations shows the agent has a large network of contacts with other agents, builders, and other local industry professionals.
Interview Your Top Choices
While it may add a little more time to the process, meeting with potential agents is important so that you don’t run into issues down the road. “When looking for a real estate agent to sell your current home or purchase your new home, it's always a good idea to have a list of questions ready for prospective realtors," shares Charlotte Mabry with Greater Downtown Keller Williams Realty. "Take the time to ask the interview questions to make sure you have the right fit, check on their length of time as a realtor, and ask for a few recent client references.” Mabry continues, “Our team is always happy to share references and answer any questions for new clients. We know how important this life decision is and we are committed to making sure your goals are met every step of the way.”
To start your search in finding an experienced real estate agent to sell or purchase your home, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s member directory at www.HBAGC.net
Buying a home in a neighborhood that fits your lifestyle is essential. If your new neighborhood doesn’t meet your needs, the choice can cause headaches for years. The location of your home makes a significant difference in the quality of your life. With a competitive housing market, you might need to expand your home search, but how do you decide which neighborhood is right for you? Experts recommend creating a checklist of neighborhood features you value the most. To help you narrow down your choices, consider the following.
Quality of the School System and Daily Commute. If you have children or if you’re planning to start a family, evaluating the quality of the school system is usually at the top of the must-have list. Homes located in quality school districts improve your home’s resell value. The best place to start is by visiting the school district’s website for information about graduation rates and test scores.
If you commute to work or other locations daily or even a couple of times a week, factor in travel time to these locations at different times throughout the day, including heaviest traffic times.
Neighborhood Amenities. Think about different elements of your lifestyle and how the ideal neighborhood can complement your needs. Cheryl Moore with Core Homes shares, “If you have children, you might be drawn to a neighborhood with a pool, community green spaces, playgrounds, or close to parks. Streets with stretches of level grade are great for bikes and scooters. Older home buyers also appreciate walkable streets for convenient exercise. Lifestyle amenities such as a peaceful lake setting or a close-by golf course are big draws for people who are empty-nesters or are retired.” Moore continues, “We are always happy to help our prospective homebuyers find just the right community and home for their family.”
Property Taxes and Homeowners’ Association (HOA) Fees. As a future homeowner, you are responsible for paying for more than just your mortgage. Depending on what city or county the neighborhood resides in, the property taxes you pay may vary. Ask your real estate agent about the current tax rate and how much it has increased in the last several years. You’ll want to factor the amount into your overall budget.
Also, many neighborhoods have HOA fees to maintain common areas, such as a pool or nearby park. HOA fees vary. Depending on where you decide to live and what type of home you purchase, you will have to pay a monthly or annual fee.
Age of Development. If you are a younger family, a newer development may provide the chance to meet other families that share your life experiences and interests. On the other hand, older developments will have more mature landscaping and bigger lot sizes. An historic neighborhood rich with character may have a one-of-a-kind curb appeal but, in the end, an older home may require a significant amount of repair work.
To get started on finding a community that is the right fit for your family, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s member directory today.
You’ve probably heard a recurring phrase recently if you’re shopping for pretty much anything, “Prices are up because of COVID.” The higher prices shoppers are experiencing are largely due to surging demand and COVID-related delays as companies struggle to increase supply and hire employees. However, there are some ways to save money as prices continue to rise.
The current major appliance shortage could last until the end of the year due to production and supply chain slowdowns during the pandemic. That leaves homeowners facing higher prices and long waits for appliances including washing machines, dryers, refrigerators and freezers.
Before you shop for appliances, consider which features you must have versus those that are less essential.
Also, comparison shop at independent retailers who may offer comparable prices and better service than big-box stores. “Service and attention to detail are two of the biggest reasons to go with an independent appliance store,” says Chris Swain, Regional Manager of Siano Appliances. “At a big-box store, you’re just a number. With an independent retailer you get treated better and have a personal relationship with your sales professional and the delivery team.”
Internet and Telecom
Recently, providers have started to raise prices and impose data caps once again. To cap rising cell phone prices, consider switching to a lower-cost plan. Check with your internet provider to see if they offer a discounted cell service/internet bundle. And consider cutting the cable-TV cord and going with streaming services instead to save.
Low-income families, families that experienced job losses or furloughs and some others may qualify for discounts on internet service and equipment through the federal Emergency Broadband Benefit program. Visit https://getemergencybroadband.org/ to see if you qualify.
If you’re shopping for a television right now, lucky you! According to the Consumer Reports Best Time to Buy guide, September, November, December and January are the best months to buy TVs. This is due to holiday sales and the release of new models in January. Many stores will price match or even beat a competitor’s price, so be sure to do your homework and shop around before you buy.
For a list of appliance dealers, internet/telecom providers and other home professionals in the Chattanooga area, visit the membership directory at www.HBAGC.net.
With the hot housing market in the Chattanooga area, many people are finding themselves moving in a hurry! Here are some things you can do to make your move to a new home a smoother transition.
Keep, Donate or Discard
Purge your closets and cabinets. Start keep, donate and discard boxes. If you haven’t worn or used something in the last year or two, consider donating or discarding the item. People tend to save items due to sentimental value although they may never use them. Be objective and save yourself work later in the moving process.
Clean Out the Kitchen
Remove all out-of-date items in your pantry and refrigerator. If you have frozen foods expiring soon, try to use them before you move so you don’t have to transport cold items or throw them away.
Buy Packing Supplies
The earlier you can start packing boxes, the better and the more time you have to make sure items are carefully secured inside. Buy packing tape, markers, boxes and bubble wrap. Consider using color-coded stickers so movers know where each box goes to expedite your moving day.
For free boxes, ask on social media and check local liquor stores and recycle centers. Some recycle centers set large, sturdier boxes aside to be reused for free.
Hire Your Moving Company
Do homework for a reputable moving company. Ask for referrals from friends that recently moved, check with your realtor for suggestions and check Google and social media reviews. Get quotes and schedule your day ahead of time.
If you’re trying to handle the move yourself, enlist family and friends for extra sets of hands. Plan on having food and drinks for your crew, and consider reserving a truck from a local rental company.
Clean Ahead of the Move
Consider hiring a cleaning service to deep clean your new home prior to your move-in date. It is much easier to clean before everything is moved in.
“Having your home professionally cleaned or cleaning it yourself before you move in provides you with a clean slate and makes it your space,” says Kindra Wallace, owner of Superior Cleaning Solutions.
Be sure to fill out a change of address form, it can quickly be done online at https://moversguide.usps.com. Contact your utilities a couple of weeks ahead of the move to set up the cancellation of service and sign up with a new provider. You’ll want to ensure you have water, electricity, gas, sewer, trash and recycle services, security monitoring and internet. Finally, change the locks at your new home as you don’t know who may have keys.
For a list of local utility and security system providers, cleaning services and other home professionals to make your move easier, visit the membership directory at www.HBAGC.net.
With the hot, humid summer weather in the Chattanooga area, many homeowners are running their air conditioning 24/7. Now is a great time to find ways to lower your energy bill. Here are some ideas that can help.
Installing and setting a programmable thermostat can lower your heating and cooling bills by up to 10% each year. If you’re uncomfortable installing one yourself, visit the member directory at www.HBAGC.net for a list of reliable HVAC professionals in our area.
Here are some items plumbers suggest homeowners do to have a more water-efficient home:
-Adjust the PRV (pressure reducing valve) to the proper PSI
-Regular replacement of water-saver aerators to existing faucets
-Install water-saving/efficient showerheads in their showers
-Install water-saving/efficient toilets
“Each of these items helps homes to be more water-efficient and also helps them to save money on their water bills,” says JT Alier, owner of South East Total Service.
Replacing just five of your home’s most used lights with energy-efficient bulbs can save you up to $75 per year.
Heating and Air Maintenance
Have an HVAC professional provide annual maintenance for your heating and cooling system, and be sure to change your filters regularly. Check your air conditioner’s evaporator coil, which should be cleaned annually to ensure the system is performing at optimal levels. Also, air loss through ducts accounts for nearly 30 percent of a cooling system’s energy consumption. Sealing and insulating ducts will lower your electricity bills.
During the day, switch off lights and use windows and skylights to brighten your home. When you’re not using natural light from windows though, be sure to take advantage of energy-efficient window treatments or coverings such as blinds, shades and films which help keep the temperatures down by reducing heat gain.
Using ceiling fans will allow you to raise your thermostat four degrees, helping to lower your electricity bills without sacrificing overall comfort.
Caulk Air Leaks
Check your home around windows and doors for air leaks. A cheap tube of caulk can make a big difference in sealing out warm air and saving you money.
To find home professionals in the greater Chattanooga area to help you get your house more energy-efficient, visit the member directory at www.HBAGC.net.
Homeownership benefits millions of Americans across the country. In addition to having a place to call home and a sense of community, many people purchase homes to help build their wealth. A primary residence was the largest asset among households across age groups in 2019, according to the 2019 Survey of Consumer Finances. How does housing measure up to other investments, like the stock market? Not surprisingly, many Americans view homeownership as a sound investment to provide financial security.
A recent study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York found that most households view housing as a good investment in comparison to the stock market. When asked whether a young couple should buy a primary residence or invest in the stock market more than 90% of the survey respondents chose housing. The survey was run in February 2020 (largely before the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States), October 2020 and February 2021.
“Homeownership is investing in yourself, your family and the community,” says TVFCU VP of Mortgage Eric Weekley. “The TVFCU Mortgage team is ready to help make your homeownership dreams a reality!”
Many survey respondents also view rental property as another viable pathway to generate returns. When asked to choose between investing in a rental property or the overall stock market, more than 50% of the households recommended housing each time the survey was administered. In selecting housing as a better investment over the stock market, most survey respondents cited “desired living environment and provides stability,” “housing prices less volatile,” and higher house prices as their primary reasons.
Americans view housing as a primary residence or as a rental property as a good investment compared to the stock market. Many homeowners count on their home equity to fund retirement, their children’s education, and other important needs. In addition to an investment opportunity, owning a home represents a big part of the American Dream and provides a solid foundation for families.
If you’re ready to start shopping for a home or rental property, visit www.HBAGC.net for a list of realtors, lenders, and more home professionals ready to help you serving Chattanooga and the surrounding areas.
Summertime is meant for enjoying the outdoors, cookouts, entertaining and time spent with family and friends. However, no one wants to share their summer with pests such as ants, mosquitoes, snakes, rodents, bees, bats or raccoons. Homeowners often inadvertently invite these pests to be a part of their summer activities with some common oversights that can be quickly alleviated.
“If homeowners take a walk around the perimeter of their house, they can often find free or cheap ways to avoid inviting pests inside,” says Clay Cochran, Northwest Exterminating Business Development Executive M/A. “Many people don’t think about it, but something as simple as cutting a branch that touches a third-floor wall will cut an access point for ants to enter your home.”
Cochran continues with some simple fixes homeowners can do to help alleviate summer pests. “Remove standing water to keep mosquitoes away,” says Cochran, “birdbaths, kids’ toys, bottoms of plants...these can be breeding grounds for mosquitoes, and even a bottle cap of water can allow mosquitoes to breed in the thousands. Also, keep your grass short, trim bushes, clear piles of wood and debris, and seal cracks and gaps around your home to deter snakes and pests.”
“Food is a big motivator in attracting pests and wildlife,” says Cochran. To keep pests and wildlife out of your home and yard, here are some other suggestions:
-Use tightly-sealed and secured trash cans
-Double bag any meats you put into the trashcan
-Store pet food in sealed containers and bring your pets’ food and water bowls inside nightly
-Pick up any fallen birdseed around your home and yard
-Keep your counters clean, floors swept and throw away overripened fruits and vegetables
-Keep fruit off the ground if you have fruit trees
-Keep dishes clean
-Don’t let garbage pile up
Finally, don’t wait until you have an infestation to seek professional help. Regular quarterly maintenance by a professional pest control company can save huge headaches and costs later by establishing an exterior boundary so they will not have to spray chemicals as often inside the home. Professionals will know how pest cycles change seasonally and will adjust the treatments to use for your home accordingly.
For a list of professionals in our area to help with your summer home needs, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s member directory at www.HBAGC.net.
National Home Remodeling Month in May has even more reason to be celebrated locally as the remodeling industry remains strong in our area over a year into the pandemic. In fact, the remodeling market has benefitted as a direct result of the pandemic. Despite lingering supply-side challenges, confidence in the remodeling market continues to increase, according to a recent NAHB survey. Though the market sputtered at the onset of COVID-19, remodeling activity quickly roared back. Nearly half of remodelers reported 50% of their projects were a direct result of the pandemic, according to a recent NAHB survey.
“The remodeling market took a hit last year at the start of the pandemic, but it’s completely turned around now,” said NAHB Remodelers Chair Steve Cunningham. “Now, remodelers are facing intense backlog on projects due to supply chain delays, continued labor shortages and an abundance of project leads.”
A desire for better amenities was cited as the most common consumer motivation for remodeling, followed by a need to repair or replace older components, and a desire or need for more space. Moreover, as home prices and interest rates rise, many would-be home buyers are instead opting to stay put and make improvements to their current homes. Especially among older homeowners, aging-in-place and universal design projects are becoming increasingly popular.
“The pandemic along with the unfortunate Easter storms in 2020 definitely increased the home improvement industry here locally, “ says JB Millworks owner and HBAGC member Jeremie Price, “and the market has remained strong in 2021.”
NAHB’s survey found that bathrooms and kitchens continue to top the list of the most common remodeling projects. Among all projects, 74% were primarily bathrooms while 67% involved kitchens.
“As homeowners continue to make modifications to their homes, it’s important that they do their research and hire a qualified professional,” said Cunningham. “Whether it’s a small project or a whole house remodel, a qualified professional remodeler can help homeowners create a space that works for them.”
To find a dedicated professional remodeler to trust with your bath, kitchen or other home renovations in the Chattanooga area, visit the membership directory at www.HBAGC.net.
Does it seem this spring more and more apartments, condominiums and houses are breaking ground in the Tennessee Valley? That’s because they are! Housing production rebounded across the country as well as in the South in March as buyer demand remains solid due to low mortgage interest rates. Overall housing starts in the U.S. increased 19.4%, according to a report from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. This was the fastest pace for combined single-family and multifamily construction since June 2006.
However, continued lumber and building supply shortages are weighing heavily on new home builders. “The test for the industry this year will be balancing growth and higher construction costs, given ongoing housing affordability challenges,” according to the National Association of Home Builders Chief Economist Robert Dietz.
On a regional basis, new housing starts are 13.5% higher in the South. New housing production continues to be strong in our area because, “rates were so low in 2020, driving purchases and especially refinances, so existing inventory remains low,” says Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga member and Synovus Mortgage Loan Originator Holly J. Walsh. This mix of low finance rates combined with low inventory has created a seller’s market, pushing many to look into new home production.
Are you looking to get a new home loan in this competitive market? “My best advice is to work with a local realtor who knows the market and can help you be prepared to move fast and if you like a home make a quick offer,” says Walsh. “Another key is to make sure you have gotten your prequalification taken care of so that you already have a letter to submit with your offer to let the seller know that you are serious! Make sure to talk to a Mortgage Loan Originator when you begin house hunting.”
The Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga is an invaluable tool to our community comprised of local professionals dedicated to the continued betterment of home services for both new and existing homeowners. To find a reputable, qualified realtor, builder or housing professional in the greater Chattanooga area, visit the membership directory at www.HBAGC.net. And to have your business be a part of this non-profit organization, visit https://hbagc.net/membership/membership-application.
With spring’s warmer weather and more daylight, you may be itching to get outdoors. Wondering what you should be doing now in your yard, flowerbeds and outdoor areas? Here’s a handy list to help.
Yard and Landscaping-
“Do not plant annuals until after April 15, we always get one more cold snap before then,” warns HBAGC board member and Home and Lawn Care Services owner Marty Hilliard. According to the Farmer’s Almanac, she is right as it predicts our last frost this year to be April 8 calculated using 1981-2010 climate normals.
To avoid pesky weeds later, Hilliard advises to be sure to put a preemergent or crab grass preventer on your lawn and ornamental beds now as well as a thick layer of mulch on your flower beds. She also recommends following up with a weed and seed in six to eight weeks.
Now is also the time to do your pruning, and cut back shrubs before they begin flushing. No, we are not referring to the restroom. Flushing in shrubs refers to the point in a flowering cycle when a plant is in full bloom. The period when all blossoms of a plant are open is called a flowering flush.
If all this sounds exhausting, perhaps you should consider hiring a professional landscaper. Why a professional? “Well for one, it saves your back,” laughs Hilliard, “But seriously, things that take a homeowner two weeks may take us a day. And you definitely help the local economy, which is very important after covid.”
However, do not expect to call now and get immediate service from a landscaping professional. Be patient if you have waited to the last minute, as most are scheduled six to eight weeks out now for installation. Hilliard recommends calling in January or February to get on their schedule. For design, the wait typically isn’t as long.
Now’s the time to clean up your outdoor furniture and get it ready for entertaining, too. Use a wire brush to clean off rust on your wrought iron furniture, then lightly sand, spray with a rust inhibitor and repaint. For teak, clean using a special cleanser, let dry then apply teak oil if you want to maintain the natural color.
April is a good time to clean your windows, too. Use a squeegee, and wipe it off after each pass. If you’d rather hire a professional, prices can start from as little as $100 for a small home.
To find a reputable window cleaner, landscaper or any home services professional in the Chattanooga area, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s membership directory at www.HBAGC.net.
Spring is here, and warmer weather means checking off your home maintenance to-do list. Here are some items to cross off your list this spring.
Let’s start from the top, literally- Clear your gutters of leaves and debris, and inspect your roof for damaged or loose shingles and get those repaired. If you have a masonry chimney, check the joints between bricks or stones. Any missing? Is there vegetation growing out of them? These are signs of water infiltration. Also, look for efflorescence, a white deposit that indicates your masonry joints are absorbing water.
Outdoor entertaining- Check your deck for splintered or loose boards and repair. Powerwash your patios and decks, and if you have a wood deck that is faded or worn, clean, stain and reseal it. Check grill hoses and clean the grill, and check the propane in your grills and outdoor heaters. For charcoal grillers, clean up any ash and grease residue.
Exterior- Check your exterior walls for damaged areas, water spots around eaves and gutters. Wash them and windows inside and out. Check caulking and weather stripping around your windows, and replace as needed. This will keep cool air from inside from escaping outside during hot summer months.
Interior- Now’s a great time to clean those areas we often overlook. Vacuum and flip your mattresses and wash your mattress covers to alleviate dust and allergens. Dust tops of cabinets, chair rails, baseboards, and ceiling fans. Have your drapes laundered and clean your blinds.
Change the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and change your hvac filter. Check hvac hose connections for leaks, and make sure the drain pans are draining freely.
Fireplaces- HBAGC member John Fine of Fine’s Hearth and Patio has some excellent tips for fireplace owners. “For gas fireplaces we suggest turning off the pilot light for several reasons; by turning the pilot off you will lower gas consumption, reduce the need for a service call to clean the pilot because when a pilot is burning its constantly drawing in room air and accumulating household dust inside the pilot and if you leave the pilot light lit year round you are adding unwanted heat to the home,” says Fine.
“We also suggest removing batteries from the remote control and receiver to prevent corrosion over time.”
“For wood-burning fireplaces we suggest closing the damper to prevent the conditioned air in the home from escaping up the chimney. We also suggest removing all the unburned wood/ashes for the fireplace and having the chimney cleaned or inspected at the end of the burn season.”
Finally, “Spring is also a great time to have your fireplace serviced so it will be ready for when old man winter comes back again,” advises Fine.
For a list of qualified professionals to help with your spring maintenance, visit our membership directory at www.HBAGC.net.
Prices have soared because of supply-chain issues and other COVID-19-related challenges. Solving the lumber crisis is a critical priority for the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga, particularly because of housing affordability implications. Potential solutions that use high-performance building strategies can reduce the amount of lumber needed to build a home and reduce the demand on the timber industry.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in the cost of lumber over the past two quarters and it continues to rise. With an increase in demand, low interest rates, and shortages as a result of the pandemic, it has created an environment for unprecedented cost increases and delays,” says HBAGC member Ryan Jerke, Division President of Goodall Homes. “While this has negatively impacted our margins and build times, the consumer has absorbed the majority of the increases and the market continues to be strong. We have not yet reached a tipping point but it could be around the corner if lumber continues to run the way it has over the past two quarters.”
This makes sustainable timber more important than ever, with several elements that make it environmentally friendly:
- Harvesting: Trees must be cut down in a manner that protects the surrounding ecosystem by avoiding damage to local flora and fauna. Additional trees need to be planted to replace what was cut down.
- Sourcing: Sustainable timber could be recycled or reclaimed. For example, many demolished buildings or dilapidated bridges still have useable wood that can be saved for other projects.
- Byproducts: Sustainable timber considers what byproducts are made from the material and how are pollutants within the material are addressed.
One way to decipher how wood is harvested is to check if the material has been certified to a standard by an independent organization, such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC). Home Innovation Research Labs also certifies green products (including wood and engineered wood products), and using those products can earn points toward the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) Green Certification.
Strategies highlighted in the above NGBS practices can help to reduce the amount of wood used in a home — potentially alleviating some of the ongoing issues with supply constraints and material costs, while also emphasizing the importance of how building products are sourced.
To find a sustainable builder in our area, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s website at www.HBAGC.net.
Trying to sell during the COVID-19 pandemic and looking for some low-budget home renovations that will pay off? Despite the pandemic, house sales boomed in the Chattanooga area in 2020. Many home buyers are looking for turnkey properties, so a little TLC can make a big difference in getting your home sold. Here are some expert tips to get the most bang for your money.
Dirty baseboards; soap scum or hard water stains in the bathrooms; scuffed doors and cabinets; dust bunnies and cobwebs in corners; dirty windows blocking views; driveways and sidewalks in need of pressure-washing; dead flowers in old pots littering the walkway—these can affect the all important first impression of your home for potential buyers. This is by far the least expensive improvement that makes a huge impact, you just need a little time or elbow grease. If you’re short on time, invest in a one-time cleaning service, a professional pressure-washer and a window washer.
Front Door/Outdoor Lighting
It’s the first thing a potential home buyer will interact with, so sprucing up the front door is worth the investment. Could your front door benefit from new hardware, door knockers or a fresh coat of paint? And shining outdoor lighting on your home, walkways and path can brighten opportunities to impress homebuyers.
“During winter months, it gets dark early and realtors show houses in the evenings. Houses lit up pop much more than the house next door,” says HBAGC member Joe Bozich, owner of Outdoor Lighting Perspectives. “Outdoor lighting is a bargain that will increase your curb apparel, security as a deterrent to prowlers and safety from trip hazards. It makes a home that seems average during the day look spectacular at night.”
Minor Kitchen and Bath Upgrades
Outdated kitchens and baths can lower the value of a home. Updating cabinets, countertops, new hardware and accessories, lighting fixtures, even fresh towels and decor can make your home seem more appealing and speed up your selling process.
The Great Outdoors
As people spend more time at home, they are looking for creative ways to expand their living space and make the most of their homes. Fire pits, outdoor kitchens and gathering areas, fish ponds or fountain accessories all make the backyard a more inviting oasis to spend time. Professional landscaping can turn a small area into an inviting private backyard getaway for potential buyers.
With the changes in lifestyles from COVID-19 and so many people working and schooling from home, a home office is now a necessity for many people. A designated space for an office was once thought to be on the way out of home trends, but the pandemic has changed that. A private area to take zoom calls without interruption from the dog or kids wouldn’t have crossed many potential homebuyers’ minds before, yet now will be a strong necessity for many prospects.
For professional help with your building, home improvement and remodeling needs, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at HBAGC.net.
New Year, new home or home improvements? The NAHB forecast is for ongoing gains for single-family construction in 2021, though at a slower growth rate than in 2020. Remodeling will remain strong as people continue to upgrade existing homes.
“2020 was a huge year for home improvements such as window and siding replacement, and 2021 is pacing to be just as strong,” says HBAGC member Trey Moon with Window Works of Chattanooga.
Residential construction will remain a leading element of the recovering economy, as illustrated with recent labor market data: Residential construction added 15,400 net jobs in November and was one of only a few sectors of the economy to post a year-over-year jobs gain (26,000).
The outlook for housing remains positive, as the overall economy is expected to record a solid gain for GDP growth in 2021. NAHB anticipates GDP growth to accelerate in the second half of the year, after a majority of the U.S. population has been vaccinated. This process will be the most important element of 2021, as it will allow hard-hit sectors in the service industries to begin to recover and diminish shutdown risks harming small businesses.
A growing economy will be good for housing, but industry stakeholders should be aware it could also result in higher interest rates that could act as a headwind for more housing growth. Experts suggest now is the time to consider refinancing or getting a home equity loan.
“Mortgage rates are at all time lows. Now is the time to refinance or even consolidate high interest rate loans into low interest rate loans,” says HBAGC member David Smart, President and CEO of Trust Federal Credit Union. “A balance on a credit card with a 20 to 25% interest rate could be converted into a historically low home loan or signature loan.”
Many Chattanoogans found themselves spending more time at home in 2020, fueling housing, home improvement and even secondary residence investments. 2021 will bring a new normal for many, including more remote work opportunities as well as how they live and entertain. This new normal will favorably impact housing and home improvement industries for our area.
To find a qualified, professional remodeler, builder or real estate agent in the Chattanooga area, visit the Home Builder Association of Greater Chattanooga’s online membership directory at HBAGC.net.
Working Together to Grow Our Community
Jay Bell, President
Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga
Very few professions connect a community or region like the residential construction and remodeling industry does. Long before the foundation is poured and walls are framed, the process of building or remodeling a residence brings together dozens of professionals that contribute individual expertise that ultimately concludes with either a new home or an upgrade to an existing residence.
From the real estate agent to the mortgage lender, from the plumber, electrician and carpenter to the carpet, appliances and siding, the residential construction process is one that brings together dozens of businesses, hundreds of employees and thousands of families nearly every day.
For more than 70 years, the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga (HBAGC) has committed itself to building quality, affordable housing for those who strongly believe in the American Dream of one day owning their own home.
Looking back, it has been quite a journey. Through the good times and bad, the builders and the many businesses that support the residential construction industry work closely together to provide an economic development engine that drives our local economy in a variety of ways.
For example, a recent economic impact study conducted by the National Association of Home Builders determined that the estimated one-year local economic impact of building 1,000 single-family homes in Chattanooga produces $192.2 million in local income, $26.5 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and 2,796 local jobs. In addition, the additional, annually recurring impact of building single-family homes in Chattanooga includes $36.9 million in local income, $13.4 million in taxes and other revenue for local governments, and 705 local jobs. Every year.
And it doesn’t stop there. HBAGC is proud of its long history of “giving back” to many local and area organizations such as Habitat for Humanity, American Red Cross, Tennessee River Gorge Trust, Hamilton County schools, Chattanooga Area Food Bank, and providing scholarships for deserving students who are interested in a career in the construction trades. Through the years, HBAGC has donated tens of thousands of dollars to local and area organizations and institutions so that our membership can have a positive and meaningful impact on the lives of those who need a helping hand. Through these contributions, HBAGC is able to be a true community partner in the growth and success of this wonderful place we call “Home.”
The next time you drive buy a new construction site or remodeling project, take a moment to consider the multiple moving parts, all working together, to grow our community in a responsible and productive way. Whether it’s the person holding the hammer or the family putting the key in the front door for the first time, it’s an amazing experience.
New Year’s resolutions are a great way to give yourself that extra motivation to start making positive changes in your life. Why not do the same for your home?
Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions for Your Home
Jay Bell, President
Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga
New Year’s resolutions are a great way to give yourself that extra motivation to start making positive changes in your life. Why not do the same for your home?
As we enter 2018, take a moment and reflect on your home. There’s a good chance that it has some problems, especially if it’s more than 10 years old. It can be all too easy to ignore home issues and let them get out of hand.
Use your New Year energy to kick home improvement into gear. You might even be surprised to find that you and your home have a strikingly similar list of resolutions.
1. Lose Weight
One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is losing weight. While it’s one of the toughest for a person to stick to, for a home, it’s surprisingly easy. Homes tend to collect clutter around the holidays, filling up with gifts, decorations, and new purchases. Don’t wait until spring rolls around to de-clutter. Use the first couple weeks in January to throw away, donate, or re-sell home goods that you no longer need. Your home will feel so much lighter and more spacious once you do.
2. Be More Organized
As you work your way through de-cluttering your home, roll with that momentum and take it as an opportunity to get organized. Maybe your home office has become a wasteland of papers, books, and gadgets in the past year. Go through it all. Get rid of things you never use, and recycle all the papers you don’t need anymore. You’ll start the New Year feeling more productive in your clean, de-cluttered workspace.
3. Take Up a New Hobby
DIY projects are the perfect way to update your home for the New Year. Not only do they make your home a little more functional and beautiful on a tight budget, but they can give you a great sense of personal accomplishment. Replacing light fixtures, painting walls, and switching out hardware are DIY projects that almost anyone can do. There are, however, certain projects that are best left to the professionals. Before you pick up a sledgehammer, start ripping up floors, or removing cabinets, consult with a remodeler who can provide some professional guidance.
4. Eat Better and Drink Less
Between parties, family dinners, and seasonal treats, it’s all too easy to overindulge during the holidays. Even your home might be feeling gluttonous - consuming more water and electricity as the weather turns colder. Luckily, there are countless new products - some of which can be installed fairly easily - to improve your home’s energy efficiency. From low-flow water fixtures, smart-home thermostats, and motion-sensing automated lights to Energy Star appliances and double-pane windows, the options are endless. Ask a building professional which features are best suited for your home and budget. Put in the time now, and when next winter rolls around your home will be equipped and ready.
5. Get Out of Debt
A top New Year priority for many is getting out of debt and finding better ways to manage finances, especially after holiday spending. You can start by identifying wasteful spending. Try to minimize or even eliminate it wherever possible, but remember that you can’t cut all the fun out of your budget. You probably have several improvements you want to tackle in your home, but starting on them all at once would be a logistical and financial nightmare. Work with a contractor you trust, and let them help you prioritize your needs and wants. Create a plan to address them over time and factor that into your New Year budget. You might also want to check in with a remodeler. They can help you determine which items on your list will give you the best return on investment, making the improvements well worth the time and money.
It’s no surprise that your list of New Year’s resolutions might look very similar to your home’s. After all, your home is a reflection of you. With these tips, you can spend 2018 in a more comfortable, beautiful, and peaceful home.
Learn more about which improvements are best suited for your home by visiting HBAGC at www.hbagc.net, 423-624-9992 or email@example.com.
When you think about the spaces in your home where you most enjoy spending your time, the garage is probably not at the top of the list. Here are some ways to make it a more functional — dare we say — attractive space.
Dream Up a More Functional, Appealing Garage
Mike Croxall, President
Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga
When you think about the spaces in your home where you most enjoy spending your time, the garage is probably not at the top of the list. Here are some ways to make it a more functional — dare we say — attractive space.
Wall, Freestanding and Overhead Storage
There are several types of sturdy, free-standing shelving units and hanging fixtures available. But pay close attention to the weight limit for each shelf and measure your space carefully to make an informed decision before you buy. Whenever possible, affix the shelves to the studs within the walls so that they do not tip and cause injury.
Then, look up. Do you have space above where you or a professional can install shelving overhead? That might be a great place for larger items, especially if those items are used infrequently.
Tabletop and Cabinet Work Space
Consider installing cabinetry and countertops that you’d normally see in a kitchen or craft room. You’ll first want to ensure the durability and features meet the demands of your tools or hobby projects. Also, bear in mind that the moisture and temperature conditions of your garage likely differ from those of your kitchen or other rooms inside the home. Those variables could have an impact on the types of materials best suited to meet your needs.
A Splash of Sealant, Paint and Creativity
Don’t forget about style and appeal. You don’t need to leave the drab, grey cement floor and standard-issue rough walls or open studs of your garage untouched. Consult with a remodeler or builder in your area to finish your walls, allowing you to then paint your garage walls an appealing color to brighten it up.
As for the floor, one of the most bang-for-buck upgrades is properly sealing and finishing the floor. When doing so, you choose from a variety of colors, instead of a bland grey. You can also install a durable, non-slip material to portions of the floor that is both appealing to the eye, and safer and softer to walk on. These often come in the form of interlocking squares for easy installation.
Start by going online or to a home improvement store to find out what new products may be a great fit for your garage and your lifestyle. Or think bigger and reach out to a professional remodeler or home builder at HBAGC at hbagc.net or 423-624-9992. Maybe you’ll find the garage becomes your new favorite space in your home.
Picture yourself hosting a gathering at your home during the holidays. The mental image you conjure most likely includes some delicious food, festive music and a roaring fire in the fireplace, right?
Building a fire creates a cozy atmosphere and adds an element of elegance. But whether yours is a wood-burning or gas-burning fireplace, each requires maintenance to ensure it is safe to use. So before you light a match or ignite the pilot light, consider the following:
A gas fireplace provides the comfort and style of a wood-burning unit, but they are more efficient and require far less maintenance. “Low-maintenance” does not mean “no-maintenance,” however, so it is best to have your gas fireplace inspected and adjusted by a professional on an annual basis.
Vented gas fireplaces expel exhaust gases (mainly water vapor and carbon dioxide) outside your home without a chimney. If your gas fireplace is vented, the flue or vent should be closed when the fireplace is not in use. And regardless of whether yours is a vented or ventless fireplace, it should never produce a gas odor (different from a burning smell). The smell of gas could indicate a problem. Immediately turn off the gas and report the problem to the gas company.
Hiring a professional chimney sweep at least once every one to five years (depending on how often you use it) is the best way to ensure it is safe to use. If you are in a newer home with a fresh air vent to supply the fireplace with combustion air, open it and the damper before you light your fire. Then remember to close both when you are not using the fireplace so warm air does not escape in the winter and cool air will not escape in the summer.
Building and Extinguishing Fires
A wood-burning fireplace should be equipped with andirons (or a grate) and a well-fitted screen. Fires should always be built on the andirons or grate — not directly on the fireplace floor. Seasoned hardwood is the best fuel. Do not burn pine logs in your fireplace, as they contain a tar that can accumulate in the chimney and become a fire hazard.
You should never leave a fire unattended for an extended period of time, and always ensure the fire is put out when you are finished enjoying it. To properly extinguish a fire in a wood-burning fireplace, begin by using your fireplace poker or shovel to spread out the wood and embers into a flattened mound. After the flames die out, cover the cooling wood and embers with a few scoops of ash. Once the fire is completely extinguished, you can sprinkle a thin layer of baking soda over the wood to ensure no embers are burning.
For more fireplace safety and home maintenance advice, or to find an appropriate contractor in your area, contact the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga at www.hbagc.net or 423-624-9992.