Spring Maintenance Tips

With the days lengthening and weather warming, spring is a good time to get outdoors and tackle some larger home projects. Now that the threat of winter storms has passed, you can look for damage and make any needed repairs, as well as prep your home and garden for summer. We spoke with an expert to get helpful tips on what to watch for this season, from proper irrigation to mosquitoes and termites (oh my!).
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 1. Clean gutters and downspouts. After the last frost has passed, it’s important to have your gutters and downspouts cleaned and repaired. “Clogged gutters and downspouts can cause the wood trim at the eaves to rot, and that can invite all kinds of critters into your attic space,” says Victor Sedinger, certified home inspector and owner of House Exam Inspection and Consulting.

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Having your gutters and downspouts cleaned early in the season can also help prevent damage from spring rains. “Gutters and downspouts should be clean and running free,” Sedinger says. “If your downspouts are installed properly, water is diverted away from the house so that no water collects around your foundation.”

2. Reseal exterior woodwork. Wood decks, fences, railings, trellises, pergolas and other outdoor structures will last longer and stay in better condition if they’re stained or resealed every year or two. Take this opportunity to make any needed repairs to woodwork as well.

3. Check for signs of termites. Beginning in March and going through May or June, be on the lookout for these winged insects. “Termites swarm in the spring,” Sedinger says. “If there’s a bunch of winged insects flying out of a hole in the woodwork, that’s probably termites. Call a licensed professional pest control company. You’ll save money and trouble in the long run.”

4. Inspect roof. Winter storms can take quite a toll on the roof. When spring arrives, start by making a simple visual inspection of your roof. “It doesn’t require a ladder, and you certainly don’t have to get on a roof to look,” Sedinger says. “Use binoculars or a camera or smartphone with a telephoto feature if you need to.” Look for missing shingles, metal pipes that are damaged or missing or anything that simply doesn’t look right. If you notice anything that needs closer inspection or repair, call a roofer.

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5. Paint exterior. If you’re planning to repaint your home’s exterior this year, spring is a good time to set it up. Want to paint but can’t decide on a color? Explore your town and snap pictures of house colors you like, browse photos on Houzz or work with a color consultant to get that just-right hue.

6. Inspect driveways and paths. Freezing and thawing is rough on concrete, asphalt and other hardscaping materials. Take a walk around your property to look for damage to walkways, paths and driveways, and schedule repairs as needed. Asphalt can often be patched, but damaged concrete may need to be replaced entirely.

 

7. Check sprinkler and irrigation systems. Checking your sprinklers or irrigation systems in the spring can save water — and save your plants. Sedinger shares these tips for checking your watering system:

  • Run the system through all the zones manually and walk the property.
  • Make sure none of the heads are broken or damaged.
  • Adjust any heads that are spraying the house, especially windows, as this can cause moisture problems.
  • Adjust heads that are spraying the street, sidewalk or porches to avoid wasting water.
  • If you don’t know how to maintain your sprinkler system, call a professional to do it. You’ll save money on your water bill and protect one of our most valuable natural resources.

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Need help with any of these projects? Check our website to find a #professionalremodeler to do the job. And do it right.

March Madness Comes Home

March Madness is here and not a moment too soon for those wanting to stretch their spring legs. If you’re looking for some great ideas on how to watch the tournament, check out our Super Bowl post, but if you have the itch to shoot some hoops, maybe it’s time to put in a court of your own.

Outdoor courts and hoops have been staples of suburban America for decades: providing enough open space to shoot threes and play small-sided games. While a hoop hanging over the garage will suffice for many, there’s so much room for innovation, like building a patio court with a beautiful, wooded backdrop.

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Although we have had a pleasantly mild winter this year, that’s not always the case in New England.  As a general matter, an outdoor hoop around here would only be used for a part of the year. While for many an indoor hoop isn’t an obvious possibility,  it can be as attainable as a hoop in the garage.

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The other quick fix is, of course, to incorporate a hoop into an existing bedroom without needing too many alterations.

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If you’re willing to dedicate a bit more space, multipurpose rooms can be a great place to hang a hoop while not losing too much space when you aren’t playing. You’ll still be able to shoot free throws, without sacrificing the utility of the room for other activities.

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Basketball fanatics will really want to make a fast break for hardwood flooring, though, as it provides the most authentic experience. You’ll be playing half-court and sinking threes from the comfort of your own house—not having to bear frigid temperatures outside during basketball season will be nice too.

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Whichever option suits your fancy, incorporating basketball into your home is not only a healthy decision, but an accessible one. What could be better than having guests over for the game only to take a break and shoot hoops at halftime?

We can help make your dream come true: find a #professionalremodeler by visiting our website at #NARICT

A Rot Job to Remember

Newsletter of Kruse Home Improvement winter 2016kruserot2

This past fall Kruse Home Improvement had the privilege of working on beautiful old house on the outskirts of the Historic District of Farmington Village. The house – first constructed around 1741 – was all timber-framed, with much of its original framing and hardware still in use. The homeowners had water leaking into the home from various locations as a result of significant ice damming and an aging roof. What began as a roof replacement evolved into a much larger project.

We first noticed a few locations around the home’s exterior that required addressing. On the eastern gable end wall was an area of rotted siding with a 2-inch hole straight into the home’s sheathing. From experience I knew that there was likely a larger issue at play and figured we’d have to replace a couple studs and a small section of sill, which we run across with relative frequency.

As we removed siding to expose the situation, the more the problem exposed itself. In all, we removed entire 20+ feet of siding on the gable end wall, up to the roof line. The home recently had been worked as the sheathing had been replaced with some quick fix patches applied to the framing, which actually contributed to the rot. Whoever had done the prior work went over the home’s original board sheathing with a new vapor barrier and applied new plywood with an additional layer of vapor barrier. The moisture that is in all wood was trapped between two impervious layers of non-permeable vapor barrier, allowing the wall of the house to rot from the inside out. A home always has to breathe; this is basic knowledge for any reputable contractor.

In a typical modern home, the floors are framed first with the walls sitting on top of the flooring system. In this older, timber-framed home, the studs pocket into a large beam that sits directly on top of the stone foundation. This beam had significant evidence of rot and had also been previously patched with concrete in an attempt to fill the gaps that began to form as the wood rotted away. With this, the entire exterior wall of the house had started to compress and sink as the beam disintegrated. Since this happens over a long period of time, the house just naturally moved and adjusted with the compression. By the time we began work, there wasn’t much left of the original beam. In several spots it was essentially missing, leaving only dirt and dust behind.

We realized the situation we were in was drastically more involved than first suspected. We opened everything up and removed the previous materials to allow the space to dry out for several days. We replaced the entire beam, which was 21 feet long by 9 inches wide by 8 inches high. The massive piece of lumber had to be custom milled at a local saw mill. This new beam was precisely cut to fit in both the stone foundation and the varying heights of the studs that sit on top of it. The timber-framed construction called for bracing the flooring and wall in multiple ways to keep it in position.

First, we constructed a temporary wall in the basement to hold the floor in place since the beam we had to remove held everything up. The exterior wall was braced completely since there would be nothing to keep it in place once the existing beam was removed. We braced the wall from both the inside and outside of the home and lagged 4×4’s across the outside of the framing, positioning 4 bottle jacks across the 20 feet. This allowed for fine tuning adjustments to the height to level things out as best as we could.

Installing this massive beam was no easy task. It took six people to move and was complicated by the fact that we had to work around the bracing that we needed to keep in place. After four hours, the beam was in, followed by a celebration amongst the team. The fact that the beam was installed in that amount of time is a true testament to the quality and precision of the guys I have working for me. The installation was not an easy feat and I was extremely happy with the way it unfolded. However, we were still only halfway done with the job. Everything had to be assembled and sheathed properly with a cedar breather backing installed. The wall needed trim, a cedar clapboard and painting, not to mention removing the bracing and reconnecting the electrical that was removed to accomplish the job. This job went from what I thought was a couple days of rot repair to a massive structural repair that took more than five weeks to complete properly.

kruserotIt turned out to be the kind of job a homeowner needs Kruse Home Improvement for. It took a lot of knowledge, thought, and planning to accomplish without causing a much bigger problem or having the house fall apart! I was very proud of the team and outcome. It was the most complex – and memorable – repair job we had ever undertaken, but it was a great experience to be involved in and it kept us on our toes the whole time.

Kruse Home Improvement
33 Lufkin Lane Bristol, CT 06010
Office 860/584/8784  Cell 860/877/0775
License # 0618590
kruseshawn@krusehomeimprovement.com
www.krusehomeimprovement.com
http://www.houzz.com/pro/kruseshawn/krusehome-improvement

Kruse Home Improvement is a proud member of #NARI/CT.  To find more information on them and other #professionalremodelers in CT, visit our website at NariCT.org

Top 10 Trends for Residential Landscape Design

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Sustainable design is the big trend for residential landscapes, according to the 2016 Residential Landscape Architecture Trends Survey

The popularity of outdoor living spaces among consumers continues to grow; that we know. And with water conservation and the future of water resources on the minds of many in the nation, there’s also growing awareness of and commitment to reducing water use among consumers in their homes and gardens. A recent survey conducted by the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA) to discover the leading trends in residential outdoor design bears this out, finding that rainwater/graywater harvesting is a top trend among homeowners who increasingly seek residential landscapes that are both beautiful and minimize water use and stormwater runoff.

The survey, conducted from Feb. 4 through Feb. 18, 2016, gathered responses from 803 participants who were asked to rate the expected popularity in 2016 of various residential outdoor design elements. The results indicate that consumers seek outdoor living spaces that are environmentally sustainable, reduce water use/costs, and are easy to maintain. The top five project types that landscape architects anticipate will be most in demand by consumers in 2016 are:

1. Rainwater/graywater harvesting – 88 percent
2. Native plants – 86 percent
3. Native/adapted drought-tolerant plants – 85 percent
4. Low-maintenance landscapes – 85 percent
5. Permeable paving – 77 percent

Other project types in the top 10 list incude: fire pits/fireplaces, food/vegetable gardens, rain gardens, drip/water-efficient irrigation, and reduced lawn areas.

With sustainabiity leading the trends, the top 10 sustainable elements, ranked in order of popularity for 2016, are: rainwater/graywater harvesting (88 percent), native/adapted drought tolerant plants (85 percent), permeable paving (77 percent), drip/water-efficient irrigation (72 percent), reduced lawn area (72 percent), recycled materials (61 percent), solar-powered lights (56 percent), compost bins (45 percent)

Top five results for other survey categories:

Outdoor design elements: fire pits/fireplaces (75 percent), lighting (67 percent), wireless/Internet connectivity (66 percent), seating/dining areas (64 percent), outdoor furniture (63 percent).

Outdoor structures: pergolas (51 percent), decks (47 percent), arbors (44 percent), fencing (44 percent), porches (40 percent), ADA accessible structures—ramps, bars, shelving, etc. (38 percent).

Outdoor recreation amenities: sports courts—tennis, bocce, etc. (41 percent), spa features—hot tubs, Jacuzzis, whirlpools, indoor/outdoor saunas (40 percent), and swimming pools (36 percent).

Landscape and garden elements: native plants (86 percent), low-maintenance landscapes (85 percent), food/vegetable gardens—including orchards, vineyards, etc. (75 percent), rain gardens (73 percent), water-saving xeriscape or dry gardens (68 percent).

Find more landscape ideas at the ASLA website.

Then visit NariCt.org to find a experienced local #professional who can help make your #dreamscometrue.