House Hunting? Use this Handy Checklist Before you make the Offer

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Helpful information from your friends at A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

When you have found the home you want to buy, there are some important details you should know before you make an offer on the property.

House hunting can feel like an adventurous new chapter in your life. If you’re lucky enough to find the property that checks off all the “must have” boxes – appearance, size, price, location – it’s easy to fall in love.

Not so fast. Before making an offer on any property, it’s smart to take a deeper look at the overall structure and its systems, just to make sure warning signs of major and costly problems are not hiding in plain sight. If the house holds more issues than your budget (and drive to renovate) can handle, it might be best to walk away.

Of course, once the offer is accepted, it’s always a smart idea to hire a third-party home inspector to take an in-depth look at the property. In the meantime, one last pass-through with this checklist in hand can give you peace of mind about taking the next step.

Exterior: Walk around all four sides of the house, scanning it from ground to rooftop. Note the condition of the doors and window frames, and look for cracked or peeling paint or signs of loose siding. Higher up, eye the chimney, making sure it appears straight and is in good condition, while the gutters and drainpipes should be in place and functional.

Roof: Ideally, the roof would be 10 years old or less, so scan the roof for the classic warning signs of aging and neglect. Things like curled and missing shingles, dark stains, moss growth and signs of sagging can signal serious issues. (A home inspector can confirm if full replacement is needed, or if a few simple repairs would stabilize things for another decade or so.)

Yard: Take note of the landscaping. Is there a slope angled away from the house, or is there a potential for a flooded basement after a major rainfall? Mature trees provide lots of shade, but watch for overhanging branches, as these can break off in a storm and do major damage to the roof. Finally, take note of the condition of the driveway and sidewalks.

Foundation: The sight of a few hairline cracks in the cement is no cause for panic. Do look for telltale signs of serious issues, such as widening cracks, water stains and bulges. It doesn’t hurt to bring a level to make sure the walls are straight.

Plumbing: In addition to checking basement and under-sink pipes for signs of leaks, scan the ceilings for water stains. Open all the faucets to check the water pressure as well as the time it takes for hot water to reach the tap.

HVAC system: Know the age of the heating and cooling systems, and check these for tags and other signs of routine maintenance. If the system is older than a decade, that can spell costly repairs and a replacement in a brief time frame. When it comes to older systems, energy efficiency is another consideration, according to Tom Tasker, product manager with Coleman Echelon Variable Capacity residential systems.

“Newer HVAC systems are remarkably more efficient when compared to those from even a decade ago, which means they keep your house comfortable for as little as half the cost,” says Tasker.

For example, Coleman’s Echelon products are rated up to 20 SEER, which stands for seasonal energy efficiency ratio. Compare these to the 10 SEER systems of 25 years ago, and that can give you an idea of what to expect in potential energy costs, he says.

Appliances: Note the age and condition of things like the refrigerator, oven and range, washer and dryer, and hot water heater. As with the HVAC, older appliances tend to consume more energy and you’ll face a shorter timeline for needed repairs and replacements.

Buying a house is a big decision, but knowing what you’re buying can go a long way in assuring you that you’ve found the right place!

QUESTIONS YOU MUST ASK BEFORE BUYING A HOME – CHECKLIST!

A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc. has been providing Home Inspections, 4 Point Inspections, Wind Mitigation, Home Owners Network, Monthly home tips news, Water Quality Testing, Radon Testing, Lead Paint Testing and Mold Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Metro Orlando, Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake Country Polk, Sumter, Volusia, Brevard and all areas in between.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

5 DIY Projects that will Reinvent your Bathroom in a Weekend

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Helpful information from your friends at A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

Reinvent your interior spaces this weekend. Here are some simple D.I.Y. ways to give your old bathroom a new lease of life.

Ready to tackle your next home remodeling project and showcase your Do-It-Yourself (DIY) skills? Or maybe you’re an aspiring DIYer, hoping to channel your creative spirit and try your hand at the next home improvement project? Now is the time to get started.

According to experts from the National Association of Home Builders, the amount of money homeowners spend on remodeling projects is predicted to grow nearly 5 percent in 2018. Some of these dollars will be spent on large comprehensive rebuilds and others will be spent on smaller fix-it-up projects. No matter the spend, it’s a good bet much of this money will go to fund DIYers in their home improvement efforts, and many of them will be taking on projects for the first time.

Here are five bathroom upgrade projects that can be completed in a weekend. So now you can reinvent your bathroom and employ your DIY skills at the same time. Go ahead, pick the project that appeals most to you, and let’s get this project underway:

* Upgrade your bathroom fixtures. The focal points of your bathroom can easily be replaced, making a big overall impact with little outlay of effort. Tapered design lines and modern styling, like those in the American Standard Townsend bathroom fixtures, can beautifully enhance your bathroom. Consider replacing an old vanity with a new smoked gray vanity or washstand. It can be accented with a softly angular sink displaying generously sized side ledges to conveniently accommodate toiletries. Finish the room with matching accessories – towel bars, toilet paper holder, robe hook – and you’re on your way to a whole new level of style, all done with your DIY expertise.

* Install a new shower door. A shower door replacement can be made for cosmetic reasons; plus, there are very real potential benefits behind it as well, provided you pay attention to the details. Follow the process to install your door and be sure to apply silicone caulk at the end along the edges of the base track – both inside and out – and along the jams. This will make your new door water tight and keep your whole bathroom cleaner and drier.

* Replace your sink faucet. The faucet in your bathroom gets used every single day, so why not make it one you love? American Standard Studio S bathroom faucets showcase a fashion-forward geometric silhouette with minimalistic surface details. You can choose an easy-to-operate single handle model, or distinctive two-handle configurations, depending on what works for your home and family. These faucets are easy to install, and the WaterSense-certified 1.2 gallons per minute flow rate will save you water – up to 45 percent over conventional models – and money without compromising your experience.

* Lay the tile. Whether you’re motivated by structural needs or an outlet for your own artistic expression, laying new bathroom tile is a project that immediately ups the wow factor. Tile is incredibly impervious to water and stains, making it perfect for the bathroom. But it won’t lay properly unless you thoroughly clean the surface beforehand. Fill those backboard seams with mortar, apply a fiberglass mesh and then you’re ready to lay a tile design that matches your unique look.

* A spot for the perfect seat. If you’ve ever wished your time on the toilet seat was a little more luxurious, now is the perfect time to upgrade to an American Standard SpaLet bidet seat. It’s easy to install and provides the ultimate personal experience with a wide array of features like heated seat, water temperature control, spray strength, nozzle position, and even a deodorizer. Now, you can bring a spa-like environment right to the comfort of your own bathroom, without much time or cost invested.

Start reimagining your bathroom today

As one of the most used rooms in your home, the bathroom is the perfect place to start your weekend warrior home improvement projects. Simple upgrades to the elements in a bustling family bathroom, cozy master bath or heavy-use powder room can often be done with DIY know-how and enjoyed for many years to come.

Budget-Friendly Bathroom Remodel: Series Overview

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When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

Top Trends to Inspire your Outdoor Living

cozy-outdoor-spaceFrom your friends at A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

Creating a comfortable and personalized outdoor living space. Here are some Ideas and inspirations to make your outdoor space beautiful.

Outdoor living spaces rank first among special function rooms desired by consumers, according to the American Institute for Architects, and so homeowners are expected to be going all-in for the outdoors in 2018.

Trex Company, a maker of premium decking and railing, has gleaned insights from contractors, homeowners and industry experts to compile the following outdoor living trends that will dominate this year:

Year-round enjoyment

Among the biggest trends is a shift away from seasonality as consumers adopt more of a year-round mindset, no longer restricting outdoor living to spring and summer. Thanks to new high-performance materials and innovative design approaches, homeowners everywhere are transforming their outdoor spaces into multi-seasonal extensions of their homes. For example, Trex contractors have reported an uptick in requests for its RainEscape deck drainage system by clients looking to add multi-seasonal living space underneath an elevated deck.

Minimal maintenance, maximum enjoyment

Just because people are spending more time outdoors doesn’t mean they’re willing to put in extra hours for upkeep. In fact, high-maintenance materials like wood are seeing a decrease in demand as people are opting for offerings that deliver better performance and sustainability.

Unlike wood, high-performance composites resist fading, staining, scratching and mold – and won’t rot, warp, crack or splinter. No sanding, staining or painting is required, and food and drink spills wash off easily with just soap and water.

Comfy cozy

Among the hottest design influences right now is “hygge” (pronounced hoo-gah) – the Scandinavian term for a feeling of coziness and comfort. This year, outdoor spaces will beckon homeowners and their guests to relax and rejuvenate with hygge-inspired accents, from plush cushions and throws to protective pergolas, cozy warming features and outdoor lighting.

Residential goes commercial

While railing matched to the decking remains popular, an increasing number of homeowners are taking advantage of the complementary decking and railing pairings afforded by new railing materials in modern, metal finishes, as well as sleek designs inspired by commercial architecture. More homeowners are inspired by outdoor spaces they find in commercial settings, such as hotels and urban rooftops, and want to replicate those looks in their homes. A prime example of this commercial-to-residential trend is the growing popularity of horizontal railings such as rod rail – a sleek, industrial look that’s ideal for optimizing a panoramic view.

Hide and chic

With the increased usage of outdoor living spaces comes higher demand for chic decor and privacy. An easy design trick that adds personal style and functionality, lattice panels are perfect for enhancing privacy and concealing storage areas or unsightly views. With styles ranging from romantic to deco, lattice panels can be integrated into any outdoor area and applied to structures such as arbors, trellises and gazebos, or used as decorative wainscoting or deck skirting.

Fun and games

Kids are not the only ones who enjoy playing outside. Outdoor play spaces for all ages are on the rise, including everything from swimming pools and embedded sandboxes to regulation cornhole courts, horseshoe pits and dedicated spaces for volleyball, badminton and bocce ball.

Beyond yard games, electronics manufacturers now offer televisions and entertainment systems specifically designed for the outdoors, taking into consideration differences in lighting and outdoor acoustics. Meanwhile, new storage options include durable wall-mounted television and entertainment centers that beautifully protect pricey electronics from the elements, while concealing all of the unsightly – and potentially unsafe – cords and cables.

For more information about outdoor living trends, go to www.trex.com.

Make the Most of Your Outdoor Space

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When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

Do the Math: Homebuying Now May Save A Lot

couple-signing-a-contractBrought to you by A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

Saving for a house deposit is pretty hard but saving for a house deposit in just one year is even harder. Here are some tips on how to save for a house in a year.

It is a common misconception that a 20 percent down payment is required to buy a home. Advice to wait and save a large down payment is often based on the theory that the cost of mortgage insurance (MI), which is required when you buy with a smaller down payment, should be avoided. This may not be the best advice and is, in fact, not in line with market trends, considering 60 percent of homebuyers buy with a down payment of 6 percent or less, according to the National Association of Realtors.

Yes, you can qualify for a conventional mortgage with a down payment as small as 3 percent of the purchase price. It is also true that you can reduce your monthly mortgage payment by paying for discount points at closing, but that can be 5 or 10 percent of the purchase price – not 20. And because every buyer’s situation is unique, it’s important to do the math. In today’s market, it could take a family earning the national median income up to 20 years to save 20 percent, according to calculations by U.S. Mortgage Insurers using a methodology developed by the Center for Responsible Lending; a lot can change during that time, in the family’s personal finances and in overall mortgage market trends.

How can buying now save you money later?

Consider you want to purchase a $235,000 home. A 5 percent down payment is $11,750 versus $47,000 in cash for 20 percent down. With a 740 credit score at today’s MI rates, your monthly MI payment would be about $110, which is added to your monthly mortgage payment until MI cancels. MI typically cancels after five years; therefore, you will only have this added cost for a short period of time versus waiting an average of 20 years to save for 20 percent.

With home price appreciation, today’s $235,000 home will likely cost more in the years ahead and this will also have an impact on the necessary down payment and length of time required to save for it. There are other variables in the equation too, such as interest rates. As federal rates rise, so too can the costs associated with financing a mortgage. The savings a borrower might calculate today could be altogether negated by waiting even a few more years. Another factor is that rents are on the rise across the nation, leading to a reduced capacity for many would-be homebuyers to save for larger down payments.

If you decide to buy today with a low down payment mortgage option, it is true that MI is an added cost on top of mortgage principal and interest, but keep in mind that it is temporary and goes away. Again, it typically lasts about five years. Private MI can be cancelled once a homeowner builds approximately 20 percent equity in the home through payments or appreciation and automatically terminates for most borrowers once he or she reaches 22 percent equity. And when MI is cancelled, the monthly bill goes down. Importantly, the insurance premiums on an FHA mortgage – the 100 percent taxpayer-backed government version of mortgage insurance – cannot be cancelled for the vast majority of borrowers with FHA mortgages.

So, do the math and let the numbers guide you. There are many online mortgage calculators that can help. Check out lowdownpaymentfacts.org to learn more.

15 Ways To Save Your Home Deposit Quickly (Ep94)

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When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

Keep your Home Pest Free this Year

man-cleaning-the=kitchenHelpful information from A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

There are plenty of ways to keep your home pest free. Here are some helpful tips on how to defend your home and property from these pests before they take over your home.

Now is a great time to establish year-long goals and resolutions, including home improvement goals you’d like to tackle this year. The first step is to create a pest control plan for your home. It’s important to establish good habits early in the year to help prevent potential pest problems. Unchecked, pests can wreak havoc in your home, but there are several steps homeowners can take to help avoid an infestation and keep their home safe and their family happy.

Sanitize

Clean your kitchen, pantry and any other places where food is stored. Remove crumbs and wipe up sticky drink residue to avoid attracting cockroaches and ants. Drains and sinks can be breeding grounds for flies, so keep them clean and clear. Regularly vacuuming and dusting can help prevent pests during the winter months.

Repair home damage

Engage in regular home maintenance to help avoid unwanted pest entry. Insects can come in through tiny cracks and openings, rodents can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime and raccoons and squirrels can enter through large holes. Basic maintenance steps include fixing gaps or holes in broken screens, doors and cracks in your walls and repairing any other exterior home damage.

Maintain your yard

Trim branches and trees touching your home to prevent easy access for pests. As expected by the name, roof rats and even squirrels can crawl across branches and enter your home through the roof. Keep outdoor trash cans secured to reduce the attractiveness to rodents and raccoons. Cardboard boxes and trash in your yard can provide shelter for spiders and insects. Yard clutter, such as leaf and wood piles, may be a source of food or shelter for a variety of pests.

Monitor your home

In the new year, step into a new routine of monitoring the exterior and interior of your home for holes, cracks and crevices. But also monitor for droppings, as well as chewed or damaged spots in your home. Regular monitoring for visual cues can help quickly address pest problems, and prevent future issues.

Know when it’s time to call a professional

As hard as we work to keep pests out, they are working hard to get in. Even the most vigilant homeowner can experience infestations. To prevent further damage and ensure you are safe in your home, it’s important to know when a pest problem is beyond your control. Professionals are trained to locate the specific sources of infestations and provide treatment options to eradicate the problem from your home. A trained professional can use proper techniques and tools that will provide the best solution to eliminate your pesty problem. Most companies, like Terminix, offer a free pest inspection to evaluate the situation. For more information, visit Terminix.com.

8 Simple Remedies That Make Your Home Bugs Free

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When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

Deliver Curb Appeal with a DIY Block Mailbox

concrete-mailboxFrom your friends at A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

The art of laying bricks is a good skill to learn. Homeowners can now building their own attractive concrete mailbox with this easy steps.

We’ve all heard the old adage, “you only get one chance to make a first impression.” Well, that statement holds true when you’re talking about a home. Whether it’s the landscaping, the siding, the front door, the windows, the paint, the driveway or the outdoor furniture, the initial reaction to the exterior appearance of a home is permanent. Quite literally, the curb appeal of your home can influence the experience of visiting guests. In addition, 63 percent of homebuyers will visit a home they like after viewing it online, according to the National Association of Realtors. So, investing the time, energy and money to maximize the curb appeal of your home makes a lot of sense. Unfortunately, an important element of curb appeal that is often overlooked is the mailbox.

There are more than 50 million curbside mailboxes in the U.S. While these mailboxes serve an important daily function, they also set the tone for a home’s curb appeal. Rather than feature a mailbox on a plain wooden or metal post, placing one in a brick, stone or block enclosure is a popular alternative that can be done without hiring a contractor or being a skilled mason. Building an attractive mailbox column is a DIY project any homeowner can now handle using a versatile block system like Stonegate Country Manor from Keystone Hardscapes.

Note: Wearing gloves and eye protection is recommended.

Steps for building a block mailbox column:

* Mark off the mailbox footprint with paint and remove the dirt from inside until the hole is 12 inches deep. Level the bottom with a hand tamper.

* Add 6 inches of crushed stone a few inches at a time and compact with a hand tamper.

* Install the first course by centering the blocks inside the mailbox footprint and place 6 inches below finished grade. Check front to back and side to side with a level and adjust as necessary with sand and a hammer.

* Lay the second course of block on top of the first course of block in an alternating pattern to make sure they fit correctly. Remove the blocks and apply two quarter-inch-wide strips of QUIKRETE Polyurethane Construction Adhesive on each block in the first course approximately 3 inches away from the inside and outside edge before attaching the second course.

* Repeat the process until you complete the column, being sure to alternate the course layouts as indicated by the directions. Be sure to use a level on each course.

* Once the seventh course is completed, fill the core with the remaining crushed stone so the mailbox has a location to rest. Build the mailbox layer by placing the first course of blocks and securing with concrete adhesive as indicated by the directions.

* Use spray foam to seal behind the face of the mailbox and use QUIKRETE Non-Shrink Grout to fill around the mailbox so that it’s flush and the door opens and closes freely.

* Install the second mailbox course and secure with concrete adhesive before filling around the mailbox again with grout.

* Finally, secure the mailbox in place with concrete adhesive before installing a cap of your choice.

There are a variety of block mailbox column styles, colors and sizes to match the look of any home. In addition, you can easily update your front or back yard with fireplaces, fire pits, kitchens, benches and retaining walls by downloading block system project designs and step-by-step instructions like Stonegate Country Manor at www.KeystoneHardscapes.com.

How I made a stone mailbox (moveable) Mike Haduck

A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc. has been providing Home Inspections, 4 Point Inspections, Wind Mitigation, Home Owners Network, Monthly home tips news, Water Quality Testing, Radon Testing, Lead Paint Testing and Mold Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Metro Orlando, Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake Country Polk, Sumter, Volusia, Brevard and all areas in between.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

The Beauty of Barn Doors

beautiful-sliding-barn-doorBrought to you by A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

Create indoor sliding doors as a decorative piece in your home. A sliding barn door would be a space-efficient option for a small room, regardless of its use or function.

Barn doors moved out of the farmyard and into the house a long time ago. Recently, however, they have become an even more popular and useful feature in residential design. It’s not hard to see why.

“Many homeowners hear the term ‘barn door’ and think of reclaimed, rustic wood, which may not be a look they’re interested in,” says Linda Jovanovich of the American Hardwood Information Center. “But contemporary barn doors offer many more aesthetic choices than their traditional image suggests. We’ve noticed a trend toward the use of solid, fine-milled hardwoods like walnut and cherry for sliding doors, which not only gives them satisfying heft but is also a great way to bring the warmth and character of natural wood into an interior.”

New York-based interior designer Laura Bohn agrees. “I’ve installed hardwood barn doors in many projects, both in the city and the country,” she says. “They provide a lot of decorative interest, particularly hung in pairs. I’d choose a clean, sophisticated design in a subtle wood like maple or birch for an urban interior. Poplar planks painted a cheerful color, or characterful woods like hickory and cypress would be better for doors in a country house.”

Along with their decorative qualities, barn doors often provide a functional alternative to conventional swing doors. “Barn doors, either singly or in pairs, offer a simple and effective way to divide large spaces – a kitchen from a living-dining area, for example,” says Laguna Beach, California-based designer Lisa McDennon. “They can create instant separation and privacy in even the most open-plan house, which allows for greater flexibility in daily use.”

“A traditional door can use up to nine square feet of space, which is a lot in city apartments where every inch counts,” notes New York-based designer Glenn Gissler. “A barn door only takes up a sliver of floor, making it a terrific solution in tight situations such as hallways and narrow rooms. You just need enough adjacent wall footage to slide the door over.”

Barn doors offer economic advantages, too. While pocket doors have similar space-saving benefits, installing them requires wall reconstruction – a messy and expensive business. Because barn doors run on hardware installed outside the frame, they need no such preparatory construction, saving time and money. And the tracks themselves are part of the doors’ decorative appeal. “There’s a terrific selection of barn-door hardware available,” Bohn says. “Use sleek, high-tech tracks in brushed aluminum or satin-finish stainless steel for a modern urban vibe. For a more rustic or industrial statement, think blackened iron or raw steel, both of which look powerfully graphic against natural or painted wood.”

Visit www.hardwoodinfo.com for more about residential design trends and other applications and products using American hardwoods.

How to Build & Install a Barn Door

A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc. has been providing Home Inspections, 4 Point Inspections, Wind Mitigation, Home Owners Network, Monthly home tips news, Water Quality Testing, Radon Testing, Lead Paint Testing and Mold Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Metro Orlando, Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake Country Polk, Sumter, Volusia, Brevard and all areas in between.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

Mix, Match and Mosaic: The Top Interior Design Trends of 2018

clean-and-beautiful-living-room

The Article Courtesy of A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

Whether you’re redecorating your home or changing up, here are some of the best interior design trends we are to see this year.

Whether you’re redecorating your home, changing up that old carpet for warm hardwood flooring, or just longing for a fresh coat of paint and some new accents in the living room, the design trends this year are all about texture, style and surprises. It’s hardwood floors celebrating knots and imperfections or variations in plank sizes and color. It’s wood on your walls and faux stone tile backsplashes. It’s mixing unexpected materials to create an entirely new look. Mix, match and mosaic is what it’s all about this year.

Sara Babinski, a designer for Armstrong Flooring, offers her view of the top design trends of 2018.

Inspired by nature

Earth tones are big this year in everything from accent pieces, to linens and walls, to flooring. Think natural-colored solid hardwood and rattan dining chairs. Also on trend: breezy, uncomplicated seaside styles that incorporate natural aquatic blue and green shades.

“We are seeing an ode to the elements in interior design – walls and flooring that look distressed or weathered, and an ongoing demand for the look of reclaimed wood,” says Babinski.

A trend that was hot in the ’90s is also making a resurgence: faux stone, and designers taking artistic license with depicting natural stone in decor, flooring, and walls.

Diamonds are a floor’s best friend

Looks can deceive, and what may appear to be a hardwood floor is actually luxury vinyl or LVT. Thanks to incredible advancements in printing technology, these are no longer your grandma’s floors. A perfect example of this trend is Armstrong Flooring’s vinyl or engineered tile floor with Diamond 10 Technology, a proprietary flooring innovation that infuses cultured diamonds into the floor, providing the ultimate in scratch, stain, and scuff resistance.

If you still want solid hardwood with the same protection, consider Paragon Solid Hardwood, which incorporates the same Diamond 10 Technology without any compromise. Paragon floors are made from 100 percent solid Appalachian hardwood, ensuring your floors will remain beautiful for a lifetime.

Stimulation of the senses

Create a mosaic of varying colors and textures in your home.

Hardwood flooring in 2018 will celebrate the natural beauty of the wood, showing and highlighting knots and naturally occurring imperfections, including varying plank sizes, colors, and widths. Artisan styles will also be popular this year, with hand-brushed and -scraped patterns.

The “raw meets polished” trend is all about high shine versus ultra low gloss. This may include reclaimed wood furniture, updated with modern, shiny metal hardware or the aesthetic of using both low gloss and medium gloss on your floor.

Also on tap this year is mixing metals, especially in the kitchen. “Warm-toned fixtures can now live harmoniously with stainless appliances and with the latest appliance trend – a beautiful black finish! Copper, rose gold and oxidized metals are especially popular,” Babinski says.

Cultural influences and animal prints

Globally, Babinski sees trends of warm minimalism (warmer shades of gray, blue and brown evoking Hygge), and on the flip side, bold maximalism, a strong mix of bold colors and patterns balanced with gray walls and blonde hardwood and wood-look floors.

Cultural influences in accent pieces continue to trend. Whether it’s a hand-woven basket or a lamp with a Moroccan design, they add a sense of global style to your rooms.

Although exotic hardwood is going out of style in favor of American domestic species, Babinski is still seeing fun pairings with animal prints in furniture and accessories, such as area rugs, which pair perfectly with natural material floors.

Victorian and antique

The reemergence of Victorian and antique decor can translate easily to flooring trends like Millwork Square Solid Hardwood parquet and strip hardwood in Prime Harvest.

Also in 2018, patterns are meant to be broken, especially in floors. Herringbone-patterned flooring is trending, and floors will incorporate different colors, textures, glosses, plank widths and lengths.

“Flooring can even go on the walls, as seen by the continuation of the wood-on-walls trend,” adds Babinski. “Overwhelmingly, though, hardwood floors will continue to be low-gloss and ultra-matte.”

Interior Design Tips & Tricks | Overhaul

A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc. has been providing Home Inspections, 4 Point Inspections, Wind Mitigation, Home Owners Network, Monthly home tips news, Water Quality Testing, Radon Testing, Lead Paint Testing and Mold Inspection to home buyers and home sellers in the following areas of Metro Orlando, Orange, Seminole, Osceola, Lake Country Polk, Sumter, Volusia, Brevard and all areas in between.

When you or someone you know needs the services of a quality home inspection company, we would truly appreciate you thinking of us. You can schedule right from our website or call our office (407) 218-6522. Thank You.

Call 811 Before Digging for Home Improvement Projects and Landscaping This Spring

Call 811 Before Digging for Home Improvement Projects and Landscaping This Spring

With spring having officially begun, many eager homeowners and landscape professionals across the country will roll up their sleeves and reach for their shovels to start projects that require digging this season.

During the transition into “digging season,” Common Ground Alliance (CGA), the organization dedicated to protecting underground utility lines, people who dig near them, and their communities, reminds homeowners and professional diggers that calling 811 is the first step toward protecting you and your community from the risk of unintentionally damaging an underground line.

Every digging project, no matter how large or small, warrants a free call to 811. Installing a mailbox or fence, building a deck and landscaping are all examples of digging projects that should only begin a few days after making a call to 811. Calling this number connects you to your local one-call utility notification center.

According to data collected by CGA in a phone survey in February, millions of American homeowners will likely do DIY projects involving digging this year, but 36 percent of them do not plan to make a free call to 811 before digging. Extrapolated to the full population of U.S. homeowners, approximately 48.3 million people will dig this year without first calling 811.

A utility line is damaged every nine minutes in America because someone decided to dig without making a call to 811 to learn the approximate location of buried utilities in their area. Unintentionally striking one of these lines can result in inconvenient outages for entire neighborhoods, serious harm to yourself or your neighbors, and significant repair costs.

As a result, CGA offers the following tips to make sure you complete your project safely and without any utility service interruptions, so you don’t become a statistic.

Here’s how the 811 process works:

1. One free, simple phone call to 811 makes it easy for your local one-call center to notify appropriate utility companies of your intent to dig. Call a few days prior to digging to ensure enough time for the approximate location of utility lines to be marked with flags or paint.

2. When you call 811, a representative from your local one-call center will ask for the location and description of your digging project.

3. Your local one-call center will notify affected utility companies, which will then send professional locators to the proposed dig site to mark the approximate location of your lines.

4. Only once all lines have been accurately marked, carefully dig around the marked areas.

There are nearly 20 million miles of underground utility lines in the United States, which equates to more than a football field’s length of utilities for every person in the U.S. Your family depends on this buried infrastructure for your everyday needs including electric, natural gas, water and sewer, cable TV, high-speed Internet and landline telephone. With that much critical infrastructure underground, it’s important to know what’s below and call 811 before digging.

To find out more information about 811 or the one-call utility notification center in your area, visit www.call811.com. You may also call us at  (407) 218-6522 to speak with our expert home inspectors.

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Credit Tips for Buying an Investment Property

If you love the idea of being a landlord, and don’t mind being on duty around the clock, buying an investment property may be the wealth-building option for you.

Property values have enjoyed a steady increase over the decades. That’s why real estate has earned its reputation as a sound investment that builds wealth and credit.

Most people, however, don’t have the quantity of cash on hand to purchase a house or apartment building outright. Still, if becoming a landlord means taking out a 30-year mortgage, the monthly payments from the tenants should be enough to service the loan and build equity for you, while leaving some cash flow so you can maintain the property.

If buying investment property sounds like a step you’d like to take, here are some credit considerations every investor needs to know.

1. Be mindful of the inquiry stage

Once you decide to purchase an investment property, it’s important to do everything you can to make sure your credit score stays as high as possible until the loan is approved and signed. Your goal is to land the best possible interest rate, because even half a percentage point can add tens of thousands of dollars of total interest payments to a 30-year loan (and affect your wealth-building abilities).

During this time, things like continuing to make on-time payments on your existing loans can be helpful in maintaining your credit score. However, sometimes people unintentionally lower their credit score when they’re actually trying to be fiscally responsible. For example, when shopping around for the best mortgage rate, keep in mind that multiple inquiries can have a negative effect on your credit score, especially if you don’t have a long credit history. Fortunately, many credit bureaus recognize that you may be comparison shopping, so make sure you do this within a defined time frame of 30-45 days.

2. Keep credit utilization low

When maintaining a property, having access to credit can be helpful because it lets you make repairs and keep things in good living condition for your tenants. One thing that can affect your credit score is the amount of credit you’re using.

Unfortunately, keeping a higher balance could result in a lower credit score. As a rule, keep your credit utilization at 30 percent or less. For example, if your credit card has a $5,000 limit, the balance should not get any higher than $1,500. Throughout the billing cycle, keep an eye on the balance, and pay it down when you can.

3. Keep a cushion of cash

It happens. You get that call about a water leak, and before you know it, you’re spending your Saturday evening pricing plumbers, searching for one whose overtime rate is only in the range of mildly outrageous.

Being a property manager means expecting the unexpected, and one of the best ways to be ready is to have enough cash at the ready to take care of these problems. Build an emergency fund in your savings account, and keep your credit paid down so you always have that cushion to fall back on during any crisis.

4. Beware of low and no-interest financing deals

When it’s time to replace the oven range or a refrigerator, one of those “no payments, no interest for 18 months” deals can seem like a lifesaver. It sounds like a great deal, but these alluring promises are designed to play a psychological trick on you. Because you don’t have to pay yet, it doesn’t really feel like spending money when you’re making the purchase.

However, once the interest-free promotional period is up, a double-digit interest rate often kicks in. If you don’t have the cash to pay off the balance or make payments, you could end up with penalties that can affect your credit score. Before you sign on, always read the fine print.

Before you invest, do your research on credit scores and know your pros and cons. More than 8.5 billion credit scores compiled by VantageScore Solutions were obtained and used in the U.S. between June 2016 and July 2017.

Whatever your stage in life, the market offers many options for those who wish to build their wealth through investing in real estate. To learn more about the things you need to know before buying your new house, ask our certified home inspectors.