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Spring Interior Home Maintenance List

Unless you love cleaning and continually working on your home this is not the fun part of home ownership but necessary. We all have busy lives with work, family and friends but our home deserves TLC just as much as the rest of us. With spring alive and well, it is time to get to work on the interior of our home.

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors – If you have not changed your smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries during the time change now is the time to do it. Depending upon the age of your home, your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors may be hard wired into the home’s electrical system with a battery backup or they many only operate on batteries. For the safety and peace of mind for your family and pets, make sure they are in working order and the batteries are new. If a detector is faulty replace it right away. Detectors can be found at local hardware and home improvement stores.

Fire extinguishers – You hope to never need to use them but they are a necessary staple in your home. Check the date on your extinguisher to see when it expires. If it is expired purchase a new one and if you do not own one already purchase one ASAP!

Cleaning – Some people love to clean and others despise it. If you love, great, get to work deep cleaning, donate items you no longer want or need and throw away items that do not work. If you do not like cleaning then hire it out. I am sure there are plenty of organizing and cleaning services that would love your business. This is what should be done:

  • Clean out & organize all closets
  • Clean & organize all bedroom drawers
  • Clean out & organize your refrigerator and freezer & all seals
    • Put out from the wall to clean under the refrigerator
    • On the back of your refrigerator is a condenser coil that needs to be cleaned
  • Clean the inside of your oven
  • Remove food particles from the bottom of your dishwasher/food trap & run the cleaning cycle
  • Clean your microwave
  • Run the cleaning cycle on your wash machine
  • Replace any burnt out light bulbs
  • Wipe down all baseboards, trim & window sills
  • Dust everything
  • Clean the kitchen cabinets inside & out and organize
  • Clean & organize your pantry
  • Clean the range hood or over the range microwave including the filter
  • Clean your disposal by grinding ice cubes & lemons & then run hot water
  • Deep clean the bathroom, scrub all tile grout & reseal, clean out cabinets & drawers, wash or replace shower curtain
  • Vacuum all floors & wash all hard surface flooring
  • Clean the carpets & rugs by a professional or rent a carpet cleaning machine
  • Remove cobwebs
  • Wash walls
  • Clean blinds & curtains
  • Vacuum out floor & wall registers
  • Polish furniture & accessories

Caulk – Check all doors, windows, base & casing, plumbing fixtures, drains and any exterior penetrations into the home such as pipes or electrical lines to see if anything needs to be caulked.

Paint – Paint any areas that were caulked and need to be painted over. Also, the interior of your home may need a freshening up so paint where needed. If the entire interior of your home needs a new paint job either hire it out or paint one room a month if you are doing it your self so you don’t get overwhelmed.

Attic & Insulation – Somewhere in your home you will have an access panel or door to your attic. It could be located in a closet or hallway. If you are able to get in the attic and walk around, do it. If not at least poke your head in the space to look around. You may want to take photos if you can’t see very well so they can be enlarged on your computer or phone. Look for any issues in the ceiling such as holes, look for mold and also look a how much insulation is in the attic. Depending upon the type of insulation and the thickness you currently have, more insulation may need to be added since it does tend to condense over time.

Appliances – Depending upon the age of your appliances and whether they are still under warranty, you may want to get them services by a professional to keep them running for a long time. By serving appliances, it may extend the life of your appliances and keep from having to purchase new.

Floor drains – Whether your basement is finished or not, you should have a drain in your floor around the furnace area. If you have a humidifier on your furnace the humidifier will drain water into the floor drain. It is wise to pour water down the basement floor drain regularly to disperse the stagnant water in the drain and prevent odors.

Basement – Check the basement for any signs of water intrusions or moisture buildup. Some signs of issues include smells of mold or mildew, water stains or mold. If you find any of these, try to find the source of the issue and fix immediately. Contact a professional contractor by checking with your local Home Builders Association list of members if it is something you cannot handle on your own.

Sump Pump – If you have a sump pump in your basement you need to make sure it is working properly. Clean out any items that may have fallen into the sump pit. Once the pit is clean of debris, pour water into the pit to make sure the pump turns on and pumps the water outside. If it is not working contact a plumber.

Plumbing – Check your plumbing fixtures to make sure everything is in working order. You do not want leaks that can cause major issues if left untreated. Call a plumber if you have any issues you cannot handle.

  • Flush all toilets – does the tank and bowl fill up correctly or does it continue to run
  • Turn on all faucets (sink & tubs/showers) – does the hot & cold work correctly, dues the stopper hold the water in the sink or tub, does the sink or tub drain correctly, does the faucet drip after it is turned off, are any leaks or cracks in the plumbing fixtures or pipes
  • What is the age of your water heater and how is it performing. It may be time to drain the water heater & remove sediment from it.

Chimney – If you have a wood burning fireplace, the chimney should be cleaned regularly to prevent buildup and make sure the flue works properly. Have the chimney inspected by a professional and ask them for their recommendation on how often the chimney should be cleaned which will depend upon your use.

Water Softener & Reverse Osmosis System – Have this system checked by a professional to determine if both are in working order. It may be time to change filters and install more salt.

Repairs – During the winter, you may have noticed items that need repair or replacement but held off for various reasons. Now is the time to correct those items in disrepair and get them fixed properly for the long term and not a band aid and replace those items that should have been replace a while ago. Some of the items may include, new windows, new doors, new roof, electrical repairs, etc.

Remember, if you do not have the time to handle this spring home maintenance list hire people to do it for you. There are plenty of companies that offer a variety of services to tackle this list. If you do not have the money to hire people, enlist anyone that can help you for free or trade services with them. The point is to get this list done and keep your home looking beautiful and working great.



Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

It is that time of year again when winter is over and spring begins. The snow is gone, the trees and flowers are starting to bloom due to the rain and temperature changes, the days are getting longer and baseball season has started.

Most people look forward to this time of year and with it comes spring home maintenance responsibilities. You might say “I know but I don’t have the time” or “My house is fine.” We hope everything is fine with your home and it survived the harsh winter. Remember, this is most likely the largest investment you ever made so make sure that investment stays in pristine condition so it continues to increase in value.

Here are things you need to check or do to make sure your home stays in tip top shape.

Exterior Items

Air Conditioning/Humidifier/Furnace – Contact a local HVAC company to inspect, clean, replace filters and do a tune up to make sure everything is in working order. You don’t want you’re A/C to be out in the middle of the summer with 90+ degree temperatures.

Concrete/Driveways/Walkways/Patios/Porches – Inspect the concrete or asphalt flat surfaces around your home. Determine of you need to reseal your asphalt in the summer. Make sure the concrete does not have any large cracks and if so, use concrete caulk or fillers to fill in those cracks to prevent tripping hazards and the cracks from getting larger.

Deck – If you have a deck, look for damaged, warped or lifting boards, rusty nails and nail pops. If you have stairs or a railing confirm they are secure to prevent any accidents. It may be time to replace a few boards and re-stain/re-paint the deck to make it look it’s best

Fencing – Walk around your fence to inspect it. Look for broken pieces or warped boards. Does the fence touch the ground? Is it still upright and secure so it can’t be pushed over? If you have young children or pets, make sure the fence is strong and secure to keep them enclosed in the yard for piece of mind. If needed, replace broken or missing pieces, stain or paint to freshen up the look.

Foundation – Do a walk around the foundation of your home to identify any cracks or water infiltration and fix right away. Damage to your foundation will cause great expense if left untreated. Make sure water drains away from the foundation and the soil is at least 6” from the top of your foundation wall. Your lawns & landscaping should be 6” below where the siding starts to prevent damage.

Gutters & Downspouts – Make sure to remove all leaves, sticks and debris from your gutters and downspouts. If you have a lot of trees by your home you may want to install meshing or guards on the gutters to prevent them from clogging in the future. Downspouts should extend at least 3’ from your home’s foundation to prevent water from building up and penetrating your foundation wall.

Laundry vent screen – Cleaning the vent screen for your laundry should be done regularly. You may have noticed the clothes are not dry at the end of a cycle or you need to increase the drying time or temperature. This may be the cause of the dryer vent being plugged with lint and not the fault of your dryer.

Lawn & Landscaping – If you did not trim back all of your landscaping and clean your flower beds before winter, now is the time. It is also time to determine what annuals you want to plant where in your yard so you are ready when the time is right to purchase and plant. Your lawn needs some attention as well. Rack up the dead grass, fill in any dead spots with top soil and seed apply fertilizer so it will look it’s best.

Lawn Equipment – Now is the time to get your lawn equipment serviced and inspect your lawn tools so everything is in working order when needed.

Outside faucets – Turn on the outside water faucet to make sure it is in working order. If a hose was attached all winter by mistake it could have caused a crack in the plumbing. If you find an issue, contact a plumber for repair or replacement.

Overhead Garage Door – It may be time to service your overhead garage door and opener. If you hear the door squeaking, rubbing or notice it may not be functioning property, contact a local garage door company to service the door and opener. It may only need to be greased or a spring could be ready to break so be proactive.

Paint – Do a walk around the permitter of your home to determine anything that needs a fresh coat of paint.

Roof – Take a look at your roof from the ground and if possible, get on the roof to inspect it. If you do not feel comfortable with this hire an inspector to assess the condition of your roof. You will want to look for missing shingles, curling or lifted shingles or damage due to wind, snow or hail.

Septic System – Depending upon the size of your home, the size of your family and the size of your septic system, it may be time to have it pumped. Check with a local septic company or county health department for their recommendation on when to pump and inspect the system.

Well – If you have a well instead of city water you may want to have it serviced by a local well company to make sure everything is in working order. Water is something you definitely cannot live without.

Siding/Brick/Stone – Confirm you do not have any broken, damaged or missing siding. If you do replace those pieces right away. Check all stone or brick to make sure no pieces have come loose and the mortar joints do not need attention.

Sprinkling system – If you have an underground sprinkling system it is time to turn it on to adjust heads, replace any broken heads and make sure everything is in working order so you are ready when it is time to start watering. Hire a professional if you are not familiar with starting up the system.

Windows & Doors & Screens – Test all windows and doors to make sure they are functioning properly. Do they need to be caulked prevent air infiltration or painted to spruce up the look? Now is a great time to clean windows inside & out. The screens should also be washed and replaced if any are damaged or broken

Clean Garage – It is amazing how much we accumulate in our garages at anytime of year. Now is the time or organize and clean the garage to store the winter items and have the summer items available for easy access. It is also a great time do donate items you do not want or throw away items that are broken or do not work.

Outdoor Furniture – You may store you’re your outdoor furniture during the window or cover everything over and leave them in the elements during the winter. Either way, it is time to uncover or get the furniture out of storage, put it in place and wash everything so it is ready to enjoy.

Pool – If you do not open your pool yourself, you definitely want to call and schedule the pool service company so you don’t miss out when the weather is nice and you really want to take a dip. If you are able to open the pool yourself, check your current supplies, make a list of when you need and purchase those items so you have them when you are ready to open the pool.

You may tell yourself you do not want to any of the items above because of time, money or any other reason. Get help from family or friends that know how to do some of the items on your list and hire out the other items. Remember, this is the largest investment of your life so you want to keep it in tip top condition so it continues to increase in value and personal enjoyment.




How Does a Home Site Affect Home Construction Costs?

You have decided you want to build a new home to reflect your current needs and lifestyle. I commend you for making that decision. Maybe you need to find a lot in a neighborhood or in the country or you may already have land to build your new home. No matter your current situation, the lot or land you want to build your new home on does impact the price to build that home.

What utilities are offered at the property? Electric and natural gas hookups are typically charged by the foot. For example, Consumers Energy charges a flat fee to install the electric & gas plus an additional $4.50/ft. to trench + $3.00 per foot winter charge if the work is to be done during frost season for both utilities. On property A, the gas and electric service needs to run 45’ so the additional cost would be $202.50 normally or $337.50 if installed during frost season. On property B, the gas and electric needs to run 200’ because you want the house to sit farther from the road. The additional cost in this scenario would be $900.00 normally or $1,500 if installed during frost season. The difference in price between both properties is $697.50 or $1,162.50 respectively.

How about water and waste? Does the property have city water and sewer or well and septic. If the property has water and sewer the municipality charges a tap fee. Tap fees can run $2,000.00-$4,000.00 for sewer and $5,500.00 + for water. Both will also have a monthly service charge. In addition to the tap fees for water and sewer and monthly service charges, there is also the cost to install the services. Installation is a per foot cost as well so just like your gas and electric scenarios the farther from the road a home is built the more costly the install will be. If the property needs well and septic systems, the costs involved include the permits from the county health department plus the cost to install the well and septic system. Wells can run from $5,000-$10,000 depending upon the type of pipe material (PVC vs. galvanized), size of pipe and depth of the well. The pressure system used, whether it be a conventional blader tank or a constant pressure system, also impacts the price. Septic systems can run from $5,000-$20,000 depending upon the soil conditions, number of bedrooms and whether a garbage disposal will be installed. The county health department determines the required system the septic company will have to install.

What does the land look like? Is it flat, rolling, steep hills, wooded, cleared, wet, difficult soil conditions, etc.? The ideal site from a builder’s stand point is a flat or slow rolling lot with a low water table, sandy soil and clear of any trees. Once you start adding in road blocks to the ideal site you start adding dollars. If you want to build in the middle of trees, trees will need to be removed and hauled away. If the site has a high-water table, engineering may be involved to stabilize the structure. You may not be able to have a basement or a lot of dirt would need to be purchased and hauled to the site in order to have a basement. This could cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. If the soil is clay, a lot of excavation work would need to be done to remove the clay plus the cost to bring in fill dirt to put around the foundation. Again, this may cost thousands of dollars. How far away from the road do you want to build the house. Depending upon the type of driveway that will be installed, asphalt, concrete or gravel, the longer the driveway the higher the cost.

Do you want to build in a neighborhood that has an association? Associations can be a double edge sword. In one respect it is great to have rules and regulations to maintain consistency and property values. On the other hand, the rules and regulations may require certain house sizes, specific exterior design requirements such as roof pitches and style and particular building materials to be used. All of these rules can and will have an effect on the price to build your new home.

Even though property taxes do not impact the price to build your home, it will cost you annually. Where you build, municipality, and amenities by your property will play a role in determining your annual property taxes. Some municipalities are higher than others depending upon the services they offer. Cities are typically higher than rural areas so make sure you take this into consideration for annual home costs. If this could impact your home affordability you can contact the assessor’s office and ask them to give you a ballpark figure for property taxes based on a particular property and estimated home value at the current tax rate.

Hopefully after reading this, you have a better understanding on why not every property is created equal and the property you choose may have a huge impact on what it will cost to build your new home.


How much per square foot does it cost to build a new home?

How much per square foot does it cost to build a new home? We get this question all of the time as I’m sure most builders do. The short answer is “it depends.” As a buyer, I am sure you are thinking “that is not an answer.” Unfortunately for builders and the buyers “it depends” is the truth. There are so many factors when building a house, it is difficult to give a price per square foot unless you are duplicating a home that was recently built with the same features, materials and similar homesite. Let’s breakdown some of the reasons for the “it depends” answer.

Homesite and Utilities

The homesite can play a factor in the pricing. Whether you want to build on a site you own or want to purchase, site conditions impact the price.

  •        Does the property have a lot of trees that need to be removed?
  •        What are the soil conditions?
  •        How much dirt needs to be removed or does a lot of dirt need to be brought to the site?
  •        How far will the home sit from the road?
  •        What utilities are available – water and sewer or well & septic, natural gas or propane?

All of these questions will need to be answered to determine their price impact on building a new home.

Size of the Home

The larger the home the lower the cost per square foot. The reason for this is the main components of the home are amortized over the entire space of the home.

For example: If the home has a basement, the cost of the basement is divided by the square foot of the home. Let’s say the basement is exactly the same size for these two scenarios:

House #1
2000 sq. ft ranch
Basement cost is $40,000
40,000 / 2000 = $20 per sq. ft.

House #2
4000 sq. ft. 2-story
Basement cost is $40,000
40,000 / 4000 = $10 per sq. ft.

It is less expensive to build up than it is to build out. This is why 2-story homes are less expensive per square foot than ranch designs. If you have an unfinished basement, this is the least expensive space to finish per square foot. The reason is the main components are already there: the concrete walls, the concrete floors, the ceiling joints holding up the main floor, etc. These prices were factored into the finished floor space above it when your home was being built. Whether you decide to finish the basement when building or wait and finish it several years after you moved in, this is easy and inexpensive space to finish in the grand scheme of the entire home price and value. In Michigan if you have a finished basement, it definitely adds value to your home on top of the additional square footage you added for less money per square foot.

Architectural Style of the Home

There are a wide variety of home styes. Sometimes the style is strictly personal preference and taste while other times the style may be determined by the location you want to build due to restrictions. A few examples of home styles include: Cape Cod, Craftsman, Colonial, Contemporary, Farmhouse, Modern, Tudor and Victorian.

Simple boxes are the least expensive to build such as the Colonial. Once you start getting into numerous corners, steep roof pitches, arches, angles and multi-exterior finishes it adds to the cost of the home. This is due to the complexity of the design and the materials used.

Features and Materials of the Home

This is where it gets interesting. A home has many parts and components used in its construction. The materials used do matter when it comes to cost. Think about how many types of cabinets, countertops, floor coverings, plumbing fixtures, light fixtures, shingles, appliances, doors, windows and so much more are offered by all of the different manufacturers. With most manufactures, they offer different product lines and each line is a different price. The price difference may have to do with a particular style, color or components used, or time it takes to make the product.

Here is an analogy that may help you understand. You want to purchase a new full-size SUV and you have narrowed it down to one made by General Motors. The versions offered are the Chevy Tahoe, the GMC Yukon and the Cadillac Escalade. All of these vehicles are the same size, body type, structure and manufacturer. So, with the large price difference what is the difference between the three vehicles? The features and materials used are the difference. The Chevy Tahoe is a base model with standard materials & features. The GMC Yukon has more features and upgraded/mid-grade materials used compared to the Chevy Tahoe. The Cadillac Escalade has the premiere features and high-end materials used to make the vehicle compared to the Tahoe and Yukon. This is why the Yukon is more expensive than the Tahoe and the Escalade is the most expensive of the three.

Home building is similar to vehicles. However, instead of having three distinct levels like the vehicles, homes can have so many more levels and mixes of products. You could select low, mid or high level when it comes to materials depending on your price range or you can mix and match to get what is most important to you. If money was no object, most people would select the best of the best. Unfortunately, most buyers do have a budget when building a home. If budget allows, it is usually best to go with higher quality materials on the difficult to change items such as cabinets, hard surface flooring and windows. The other items that are easier to change, such as plumbing and light fixtures, select lower priced materials and then change them later when you have additional savings.

There are so many factors involved when building a home. The size, style, features, materials used and homesite all play a factor in determining the price of a new home. Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of why “it depends” is the answer to “how much per square foot does it cost to build a new home?”


Trending Interior Decorating Ideas


For 2023 it’s all about colors that make you feel good. Forget being on-trend really, the trend is to just go with what you love, create rooms filled with colors that reflect your personal style, and give you an uplift every time you enter them. Experiment with shades too, after all it’s just paint, it’s the easiest low-commitment update you can make to a home so don’t hold back from trying something you’ve wanted to see for years. 2023 is the time to do it.



Interior color palettes can be tricky. You want to make sure that your home feels warm and welcoming, but you don’t want it to feel like a living room in a hospital—which is what most people associate with “warm” colors.

Here are some of the most popular interior color palettes for 2023:




Pink and red are lovely interior design colors, but many people tend to use them in ways that make them the exact opposite of lovely. This picture is intended to help you find the right balance with these two colors, so you can mix them up in different ways on all your interiors.

Credits: lauracaseyinteriors.com/pink-red/




Applied correctly, gray can be an excellent choice in any space. It’s universal, making it a popular color for painting both the living room and bedroom. It can also create many different looks depending on the other colors you pair it with. So, whether you want it to be the star of your design or a complement to other elements, gray is a strong choice for any room in your home.

Credits: homedesignlover.com/living-room-designs/modern-white-and-gray-living-room/




Blue and yellow is a color scheme often used in interior design. It is an attractive color palette that works well with different styles from art deco to mid-century modern, making it a popular combination among designers. The scheme can be very bright and cheerful or more mellow than some other color schemes depending on the blue and yellow hue you choose.



Credits: lushome.com/trendy-color-combinations-modern-interior-design-blue-yellow/149869




Black-and-white interior design has the power to give your home a lasting impression. Designers regularly incorporate this two-tone color theme in their designs to wake up interiors. The beauty of using black-and-white is that the palette is flexible and can look modern or classic, depending on how you use it.





Credits: home-designing.com/2012/01/black-white-interiors

This blog has been packed with plenty of useful information that can help aid in your decision when it comes to decorating your house. There are many popular interior decorating ideas in 2023 and these are just a few ideas to get you thinking.

Did you find this article helpful? Let us know your thoughts on this blog post and any ideas or suggestions you would like to see for future blog posts.



Save Energy At Home – Energy Efficiency Tips for Homeowners

8 Ways to Save Energy at Home
We could all agree that saving a little more cash on your utility bills would be nice. But maybe you’ve heard living energy efficient would take a whole lot of time, effort, and money you simply can’t afford? In such unprecedented times there has to be a way to tip the scales in your favor without breaking the bank. We thought the same thing and compiled a list of simple low-cost and no-cost energy solutions that are easy to do to save energy at home.

1. Reduce Energy Waste with Smart Power Strips
Devices that continue to draw power when they appear to be turned off can cost up to $200 a year in wasted energy. Fight this by regularly unplugging your devices, or let a smart power strip do the work for you. The features of advanced power strips make it easier than ever to ensure devices are fully powered down.

Learn more about smart strips equipped with motion sensors, voltage sensitivity controls and master switches, and easily learn which model is right for you.

2. Maintain Your Heating and Cooling System
The average household spends more than $2,000 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of that going to heating and cooling. A well maintained system can save a lot. Change your air filter regularly, and have a professional perform scheduled tune-ups.

3. Set Your Refrigerator for Optimum Cooling and Freshness
ENERGY STAR® recommends a temperature range between 35° and 38°F to keep food fresh while not wasting energy.

4. Use the Cold Water Cycle in Your Washing Machine
Washing your clothes in cold water saves big on water heating costs. It also keeps colors from fading and clothes from shrinking.

5. Seal Your Windows and Doors
Use caulk and weather stripping to seal air leaks around windows and doors. Homeowners save an average of $200 per year on heating and cooling by better insulating and sealing their homes.

6. Save the Game Console for Gaming
If you stream content to your TV, use a dedicated set-top box, smart TV or streaming-capable Blu-ray player. Game consoles use far more energy than these alternatives.

7. Heat your Water to 120°F
At an average of $250 a year, water heating is the second largest energy cost for most households. Don’t overheat your water only to mix it with cold. 120°F will give you hot showers while saving energy too.

8. Upgrade Your Homes Lighting
Light your home with ENERGY STAR certified LED bulb, the simple choice for energy efficiency. LED lighting is the simple option to save energy, money and protect the planet for future generations.

Additional resources can be found under “Energy Efficiency Tips for Homeowners” by the Consumers Energy


Top Features and Design Trends for 2021 in the Wake of COVID-19

NAHB Identifies Top Features and Design Trends for 2021 in the Wake of COVID-19
After declining for four years, a number of key trends — including the average size of the home and the number of bedrooms and bathrooms — reversed course in 2020 as a result of shifting buyer preferences in the wake of COVID-19. The average size home remained flat at 2,486 square feet, while the percentage of homes with four or more bedrooms and three or more bathrooms rose to 46% and 33%, respectively — rising closer to 2015 peaks.

“The primary reason is that COVID-19 has led a segment of home buyers to desire larger homes and to move out to the suburbs,” said Rose Quint, NAHB assistant vice president of survey research.

An increased number of rooms within the same footprint means home owners are becoming more creative in how they use the space within their homes, and using features such as windows to help make these spaces feel larger.

“The space works harder rather than larger,” said Donald Ruthroff, AIA, principal at Dahlin Group Architecture Planning. “Open spaces are better defined, and spaces are flexible.”
“New homes are gaining popularity as well, with 60% of buyers preferring new homes — the highest level since 2007”. Quint attributes this increased interest in new homes to three key factors.

“One is the absolute lack of existing home inventory,” said Quint. “Two is buyers are concerned about touring other people’s homes. And last but not least, new homes are more likely to be located where buyers want to live.” She noted that outlying suburbs are the most popular geographic location, driven by increased interest among minority home buyers.

NAHB also examined preferences among buyers to help builders determine what features are most likely to resonate in the market in 2021.
The top features desired include:

  • Laundry rooms
  • Exterior lighting
  • Ceiling fans
  • ENERGY STAR windows and appliances
  • Patios and front porches
  • Kitchen double sink
  • Walk-in pantries


Outdoor spaces such as patios and front porches allow home owners to utilize more space, Ruthroff added, with the connection between indoors and outdoors continuing to become more seamless. Builders at every value level should consider how to integrate such connections into their homes, and incorporate detailing that helps to dress up these spaces.

NAHB also asked recent and prospective home buyers how COVID-19 may have impacted their housing preferences. Although the majority (67%) did not feel the pandemic had an impact, a quarter did feel their preferences had changed because of COVID-19, with households that have at least one teleworker and one virtual student being the most likely to feel an impact. Such households are also the most likely to desire a larger home.

Additional information will be available soon in NAHB’s latest edition of What Home Buyers Really Want.
Additional resources can be found under “NAHB Identifies Top Features and Design Trends for 2021 in the Wake of COVID-19” by the National Association of Home Builders


Cold Weather Home Owner Tips

Stay Safe During & After a Winter Storm

Winter storms are dangerous. They can bring cold temperatures, power failures, loss of communication services, and icy roads. This can make being outside dangerous, so you should limit your time outside. Although staying indoors as much as possible can help reduce the risk of car crashes and falls on the ice, you may also face hazards inside your home.

Heat your home safely

If you plan to use a wood stove, fireplace, or space heater, be extremely careful. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions and remember these safety tips:

Turning on the stove for heat is not safe; have at least one of the following heat sources in case the power goes out:

  • Extra blankets, sleeping bags, and warm winter coats
  • Fireplace that is up to code with plenty of dry firewood or a gas log fireplace
  • Portable space heaters or kerosene heaters. Check with your local fire department to make sure that kerosene heaters are legal in your area.
  • Use electric space heaters with automatic shut-off switches and non-glowing elements. Make sure to keep them away from any flammable materials, like curtains or blankets.
  • Use fireplaces, wood stoves, or other combustion heaters only if they are properly vented to the outside and do not leak gas from the flue or exhaust into the indoor air space.
  • Have your heating system serviced by a qualified technician every year.
  • Do not burn paper in a fireplace.
  • Make sure you have proper ventilation if you must use a kerosene heater.
  • Use only the type of fuel your heater is designed to use—don’t substitute.
  • Keep heat sources, like space heaters, at least 3 feet away from drapes, furniture, or bedding. Never cover your space heater.
  • Never place a space heater on top of furniture or near water.
  • Never leave children unattended near a space heater.
  • Make sure that the cord of an electric space heater is not a tripping hazard, but do not run the cord under carpets or rugs.
  • Avoid using extension cords to plug in your space heater.
  • If your space heater has a damaged electrical cord or produces sparks, do not use it.

Light your home safely

If there is a power failure:

Use generators and other appliances safely.

  • Generators should be located at least 20 feet from any window, door, or vent and in a space where rain and snow will not reach them.
  • Protect yourself from carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning by installing a battery-operated CO detector.
  • Never using generators, gas or charcoal grills, camp stoves, or similar devices inside your home, in basements, in garages, or near windows. The fumes are deadly.
  • Plug in appliances to the generator using individual heavy-duty, outdoor-rated extension cords.
  • Do not use the generator or appliances if they are wet.
  • Do not store gasoline indoors where the fumes could ignite.

Conserve heat

  • Some gas-fueled heaters, such as vent-less gas fireplaces, require some ventilation. Otherwise, if you don’t need extra ventilation, keep as much heat as possible inside your home.
  • Avoid unnecessarily opening doors or windows.
  • Close off unneeded rooms.
  • Stuff towels or rags in cracks under doors.
  • Close draperies or cover windows with blankets at night.

Make sure babies and older adults stay warm


Infants less than one year old should never sleep in a cold room because they lose body heat more easily than adults. Follow these tips to keep your baby safe and warm during the extreme cold:

  • Remove any pillows or other soft bedding. These can increase the risk of smothering and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Dress babies in warmer clothing such as footed pajamas, one-piece wearable blankets, or sleep sacks.
  • Try to maintain a warm temperature inside your home. If you’re not able to keep your home warm, make temporary arrangements to stay elsewhere.
  • In an emergency, you can keep your baby warm using your own body heat. If you must sleep, take precautions to prevent rolling on or smothering your baby.

Older Adults

Older adults often make less body heat because of a slower metabolism and less physical activity. Check on elderly friends and neighbors often to make sure their homes are heated properly.

If you are over 65 years of age, check the temperature in your home often during extremely cold weather.

Keep a water supply

Extreme cold can cause water pipes in your home to freeze and sometimes rupture or break. When you are expecting very cold or freezing temperatures:

  • Leave all water taps slightly open so they drip continuously.
  • Keep the temperature inside your home warm.
  • Allow heated air to reach pipes. For example, open cabinet doors beneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks.
  • If your pipes do freeze, do not thaw them with a torch. Thaw the pipes slowly with warm air from an electric hair dryer.
  • If you cannot thaw your pipes, or the pipes have broken open, use bottled water or get water from a neighbor’s home.
  • As an emergency measure, if no other water is available, snow can be melted for water. Bringing water to a rolling boil for one minute will kill most germs but won’t get rid of chemicals sometimes found in snow.
  • Visit Keep Food and Water Safe After a Disaster or Emergency to learn more.

Eat well-balanced meals, and avoid alcoholic or caffeinated drinks.

Eating well-balanced meals will help you stay warmer. Do not drink alcoholic or caffeinated beverages—they cause your body to lose heat faster. Instead, drink warm, sweet beverages or broth to help keep yourself warm. If you have any dietary restrictions, ask your doctor.

Additional resources can be found under “Staying Safe During a Winter Storm” by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Man and woman playing in the snow outside of a house


House Design Keeping Weather In Mind

Good house design takes climate into account

You’ve made the decision to build a new home – CONGRATULATIONS! Now comes the fun part – House Design! Building a home that will allow you to be comfortable in either cold or heat takes a little planning. When discussing the design elements of energy efficiency, keep a few things in mind to ensure maximum comfort and minimum bills (or at least as close to minimum as you can get).

Start by knowing the ins and outs of the weather in your area. House Design with weather in mind

We all know Michigan has a variable climate. It also varies dramatically from region to region. Someone building a home on the East side of the state will be experiencing different weather patterns than someone on the West side. You’ll see even broader swings if you’re building close to one of the “Great Lakes.” Prepare for harsh winters and hot summers by getting a general picture of the average rainfall, snowfall and temperature ranges for the region in which you intend to build.

Dig into the design from the ground up.

Your foundation can also experience damage from swings in weather patterns. If you intend to have a basement you’ll want to make sure it is properly poured. Winter is not the ideal time to get concrete work done. This can result in foundation weakness later if the temperature isn’t up to par when the foundation is poured. Your basement should also be well insulated. Consider “ICF” or insulated concrete forms when designing the basement. This will allow for a quality air and moisture barrier as well as reducing heat loss.

Landscaping should be properly graded. This means ensuring a slope extending out from a house foundation of about 6 inches for the first 10 feet (that’s about a 5% slope). The right landscape/grading slope means that water in all it’s forms will run AWAY from the foundation. This is not a lesson you want to learn from experience. Trust me when I tell you AWAY is IMPORTANT. Pay attention to the grade throughout the course of your home ownership. Should you find animals have burrowed down in the area close to your home, address the issue. Quickly.

And from the roof down

If snow is a major concern, consider a steeply pitched roof. The roof of your home is one of the most important factors in energy efficiency. It’s also one of the major contributors to the longevity of your home. If you develop roof leaks or other damage, the interior of your home will suffer – a lot. Snow can cause all kinds of trouble with a roof. It’s best just to ensure heavy snow loads never occur. A steeply pitched roof allows snow to slide off quickly. It also helps in preventing ice dams as there isn’t likely to be pooling and quick freezing of rain or snow melt.

If the region is prone to heavy rainfall, keep your roof line simple. It will help prevent water from backing up into your attic.

To get the most of out of your home, pay attention to window placement! Typically South facing windows are an excellent source for heat generation. In the winter months, you’ll appreciate the comfort of extra heat. In the summer, keeping the shades drawn during the day will combat a lot of the heat. Invest in thermally appropriate windows for your area. For the few North and East facing windows a home in Michigan should have, look for a window with a low U factor rating. The U factor is the rate at which a window is prone to heat loss.

Stand the test of time

The true test of a well built home is its durability. Make sure your home is designed and built by craftsmen, who understand your particular needs. Be sure to design you home to get the most benefit from the natural environment.

For more information on House Design with Watts Homes & Construction, visit our Home Building Process Page.

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2020 New Home Design Trends

2020 New Home Design Trends – Moving into a new decade!

In 2020 new home design trends seem to reflect a desire for calm. Back in December the Pantone Color Institute proclaimed good old, Classic Blue its color of the year! Color psychology has branded this color family – stable. Maybe you’ve watched too much recent news… Maybe it’s that the smart phone you just bought will be out of date in six months. Whether its politics or planned obsolescence we can all agree we’re living in pretty hectic times. Is it any wonder that the trends we’re looking at for the new year are “soothing?”

Without further ado your trends for 2020 and beyond:

2020 new home trends-bring nature insideA return to nature: Biophilic Design

Homes in the next few years will seek to bring comfort through the inspiration of nature.

  1.  When the world around us gets crazy, sometimes the most basic things give us peace. We will be embracing nature more and more in our homes. Color pallets will trend toward those found sitting on the shore. A walk in the woods could give your home a grounded natural feel too.
  2. It won’t just be colors taking their cues from nature. Textures and finishes will have a more realist feel to them as well. Wood beams, trim and moldings will become very popular in the next year and into the coming decade.
  3. We’ll see a drive to decorate with house plants. Plants add a lot of color as well as reminding us of spending time outside.
  4. Wall paper returns with – you guessed it – nature inspired motifs.
  5. Rustic feeling accessories like cane, raffia and grass cloths and rugs will be popular.
  6. Terrazzo tile flooring has moved to the forefront of design. It’s natural color and texture work well with biophilic design.
  7. Animal prints in fabrics for upholstery to throw pillows has made a strong return.
  8. Granite and marble appear to be on their way out. This is due to cost and maintenance. Their replacements tend to lean toward quartz or “fake marble and granite.” It feels natural without being too much work or expense.

A deeper need to connect:

A trend that has been slowly sneaking up on us begins to show in design this year. Staying home. Whether its because finances are tight or just because we just want to be able to hear each other speak, staying in or visiting friends is what we’re doing for entertainment. It’s an idea that’s seems to have some staying power too! New homes will continue to accent this idea with design. Creating spaces with socializing in mind…

  1. Patios and decks with plants and grills and eating areas. Features like these have always been popular. Going forward, they will become “Must Have’s”
  2. Open concept design continues to have a strong following.
  3. Home theater remains a widely requested feature.
  4. Cocktail/wet bar areas


Trends are great. At the end of the day, the only real trends you need to concern yourself with are the ones that make your house feel like home to you.



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