What’s Next In Outdoor Living? Top Trends For 2020

(BPT) – The appeal of all things al fresco has never been higher with homeowners across the country investing more time and money than ever before into their outdoor spaces. Based on insights from decking contractors, retailers, and home design experts, industry leader Trex Company has compiled its annual outdoor living forecast, predicting the top design trends for 2020 and beyond.

“It’s always fascinating to compare the trends reported by our customers with those projected by the industry at large,” said Leslie Adkins, vice president of marketing for Trex. “This year, we also engaged celebrity designer Alison Victoria to take our forecast to a whole new level.”

According to the latest report, the following five top trends will influence outdoor living in the new decade:

1. Mixed Materials

2020 is the year to mix it up. Add visual interest to an outdoor space by juxtaposing materials such as concrete and composite, wicker and aluminum, copper, and stone. Integrate nature-inspired materials that maintain cohesion with the natural surroundings and infuse color and pattern with pillows, cushions, furnishings, and decorative accents.

2. Sizzling Kitchens

As the foodie phenomenon continues to thrive, outdoor kitchens will continue to evolve. Picture fully appointed culinary centers complete with specialty appliances such as smokers, pizza ovens, and integrated refrigerated storage — all housed in stylish all-weather cabinetry. Capturing this trend is the new Trex Outdoor Kitchens collection, featuring stainless steel cabinetry solutions in color and style options that allow homeowners to create functional spaces that rival interior spaces.

“A good kitchen is essential — whether indoors or out,” emphasized Victoria, host of HGTV’s “Windy City Rehab” and DIY’s “Kitchen Crashers.” “A well-designed and well-appointed kitchen becomes the heart of any space. It’s where people gather. It’s where memories are made. So, make it memorable!”

3. Industrial Inspiration

There is a growing shift toward sleek, contemporary designs and materials for interior and exterior spaces as homeowners are increasingly finding inspiration in commercial settings like hotels and restaurants. Outdoors, this trend is manifesting in more industrial aluminum railing styles with sleek profiles and contemporary rod, mesh, or glass inserts designed to optimize sightlines and deliver a modern flair.

4. Fire And Water

“Fire and water are all the rage right now for outdoor spaces,” Victoria noted. “These elements not only take a space to the next level; they connect it to the natural surroundings. Even in an urban setting, these elements add a sense of tranquility that can make you feel like you’re a million miles away.”

Fire pots, such as those in the new Trex Outdoor Fire & Water collection, can be positioned almost anywhere to create a cozy gathering spot — or combined in a series to provide an ambient boundary for larger outdoor areas. For even greater visual impact, a fire table can serve as a focal point and elevate the luxury and comfort of outdoor space. Likewise, the soothing sound of trickling water from integrated spillways, bowls, or other features can instantly conjure calm and set a relaxed tone and atmosphere.

5.Bonus Space

If you have a raised deck, there is undoubtedly some open space underneath. While, historically, this space has been used for storage, the design trend for 2020 is to turn it into a bonus living space by installing a deck drainage system. Designed to divert water away from a deck, systems like RainEscape create a dry space that can be outfitted with everything from furniture and accessories to lighting fixtures, ceiling fans, and entertainment components.

For more outdoor living ideas and inspiration, visit Trex.com.

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A.C.F. Home Inspections, Your Premier Orlando Home Inspection Company | Let this experienced Orlando Home Inspection Company help keep you from buying The Money Pit. We’ll alert you to any and all health or safety issues and maintenance needs of the home you’re looking to buy.

As a family-owned business, we pride ourselves on supporting homeowners and families who need an honest, competent and dependable property inspector. We understand the importance of safety. When it comes to children and family. Therefore, we give special attention to deficiencies in systems and components of the home that represent an immediate danger. And we are independent and impartial; we work for you – our client – and not for an agent or other interests.

A.C.F. Home Inspections is committed to bringing you a consistently high level of service. We are an indispensable asset to real estate agents, buyers, sellers, investors, property managers, landlords, mortgage brokers, and private and nursing care homes.  Let us be your residential and commercial advisor, and find peace of mind that you are getting a professional’s opinion.

A.C.F. Home Inspections will be your home buying or selling advocate!  We’re highly experienced and extremely thorough. If you’re looking to buy or sell in the Orlando area, we can help!

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A Great Lawn Begins With A Great Engine

From your friends at A C F Home Inspections!

As the days grow longer and the snow begins to recede, homeowners will once again venture outdoors to get their yards and lawn into tip-top shape for summer fun. But just like your lawn has been hibernating over the long winter, so too has your lawn mower and other small engines. Even if you properly winterized your mower, there are a few things you’ll need to do to ensure it works like it should. To get there, follow these five steps.

1. Freshen up with a new tank of gas. It only takes 30 days for the gasoline in your mower to start to break down, which can harm your engine. If you have any gas left in the tank from the fall, empty it with a siphon and fill the tank with fresh fuel straight from the gas station. For optimal results, use ethanol-free gas (E0).

2. Don’t forget to check the oil. A new season means new oil. This will ensure your motor will run smoothly and it will go a long way to prevent overheating. Be sure to check the owner’s manual to make sure you put in the right kind of oil and the proper amount.

3. Two components to clean and replace. Along with keeping your mower fed with fresh gas and oil, at the beginning of each season there are two components to either clean or replace: the spark plug and the air filter. To inspect the spark plug, simply clean the area around the cylinder and use a wrench to remove the plug. Check for any damage or black coating, and if the plug appears damaged, replace it. As far as the air filter goes, it’s best to start each season with a new one. Consult the owner’s manual for reference on how to do this and always consider using genuine parts from the manufacturer.

4. Sharpen the blade. A dull lawnmower blade rips and tears blades of grass in your lawn, making them more prone to disease and discoloration. A sharp blade helps promote a greener, fuller and healthier lawn. Most local hardware stores or small-engine shops offer blade-sharpening services.

5. Maybe you need a new engine? If you’ve gone through all the maintenance tips above and you’re still having problems with your mower, it’s probably time for a new one. When making a purchasing decision, focus on the most essential component: the engine. Ideally, you want an engine that offers minimal maintenance, easy starting and smooth, effective operation. The Kohler 5400 Series is a new option featuring a Triple-Balance System, which significantly reduces vibration for a more comfortable ride.

To learn more about how the right engine can improve the performance of your mower, visit www.KohlerEngines.com.

Transform the Look of your Kitchen – RONAMAG Ideas and Advice

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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.

Are Hidden Leaks Damaging your Home, Boosting Water Bills and Harming the Environment?

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From your friends at A C F Home Inspections!

Homeowners should always need to check your water meter to detect if there are water leaks. Here are some tips to check for a water leak in your house.

Home water leaks waste 1 trillion gallons of water per year, and 10 percent of American homes have leaks that waste 90 gallons of water a day, according to the EPA.

Fixing easily detectable leaks like dripping faucets and malfunctioning toilets can reduce water bills and water waste. But what do you do about the leaks you can’t see?

Hidden leaks can be dangerous. Leaking pipes within walls can cause mold. Dripping faucets behind appliances can be a fire hazard. Leaking irrigation can cause significant lawn damage. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

In a national study of more than 300 homes, intelligent-water industry leader Phyn found that 17 percent of homes have some type of leak. Of those leaks, half were from a broken toilet flapper. This type of common leak wastes 800 to 1,100 gallons of water each day!

Uncovering hidden links is important for your budget, your safety and to protect your property investment. Here are some ways to easily detect hidden leaks so you don’t have to worry:

Proactive inspections: Look where hidden leaks commonly occur before you see signs of a problem. Early detection could prevent costly damage. Even new homes need this approach, since human error during construction could lead to hidden leaks later.

Inspect systems: First check your irrigation system by walking around the yard, looking for signs of leaks, like puddles of water or depressions in the ground near sprinkler heads or lines. Also, inspect around your water heater for moisture. Remember to watch the water meter, too. An unexpected spike in a water bill could indicate a problem.

Technology: New advancements help detect leaks using intelligent-water technology, such as the Phyn Plus smart water assistant + shutoff. Installed right after the meter on the main water line, this device analyzes your home’s water use by measuring tiny changes in pressure at 240 times per second. This allows the device to shut off the water automatically, so the owners can rest assured that they won’t come home to surprise water damage from a burst pipe.

Keep age in mind: Older homes have older pipes and systems that may be more prone to leaks, so it’s important to keep close attention on your home as it ages. That being said, new homes aren’t immune to water leaks. You may have heard stories of new homeowners hanging a picture on their wall, only to find a puddle on the floor the next day right below where the nail had punctured a pipe. Pipes and soldering can fail at any time, whether your home is brand new or 100 years old.

Use the pros: When in doubt, hire a professional to get expert insight and workmanship. For example, the Uponor Pro Squad is a group of authorized, intelligent-water specialists, dedicated to installing and servicing the Phyn Plus. Pro Squad members have been trained and certified to provide an expert installation experience, ensuring the quality and workability of the Phyn Plus device.

It’s important to detect hidden water leaks in your home. Learn more about water leaks and smart home technology at www.phyn.com.

How to check for hidden leaks in your plumbing.

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The Secret Places Pests are Hiding in your Home

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

Know the surprising hiding places for pests in your home – take a look and don’t let yourself get spooked by this often-unseen invader.

Pests can be hiding just about everywhere – whether you can see them or not. When you know where to look, there are preventative measures you can take to help avoid a pest infestation problem in your home. Terminix shares details on the unexpected, “secret” places pests can be hiding.

Sinks and drains

One often overlooked area is the kitchen sink. When not properly sanitized, drains can become a breeding ground for pests like cockroaches, drain beetles and fruit flies. Cockroaches are one of the more common pests found in drains as they can access pipes when pushed up from sewers. Cockroaches survive in drains by feeding on available organic matter like grease, food waste and hair.

Other drain-breeding pests include drain flies, which resemble tiny moths, and fruit flies. Drain flies breed in residue found in drains. Fruit flies are attracted to garbage residue found in drains, which can contain damp, organic matter in which to lay eggs, and is a good food source to feed young larvae. Use smaller drain mesh and drain cleaner to create a less appealing environment for drain flies and fruit flies.

Ceiling light fixtures

Bugs see UV lighting more clearly than humans, making ceiling light fixtures a common place to find insects. Flies, beetles, cockroaches and wasps are attracted to the warmth and light, which, unfortunately for them, typically results in an early death.

Electrical outlets

One of the most unexpected places pests hide is inside your electrical outlets. Ants, beetles and bed bugs have been known to hide in electrical outlets and the voids behind the outlet plate. A pest control technician may use a dry residual dust product to reduce any bugs that could be residing there. If bed bugs are found in electrical outlets, it is likely there are more in other parts of the room or home, so call a professional to schedule a full home inspection.

The kitchen pantry

Equally likely to welcome uninvited guests is your kitchen pantry and cupboards. Pantry pests can include moths, weevils, beetles and mice, all of which are attracted to food stored in the kitchen. Pantry pests can quickly contaminate batches of cooking and baking ingredients, such as flour, grains, spices and pricey nuts and dried fruits. Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to keep them out of your cabinets, including examining all packaging for damage; avoiding storing food in original cardboard and paper packaging and instead choosing airtight containers with sealing lids; buying smaller quantities of products and using them before expiration; consistently organizing and cleaning your pantry; and throwing away all contaminated food. For even more information on secret places pests may be hiding in your home, go to Terminix.com.

10 Secret Hiding Places Already in your Home

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The Time is now to Incorporate Scandinavian Style into Decor

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Brought to you by A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

Scandinavian or Nordic style is very attractive and fashionable today because it’s rustic, minimalist and cozy at the same time.

As homeowners look for ways to refresh their spaces, Scandinavian style has become ever more prominent and popular among designers and interior decor experts. The clean, modern, minimalist aesthetic shows up in interiors and exteriors, from streamlined furniture to low-maintenance landscaping. Here’s how to achieve a Nordic look in your own home:

“Slow design” and minimalist decor

Perhaps the most common association with Scandinavian style is minimalist decor. Less is more when it comes to decorating, and the concept of “slow design” focuses on fewer, higher quality pieces collected over time.

Melding indoors and out

Scandinavian style incorporates materials that meld indoors with outdoors – natural woods, slat walls, leather accents and greenery. “Cottage culture” architecture style draws on these influences and makes interiors feel like cozy cabins in the woods.

Functional furniture: Storage and good looks

Another key aspect of the Nordic style is hardworking, functional furnishings. A piece can be beautiful and also have utility – like eye-catching shoe racks and shelving, or built-in bed storage that creates a unique frame.

Cool, natural tones and light woods in flooring

Scandinavian style incorporates natural tones of whites, grays and light browns. Pale wood and whitewashed floors create a clean, spacious look. That look can be achieved with oak and maple styles, as well as wood-look tiles and laminates with wood graining. Retailers like Lumber Liquidators, who regularly publish seasonal trends reports, have an array of cool-toned flooring options to choose from, such as Dream Home X2O Misty Morning Oak, a water-resistant laminate with a soft seashell tone and realistic oak graining.

If homeowners want to be on trend with Scandinavian style in their home, the key is updating with clean, modern and light-toned accents. Functional furniture will help you organize your space and efficiently use the room. Finish off the room with sunny wood grain flooring and your Nordic look is complete.

How to decorate your home | Scandinavian home decor with Desenio | AD

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The Best Way to Clean Wood Floors Might Surprise You

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From your friends at A.C.F. Home Inspections Inc.

If you want to learn how to cleaned and maintained your wood floors quick and easy with minimal effort, then we have the solution for you.

Although most people envision their dream home with shiny wood floors, many consumers are unaware of the best way to care for them, according to a 2017 survey conducted by the National Wood Flooring Association.

“Not surprisingly, many homeowners are unsure of the best way to effectively and quickly clean hardwood floors. Some believe mopping with a bucket of water and a cleaning solution is best while others occasionally sweep or vacuum. Many cleaning methods can hurt rather than help a floor, for example, even a ‘damp’ string mop can leave excess water on a hardwood floor, and we know that water and wood don’t mix,” said Bona U.S. Director of Marketing Cate Vanegas.

The key findings in the online survey, conducted in October 2017 by Public Opinion Strategies, found that just 24 percent of consumers answered “sweeping” as the correct way to clean wood floors. This answer was closely followed by 19 percent who believe using a soap- or oil-based cleaner is best, and 12 percent who believe using water and vinegar is the best solution.

Just in time to open the doors and windows and welcome in spring, Bona has introduced its Premium Spray Mop for Hardwood Floors with a larger mop head for faster cleaning, and a full-size cleaning cartridge of cleaner. The new pressurized cartridge dispenses the perfect amount of solution designed to care for and sustain hardwood floors.

Lifestyle and design blogger Jennifer Rizzo (jenniferrizzo.com) recently refinished her wood floors, and notes the simplicity firsthand: “After all the dust bunnies are cleared away, I use a Bona spray mop to clean my floors. It’s odorless, non-toxic and doesn’t leave any residue. It also leaves my floors looking beautiful.”

With an estimated 25 million homes in the U.S. with wood floors, understanding how to clean them is essential to maintain and protect the investment. Try the following tips to keep your hardwood floors looking beautiful.

Regularly: Dust/sweep. While using a broom can be effective, it also just pushes the dirt around, so using a microfiber mop or cloth is the best daily defense against scratches and surface damage.

Often: Dust and mop. After a quick spin around the floor to grab dust, use a microfiber pad mop and residue-free, neutral cleaner. Look for third-party certified cleaners that will be healthier for your floors and your family.

As needed: When scratches pop up or the finish looks dull, consider a recoat or refinish to keep floors durable and beautiful. Ask an outside contractor for a water-based finish and dust containment system to ensure the job is VOC and toxin free.

Things to avoid: Water and vinegar, soap-based cleaners, wax or steam cleaners. Vinegar (remember, it’s an acid) and water will damage and dull the floor’s finish, while soap and wax leave residue. Steam cleaners put heat and excessive water on the floor, which can lead to cupping and long-term damage.

Want more cleaning tips? Visit Bona’s Wood Floors 101 tutorials.

The Best Way to Clean Wood Floors Might Surprise You

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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!

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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

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.

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

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.

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)

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.