Winter is on its way!

Sparkling snow and crystal icicles may be pretty in theory, but with them come frozen pipes, faulty HVAC units, slippery sidewalks and MORE! Regardless of if you LOVE winter or despise it, the season is quickly approaching and now is the time to get your house in order (if you haven’t already…). Yes, I KNOW we live in the south, and while we may not have to deal with -30 degree temperatures and multiple feet of snow, there are several preventative winter home maintenance items you CAN do to ensure you don’t spend your holidays handling winter weather disasters!

Make Sure Your Heating System is Ready

There are a few winter home maintenance items you should do before the temperatures really start to dip to ensure that your heating system is working at its best. If you notice any strange new noises coming from your heaters, or one area suddenly seems cooler than another, have the system looked at right away. Here are a few tips on how to maintain your heating system this winter:

We took the time to speak with Foust Heating & Air and here were their top suggestions to ensure your heating system works top notch this winter:

  • Change your air filters out on a regular basis. Dirty filters place undue stress on a unit and can cause it to work less efficiently.
  • If you heat your home with oil, you should have your furnace or boiler cleaned EVERY year.
  • If you heat your home with gas, ensure that you get it cleaned every three years or so.
  • Invest in a maintenance plan. Have a professional come out on a regular basis to check your system for any issues, and catch them ahead of time!

 

Check the Fireplace and Chimney

If you are lucky enough to have a fireplace in your home (and if you actually use it to heat your home, not just for decoration…) you will want to ensure that you have it cleaned yearly by a professional chimney sweep. Creosote buildup and debris such as leaves, birds nests etc can all be very real fire hazards that can easily accumulate after months of no use. Don’t think just because you own a gas fireplace that you are off the hook, those should be checked too! There could easily be debris blocking the chimney. PLUS it gives Mrs. Clause a break from cleaning all that Soot out of Santa’s coat every year…

Keep an eye on trees. 

Snow and Ice can quickly accumulate on tree limbs, making them heavy and more prone to breaking. This can be especially dangerous if said tree is within reach of your home. Use a broom to knock excess snow (or ice which is more likely in Eastern NC…) off branches after each snow. If you took our advice in the fall, your trees should all be properly trimmed away from the home, with dead branches already removed. HOWEVER if a limb does fall during the winter months, have it removed as soon as possible.

Check Batteries in Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors

You should check your detectors every month or so. This is something that is very important in the winter months, however, as we are keeping windows closed and using our fireplaces more often. According to the U.S. Fire Administration, heating is the cause of 27 percent of structure fires during the winter months.

Ensure you have smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in each bedroom, on each floor and in the kitchen. Studies have shown that the combo units are actually a safety hazard as smoke rises, but CO is heavier and tends to stay lower. Smoke detectors should be placed up high, while CO detectors should be placed at floor level to get a quicker detection, should the need arise. On to the next item on our Winter Home Maintenance list…

 

Invest in a good shovel, window scraper and a bag of salt

I know, I know “we’re in the south” BUT that’s all the more reason to invest NOW, because we ALL know how it gets down here when there is a threat of snow! You won’t be able to find a SAND shovel, loaf of bread or space heater in a 100-mile radius!

A good shovel (I’m talking with a blade on the end like this one…) can save you time and back ache, and is especially helpful for areas that are prone to ice – ie Eastern NC.

A sturdy window scraper can really help you out on those frosty mornings when you don’t have time to start your car ahead of time, or during surprise storms and you’re wearing dress clothes with the kids in tow and need to clean he car off quickly!

Being from Wisconsin, trust me when I say a bag of salt is worth its weight in gold for ice prone areas. Yeah, sand is great for traction but toss out a couple of cups worth of salt the night before inclement weather and you won’t be the one slipping and sliding the next morning. An added perk? If the weather DOESN’T get bad, the salt may stick around until next time, and save you the hassle! If you forget ahead of time, you can still salt after the fact, and the salt will eat away at the snow on your walk, making it a lot safer for you and your family.

This picture shows a salted walk vs. a walk with no salt…

 

Protect entryway flooring.

Snow, ice, road salt and sand all get tracked in all winter long, and your entryway floors can really take a beating due to this. Help protect those floors by using floor mats inside and outside EACH entrance of your home. Consider a boot scraper or brush, and a waterproof tray for placing wet shoes to dry.

 

Prevent Pipes from Freezing

Water expands when it freezes, and is it expands can cause pipes in your home to burst. This is always an unpleasant situation to come home to. Best case scenario its under your home and you have to call the plumber out. Worst case its INSIDE and has caused damage to your flooring, Sheetrock and who knows what else! Take some time now to prevent thousands of dollars’ worth of damages by utilizing the following tips during your winter home maintenance:

  1. Insulate pipes that are near windows, doors or other unheated areas
  2. Disconnect your garden hose from the outside faucet
  3. Keep the heat in your home set to AT LEAST 55 degrees F.
  4. If prone to freezing – leave your faucets dripping slightly as running water does not freeze as easily as stagnant (standing) water
  5. Open cupboards to allow heat to flow to pipes under sinks etc when you are going out of town
  6. Close vents to crawlspaces to keep the area warmer
  7. If you have a pump house, ensure you have a heat bulb OR even a regular light bulb running to keep it warm

Too late? Here’s what to do if a pipe freezes:

  • Turn on the tap of the frozen pipe and leave it open while treating the pipe.
  • Allow warm air to flow safely to the affected area — always use any heat source (electric heating pad, blow dryer, space heater) safely to avoid potential harm and damage to your home and its occupants.
  • If you’ve found one frozen pipe, check all the taps in the house — if only a drip comes out, there is likely another frozen pipe.
  • If you cannot access the frozen pipe, or if your efforts to thaw it do not work, call a licensed plumber.

Check for Air Leaks

The temps have already started to drop. And while we *may* still get a 70 degree day here and there, the fact is that cold weather is officially here. Now is the time to act to save on heating costs during the winter months. Checking for air leaks around windows and doors, including cracks in caulking or weatherstripping can save you money on your heating bill in the long run. If your weatherstripping or caulk are cracked or peeling, now is the time to replace it.

Also, as a side note, check to make sure all windows are CLOSED securely. I noticed my daughters room felt colder than the rest in the house and could NOT figure out why. I checked the vents, I turned the heat up, no change. After searching and searching I finally found the culprit… her window was open about an inch at the top. *face palm*

 

Check the Roof

Give the roof a good look before winter hits. Are there any loose or missing shingles that may result in leaks from melting snow or ice? We just had a hurricane a few months back – have you had your roof repaired and shingles replaced? Now is the time to get on it! Take a quick look at the gutters and make sure they are clean of debris, which can cause ice dams during winter weather. While you’re up there, check for broken seals around vents and the chimney.

Inspect Insulation

Proper installation of insulation (say that five times fast…) is a very important winter home maintenance item, and can help keep your home warm in the winter, and cool in the summer. If your insulation is thin, has gotten wet or damaged etc.. your heating system will have to work overtime to try to heat your home this winter (and vice versa when cooling in the summer). Adding insulation to your attic, walls and crawlspace can save you big on heating costs this winter. Most homes are UNDER insulated, having only 3-6” of insulation in their attic. The US Department of Energy recommends 8 – 16” of insulation.

Reverse Ceiling Fans

If you have ceiling fans in your home, there should be a switch to switch the fan blades and make them run clockwise. Running the blades in a clockwise position during the colder months can push heated air down. This home maintenance task makes rooms with high ceilings more comfortable.

 

Protect the Air Conditioner

Yes, your HVAC is built to withstand outdoor elements. However, it can still be damaged by falling ice, tree limbs and other debris. You don’t need to rush out and buy an expensive waterproof cover (actually, most experts say these are a big ‘no no’ for your unit… they may protect your unit, but they create a warm cave like space for a plethora of critters and vermin…) All you need to do is grab a sheet of plywood and a couple bricks. Place it on top of the unit and Voila! You are good to go.

 

Bring anything that can’t stay outside, IN

Pots, patio furniture, rakes and shovels etc… all these items should be brought inside during the colder months. Pots can freeze and the slightest jostle can cause them to break. Patio furniture, just like cracks in your home, can be effected by water and freezing temps, potentially ruining your furniture. When storing your garden tools, add a light coating of vegetable oil to help prevent rust over the winter months. Make sure to bring in your hose as well!

Install Storm Windows and Doors

We may have mentioned this before, but installing storm windows and doors will help reduce heat loss during the colder months, especially for those with single-pane windows. You can special-order storm windows and doors from home improvement stores. Be sure to measure carefully before ordering!

 

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

There are several items you should ensure you are doing to upkeep your home. We have compiled a fall maintenance checklist for your convenience!

Take care of your trees, bushes and Shrubs

Late fall is the best time of year to prune bushes, shrubs and trees, as most of your plants have stopped (or slowed down drastically) growing. Now is also the best time to fertilize and reseed your lawn.

Trim tree branches at least 3 feet from your house so moisture doesn’t drip onto the roof and siding. This will also help to ensure that branches don’t fall on your home – causing roof, window and other damages – during high freezing winds. Heavy snow and ice can cause serious damage in the winter. And pruning in the fall encourages healthy growth for next year!

Rake up the thick layers of leaves that settle on lawn surfaces. Large leaves in particular, especially when they get wet, can compact to the point where they suffocate the grass below and lead to all kinds of insect and disease problems. So it’s a good idea to routinely rake or blow them off the lawn or, better yet, use a mulching mower to shred them into fine pieces.

For advice on pruning specific plants in your region, check with your state extension service.

Exterior Repairs

Fall maintenance item #2… Plan an afternoon to take a walk around the exterior of your property. Be sure to check the roof, siding and foundation. If you spot anything that needs repair, schedule it before winter weather hits. Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around windows, doors, railings and decks. Use caulk to fill the holes or completely replace the wood if necessary. During the winter months, water will find its way into these cracks and then freeze, causing them to expand and the damage to worsen.

When checking your roof, here are a few items to note. If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, they probably need replaced. If you have a lot of damage, it may be time to replace the entire roof. Also, check the flashing around skylights, pipes and chimneys. If you have any leaks or gaps, heavy snow and ice will find its way in. If your roof does need replaced, make sure to call a reliable contractor to do the job!

 

Seal Cracks and Holes

Critters, bugs and drafts – they only need a small crack to be able to sneak into your house and raid your pantry (or raise your heating bill!). With colder weather coming soon, all of the little critters out there will be looking for warm places to make a home. Now is the time to fill small holes and cover any larger gaps securely with heavy-duty hardware cloth to keep out unwanted pests!

Go the extra mile and caulk holes or cracks on the interior and exterior. Grab a tube of exterior caulk and walk around your house, sealing up cracks around window and door frames, between trim and siding, and where pipes/wires enter the house. Preventing moisture and pests from entering your home is one of the least expensive, and most important, fall maintenance items.

Clean Gutters and Downspouts

Now that most of the leaves have fallen, its time to clean out those gutters and downspouts. Chances are you will want someone to help you out with this ‘less than fun’ chore. Clogged gutters can cause water to pool during storms, and cause damage to your roof and siding. Cleaning gutters and downspouts frequently can help prevent build up and damages. Neglected gutters can lead to wood rot, pest issues, ruined roofs and ruined gutters! Plus its FREE to clean them out, a must for fall maintenance!

 

Make sure water is not coming down behind the gutters, and that all support brackets are secure. Ensure that water is draining properly and not pooling. Make sure your gutters aren’t sagging and trapping water, tighten brackets and hangers. Make sure to replace any worn, damaged gutters and downspouts.

 

Your downspouts should extend at least 5 feet away from your house to prevent foundation problems. If they don’t, add downspout extensions; $10 to $20 each.

Shut off Exterior faucets, Store Hoses and Insulate Pipes

The cold weather can be incredibly hard on the plumbing in your home – especially when temperatures reach below freezing. To avoid your water freezing – or worse, your pipes breaking – you should have insulation protecting your hot and cold pipes throughout as much of the home as possible. Make sure you are protecting your pipes from freezing temperatures! Turn off any shutoff valves on water supply lines that lead to exterior faucets. That way, you’ll guard against minor leaks that may let water enter the faucet.  Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets. Leaving a house attached to the faucet can cause water to back up in the faucets and in the plumbing pipes just inside your exterior walls. If freezing temps hit, that water could freeze, expand, and crack the faucet or pipes. Make this an early fall maintenance priority so a sudden cold snap doesn’t sneak up and cause severe damage to your home.

Your pipes that are located close to outside walls, in attics or crawlspaces are also prone to freeze! Ensure they are insulated properly with foam or rubber insulation. Wrapping them in heat tape is also an option that will help keep them warm, and prevent water inside from freezing. If you live in the country and have a pump house, make sure there is always a light on for added heat in the winter months.

Encapsulate your Crawlspace

Since up to 50% of household air can flow up from your crawl space, it’s important to keep this typically unsightly space as clean and dry as possible. Since water vapor enters the crawl space from the ground (even through cement), many people are encapsulating their crawl space to keep the moisture out. Adding a crawl space vapor barrier and dehumidifier is widely accepted as the best way to improve indoor air quality and make energy improvements inside your home.

Neglected crawl spaces can lead to problems inside the actual house. You might notice an increase in dampness or humidity. You could start to see signs of mice in your cupboards. You might start to notice your floors feel “soggy” and “squishy.” You may be shocked when you open your utility bills and see they have doubled or tripled. You could even experience problems with mold and mildew. This is another job you will want to hire a professional for.

 

Weatherproof

 

Weatherproofing your home can help keep warmth inside during the winter months, and cut those energy costs!

 

Sealing gaps around windows and doors can cut your winter heating bill by up to 15%! On windows, use adhesive backed foam and apply it onto the bottom of the sash. Use foam strips on the sides and tops of doors, and install a door sweep at the bottom, if you don’t already have one.

 

Make sure your storm windows are installed properly – If you have old windows, make sure they are in good repair and closed correctly all around your home.  Storm windows help to provide an additional layer of protection against the cold winter air.

 

 

Schedule Chimney Cleaning/ HVAC Maintenance Check up

You’ve waited all year and its finally time to make the switch… its finally time to turn the heat on! You’re anxiously awaiting the feeling of warmth but it doesn’t come… and that’s when you find out something is wrong with your heating system. Don’t wait until you need it to ensure that it’s in working order! Making sure your chimney and furnace or boiler are cleaned, maintained and in working order before you need to turn on the heat is an important safety measure.

Schedule an appointment with a heating professional to check your heating system to ensure optimal performance and discover minor problems before they turn into costly major repairs. You’ll pay $50 to $100 for a checkup. An annual maintenance contract ensures you’re at the top of the list for checks and shaves 20% off the cost of a single visit.

Clean your ducts to better your heating system’s efficiency as well as to reduce household dust and to provide relief to those with respiratory problems.

Change your furnace filters, too. This is a job you should do every two months anyway, but if you haven’t, now’s the time.

 

Fireplace Check!

Fireplaces are rustic and charming, and a great way to catch a break on that electric bill during the winter months! But before you go lighting up, make sure to check over your fireplace to make sure it is in working order- especially if you are just moving in!

Climb up on the roof (or pay a professional to do so) to take a look at your chimney. Make sure the cap is in good shape (this prevents water and debris from getting into the chimney). Check the crown for cracks and decomposition. Check the flashing around the base that seals the gap between it and the roof for signs of damage.

When not in use, the chimney is also letting warm air OUT (which is what it is designed to do…). Always remember to close the flue when you don’t have a fire going.

Ensure your flue is properly cleaned. Excess buildup of creosote or other obstructions such as animal nests etc are highly flammable if allowed to accumulate. They can also hamper air flow, and send dangerous carbon monoxide into the house when a fireplace is in use.

Clean Dryer Vents

Lint buildup in your dryer vents can happen all year round.  It can cause your dryer to work less efficiently and even cause a fire. So why is this on our Fall Maintenance list? The cool, dry fall weather increases static electricity, which can ignite lint that has built up, and drastically increases the chances of a dryer fire. Now is a key time to get that lint out. You can hire a duct cleaning specialist to clean the vents for you, or clean the vent yourself.

Hurricane Damage Insurance Claims… what you need to know.

If your home has hurricane damage due to Florence, you probably feel a bit overwhelmed by the repair and recovery process that lies ahead. Hurricane Damage Insurance Claims can be a daunting process! Fingers crossed you have your home properly insured, as this is the best way to ensure you get your home back to normal. For many homeowners, they do not deal with something like this more than once in a great while. For many this is the first disaster their home has experienced, and they don’t know where to start.

It can be an overwhelming process

When it comes to lingo, laws and estimates, the insurance company is the one with the experience. How many of you have ever filed a hurricane damage insurance claim before? Probably not a lot of you! We are here to assist you along the way, to ensure that you know the rights you possess, and use them to negotiate the benefits you paid for in your policy. Our goal is to help you understand the insurance claim process.

 

Many homeowners first step is to notify the insurance company. We are not going to tell you NOT to contact them, we are simply going to precaution you on a few key items (that most homeowners have no idea about) BEFORE you contact your insurance company.

 

Flooding is NOT covered by most homeowner’s insurance. Now, if you happen to have bought flood insurance, you should be good to go. In general, damaged caused by wind, wind driven rain or water that came into your home will be covered by your homeowner’s insurance. If the water came through the roof, windows etc. you should be covered. Damage that is caused from flooding- ie; damages that came from the bottom up or was due to an overflow from a body of water, may not be covered if you do not have flood insurance. Flooding IS covered by auto insurance in most cases when your vehicle is affected.

 

You do NOT have to wait for an insurance adjuster to come out to start the mitigation! If your home is wet, you can call WHOMEVER you choose to come out and begin the water damage mitigation (that’s the technical term for drying process… as long as they are a reliable contractor who can complete the work for you). Your insurance company WILL cover the mitigation work. Hurricane damage insurance claims are an emergency service,  which is preventing further damage from occurring in your home, such a mold and rot. Insurance companies prefer if you make temporary repairs while waiting for your adjuster, and most companies REQUIRE you take precautions to mitigate the damages. What does this mean? Tarping roofs, boarding up broken windows, and starting the dry out process are all things that can be done to prevent further damage. If you have water spots, chances are you have further damage you can’t see. A reliable restoration company will be able to discover the full extent of your damages. Make sure to keep copies of your receipts, as your insurance company will reimburse you for most funds spent mitigating damages.

 

These are actual pictures from the water mitigation that happened at my house after Hurricane Florence. Conveniently for me, I knew who to call the second I noticed water spots, and was able to get Cape Fear Flooring & Restoration out ASAP. And guess what… they were out, had everything dried, wet stuff removed, roof tarped – a WEEK before I even heard from my insurance adjuster! AND it was all covered. My home was dry, no further damage was occurring and I didn’t have to worry about exposing my family to mold!

 

You do NOT have to use the insurance company’s contractor! When you notify your insurance company of damages, they may try to send out one of their contractors. They may even assure this is the fastest way to get your home back to normal. Buyer beware – this is NOT always in the best interests of the homeowner! It may be an attempt by your insurance company to control costs, and prevent you from hiring your own contractor. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with working with an insurance contractor, you should know that you are not required to do so, nor may it be in your best interests. Talk to friends and neighbors who have filed claims, and check out the contractor’s reviews online etc.

 

The initial payment isn’t always final. In most cases, an adjuster will inspect the damages done to your home and offer a lump sum for repairs. This is based on the damages they saw, and the terms and limits of your policy. The first check you get is often based on these numbers. Occasionally this is an advance against the total settlement amount, which means that there are more funds coming, as the work progresses. If they offer a settlement on the spot, you can accept that check right away. If you find down the road that there are other damages those funds don’t cover, you can reopen the claim, or your reliable mitigation and restoration experts can file a settlement with the insurance company to get more funds. This happens often with water damage due to storms, as there is often damage that can not be seen until the contractor starts mitigating.

 

Your insurance estimate and Restoration company estimate will differ! The insurance adjusters job is to ADJUST the bill! When they arrive on site to complete an estimate, often they do not take all the damages into consideration. Let’s say your roof needs replaced from the hurricane. They may provide a figure based on the shingles alone. However, they may not take into account the felt, nails, labor and unforeseen issues that may arise in this cost. A Restoration company who provides an estimate will take all these factors into consideration. It is then the restoration companies job to intervene on your behalf, with the insurance company, to ensure that everything that needs to be fixed, gets fixed AND gets covered! We will negotiate with your insurance company to make sure your home is returned to “Pre Loss” condition.

People often settle for less than they should because they don’t know better. Or they are exhausted. Especially near the end of a long complicated claim (such as hurricane damage), homeowners just want it to be over! Hurricane Damage Insurance Claims can be a hassle, all the going back and forth with the insurance company trying to make sure not only all the damages are covered, but your personal items are covered as well. This is often an issue when a homeowner isn’t working with a company with experience dealing with insurance claims. A veteran company will be able to better handle the back and forth with the insurance company, supplements etc.

 

You do not have to get multiple bids when dealing with storm damage! Insurance companies are not trying to rip you off, but they are trying to hold onto every penny they can! How? The insurance company will request you get three different bids on damages and then send them in. In most situations this is a great practice, however, in a storm claim situation this is a definite DO NOT!  Regardless of whether it is flood damage, roofing or flooring, your insurance company cannot require you obtain multiple bids or require you use their contractor. There are several reasons NOT to get multiple bids when dealing with storm repairs.

  1. Insurance companies are obligated to pay predetermined market pricing that is updated regularily to reflect market increases due to high demands caused by storms and other market changes. Insurance companies use a software called Xactimate or their own similar version, which determines material prices by region as well as labor prices. These numbers are updated sometimes multiple times in a month. This software will produce your summary which lists all of your damage and the value of the claim, which you and your contractor are entitled to upon your home being inspected by your adjuster. Materials and labor are very sensitive to market surges. Shingles, nails, decking, and associated materials can increase by as much as 30 to 40 percent during storm season. Cape Fear Flooring & Restoration uses this same estimating software (Xactimate) when we go out to assess damage and begin work on a property, so you can rest assured that our estimates line up with what your insurance company would provide. If they don’t, we will negotiate on your behalf to ensure that as much is covered as possible!

 

  1. Your insurance company is only liable to pay you their summary amount OR the bid amount from a contractor, whichever is the lowest, minus your deductible. Bids WILL ALWAYS BE LOWER THAN SUMMARY PRICING! That is how a normal contractor wins a job, by bidding the lowest. This is not a situation where you are trying to find the best pricing. When asking you to obtain 3 bids, what they are trying to accomplish is the lowest possible payout on your claim. The real problem with this? There are no specs. When we provide estimates, it is our estimators job to make sure that we are including as much as possible in the estimates. Your roof does not have a list of specs nailed to it. You have no idea what pieces, parts or materials each roofer will be leaving out in order to give you the lowest possible bid. Are they replacing your drip edge? Do you have more than one layer of shingles that will need to be removed? Is there damage in underneath the shingles that the adjuster didn’t see initially? Unless you are a roofer, you probably don’t know or care what materials are being used so long as it is the best possible roof. However, your insurance company only has to pay the lowest bid. They do not care if the bids are apple to apple.

 

  1. This has come to be a very taboo word for homeowners, when in fact – it should not be. Supplements can be your friend – if handled correctly. It is most commonly associated by your insurance company as a nasty contractor trying to scam them out of more money, after he agreed to do the job for a certain price. Now, this does happen on occasion, However, supplements are honest and allowable parts of your claim. Your insurance policy says your home is to be repaired to the state it was in prior to the storm (ie “pre-loss condition”). Occasionally your home will need to be brought up to code as well, if it is no longer in compliance. Your insurance company will come out and provide you with an estimate, and then your contractor will agree to work for the predetermined price provided in your estimate. When working with Cape Fear Flooring & Restoration, we will be on site as soon as possible so we can provide you with any items we notice that your insurance company may miss, right away. In fact, this is why we ask to be your FIRST call after a storm – so we can provide a much more detailed estimate to your insurance company and cut out all the hassle in the middle.

 

Now let’s say, once your roof is removed, additional damage is found, or items were missed by your adjuster who had 151 claims to get to when he did your adjustment due to the hurricane, or your home is not currently in compliance with your city, county or state codes for efficiency, etc. Your contractor will file a supplement for the additional costs, your insurance company approves it and you are out no additional costs. Had you had 3 bids and your insurance company granted payment for the lowest, their answer to these previous scenarios may be, “your contractor bid the project and we agreed to pay that amount. We are not responsible for any items he failed to find”.

 

You also want to keep in mind this: While you are out there getting your multiple estimates, further damage is occurring to your home. Roofs left un-tarped will continue to leak into the home every time it rains. Water damaged sheetrock and insulation is sitting and continuing to rot, and potentially even mold – which can cause serious health issues for you and your family. Not only that, but in the event of a major natural disaster like Hurricane Florence, every reliable contractor and restoration company in the area are busy running all over doing actual repairs and they don’t have the time to provide everyone with an estimate, especially if they AREN’T going to get hired to do the actual work when it is all said and done. There is just TOO MUCH to do, and not enough time to do it.

 

PLAIN AND SIMPLE: THERE IS NO ADVANTAGE TO YOU IN A STORM CLAIM SCENARIO TO GET MULTIPLE BIDS!!! The only winning party is the insurance company!

 

It is important to understand your insurance company is not trying to rip you off. Nor are they trying to get out of paying for repairs. But keep in mind, they are in business to make money and their job is to try to settle each claim for as little money as possible, while staying within the law. It is not their job to act on your behalf, look out for you or work in your best interests. That is why you hire a reliable, outside company like Cape Fear Flooring & Restoration, to assist you along the way.

 

After the Storm has passed… Disaster Assistance

Now that Hurricane Florence has passed out of our area, people are starting to look for relief and disaster assistance. Food shortages, shelters and disaster clean up… there is a LOT to do now, the work is just getting started. Unsure who you can turn to and what your options are? We have compiled this list to help make things a little bit easier.

ROAD CLOSURES, PUBLIC SAFETY, SHELTERS ETC…

 

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety – Offers updates on road closings, open shelters, evacuation orders and more!

 

NCDOT – Road Closings, Advisories and emergency information for NC

 

Hoke County – A full list of shelters, where you can get emergency supplies, who has water and more for Hoke County

 

Cumberland County Resources – A complete list of links to the salvation army, FEMA, Ready NC and more!

 

Fayetteville NC Gov Page – Local updated road closures, shelters and more.

 

The Fayetteville Observer – Local frequent updates on flooding, road closures, public safety, shelter updates and more!

 

FayToday Facebook Page – A very up to date list on road closings/openings, community news and updates, area shelters, power outages and more!

 

OPEN SHELTERS

  • Kiwanis Recreation Center, 352 Devers St.
  • Mac Williams Middle School, 4644 Clinton Road
  • Pine Forest High School, 525 Andrews Road
  • Seventy-First High School, 6764 Raeford Road
  • Smith Recreation Center, 1520 Slater Ave.
  • South View High School, 4184 Elk Road, Hope Mills
  • T. Brown Elementary School, 2522 Andrews Church Road, Spring Lake

 

 

DISASTER ASSISTANCE – Financial, Food etc…

 

 Emergency Declarations for North Carolina. If your county is listed on this page you can request Federal and State Assistance.

 

Disaster Unemployment AssistanceDisaster Unemployment Assistance provides financial assistance to individuals whose employment or self-employment has been lost or interrupted as a direct result of a major disaster and who are not eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits.

 

DSNAP – Disaster short-term food assistance benefits

 

Disaster Assistance – Quickly and Easily look up and see if you qualify for disaster assistance, and even apply online! This is a FEMA program. This is for items that are NOT covered by insurance!

 

Disaster Assistance (financial) for small businesses – A quick rundown of IF you qualify, what it takes to qualify and how you can get assistance if Florence made it so you were unable to work/operate .

USA.gov helps give you information on some of the Federal governments Disaster Relief Assistance to include Financial help to include food, utilities and more with an easy online application. Will give a breakdown of what you qualify for and who to contact.

https://www.usa.gov/disaster-financial-help

 

FEMA Disaster Assistance – Find out what assistance is offered, if you qualify, and apply here!

 

HUD Disaster Relief Services – Mortgage and Housing assistance due to loss of income etc due to a disaster

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

 

The Red Cross has resources and advice for recovering from a disaster, including home safety, emotional well-being, and financial recovery.

The United Way – Statewide Funds allocated to provide disaster relief to those who qualify

The Salvation Army (Fayetteville) – Shelters, Food assistance and much more

 

DISASTER CLEAN UP –

Cape Fear Flooring & Restoration – Full Service Contractors offering water removal, clean up, dry out and much more! Roof or siding damage, leaks… Working WITH your insurance company, 24.7 emergency response services! 910-426-4956

 

Hurricane Florence Preparation

More than just “A little Rain.”

Two years ago Hurricane Matthew hit our area, and caused devastation to roads, homes and businesses. Families in our area experienced loss of power, water and severe damages to their homes. Even almost two years later, many are still feeling the financial and emotional strain.

With the imminent threat of Hurricane Florence on a direct path for our area later this week, it is imperative we are prepared on how to deal with this. According to Newsweek, “While it is too soon to determine the exact timing, location, and magnitude of these impacts, interests at the coast and inland from South Carolina into the mid-Atlantic region should closely monitor the progress of Florence, ensure they have their hurricane plan in place, and follow any advice given by local officials.”

As of this morning, Florence is rapidly gaining strength, and the National Hurricane Center has now forecasted Florence to become a strong Category 4 storm before making landfall along the Southeast or Mid-Atlantic coast on Thursday.

North Carolina, South Carolina and Virginia have all declared a state of emergency with the threat of Florence imminent. The town of Hope Mills has declared a state of emergency, with officials from Fayetteville and Spring Lake likely to follow suit soon. The National Hurricane Center states “All indications are that Florence will be an extremely dangerous Category 4 hurricane while it moves over the western Atlantic toward the southeastern United States,” and NOAA has Florence tracking on a direct path with the heaviest rains coming right through Fayetteville by mid week.

 

All indicators are pointing that Florence will become AT LEAST a category 3 hurricane with landfall on the Southeast coast by weeks end. The storm is tracking to pass over warmer than normal water, which provides fuel and speed to the storm. The national hurricane center is predicting Florence will reach Category 4 intensity by Tuesday, and maintain that intensity. It isn’t out of the question for Florence to become a Cat 5 at some point, with wind peaks at 150MPH between Tuesday and Wednesday

Rain, Wind and Flooding

While we may not experience the same levels of devastation as many areas closer to the coast, we can still expect to experience heavy rain, winds and flooding.
“There is an increasing risk of two life-threatening impacts from Florence: storm surge at the coast and freshwater flooding from a prolonged heavy rainfall event inland,” according to the National Hurricane Center. The increased rainfall and wind in our area will, as we have seen before, have a drastic impact.

Flooding is the biggest problems we face inland from hurricanes. They cause wash out on roads, damages to homes and vehicles, and unsafe driving conditions are just the tip of the ice burg. High winds causing fallen trees, creating projectiles, downed power lines and severe home damage are all in the forecast. Flooding can also cause major water damage to your home!

Be Prepared!

What steps can you take to be prepared? Short of going out and buying all the bread and milk you can find, there are several items you can do around the house to make sure you, your families, and your home stay safe!

1. Know your areas risk for flooding. Identify roadways that may be subject to wash out, and have an alternative route in place. Check and see if your home lies in a flood plain.
2. Check your insurance! Make sure your home is covered for when the Hurricane strikes!
3. Gather enough supplies for at least 3 days, keeping in mind special needs of each person to include medication, allergies etc. People were without power and water for up to a week when Matthew hit.
4. Fill up your gas tank, and include a small emergency kit in your car. You never know where you may be stranded due to flooded roads or other issues such as downed power lines.
5. Bring loose, lightweight objects inside (these items could easily become projectiles and break windows etc due to high winds) such as lawn chairs, garbage cans and grills.
6. Keep your cell phone charged
7. Close curtains and blinds.
8. Avoid travel as much as possible once Hurricane force weather hits your area
9. Turn your fridge and freezers to the coldest settings, to ensure that if you lose power, your food will stay cold as long as possible
10. Fill your tubs with water for flushing toilets etc
11. Fill available containers with water for drinking and cooking.
12. Use of a generator or gasoline powered grill should ONLY be used outside!
13. DO NOT drive, ride or walk through running water! Just SIX inches of fast moving water can knock you down, and a foot of moving water can sweep away a vehicle!

Items to include in your Emergency Kit

1. Flashlight and batteries
2. First Aid Supplies
3. Candles
4. Blankets and pillows
5. Manual can opener for food
6. Moist Towlettets
7. Garbage Bags
8. A grill – charcoal or propane – to ONLY be used outside!
9. Water – one gallon of water per person per day. So for a family of 4 for three days – 12 gallons of water!
10. Legal documents such as ID’s, Social Security Cards, Marriage Certificates etc.

Don’t Forget…

• Pet food and supplies
• Important documents
• Changes of clothes
• Matches or lighters
• Personal Hygiene items
• Cups, plates and bowls
• Books, games, puzzles and other kid friendly activities

Be Safe AFTER

Even after the storm has passed, that doesn’t mean the danger is gone. When cleaning up be sure to use caution!

Don’t touch electrical equipment, especially if it is wet OR you are standing in water! If safe to do so, turn your electric off at the main breaker and use your fuse box to prevent shock!

Avoid walking and driving in flood water. Not only is the current very strong, the water can contain dangerous debris AND potentially be electrically charged from underground or downed power lines. THIS INCLUDES large puddles that may accrue in your yard! They may look like fun to go let the kids play in, but they can contain bacteria, debris and electrical currents that can cause severe harm to your children!

When starting the cleanup process, be careful, and use protective eyewear and gloves if available.

If you need to relocate, keep records and receipts for all additional expenses. Most insurance policies cover emergency living arrangements.

Document any property damage to your home and call a trusted restoration company right away! Cape Fear Flooring & Restoration offers 24/7 emergency damage restoration services, free in home assessments, and we work WITH your insurance company to make sure you are taken care of! After a hurricane, make us your FIRST call!

Chinese Tariffs… The rundown

Chinese Tariffs… I’m sure you have heard about them. Relations between the U.S. and China have been increasingly tense during the Trump’s administration, and tension is rising with the administration’s efforts to address a $376 BILLION trade imbalance (that’s right – BILLION. With a B.) between the nations. President Trump initially threatened a 10% tariff on all $505 billion dollars’ worth of Chinese goods entering the US if the two countries are unable to reach an agreement. Tariffs have already been applied to over $34 Billion worth of Chinese tariffs imports, with another $16 Billion scheduled.

The initial plan was to implement a 10% tariff on all imported goods, but this has since escalated to a 25% tariff.

 

Included on the list of products that could face these imminent tariffs? Flooring.

The  U.S. trade representative Robert Lighthizer had this to say, “For over a year, the Trump administration has patiently urged China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition. Unfortunately, China has not changed its behavior-behavior that puts the future of the U.S. economy at risk. Rather than address our legitimate concerns, China has begun to retaliate against U.S. products. There is no justification for such action.”

A 25% tariff would boost the cost of a range of U.S. imports at a time when inflation has begun to pick up. It would become another factor for the Federal Reserve to consider as it decides how quickly to raise interest rates.

“This gets you nothing,” said Fred Bergsten, founder of the Peterson Institute for International Economics. “It adds to inflation pressure and interest rates and [would] strengthen the dollar, which makes trade situation even worse” for the U.S., he said.

Keith Weinberger, chief executive of Empire Today, a flooring company in Northlake, Ill., said he “might be able to offset” a 10% tariff on his purchases of Chinese vinyl flooring. “But there’s nothing you can do about 25.” (Wall Street Journal)

So… what does this mean for the flooring industry? How will Chinese Tariffs effect you? Should the tariff’s pass, we can expect to see a drastic rise in pricing from all goods imported from China, to include vinyl flooring.

Some of the major names in Flooring (Mohawk) are arguing that this will be BENEFICIAL for the US economy, arguing it will result in more domestic investment and jobs, and help them overcome a flood of imports.

“I can state unequivocally that U.S. manufacturing and jobs would increase if Chinese imports would stop flooding the market,” said Brian Carson, president of Mohawk Flooring, with 49 factories and 21,000 employees in the United States.

“Unlike many opponents [of tariffs] who do not manufacture flooring products in the United States, Mohawk has remained committed to U.S. manufacturing and technology innovations, despite tremendous pressure exerted by Chinese imports,” Carson said. “The return on these investments have been and will continue to be adversely effected if China’s unfair trade, intellectual property and industrial policies remain unrestrained.”

Consumer price increases?

 

Mohawks claims have met resistance from several American Importers, including Shaw Industries Group Inc. in Dalton, Ga.

Their stance is that applying a 25% duty on imports of vinyl flooring and tile will only result in a higher price for consumers, and do nothing to change China’s practices that the Trump administration is targeting.

” ChinieseTariffs on these tiles would raise housing prices disproportionately on lower to middle income Americans,” said Rupesh Shah, president of flooring importer M.S. International Inc., which employs 1,800 in the U.S.

 

When Disaster Strikes… Fire & Flood Cleanup

When disaster strikes, it is can be devastating, not only to your home, but for your family as well. Flooding due to high rains, or even a simple water leak can cause quite an impact. The shock of a flood, fire or other event that damages your home is not an occurrence that most people are prepared to deal with on their own.

Luckily, you don’t have to handle this alone. Cape Fear Flooring & Restoration of Fayetteville NC is there for you with just one phone call day or night. We are on call 24/7 to respond to, assess, and restore your property. We specialize in flood cleanup and fire restoration. Our technicians are trained to be experts in the fields of water damage removal, flood restoration, and fire damage repair. Whenever disaster strikes, call Cape Fear Flooring & Restoration to get you back to normal!

Your First Call After 911

In the event of natural disaster, water or fire damage, your first call should be to 911, but your second should be to Cape Fear Flooring & Restoration. Time is of the essence and the quicker we can get out to assess damages, the better. Water and Fire damages go below the surface and can drastically worsen over time if not treated right away. Often issues left unresolved can affect the health, safety and wellbeing of those in the home. Mold, Sanitary contamination and unsafe floors are all issues that can quickly arise.

Not only do we offer 24/7 emergency services, we work WITH your insurance company to ensure that your home is covered! We know how stressful the entire process can be, and we strive to make it as easy as possible. With our years of experience filing insurance claims, we can take the stress off you!

How do I know if I have Water Damage?

Water damage is not the easiest thing in the world to find. Sometimes the leak is nice enough to form a puddle on your floor for you to notice, but often leaks within the structure do not show themselves until it’s too late. These types of leaks can go unnoticed for weeks – if not months. While your structure may appear sound, over time they can turn into a disaster. Collapsed ceilings, caved in floors and Mold are all major issues that can occur from water damage.

Signs of water damage will vary depending on the type and location of damage. For example, ceiling water damage is usually easier to spot than water damage in a basement because you are more likely to notice discoloration on a ceiling.
The most obvious sign that you have water damage is a puddle or standing pool of water.

Some other key items to look for are:

Discoloration – look for water spots or stains. The area may appear wet or dry, and can be a brown, yellow or copper color. The walls themselves may appear to be cracking, bubbling or wallpaper may be peeling.

 

Changes in Texture – In floors the biggest way to tell if you have had a leak will be a change in texture caused by water seeping into the floor boards and areas underneath them. If your floors are warping, buckling, expanding or sinking… chances are you have water damage.

Odor – Odors may be caused by mold or mildew and are a sure indication of a water damage problem. Key locations you may notice a smell would be walls and basements. Drywall materials can act like a sponge and keep moisture inside. This is the perfect condition for mold to develop.

Call our experts at Cape Fear Flooring & Restoration if you even suspect you may have a leak. Our technicians are second to none at flood cleanup, and equipped with the latest technology to detect leaks using Electronic techniques to ensure that all water damage is detected and treated before it is too late.

Fire Damage Repair

Fire can be a very scary home disaster to handle. We all know it’s the job of the emergency services and fire department to put out the actual fires. However, you may still need fire damage restoration services right away after a disaster in order to prevent damage from spreading through your property. What if a fire burns a hole in the roof? This could lead to rain coming through the ceiling and causing more damage. The longer this issue is left unresolved, the more damage it can cause. This is why you need to get emergency restoration services right away, instead of waiting, in case the problem gets worse.

Fire damage can be especially difficult to recognize from time to time. Sure, discoloration, burn spots and stains are easy to spot, but others are not. Odors can get trapped in hidden spaces such as AC vents, inside walls etc and are all areas where ash and soot can continue to cause damages if not addressed.

We know how stressful a Fire can be which is why WE take all the hassle out of the process. We work directly with your insurance company, to alleviate your burden, in identifying your items and sorting the salvageable from the unsalvageable. While in our care, your items are protected and restored so that they can be returned to you intact.

Flood Restoration

When water has damaged your home, Cape Fear Flooring & Restoration is prepared to respond on site 24/7 for your flood cleanup. Once we arrive on site, we will assess the damage and begin work so that you can get back to normal. You can be assured that your home was treated with respect and expertise. Our #1 priority is getting your home dried out, to prevent any further damage.

Your home is protected while we work to restore your structure and items. Again, we work together with your insurance company throughout the process, providing all the documentation necessary to avoid any headaches for you. In addition, we use our water detection technology to ensure that no damage goes untreated, so that when you return home you can rest easy, knowing that the restoration was thorough and complete. We work quickly to ensure that your life can go back to normal as quickly as possible.

Not only do we provide you with the expertise to remove and dry out, we are also fully licensed general contractors and can complete the entire build back renovation from start to finish. Flooring installation and sub floor repair, counter and cabinet replacement, Sheetrock replacement and painting and much more!

GIVE US A CALL TODAY! 1 (910) 426-4956

9 Must Have Home Features & Upgrades

It is the age of the Millennial Home Buyer! This broad generation has started to buy homes and along with that comes the need for new and exciting home features! Some of the most popular home Features and Home Upgrades? Take a look below!

 

 Hidden storage

Storage options in the home is one of those things that EVERYONE could use more of. I’ve been in the real estate biz, and one thing I have NEVER heard is “Oh no Phil, this house just has TOO many closets! I don’t have enough stuff to fill up all this storage!”

Are you struggling to find places to keep all those extra items that accrue over time? Maybe you just have a SUPER small kitchen… either way, these awesome hidden storage hacks will help you free up some space (and all your friends will think you are a genius!).

Under Stair storage – This home upgrade may require a bit of demo work, but all that space is just going to waste! You can tailor this to your needs and style. Add a door and shelving inside, or have open shelving for books, pictures etc…

Wasted spaces – You know that empty space beside your fridge? Those “fake” drawers in front of your sink? Don’t let these spaces go to waste! You can easily install a rolling shelf, and turn that “fake” drawer into a space you can use to store sponges, or even paper towel!

 

 

Inside doors – Pantry doors, closet doors, cabinet doors etc – This is an old trick but seems to go over looked a LOT! You can use these spaces to organize everything in your home from spices to belts!

 

Check out more awesome home organizational hacks here!

 

Hidden outlets

Have you ever had the PERFECT room layout in your mind, just to realize that it won’t work because there isn’t an outlet where you need it? What you need, my friend, are these AMAZING hidden outlets! They’re one of the easiest, convenient upgrades and EVERYONE in your home will LOVE you!

The best part? You can put them ANYWHERE!

     

Under Cabinets, hidden in your counters, Hidden in drawers,  Even in the FLOOR!

Never have to worry about where to put appliances or furniture ever again! Hide outlets EVERYWHERE!

 

Grocery door

If you’re anything like me, you hate grocery shopping. Dealing with people at the store, loading groceries INTO the car just to have to UNLOAD them once you get home… and heaven forbid if you have to take multiple trips! This awesome home upgrade helps simplify the grocery shopping saga. Now you can just pop open a door that leads directly from the garage INTO THE PANTRY! Yes, you heard me right! Your groceries will be IN the pantry already when you come in the house! How cool is that?

Luxury bathrooms

As the size of families steadily shrink, the size of bathrooms to go in those houses is getting larger and larger. Why is this? People want PRIVACY in their lives, and not only do they want privacy – they want to enjoy this privacy in luxury. We want luxury bathrooms with fancy fixtures, elegant cabinetry, and maybe even a Jacuzzi!

The top must haves for luxury bathrooms?

Spa like showers and baths -Rain shower heads, more than one shower head surround sound, built in shower nooks for shampoo, soaker tubs… all these items have had a HUGE boom over the last five years! And we can see why! Step into a shower with mood lighting, rain forest noise ambiance and jets shooting from every which way and see how long you want to stay in there!

Another must have for your luxury bathroom is a plethora of space! We’re talking his and hers vanities, LOTS of cabinet space, walk in closets, built in vanities… The works.

Top all this with expensive materials for counters, floors and walls (think natural stone options like marble, granite and travertine…) partnered with custom made fixtures and accents and you have an opulent bathroom fit for the most refined of tastes!

 

Upgraded flooring

The last thing you want in your new home (or even a home you have lived in for a while!) is outdated, stained carpet. Nothing can ruin the design of a room like some shag carpeting! While it had its time and place (a van in the 70’s…) updated flooring is a MUST HAVE for 2018.

The best part? Your options on flooring choices are ENDLESS! Carpet, Ceramic Tile, Luxury Vinyl Flooring, Hardwood flooring… the list goes on and on. PLUS you can pick and choose what works best for your home’s style and budget!

Carpet – Carpeting is a great choice for your rooms for three reasons. First – Carpet can add to the décor of any room using color, patterns and pile heights. Secondly – Carpet serves as added insulation and can help save energy! Third – carpet provides a psychological feeling of warmth and security in a home.

Ceramic Tile –If you are in need of flooring that will resist water (think kitchens, bathrooms or homes with pets/kids…) Ceramic tile is a great go to! You can use it as flooring or countertops, and it has a great luxurious feel. Not only that, but its super resistant and will last a very long time!

Luxury Vinyl Flooring – Also known as luxury vinyl tile or Luxury Vinyl Planks (LVT or LVP), This flooring comes in a variety of looks from wood to stone, and is designed to resist moisture and wear and tear! Don’t think your grandmas old sheet vinyl flooring – this product has come such a long way that its no longer the same thing at all! Plus, the price point makes it a very attractive choice.

Hardwood Flooring – This is one of the most popular types of flooring. Not only is it beautiful, but it is durable as well! Hardwood Flooring can come in a variety of options – Maple, Pecan, Beech, Cherry, Oak, Pine, Birch, Walnut, Hickory and more. It is a long lasting product that can be refinished down the road!

Natural Stone – This product has been around as long as people have been building things! The pyramids, The Tivoli Fountain, The Roman Coliseum… all natural stone. That should tell you one thing right off the bat – Natural Stone tile is DURABLE! Don’t hear the word ‘stone’ and think rustic and dingy – Marble and Granite are both natural stone options that can make quite an impact on your room!

Looking for new flooring? We can help with that! 

 

Smart home features

Smart home features are a HUGE must have, especially now that it’s time for millennials to start buying homes. Some of the most sought after smart home features are incredibly convenient, and are sure to make your life a lot easier!

Whole Home Security Systems – These are one of my favorite items in the ‘Smart Home’ category. These amazing systems really do create a sense of security for you and your family. They come with the standard options – like open door detectors and alarms (as they have for years). However, some of the ADDED options are really sweet.

Doorbell camera – Wondering who is at the door while you are out back? Waiting for a package to arrive? The new doorbell cameras feature an HD video camera so you can check the app on your PHONE to see who is at the door. PLUS they are motion activated – so no more ding dong ditch!

Glass Break Detector– This feature is awesome for the thief’s who opt for the ‘breaking a window’ approach to BNE… They don’t have to OPEN the door or window for these alarms to go off!

Smart Light Timers – That you can control from your PHONE once again! Are you out of town? Did your doorbell camera just notify you of a suspicious person on your porch? Simply open the app, and turn on a few lights. Or you can just turn them on and off repeatedly to mess with the cat…

The Amazon Echo/ Google Home Mini – I have personally owned both products and am in love with them! Initially I thought they were unnecessary, but overtime I have come to the point where I cant live without them (well, maybe I could – but it wouldn’t be as much fun!) Both options allow you to sync your music, calendars, contacts etc for an integrated system that allows you to do EVERYTHING! From playing music to telling you about your day tomorrow, Send a text or even telling you a joke – the uses these gadgets have is endless! And they are GREAT for settling arguments! (“Hey Alexa.. who was the actor who played The Big Lebowski?”) There are a million add on’s that allow you to control the lights, and even order groceries!

Combo USB outlets – How many items in your home do you have that require charging? In my home we have…. 4 cell phones, 2 tablets, a fit bit, a kindle and a smart watch… and it seems there are NEVER enough charging ports for all of them! And when you have company come over and they forgot their charger? Ugh! When it comes to easy smart home features, upgrading your outlets is a great option. Add some dual outlets with built-in USB ports! Simply plug your cord in and voila! Plus, you won’t have to worry about unplugging lamps and appliances so you can free up an outlet!

 

Luxury Outdoor Spaces

Let’s move from the inside of the home to the outside for this one. Yes, you spend a lot of time in your home, but when the weather is nice it’s great to be able to get outside and enjoy your space! Simple decks and patios are a thing of the past! Luxury Outdoor Spaces are here to last! A couple of our favorite outdoor space staples…

Outdoor Lighting – Get rid of that old fan and go for something a bit more off the wall! Chandeliers, Table Lamps, Fire pits, White Twinkle Lights, Tiki Torches, Candles, Sconces… all these great options add the perfect ambiance to your outdoor retreat!

Outdoor Kitchens – We aren’t talking dads grill anymore! This is one of the most common big ticket items when it comes to the outside of your home today. They come with a variety of high end features like fridges, beer taps, side burners, built in sinks… you get the idea. These spaces literally take entertaining – and everything you need to do so – outside.

Photo courtesy of outdoorlightings.com

 

Luxury seating – When entertaining outside you need somewhere for your guests to relax! Even if its just you at home for a quiet evening, you want to be comfortable! This is one area you don’t want to skimp on! You get what you pay for with outdoor seating. Sure it may cost less, but it’s also CHEAPER… made with less sturdy, durable materials that will fade, tear and potentially even rot. Spend a little bit extra when creating your outdoor space. Comfortable seating with lots of pillows and different patterns create a great ambiance for any outdoor space!

And of course… a covered area – Canopies, pergolas, gazebos … these are all awesome options to consider for your outdoor space! Each option has a different price point, and will give a different feel to your space. Consider the look you are going for, and WHY you want this item. If it is so you can grill in the rain – a pergola isn’t for you!

 

Energy efficient

An energy efficient home is a Happy home! Cliché? Yes! True? Also yes! Mainly because YOU will be happier about your power bills each month and have more money to spend elsewhere!

Solar panels – These are a great option when trying to ‘Go Green’ with your home. Sure, they cost a bit to get them installed and set up initially, but in the end you will recoup your money’s worth and then some! You may even be one of the lucky ones who ends up with the utility company paying YOU! You can earn a tax credit for installing solar panels in your home as well, which will help recoup some of the initial costs! Plus – you’re helping to save the environment!

LED lights – LED lighting is a high energy efficient lighting technology that uses 75% less energy and can last 25x longer, than regular light bulbs. Not only is this great for your electric bill, but it’s great for our planet!  According to the Department of Energy, “Widespread use of LED lighting has the greatest potential impact on energy savings in the United States. By 2027, widespread use of LEDs could save about 348 TWh (compared to no LED use) of electricity: This is the equivalent annual electrical output of 44 large electric power plants (1000 megawatts each), and a total savings of more than $30 billion at today’s electricity prices.”

Install Energy Efficient Windows & Doors – Upgrading your doors and windows can drastically reduce your electrical usage. Another good idea- install a storm door! They generally have a protective coating that can help reduce energy loss by up to 50%, they last 25-50 years and can cost as little as $75!

Read more about energy efficient windows & Doors HERE!

 

 

Change out fixtures

Lights and plumbing! These often overlooked hardware upgrades can give your kitchen or bathroom a whole new look! Go from plain silver to a rustic brushed bronze. Replacing lighting fixtures add a quick makeover to any room, plus with the newer fixture you will have a brighter, more open feel to your space!  Make them uniquely you by mixing and matching, or use the same elements throughout your house to create a feel of unity!

 

See? Updating these simple items can make all the difference in the world!

 

Questions? Comments? Email them to marketing@capefearflooring.com

Hurricane Disaster Preparation 2018

Its Hurricane Season in North Carolina (and along the entire east coast)! With the disastrous effects of Hurricane Matthew to our area last year, it’s more important than ever to be prepared! Forecasters have predicted that the 2018 Hurricane season could be just as bad as last year… between 7 and 11 hurricanes are expected to hit the East Coast this year. Are you and your home ready for 7-11 hurricanes this year?

“But we’re over 100 miles inland! What do we have to worry about?”

Well, my optimistic yet ignorant friend – we have a lot to worry about, as we saw last year.

Flooding is the greatest problem when hurricanes head inland. As you can see from the map above, our area actually got MORE rain than the outer banks and the coast! Remember, just because we aren’t on the coast, doesn’t mean we don’t have to worry about flooding! If it can rain, it can flood!

Hurricanes can create thunderstorms, hail and tornadoes thousands of miles from landfall. Hurricane Patricia, the largest tropical cyclone in the western hemisphere, hit western Mexico in October 2015. The storm crossed Mexico and hit Texas, HARD. Houston got 9.4 inches of rain in 24 hours, and a tornado touched down near the city.

Hurricanes can bring wind far inland. Wind gusts from Hurricane Sandy measured 60-70 miles per hour around the Great Lakes. Flying debris hit and killed a Toronto, Canada woman.

When Hurricane Season is Upon Us….

Check Insurance Coverage

Property owners and renters should be sure to insure their homes against flooding, something that many people do not realize is not a part of standard home and renter’s insurance.

IF your home is in a flood zone (or near one!)  you should STRONGLY consider purchasing flood insurance in addition to your regular insurance! Your regular insurance only covers water damage from precipitation and wind, but won’t cover flooding. You want to buy it early, as it doesn’t take effect until 30 days AFTER you purchase it.

A realtor friend of mine had several townhomes off Revere Street that she managed as rentals last year. Matthew hit and 12 of the 16 townhomes were flooded. They had to be evacuated and completely gutted from 4 feet down. Appliances, personal belongings, sheetrock, electrical, AC units etc… it was all ruined. 8 of the 12 townhomes damaged had flood insurance and were able to be restored. The other 4 units are still sitting there because the owner can’t afford to spend the $18k per unit it would take to get them restored…

I bet the owner wishes she had spent the extra few bucks and gotten the rest of the units insured.

 

Make copies of important documents

What happens when your home floods? You can stand to lose EVERYTHING. Even if you are careful and store items in a safe – unless the safe is waterproof – you can still lose them. Be sure to make copies of proof of ownership docs such as mortgage docs, car titles etc…  You will also want to ensure that you have copies of other important forms of identification such as birth certificates, social security cards etc.

These documents can be stored in the hurricane kit or in any safe location that does not risk being damaged during the hurricane. If a hurricane floods your home, you will have to have some way to prove that it’s your house!

 

Check your home

Hurricane prep for your house is a major factor. A key item to ensure you are ready for a Hurricane is to make sure your HOME is ready for a hurricane. Check out your home to make sure that there is no existing damage that a hurricane could increase. If you see any issues with the overall structure – including loose shingles or damaged roofs – you should be sure to repair them right away! Check for anything that may allow for further damage from high winds, rain, hail and all the other threats that come along with a hurricane.

Check your yard to make sure that there isn’t anything laying around the yard that could get tossed into the air or carried away during high winds. These include items like grills, decorations, trash cans, lawn chairs, playsets and trampolines. Not only can these items get carried away, but they can become threatening debris to not only you, but your home as well, causing severe damages. Store or tie them down securely.

Photo courtesy of NOLA.com

Also, close curtains or blinds. If windows do get broken, this will prevent shattered glass from scattering in the home.

 

Have an Evacuation Plan… Just in Case.

My mom always said “better safe than sorry!” and the same goes with preparing for a disaster. Maybe an evacuation plan seems silly… well, I’d rather be silly and safe than cool and dead. FEMA recommends you plan to evacuate the “5 P’s”: People (and pets), Prescriptions, Papers, Personal items and Priceless items. Ensure that everyone in your home is aware of your evacuation plan. Everyone should know where they are to meet should you get separated.

Consider having a pre-packed bag full of prescriptions to last a week, personal items and copies of important documents stored at a different location.

Have a list of “priceless items” that you can’t stand to lose. Ensure that if your home is at risk of being destroyed, you can easily access baby pictures, wedding videos, grandmas ring and emergency cash.

Map out the fastest route to your desired location – even if it just across town. Have a backup route planned in case of flooded roads, downed trees and power lines etc…

Rockfish Rd Flooding last year after Matthew…

 

Be Prepared for Power Outages

Be prepared for power outages! Hurricane Sandy left more than 9 million utility customers without power. Two weeks later, more than 6 million in 15 states and the District of Columbia were still without electricity. When Matthew hit last year, we had families in our area without power for over a week!

No power means no well pump, no water, toilet couldn’t flush, no showers or other washing. Your fridge and freezer won’t work, so your food may go bad. Your stove may not work as well. A backup generator is a great investment, but if you can’t afford one –  A camp stove and rain barrels are an alternative. A power inverter and a charged car battery is a passable alternative as well.

 

Stock up Supplies

I’m not saying you need to rush out to Walmart right now and buy them out of bread and milk (you know who you are), but consider purchasing items that will come in handy (and will be in short supply when a Hurricane threat is imminent).

Store your emergency supply kit in watertight plastic bags, and store those bags in 1-2 easy to carry duffel bags. You may not need to evacuate, but you will have everything on hand if you do!

A basic hurricane checklist should include the following items:

  • Water – 1 gallon per person for at least 3 days (for water and sanitation) – fill your tubs so you can use that water to flush toilets etc.
  • Food – you will need a 3 day supply of non perishable food
  • Flashlights and battery operated sources of light. Lamps, lanterns etc
  • Battery Powered Radio
  • Garbage bags
  • Moist towlettets
  • First Aid Kit
  • Manual Can Opener (for food)
  • Extra charging packs for cell phones
  • Prescription Medication
  • Non- prescription medicine such as Advil, Tums etc
  • Pet food / water for any pets
  • Cash on hand
  • Important family documents
  • Sleeping bags / Blankets
  • Changes of clothes for each person
  • Matches
  • Candles
  • Extra propane tanks in case you need to grill or use propane to keep warm
  • Personal Hygiene items
  • Paper plates, cups, napkins and plastic utensils
  • Paper / pencils
  • Books, games and puzzles

 

Living in North Carolina, a Hurricane WILL affect you in some way or another. From damages from fallen trees, to flooded roads, to power outages… Ensure that your family and home are protected!

 

For more great Hurricane Prep Ideas visit our Pinterest page HERE! 

Subway Tile – a timeless classic

Anyone with an interest in Home Improvement or Design (who hasn’t been living under a rock!) has heard the term Subway Tile, especially lately. Those little 3-by-6 glazed white rectangles have been a staple of kitchen and bath designs for decades, and it seems to be ALL the rage once again… but did it ever really go out? Simple but chic, there’s a reason subway tile is a classic when it comes to tile options.

Subway tile is riding a wave of enormous popularity right now, but it’s been around for a long time. If any of your walls are glazed with those little 3″ x 6″ rectangles, you have a little piece of history in your home. It may be the hardest-working tile in the US!

From the moment they made their debut in the 1900s they have only been gaining in popularity. Why? It’s simple. Subway tiles are easy to clean, stain resistant, and light reflective. They go anywhere, and come in thousands of different colors and combinations. From solid black or white ceramic to natural stone, marble or glass, the ways you can utilize subway tiles in your home are only limited by your imagination.

 

A Brief History of Subway Tile

It’s called ‘Subway tile’ because Once Upon a Time (1900’s New York) it was designed to be installed in the (then brand new) Subway Systems. They were looking for something classic, clean and durable. Thus, Subway Tile was born! Designers George C. Heins and Christopher Grant La Farge created the distinctive 3″ x 6″ rectangles for the very first station of New York’s then brand-new subway system in 1904.

Not only were the tiles easy to install, but they were easy to clean as well! The white tile had the additional advantage of reflecting light, brightening the underground Subway stations.

Before long, the Tiles began to appear outside the Subway system. Kitchens, bathrooms, butchers and hospitals… everywhere a sanitary and clean aesthetic was desired. They were adopted across the globe as the ‘go-to’ to reflect a clean, sanitary space. With its sleek, easy-to-clean design, it’s no surprise that the trend is still going strong today.

Image credit: Antique Home Style

Durability

Like all ceramic tiles, Subway Tiles are no exception when it comes to durability. Ceramic is, in fact, best known for its durability: “There are still intact installations in the ruins of ancient Rome and Egypt,” says Dave Gobis, executive director of the Ceramic Tile Education Foundation. “Pompeii has many examples of beautiful ceramic tile work that are still pristine after 2,000 years.” They are tough enough to take a beating for decades. In fact, the adhesive, grout and caulk that’s used to install subway tiles will need replaced LONG before the tiles themselves do!

Thinking of using them as a back splash over your stove? Go for it! They are SUPER easy to clean and have a protective layer that rests over the material, making them impervious to water and stain penetration. They are also naturally resistant to the ravages of high humidity conditions (And y’all know ALLLLL about Summer in a Southern Kitchen, amiright?).

Subway Tiles are extremely hard and very difficult to crack. When installed properly, you can expect them to last upwards of 20 years and longer! If a single tile does crack due to a severe impact, the process of replacing that tile is relatively simple.

Does Grandma still have Subway Tiles in that hideous avocado green in the bathroom? Now you know why…

 

TIMELESS AND VERSATILE

There is a reason this trend has been going strong for over 100 years. It’s one of those trends that won’t look dated in a few years. It’s because it looks good in so many spaces and with every design style. This classic tile shape is so streamlined and modern that it literally works for any style of space, from farmhouse to modern. Plus, we love the newest trends with dark gray grout!

More than a century after its first use, ceramic subway tile has endured as a favorite time and time again for generations of homeowners. Subway tile has something for everyone! Today’s tiles come in a wide variety of colors and finishes that will work well, no matter what your style is! Mix and match with different patterns and grouts – Subway Tile can be personalized to go with whatever design you are looking for!

The versatility of glass allows for glass tiles to be made in an endless variety of colors, textures, and finishes. From modern subway-inspired glass tiles, to bright blends infused with glitter or marbling to mimic marble!

Subway Tiles aren’t just for kitchens and baths anymore either! We’re starting to see subway tile in laundry rooms, mudrooms, and even fireplaces where they offer a pop of decorative (easy to care for, heat resistant) flair.

This classic style has evolved from the traditional 3”x6” rectangles to include additional sizes and colors. Unique patterns, textures, bevels, and splashes of color have also brought subway tile up to modern standards. Manufacturers often use the term now to describe any rectangular tile with a length twice its height, from 4-by-8-inch planks to 1-by-2 mosaics, and even some tiles (such as contemporary 2-by-8 strips) that don’t share the original’s proportions at all.

 

What do they cost?

Subway Tiles are by far one of the bestselling tiles today, and over the last 10 years, not to mention one of the most popular choices. Prices start around $2 per square foot for budget field tile and soar to $50 (or more) per square foot for handmade artisan tile. It really depends on what look you are going for, but they are definitely cost effective! It’s a much more affordable option compared to other materials like stone or glass.

Given the low price point, there’s little wonder why they’re used so much both in residential and commercial properties.

However you decide to use it, Subway Tile is a durable, timeless and cost effective option for your home that has stood the test of time and is just as popular today as it was 100 years ago.

*historic photos courtesy of The Library of Congress via. Old Town Home