5 Tips for Fall Curb Appeal

You’ve worked hard to keep your curb appeal up all summer long, and now that the season is changing, you don’t want to lose it. You’ll need to adjust to the cooler weather and its effect on your home’s exterior. Follow these tips for fall curb appeal.

Replace Summer Flowers With Hardy Fall Blooms

If you planted annuals that bloomed over the spring and summer, they have likely wilted now that cooler weather is here. Plant fall flowers like asters, mums, and pansies. These colorful plants love cool weather and will continue to bloom well into autumn.

Spruce Up the Front Door

Your front door can make a bold statement on your home. Autumn colors like red and yellow are popular shades to paint a front door. A brightly-colored front door boosts fall curb appeal. In fact, a bold door makes your home look more inviting at any time of year. Add new hardware to the door, like a shiny knocker and kickplate. Place a pumpkin on either side of the door for a festive touch.

Decorate the Mailbox for Fall Curb Appeal

For most houses, the mailbox is the first thing that is visible from the street. A dented, rusting, and drab mailbox brings down the curb appeal of your whole property. Fall is a good time to evaluate whether your mailbox could use some improving. Maybe it just needs a new paint job and for the address numbers to be replaced. You could create a stone border around the base of the mailbox and plant some of the fall flowers mentioned above. You could even add a pumpkin or hang a fall decoration from it. If your mailbox is in really rough shape, replace the whole thing.

Pressure Wash the Driveway

When leaves start to cover your paved driveway in autumn, they get stuck to it and leave marks as they decompose. To improve your fall curb appeal, rent a pressure washer a few times throughout the season to clean the driveway of debris from leaves. While you have it, wash the sidewalks, deck, and patio.

Fall Curb Appeal Requires Raking Leaves

Raking leaves is one of the most time-consuming chores of the season, but it is important for fall curb appeal. Your grass will be healthier if leaves are not covering it, blocking the sunlight. Rake up the leaves that have fallen on your lawn regularly. Leaves make great compost material, so throw them in your compost pile. Your grass will stay green for longer if you keep the leaves raked throughout the fall.

Premier Home Inspection Services provides home inspections to Northern New Jersey. Contact us to schedule our services.

4 Tips for Moving to a New State

If you’ve decided to relocate to another state, it can be daunting to know how to prepare for the move. Moving across state lines requires more planning and resources than a move within the same town. Here are a few important tips to follow when you are moving to a new state.

1. Visit Before Moving to a New State

Whether you’ve accepted a job offer or are relocating to be closer to family, visit the location in advance to familiarize yourself with the area. If you have kids, check out the schools in your new district. Look at the real estate market to get an idea of how much homes are going for in the city where you’d like to live.

2. Determine Your Budget

It’s important to understand the cost involved in transporting your belongings to another state. Contact moving companies early for quotes. Will you hire movers to do the work for you or do you plan to move everything yourself with a rental truck? If you do all of the work yourself, you’ll still have to purchase packing supplies, shipping containers, and fuel.

Transportation is another expense related to an out-of-state move. Depending on how far you’re traveling, it may be best to fly there. If you have cars, you’ll need to make plans to either drive each vehicle or have them transported by a professional moving company, which can be expensive.

3. Make a Packing Plan When Moving to New State

When you’re preparing for a move, create a system for packing your belongings. Pack all of the non-essential items first and color-code each box to make sure you can find what you need while unpacking. Pack the essentials last and put them in clear tubs so you’ll have immediate access to what you need once you’re in the new home.

4. Forward Your Mail

Fill out a form to forward your mail at your local post office. This way, you’ll continue to receive everything after moving to a new state. Schedule the shut-off of your utilities at your old home and establish services at your new address ahead of your move.

Understanding the costs, steps, and requirements to move to a new state is essential before getting started. Make a plan for your move and enlist the help of family and friends so the process will go smoothly.

Premier Home Inspection Services provides home inspections to customers in northern New Jersey. If you’re buying a home, contact us to schedule an appointment.

5 Ways To Make Your Home More Efficient

Your Home Could Be More Environmentally-Friendly

If your home is more than 10 years old, there are likely some things you can do to make it more environmentally-friendly. Using technology and changing your habits will increase your home’s efficiency and reduce your utility bills.  Some of the ways to make your home more efficient are simple while others take some work and financial investment.

Make Your Home More Efficient with a Programmable Thermostat

One of the easiest ways to make your home more efficient is by installing a programmable thermostat. A new thermostat can be set to automatically adjust the temperature in your home based on your schedule. Programming the thermostat reduces energy usage and make your home more energy-efficient.

Add Some Insulation to Improve Efficiency

Much of a home’s heat loss is through the attic. Adding more insulation will help cut down on energy usage because climate-controlled air will stay inside your home. Installing insulation in the attic can be done by a homeowner with proper protective gear or you can hire a professional.

If you ever remodel any rooms in your home, check the insulation in your walls. Older homes are notorious for having no insulation between the studs. Adding some will improve your use of energy.

Air-Dry Your Clothes

This might not be possible during all seasons, but air-drying your clothes saves energy. Drying your clothes on an old-fashioned clothesline during the warmer months leaves them smelling fresh. It will also help your home stay cooler and will reduce your electric bill.

Replace Your Light Bulbs

In the past few years, advancements in lighting technology have made efficient bulbs less expensive. CFL and LED light bulbs use a fraction of the energy that older incandescent bulbs do. While the bulbs cost more, they also last much longer and you’ll see your energy bill go down.

Change Your HVAC Filter to Make Your Home More Efficient

Changing out the filter for your HVAC system is another easy way to make your home more efficient. These filters trap particles that would otherwise circulate throughout your home. Over time, the particles clog the filter and block the airflow of your system.

Regularly changing the filter helps the system to run more efficiently and you’ll save money and energy at the same time. Refer to your owner’s manual to find out how often to change the filter.

There are many ways to make your home more energy-efficient. These are just a few of the easiest. Follow these tips to reduce your environmental impact and help you save money over time.

Premier Home Inspection Services offers home inspection services in Northern New Jersey. Contact us to request an appointment for our services

Easy Ways to Make Your Deck Safer

Summertime is here and pleasant weather means spending more time outdoors with family and friends. Prepare for cookouts and lounging on the backyard deck by tackling a bit of maintenance ahead of time. Here are a few easy ways to make your deck safer.

Maintain Materials to Make Your Deck Safer

Your deck will need regular maintenance to keep it attractive and structurally sound. Check the railings to make sure they are sturdy and can support the weight of someone leaning on them. Inspect decking for any rotting or warped boards and replace any damaged wood. Reinstall fasteners that have worked themselves out of the materials. Sand rough spots and re-seal the wood to prepare it for another season.

Inspect for Termites

Termites and other wood-destroying insects can wreak havoc on the structural supports and other parts of a wooden deck. Look for soft spots in the wood, small holes, and piles of insect droppings, also called “frass.” Wood-destroying insects can compromise the safety of your deck and home, so call a professional if you think you have a problem.

Make Your Deck Safer with a Shaded Area

The summer sun will heat up decking materials and make surfaces too hot for bare feet or pets’ paws. To keep kids, pets, and older family members more comfortable in the heat, install an awning, use a sun sail, set up a patio umbrella, or plant a tree nearby. Creating a shady area on the deck provides a cooler place for pets to nap and friends to enjoy the outdoors.

Safe Grilling and Storage

The backyard deck is a popular place to set up for grilling burgers, hot dogs, and veggies. Take care when using the grill on the deck. Make sure the grill is level and is on a heat-resistant mat to protect the decking boards. Teach children and pets to stay several feet away from the grill at all times. When the grill is not in use, keep it covered and store all cooking utensils and fuel out of the reach of children.

Premier Home Inspection Services provides home inspections to customers in Northern New Jersey. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

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Reasons to Order a Home Inspection on New Construction

When you’re building a brand new home, you expect the finished house to be in great condition. Unfortunately, with the number of workers on the job, mistakes can happen. Here are a few reasons to order a home inspection on new construction.

Your Builder May Not Notice Mistakes

Your builder basically oversees the construction of the home. He or she will hire subcontractors to complete various parts of the project. There will be roofers, framers, electricians, painters, and plumbers on site.

One small mistake in construction or using defective materials could lead to a serious issue in the future. With so many teams contributing to the build, it is impossible for the builder to monitor every aspect of construction.

An Inspector Knows What to Look For

A home inspector is a trained professional who you can hire to examine your property. Their knowledge of components and household systems gives them the skills to assess the condition of your newly-built home.

After the inspection, your inspector will provide a report that includes details of his or her findings. You can then use this information to discuss any concerns about the property with your builder.

An Inspection on New Construction Examines All Components

Local code inspectors will visit the property to verify it meets minimum requirements. The code inspector only needs to make sure the home is habitable.

By comparison, your home inspector will do an assessment of the entire house. He or she will examine the foundation, HVAC system, roof, electrical components, grading and drainage, and all other systems to make sure everything is functioning properly and safely.

Save Money with a Home Inspection on New Construction

Your new home is a big investment and no new homeowner wants to spend more money on repairs shortly after move-in. Hire a home inspector for peace of mind that the property is well-built, safe, and ready to house your family. When you discover defects before you move in, you can hold the builder responsible for making any needed repairs.

Premier Home Inspection Services provides inspections to northern New Jersey. If you’re building a new home, contact us to schedule an appointment.

5 Spring Cleaning Tips for Areas You Might Overlook

During spring cleaning, it’s easy to remember to clean the obvious spots like closets, floors, and windows. However, several other places in the home are commonly overlooked during this time. Read on to find some great spring cleaning tips for areas of the home you might have missed.

Blinds and Curtains

Throughout the year, window coverings accumulate dust, dirt, and pet hair, but we often forget about them when cleaning the house. Remove the curtains from their rods and wash them according to the label. Take blinds off the window and wash them in a solution of warm, soapy water before rinsing clean.

Spring Cleaning Tips for Baseboards

You’ll scrub your floors while you’re spring cleaning, but are you giving that same care to your baseboards? They collect dust and dirt, especially in high traffic areas of your home. Wipe the baseboards with a wood cleaner or a 50/50 water and vinegar solution, depending on their finish.

Mattresses

Chances are, you’re washing your bed sheets and comforters regularly, but neglecting the mattress. Vacuum your mattress, then sprinkle it with baking soda to absorb odors. Let it sit for a few hours, then vacuum again for a fresh, clean mattress.

Tips for Spring Cleaning the Air Vents

Even when you maintain your home’s HVAC system, you may overlook cleaning the vents. If you have dusty or dirty vents, the air in your home is circulating with these pollutants. Unscrew vents from the ceilings or floors and soak them in soapy water. Vacuum the opening of the air vent before replacing the covers so you don’t leave any dust behind.

Trash Cans

When cleanup is done, you’ve probably purged a lot of items from your home and your trash cans are full. Garbage cans collect odors and filth if they aren’t cleaned often. After emptying the trash, take the bins outside and hose them down with a sprayer. Then, scrub them with soapy water. Let the trash cans dry and then sprinkle baking soda in the bottom to prevent odors.

Other Spring Cleaning Tips

Don’t forget about cleaning everyday objects in your home. Dust or wipe clean your books, trinkets, and items that sit out on your kitchen counters. Air out your pillows outside to keep them smelling fresh. Dust items overhead that are easy to forget, like light fixtures, door and window trims, and ceiling fans.

Premier Home Inspection Services provides inspections to home buyers and sellers in Northern New Jersey. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

5 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Home Inspector

If you’re buying a new home, hire a professional home inspector to provide a thorough inspection. There are probably several different professional home inspectors in your area that you could hire. Here are questions to ask when hiring a home inspector.

Questions to Ask When Hiring a Home Inspector

1. Who Recommended the Home Inspector?

If your real estate agent recommends a home inspector, you always have the option of adding them to your own list and doing some research to see if they will be a good fit for you. You might consider asking family or friends who have recently bought a home if they recommend a home inspector, or you can do a search online and read reviews. After you’ve put together a list, ask the following questions to each home inspector.

2. What Qualifications Does the Home Inspector Have?

Ask the home inspector about his or her qualifications and credentials. The home inspector needs a license in most states. Some have more advanced certifications from trade associations, and special training in specific inspections and testing, like for mold and radon.

3. How Much Experience Does the Home Inspector Have?

When it comes to questions to ask when hiring a home inspector, this is one of the most important. Inquire about the home inspector’s background and if he or she has other experience in the home construction industry.

Someone who has been working with homes for years has seen a variety of different issues, and knows how to recognize issues that aren’t obvious. Working with an experienced home inspector could save you a lot of money and frustration in the long run.

4. What Does the Home Inspection Include?

To know what to expect out of the home inspection, one of the questions to ask when hiring a home inspector is what is covered. Before spending money to have an inspection done, ask about which systems and components are included in the inspection.

5. Are Questions Welcome After the Inspection Report is Delivered?

Ask the inspector you are considering hiring if you can stay in contact after you have received your report. There may be questions that come up that you didn’t think to ask during the inspection. A good inspector will provide you continued support.

Protect Yourself and Your Investment

Buying a home is expensive, and you don’t want to find that you have to invest more money to make repairs after you move in. Hiring a qualified home inspector before filling out the final paperwork is the best way to protect your investment.

Premier Home Inspection Services provides inspections from a Certified Master Inspector. Contact us to schedule an appointment in Northern New Jersey.

Choosing a Water Filter for Your Home

Both urban and rural areas may have contaminants in the drinking water. Pollutants like arsenic, fluoride, and mercury, among many others, can cause health problems. Water filters are available to provide cleaner water to you and your family. A water filter for your home will protect you from harmful contaminants.

4 Popular Water Filters for Your Home

Activated Carbon Filters

Carbon filters remove contaminants using activated carbon. This is the most common and least expensive type of water filter on the market. Carbon filters do not effectively remove a wide range of contaminants on their own. They are most effective in removing chlorine, sediment, and volatile organic compounds.

Reverse Osmosis Filters

This type of filter works by forcing water through a semi-permeable membrane. The membrane permits water particles to pass through but anything larger is left behind. Many of the contaminants that carbon filters can’t catch will be stopped by reverse osmosis, but, unfortunately, they do not remove chlorine. Reverse osmosis filters use a lot more water than they produce, so are not the best option for filtering water for the whole house.

Ultraviolet Filters

Ultraviolet (UV) water filters kill bacteria and living micro-organisms by using a high-powered UV light. However, they are not able to filter out non-living organisms, meaning that chemicals, pesticides, and metals remain in the water after the process. When used in conjunction with another filter that catches toxic particles, UV filters are very effective for purifying water.

Look at Distillation Systems When Choosing a Water Filter for Your Home

Distillation is the process of removing contaminants by evaporating water into a gas and then cooling it back into a liquid. This is a very thorough filtration system; however, drinking only distilled water may lead to health problems since all good minerals are also removed from the water. Some of these minerals replenish your body’s electrolytes.

Which Home Water Filter is Right for You?

Get familiar with the contaminants in your water before you choose a system. This can be determined with a household water test. Hire a professional to test your water to make the right decision for your house.

Premier Home Inspection Services offers home inspection services, including water testing, in Northern New Jersey. Contact us to request an appointment for our services.

Keep Your Fireplace Safe This Winter

Before lighting your fireplace this season, make sure it is in good shape. If it’s been a year or more since you last used your fireplace, it’s important to take steps to keep your fireplace safe. From regular maintenance to a deep-cleaning, preparing your fireplace for use will help protect your family from fire hazards this winter.

How to Keep Your Fireplace Safe

As the temperatures dip, make sure your fireplace is safe to use before building your first fire of the year. Use the following tips to keep your fireplace safe:

Schedule Annual Inspections

The first step you should take to keep your fireplace safe is to schedule a chimney inspection and cleaning. Every year, your chimney should be properly inspected and thoroughly cleaned by a professional. A chimney sweep will clear out any animal nests and creosote buildup that would otherwise be a fire hazard.

Monitor for Damage and Cracks

As you work to keep your fireplace safe, remember to check for cracks inside your fireplace. If you notice any damage or problems with the masonry, call a professional mason before using your fireplace. If you’re considering doing it yourself, experts warn against repairing firebrick with conventional mortar as this won’t withstand the higher temperatures that your fireplace produces.

Keep Your Fireplace Safe by Checking the Damper and Chimney Cap

Another way to keep your fireplace safe is to check the fireplace damper and the chimney cap. The damper seals your fireplace when it isn’t in use, but should always be open when a fire is burning. Make sure it’s functioning properly before lighting the first fire of the year.

A properly working chimney cap keeps bats, squirrels, birds, and other animals from nesting in the chimney. Without a chimney cap, moisture, debris, and pests can make their way into your home.

Cut Nearby Tree Limbs

When lighting the fireplace, keep in mind that everything outside that’s close to the chimney is a potential fire hazard. Make sure to trim or remove any branches that are overhanging your chimney. With the area free and clear of foliage and tree limbs, your chimney cap will function properly and the airflow from the chimney won’t be restricted.

Use the Fireplace for Short-Duration Fires

Though fireplaces are a great way to keep the family warm during the winter, pay attention to how long you’re using the fireplace. Make sure you’re not using the fireplace as a furnace but as a supplemental heat source. The fireplace is meant to make your home warmer and it shouldn’t be used for fires that last more than a few hours.

Monitor the length of your fires and never leave a fire unattended. If you leave the house or go to sleep for the night, extinguish the fire to keep your family and home safe.

Empty Ashes Frequently to Keep Your Fireplace Safe

Ashes in your firebox are a fire hazard as long as they’re still burning. These ashes can remain hot for up to 3 days, so it’s essential to make sure they’ve cooled completely before vacuuming or sweeping them up. When disposing of your ashes, scoop them into a metal bucket to transport them to the compost or your garden.

Fireplaces make for cozy winter nights at home. Make sure your family stays safe while using the fireplace this season by following the tips above.

Premier Home Inspection Services provides home inspections to customers in northern New Jersey. Contact us to schedule our services.

3 Easy Ways to Maintain a Healthy and Safe Home

As a homeowner, you want your home to be a safe place to spend time. Family and friends will be more comfortable and you will have peace of mind when you take steps to maintain a healthy and safe home.

Become Smoke Detector Savvy

One strategy you should use to keep your home healthy and safe is installing and regularly testing smoke detectors. These devices alert you to smoke in your home. Because smoke is an indication of fire, having working detectors throughout your property is critical if you want to improve safety.

Install detectors on every floor of the house and inside and outside of every bedroom. Also, add smoke detectors in the garage, laundry room, and near the furnace.

Dust Often to Maintain a Healthy and Safe Home

Failing to dust your home frequently is a problem for a few reasons. In addition to detracting from the aesthetic appeal of your living areas, excessive dust contributes to a wide range of health-related issues. Asthma can worsen in a dusty home and healthy family members may experience allergy-like symptoms. Dust regularly and declutter your living spaces to eliminate items that collect dust.

Let Professionals Assist You

To keep your home healthy and safe, hire professionals to assist you. For example, pest control experts can treat your property to make sure your loved ones aren’t exposed to the bacteria and droppings left by rodents and insects.

Hire a professional to perform water testing and learn about any pollutants in your household water supply. Some home inspectors offer mold inspections and radon testing so you can learn if these substances are health hazards in your home.

Premier Home Inspection Services offers home inspection services in Northern New Jersey. Contact us to request an appointment for our services like water testing, a mold inspection, and radon testing.