Spring brings beautiful blooms and long-awaited sunshine, but for your home, spring can bring unexpected problems if you are not prepared. This season, don't let home issues ruin your fun. Some simple preparation can ensure that your home is ready for all that spring has to offer. Be sure to avoid these four spring home problems.
Spring's weather brings bugs and small critters out of hibernation. While the flurry of scurrying animals may be cute to witness on your next hike, you don't want uninvited guests in your home. Avoid critters coming indoors by sealing any holes or potential entrances. Caulk and seal small access points to keep insects outside. Finally, ensure that you are keeping your home crumb-free to ensure that sugar-seeking ants don't make themselves at home in your kitchen or pantry.
Flooding can occur during any season, but certain areas are more prone to spring flooding. Since water damage can easily go undetected, even minimal flooding can wreak havoc on your home. Be prepared for a flood if you live in a low-lying area near a body of water–even a stream. Avoid issues caused by spring floods by waterproofing your basements, clearing debris away from your gutters and downspouts to divert water from your home's foundation, and installing a water alarm to alert you to accumulating dampness in less-trafficked areas.
Strain on Your HVAC
The shifting of seasons can cause undue strain on your HVAC system if you aren't properly prepared. Change your filters and have your system inspected to ensure that as the spring rays turn your home hotter, that you are not facing a damaged system when you need the cool air.
Lack of Curb Appeal
Spring is the perfect season to tackle your home's lack of curb appeal. Winter storms can cause dirt to accumulate on your home's exterior, sidewalks and driveway. Winds and rain can cause debris like leaves and twigs to clutter up your lawn and garden. A good power wash can do wonders for your outdoor surfaces, and a simple clean-up can ensure that your yard looks fresh. Once you have solved the problem of grunge and disarray, focus on the final touches by adding new foliage and blooms that spring can offer.
Many states across the U.S. deal with long, cold winters, after which most people are counting down the days to spring. Sunshine and warm temperatures bring to mind parks, picnics, baseball—and buying a new home.
Spring is the busiest time of the year for home sales, and after a busy holiday season and a cold winter, prospective buyers are anxious to discover their options. Home sellers can take advantage of spring fever by getting in the spirit of the season with these tips.
Complete your spring cleaning. Obviously, a home that's for sale needs to always be clean, but spring is a time to take things up a notch.
Windows are always the focal point of a room, and even more so during the spring. Be sure to clean your windows, not just the glass, but also the blinds and window sills. Take a good look at your curtains to see if they should be washed. Then, open your curtains to let the sunshine in and let natural light shine through your room. That light will also emphasize details such as the condition of your floors and dusty tables, walls and ceilings, so clean rooms thoroughly.
Let the air in. Opening windows during the springtime is the perfect way to let fresh air into your home. It can help set a comfortable temperature and also make the house smell nice. Be sure that screens are installed in windows and doors, and that they are clean. And keep track of the day; spring days can lead to cool nights, so close the doors if your house starts to get chilly.
Decorate for spring. There are a lot of touches that can bring the springtime feeling indoors. One is to decorate with flowers: lilies and tulips are springtime classics. Other decorative and pleasant-smelling flowers for spring are lilacs, crocus, daffodils and daisies. Be sure to freshen flowers as needed.
Other decorations can add that spring feeling, as well. Vases decorated with flowers, along with wreaths, centerpieces and even colorful books to place on a coffee table, can liven things up. Consider new pillows and pastel Easter decorations, such as decorative eggs. Place a spring-like cloth on the kitchen or dining room table.
Impact the senses. If you have candles in your house, switch from fall and winter scents, like pumpkin spice and pine, to citrus and fresh linen scents. And refreshments are always a nice touch; prepare iced tea or lemonade and pair it with a colorful cake or flower-shaped cookies.
If you're thinking of selling your house, it may be because you've heard prices are rising, listings are going fast, and sellers are getting multiple offers on their homes. But why are conditions so good for sellers today? And what can you expect when you move? To help answer both of those questions, let's turn to the data.
Today, there are far more buyers looking for homes than sellers listing their houses. Here are the maps of the latest buyer and seller traffic from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) to help paint the picture of what this looks like:
Notice how much darker the blues are on the left. This shows buyer traffic is strong today. In contrast, the much lighter blues on the right indicate weak or very weak seller traffic. In a nutshell, the demand for homes is significantly greater than what's available to purchase.
You have an incredible advantage when you sell your house under these conditions. Since buyer demand is so high at a time when seller traffic is so low, there's a good chance buyers will be competing for your house.
According to NAR, in February, the average home sold got 4.8 offers. When buyers have to compete with one another like this, they'll do everything they can to make their offer stand out. This could play to your favor and mean you'll see things like waived contingencies, offers over asking price, earnest money deposits, and more. Selling when demand is high and supply is low sets you up for a big win.
If you're also looking to buy a house, you may be tempted to focus more on just the seller traffic map and wonder if it means you'll have trouble finding your next home. But remember this: perspective is key. As Danielle Hale, Chief Economist at realtor.com, says:
"The limited number of homes for sale is a lesson in perspective. This same stat that frustrates would-be homebuyers also means that today's home sellers enjoy more limited competition than last year's home sellers."
If you look at the big picture, the opportunity you have as a seller today is unprecedented. Last year was a hot sellers' market. This year, inventory is even lower, and that means an even bigger opportunity for you. Even though finding your next home in a market with low inventory can be challenging, is that concern worth passing on some of the best conditions sellers have ever seen?
As added peace of mind, remember real estate professionals have been juggling this imbalance of supply and demand for nearly two years, and they know how to help both buyers and sellers find success when they move. A skilled agent can help you capitalize on the great opportunity you have as a seller today and guide you through the buying process until you find the perfect place to call your next home.
If you're ready to move, you have an incredible opportunity in front of you today. Trust the experts. Let's connect so you have expertise on your side that can help you win when you sell and when you buy.
It's a well-known fact that the real estate market cools off in the fall and winter and picks up in the spring, but what is really the best season to sell your property? The answer ultimately depends on your situation and location. The reality is each season comes with its own unique advantages and challenges. To help you determine the best season for selling, we'll break down the top advantage and challenge of each season below:
Many people believe spring is the best time to sell your home, but that really depends on where you live. While spring is often the most popular time to shop, some southern states experience intense weather in late spring. Competition is also at its peak. Here are some of the benefits
Statistics show that late June has the highest number of closings, indicating summer is an ideal time to sell. It's also the most popular time to move, especially because school is out. However, extreme heat in some areas of the country coupled with vacation times can drag out the closing process.
Once school starts, there is a noticeable decline in real estate activity, but that doesn't mean fall is a bad time to sell. There are still many buyers on the market that couldn't secure a home in the spring or summer. Selling in late September / or early October has both pros and cons:
December is often considered to be the slowest month for real estate closings. Cold weather means fewer shoppers in most of the country, but competition is probably at its lowest point of the year. If you live in Florida, Arizona, or Southern California, winter is likely a great time to sell.
It's certainly possible to sell your home any time of the year, and so often the right season depends on your property, location, and situation. Your real estate agent is a great resource to help you assess the market and determine the best time to list your home. When you are ready to list your home, let's connect!
Americans are more aware than ever of the effects climate change and natural disasters can have on their homes. According to a report from realtor.com:
"More than 3 in 4 recent buyers, 78%, took [natural disasters] into account when choosing the locations of their homes, . . ."
The study also found that many existing homeowners (34%) have already considered selling their houses and moving to a new location because of the changing climate. If you're like those homeowners and are weighing your options about what to do next, here's some information to keep in mind as you begin the process of selling your existing house and searching for your new home.
As a homeowner, it's impossible to control what types of weather events your home is exposed to. As Maiclaire Bolton Smith, Senior Leader of Research and Content Strategy for CoreLogic, says:
"You can't necessarily remove the location from around you, but there are things you can do to mitigate damage that can happen."
The first step is understanding how to navigate your home sale and purchase with these specific issues in mind. While that can seem like a difficult undertaking at first, with the appropriate resources and experts on your side, you can simplify the process.
The Mortgage Reports provides some tips for purchasing your next house, including, but not limited to:
Ultimately, your best resource throughout the process is a trusted real estate professional. An agent will help you navigate the sale and required disclosures for your existing home, be your expert advisor on local guidelines and information, and keep your goals and concerns top of mind. Even if your advisor doesn't have the answers to all your questions about how your next home will stand up to natural disasters, they can help connect you with experts and resources who will.
If you're becoming more mindful about the effects of climate change and you're ready to make a move, you're not alone. Let's connect so you have a trusted advisor on your side to help you navigate the sale of your current house and find the perfect spot for your next home.
With the holidays right around the corner, many people are diving into their basements, attics and garages, pulling out their holiday decor. And though you may resume your tree ornaments, lights and wall hangings, changing up some of your decor can truly get you—and your guests—into the holiday spirit. Centerpieces make great DIY projects, bringing joy and creativity to your dinner table. Here are four simple DIY holiday centerpiece ideas you can try this season!
Pine Cones in Vases
Whether you buy them from a store or simply take a walk into your own backyard, pine cones are a great addition to holiday decor. For your new centerpiece, bring the outdoors inside. Spray paint some pinecones silver, white or gold—or add sparkles for an added touch of glamour—and place them in a wide-mouth vase. You can even use vases of different heights to create some visual interest. Dress up the base of the vases with some holiday colored ribbon or twine, and voila!
Stacks of Mini Presents
Get yourself a package of mini boxes, or make them yourself from old cardboard boxes. Leave them plain white or wrap them in your favorite holiday wrapping paper. Then, simply stack them on top of a cake stand for a festive centerpiece. Add ribbon to each box, creating a look of gifts under the tree, or even add numbers to each box and use them as a countdown. Each day, a box can be opened, filled with surprises leading up to the ultimate gift-giving day!
Upcycled Candle Lanterns
Do you have an old candle lantern that you've been meaning to get rid of? Before you donate it, use it for this year's holiday centerpiece! If you plan to put a candle inside, create a decorative scene on the outside or around it to highlight the candlelight. Use pine cones, greenery, berries and even fake snow around the base and on the edges and top of the lantern. Or, ditch the candle and fill it with these same items, or holiday-themed knick-knacks to showcase on your table.
If you have extra ornaments left over after decorating your tree, there are many ways you can still use them! For example, set up a long tray in the center of your table, place three to five candles on the tray (depending on the size of the tray) and place your ornaments around the candles on the tray. Or, whip out that old cupcake stand and place an ornament in each cupcake slot to create a truly eye-catching piece of decor. You can even glue together ornaments to create a wreath, but instead of hanging it on your front door, place it on the table with a few candles in the center!
No matter what your style or crafty abilities, you can create a simple and quick DIY holiday centerpiece in no time. Look through the decorations you already have, or take a trip to the dollar store! With a little bit of creativity and a dash of holiday spirit, you can dress up your table with a centerpiece in no time, and no or low cost!
Attract homebuyers during the holidays with these tips.
When most people think about the holidays, they think about family gatherings, turkey dinners, and gift-giving. Selling their home during the holidays isn't something they usually imagine. No one sells their home during this time of the year ... Right? Wrong!
In fact, selling your home during the holidays has its advantages. Since fewer homes are on the market, there is less competition. And home buyers are usually more serious and ready to buy.
How do you make the most of this selling season? Here are ten tips to get you started.
Although selling a house during the holiday season will definitely keep you busy, don't forget to take the time to enjoy the season too.
Autumn is sometimes that overlooked period between the last of summer's outdoor activities and hectic preparations for the holidays. But fall offers its own opportunities for rewarding family fun. Check out these leisurely ways to make some happy autumn memories.
A surveyor is a professional who determines the exact location of a property line. Many homeowners don't know the boundaries of their yards and operate under erroneous assumptions. That can lead to disputes between neighbors that are stressful, costly and preventable.
You Need to Know the Location of the Property Line Before You Build
If you're thinking about building an addition or constructing a fence, you need to know exactly where the property line is so that you don't accidentally encroach on your neighbor's land. If you don't have your property surveyed and you inadvertently build in your neighbor's yard, you can find yourself in legal and financial trouble. You may be required to move a fence or have an addition torn down, or you may have to purchase a piece of land from your neighbor to rectify the situation and avoid a lawsuit.
Local zoning laws typically require that additions and other structures be located a minimum distance from a property line. You'll need to know precisely where that line lies before you begin building, or even designing, an addition. You don't want to spend time and money to develop a plan, then learn that you don't have the legal right to follow through with it.
You Need to Know Who Owns a Tree
Trees are often located on or near property lines. The location of the property line is important because it determines who is responsible for maintaining a tree. It can also impact liability if a tree falls in a storm. If the tree is located in your yard and it falls on your neighbor's property because you failed to have dead branches trimmed, you may be held liable for repair costs.
You Need to Know If There Are Additional Factors That Affect Land Ownership
Sometimes a property owner is granted an easement that gives that party permission to use a portion of someone else's land for a particular purpose. If an easement exists, you may not be aware of it, but it can affect your rights to build in your yard. A surveyor can research the issue and note any easements in a report.
You Need to Know Where Utilities Are Located
Pipes, gas lines and cables are often placed underground. It's critical to know what's beneath your property and where it's located before you or a contractor begins digging for any type of project. A surveyor can find and mark the locations of underground utilities to help you avoid an accident.
Get Accurate Information So You Can Make Informed Decisions and Prevent Disputes
When neighbors get into disagreements about property lines, things can get heated. Often, a dispute stems from a misunderstanding. If you want to build on your property or if you think your neighbor may be violating your rights, hiring a surveyor is a good first step. Once you have accurate, unbiased information, you'll be able to decide how to proceed.
As summer comes to a close, is it time to think about selling your vacation home? Based on recent data and expert opinions, it's something you may want to consider. According to research from the National Association of Realtors (NAR), vacation home sales are up 57.2% year-over-year for January-April 2021.
If you've taken your last vacation this summer, here are reasons you should consider selling your vacation home this year.
As the report from NAR says, based on continuously evolving work needs, there could be more interest in your second home than you think:
"In 2020, across all nine divisions, the fraction of the workforce that work from home is typically higher in the vacation home counties than in the non-vacation home counties… The opportunity to work from home could further raise the demand for vacation homes in future years.
Recent data shows we'll likely see a sustained increase in the rate of remote work over the next five years. That means your vacation home could be highly sought after by certain buyers. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist at NAR, puts it best, saying:
"Vacation homes are a hot commodity at the moment . . . . With many businesses and employers still extending an option to work remotely to workers, vacation housing and second homes will remain a popular choice among buyers."
When demand is high, so is buyer competition. When competition is strong, buyers will do everything they can to make their offer on your vacation home as appealing as possible. This can include things like all-cash offers and more. If you sell now, you'll be able to benefit from high buyer competition and pick the offer with the best possible terms for you. That offer could give you the opportunity to purchase the primary residence of your dreams.
Or, if you find that you'll continue working from home, you could consider taking up more permanent residence in your vacation home and selling your primary residence instead. While this isn't a choice everyone can consider, it could be a great option.
Buyers remain interested in vacation homes this year for a number of reasons. Now that summer is winding down, it's time to think about taking advantage of today's demand for vacation homes. Let's connect today if you're ready to give your second home its day in the sun.
If your home is full of breezy linens, light colors and fresh scents, it's time to make a few tweaks and replace these items with their autumn-inspired accessories. Fall interiors are all about rich fabrics, deep colors and bringing natural elements indoors. However, you don't need to do a complete design overhaul to have a fall-friendly space. Instead, find out the tweaks you can make to transition your summer decor to an autumn scheme seamlessly.
Layer With Texture and Pattern
As you pack away breezy summer fabrics make room for fall's rich counterparts. Updating your throw blankets and pillows is an easy way to make a space feel ready for the chillier months ahead. Throws and pillows in heavy, textured fabrics, like wool, cashmere, velvet, faux fur or plaid will invite you to stay for a while. Casually drape a throw blanket across the sofa or pile them in a basket within reach.
Incorporate Rich Hues
Rich, warm tones and jewel-hued colors are a perfect autumn color palette. Whether it's olive green, burgundy or indigo, incorporating these deeper colors as accents can lend a fall vibe. Alternatively, you can consider a neutral color palette of warm cream, gray and taupe to create a calm, cozy space.
Bring in Natural Elements
If you spend most of your summer outdoors, the idea of being inside for the months ahead can feel stifling. Ease the transition by bringing natural elements indoors. Incorporate in-season flower bouquets, such as hydrangeas, spray roses, mums; extra greenery, like seeded eucalyptus, which has a more organic look and feel; or branches to fill centerpiece vases.
Update the Lighting
As you plan to spend more time inside, take inventory of your existing lighting. With more evenings indoors, you may need additional task lighting, such as floor and table lamps. You can also update the lampshades on your scones and table lamps in fall-inspired prints and colors, such as plaid, animal print or in richer hues.
Upgrade Your Bedding
As the temperatures dip, upgrade your sheets to a set of Egyptian cotton, silk or percale, and add an extra woven blanket layer. Take advantage of the crisp cool nights by cracking open a window, knowing you will have an extra layer of bedding to keep you cozy.
Remember the Details
As you prepare to spend more time inside your home, pay attention to the details that give your home an extra special touch. Infusing your home with fall scents, updating your coffee table books, refreshing your picture frames with summer memories and replacing the bathroom hand soaps will go a long way to creating a cozy fall atmosphere.
As the autumn season approaches, a few decor tweaks will help create an inviting and cozy fall atmosphere that will make you and your guests feel right at home.
While no one ever wants to imagine their home filling with water, for many areas of the country, flooding is a scary reality for many homeowners. Whether a natural disaster is on the way or you simply want to be aware of how to protect your home when flash flood warnings sound, we have five steps to preparing your home for flooding.
Clear gutters. If flooding is predicted in your area, help your home out by clearing all gutters, downspouts and drains so your home can battle the rising water.
Elevate outdoor electric units. Outdoor generators, fuel tanks and air-conditioning units should not be left on ground level outdoors. Elevate them as best you can and securely anchor them so they don't float away if flooding occurs.
Power down. Shut off your electricity via your breaker panel to stay safe.
Move items upstairs. When flooding is likely, take charge by moving items upstairs and further from the flood zone. Furniture, rugs, electronics and important paperwork should all be moved to the highest ground possible. Make copies of important paperwork and store them digitally so you don't lose them.
Raise appliances. While you likely can't lug your refrigerator upstairs, you can elevate your appliances on concrete blocks to minimize damage if only a few inches of water floods in.
The pandemic created a tremendous interest in vacation homes across the country. Throughout the last year, many people purchased second homes as a safe getaway from the challenges of the health crisis. With many professionals working from home and many students taking classes remotely, it made sense to see a migration away from cities and into counties with more vacation destinations.
The 2021 Vacation Home Counties Report from the National Association of Realtors (NAR) shows that this increase in vacation home sales continues in 2021. The report examines sales in counties where "vacant seasonal, occasional, or recreational use housing account for at least 20% of the housing stock" and compares that data to the overall residential market.
Their findings show:
This coincides with data released by Zelman & Associates on the increase in sales of second homes throughout the country last year.
As the data above shows, there is still high demand for second getaway homes in 2021 even as the pandemic winds down. While we may see a rise in second-home sellers as life returns to normal, ongoing low supply and high demand will continue to provide those sellers with a good return on their investment.
If you're one of the many people who purchased a vacation home during the pandemic, you're likely wondering what this means for you. If you're considering selling that home as life returns to normal, you have options. There are still plenty of buyers in the market. If, on the other hand, you want to keep your second home, enjoy it! Current market conditions show that it's a good ongoing investment.
Understanding What Flood Insurance Does and Doesn't Cover
Flooding can happen anywhere—and even an inch of water can cause major damage to your home. If you're looking to take out a mortgage on a house in a high-risk flood zone, the lender will require you to purchase flood insurance. Before you buy a policy, though, it's important to understand what flood insurance does and doesn't cover.
National Flood Insurance Program
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers two types of policies. One covers the cost to rebuild a house or its actual cash value, whichever is less, with a maximum coverage amount of $250,000. The second type of policy covers the actual cash value of personal property, up to a maximum of $100,000. You have the option to purchase one or both policies. Be aware that these policies have separate deductibles.
A flood insurance policy will only cover losses that are a direct result of flooding. "Flooding" means that water must cover at least two acres or must have damaged your home and at least one other property.
Federal flood insurance will cover the plumbing and electrical system, furnace, fuel tank and fuel, water heater, heat pump and air conditioner. It will often cover a refrigerator, stove and built-in appliances, such as a dishwasher, as well as permanently installed carpeting, curtains, blinds, damaged cabinets, foundation walls and staircases. These policies can also cover a detached garage and personal property, as well as mudflow, groundwater seepage and a sewer backup.
NFIP limits coverage for a basement, crawlspace or living space with a floor below ground level and will not cover damage caused by mold, mildew or moisture unrelated to flooding or that the homeowner could have prevented. These policies will not pay for damage caused by the movement of the earth, even if the movement was a result of flooding. They will also not cover loss of use, additional living expenses, financial losses due to business interruption, most vehicles or property located outside of an insured building.
Thousands of agents across the country sell NFIP policies, even to homeowners who don't live in a flood plain. Coverage takes effect 30 days after a policy is purchased, meaning if a hurricane is in the forecast, you can't purchase flood insurance at the last minute and expect to be covered. Be sure to be proactive to protect yourself and your home, especially in a high-risk area.
Private Flood Insurance
Some private insurance companies also offer flood insurance policies that can provide supplemental coverage above the federal limits or serve as a primary flood insurance policy. In some cases, private flood insurance may be less expensive than an NFIP policy and it may cover additional living expenses if your home is uninhabitable.
Do You Have the Right Flood Insurance Coverage?
Many homeowners don't think they are at risk of flooding or assume their homeowners insurance policy covers it. A flood insurance policy can cover many of the costs associated with flood damage and is worth the cost if you live in an area where flooding is more common. If you don't have flood insurance coverage, you can discuss your options with your insurance agent, or your Real Estate Agent can offer smart suggestions based on your neighborhood and risk.
As summer temperatures soar, it's tempting to turn on the air conditioning full blast—assuming you have such a system. But whether you do or not, electric air conditioning isn't cheap to run, nor is it eco-friendly.
Given that Americans use more than double the electricity than many other nations do, sustainability experts suggest energy-efficient ways to stay cool in your home this summer, no matter how hot it gets outside.
You've heard the warnings about global warming, you feel compassion for stranded polar bears and you worry about overwhelming the landfills. As a homeowner, you may not be ready for composting, but there are ways to become an eco-friendlier household.
Ecologists provide simple but useful tips that even the laziest activist can use to do their part in helping the environment:
Cut down on water use. Turn off the tap while brushing your teeth. Drink tap water in reusable containers instead of plastic bottles. Lower the water level when doing small laundry loads and don't run the dishwasher until it's full.
Use less power. Shut off the lights before you leave in the morning, and unplug electrical equipment that you aren't using during the day and while you sleep—especially your work and home computers.
Adjust the thermostat. Set it for a few degrees higher in summer, and a few degrees lower in winter. You likely won't feel much of a difference, and you'll like the decrease in utility bills.
Replace your light bulbs. Sources say if every American household replaced one regular lightbulb with a compact fluorescent bulb, the pollution reduction would be equivalent to removing one million cars from the road.
Change your shower-head. A low flow version will save water while providing just as much pressure.
Save on paper. Keep a digital calendar and notes instead of paper ones. Whenever possible, re-use the back side of old printed sheets for new but less important print jobs. Sign up for paperless billing and pay your bills online.
Use less plastic. Use reusable grocery bags even where they're not required. Re-use empty plastic food containers with tight fitting lids, such as cottage cheese containers, for leftovers and storage purposes—be sure any unwanted plastic goes into the recycle bin.
Eat less meat. If you're not ready to go vegetarian, try committing to a meatless dinner once or twice a week to decrease the resources you use. Producing wheat and even veggies takes far less water than producing beef, and there are plenty of tasty meatless recipes online that families can explore together
Hurricanes aren't something that anyone likes to think about, unless they come in a tall frosty glass with an umbrella. As the approach — and eventual near miss — of Hurricane Dorian showed, owning a home in Savannah, Beaufort, Bluffton or Hilton Head Island, can be a little more threatening than to someone living in, say, Nashville. And while hurricanes are powerful forces of nature, you can be proactive and prepare, and give yourself peace of mind.
The first step is to gather information. Where is your home located? Is it in an evacuation area? Will it be affected if there is a storm surge? What is a storm surge? These are all questions for which you should have answers. Bone up on your weather knowledge and make sure that you know the difference between a "warning" and a "watch" in terms of severe weather. Being able to differentiate between these terms will help you understand severe weather reports and help you respond accordingly. Also, check with the local emergency management agency — they can also assist you with how you should respond to hurricanes and the conditions that accompany them, such as heavy rain, high winds, and flooding. Make sure you have a list of contact numbers for not only your local law enforcement/public safety agencies, but also for your utility company, local TV/radio stations, and your insurance agent(s).
Before a storm gets here do a walk through of your home recording a video and taking note of art, jewelry, appliances and furniture. This can be crucial in filing an accurate insurance claim. Take a look at your yard — how many trees do you have? Will high winds wreak havoc on your landscape? Make sure to know how many windows you have, in the event that you will need to board them up. You can also use online tools to check your hazards, including flooding, risks. And be sure to keep tabs on the important parts of your home by evaluating your home at least once a year by getting:
Even though nobody really wants to entertain the idea of being separated from family or friends, especially in a hurricane, it's important that you do exactly that, and make an emergency plan with your family. Be sure to plan for locations to meet/stay away from home and make sure that your schools, daycares, and business owners have emergency plans in place. And don't forget about the four-legged family members of your family — if you have a pet, make sure to include their care in your emergency plan.
Most people think that they are prepared for hurricanes in terms of supplies and necessities, or that they will have time to stock up on supplies. Don't wait until the last minute to fight the crowds buying emergency candles and bottled water. Instead, go ahead and put together a basic disaster supplies kit, and consider storage locations for the kit for different locations.
Putting this much time and effort into planning for hurricanes that might not even make landfall on the Coastal Empire's shoreline might seem a bit much, but remember — nobody has ever survived a natural disaster and then complained that they were too prepared. If you take the time now to make sure you are ready for hurricane season, you will be avoiding even more stress when one comes our way this hurricane season, and rest a little easier for it.
While not a perfect science — given the unpredictability of nature — there are many signs to look for that could indicate the potential for tree failure. Some caused by improper pruning practices, and others occur naturally. In this article we will discuss signs and growth patterns that may indicate a trees potential likelihood for failure, along with how you — as the manager of your own little slice of our urban forest — can be educated when hiring a tree service contractor in hopes of mitigating these potential risks.
It's easy and understandable to be concerned about large trees near or over your home with the annual threat of hurricanes. As long as your house is within striking distance of a tree, there is the potential for impact if such a storm does occur; or, if structural problems with the tree go unnoticed or untreated. The goal of this article is to familiarize you with some common defects so you can be informed and are able to address potential issues. Also knowing how to identify some of these problems and understanding mitigation options will help you weed out potential "tree choppers." These individuals may feed off of your fear of property damage and make unnecessary recommendations that can cost you significant money and oftentimes be damaging to your trees.
First off, check to see if your tree is over or within striking distance to any targets. These include structures, high traffic areas, playgrounds, etc. If it isn't, move on to others. If it is, let's take a closer look:
Does the tree have any large, dead limbs? These are most easily spotted in summer when healthy limbs generally have leaves.
Do you notice a lean in the tree? Has the lean noticeably worsened over time? You could see heaving of the ground/roots on the opposing side of the lean. Are the majority of the limbs (weight) on the side of the lean, or does the canopy balance out the lean?
Now let's look at the larger branches, leads (large tree parts that grow from the truck off of which branches are attached), and trunk. Do you see any decay on these? Binoculars may be helpful. Keep an eye out for cavity dwellers: bees, raccoons, etc.. These are an obvious sign of hollow areas. Look at the "forks" of the large limbs. This is the area where the trunk branches out to smaller sized leads and limbs and often times where limbs break in high wind. The optimal fork will have somewhat of a "U" shape on the top side. Spread your fingers wide, and look at the base where they meet your hand. Notice the small webbing like appearance — that is what we are looking for in an optimal tree fork. This is the strongest growth form. If you instead see a harder, more "V" like connection, often times with swollen or discolored bark — this could be included bark.
Included bark will cause a weakened attachment of the leads predisposing them to possible failure. A supplemental support system (Cables and/or braces) may be necessary to prevent failure.
Moving on, let's look at the trunk and base of the trunk, "root flare" (Root flare is the base of the trunk where the trunk meets the roots)- do you see any cracks, cavities, loose or missing bark, conks or water Stains? Do you see flat areas as opposed to the mostly uniform roundness? Do you see any deep recesses or ridges at the lower portion of the trunk near the root flare? These are often times an indicator that the trunk may be hollow. If you don't spot any of these, let's move on to the roots.
Do you see any mushrooms or other such fruiting bodies? These could indicate root rot issues. Has there been a driveway recently installed, or other such disturbances that may have damaged the anchoring system of the tree? Do you see any lifted areas of soil or roots? Is the area a low spot? Oversaturated soil due to poor drainage could cause a tree to uproot easier in high winds and is also a breeding ground for root rot causing pathogens further weakening roots.
Now let's take a broader look at all of the trees on your property that could be a risk. Here is a list of potential hazardous trees and the risks they pose.
Topping is the indiscriminate cutting of tree limbs to stubs or to lateral limbs that are not large enough to assume the terminal role. Often times people assume that by shortening a tree they are ensuring it is receiving less wind load or is less of a hazard because it now won't reach the target if it falls. While the immediate result of topping is just that, many more problems arise down the road. Depending on the severity of the hack job, the tree may die shortly after. Remember — trees need leaves to supply food to sustain. If the tree does survive this travesty, it will sprout out numerous shoots all from one area at the end of the nubbed off limbs. These shoots grow to large limbs over a few years and are weakly attached and prone to break much more than before. Compounding this issue is the trees reaction to topping. It will allocate all of its energy to putting out new shoots/leaves and very little energy to the sealing process, leaving the end of these limbs open for decay. The newly grown limbs will be even more prone to failure. Avoid topping trees.
Lions Tailing is when all of the inner limbs of a tree are removed, leaving only the foliage near the ends of the large limbs - resembling a lion tail. The misunderstanding is that by doing this the wind will more easily flow through the tree reducing its wind resistance; however there is actually the adverse effect. Now that all of the wind resistance is at the tip of the limb, a lever arm is created and forces are amplified. Instead of removing this interior growth, weight/limbs should be shortened. As an example, try holding a 5-pound weight with your arm fully extended. Now rest the 5-pound weight directly on your bicep. The latter is much easier. Furthermore, the tree will react to lions tailing by exponential sprouting where the limbs were just removed in an effort to replace lost leaf area. You will hire someone to do it all over again and again. Avoid lions tailing limbs.
Large limbs/leads of trees over your house or valuables can be nerve wracking. The first thought is often to remove the entire tree part (i.e limb or lead) all the way back to the trunk. This may not be the best choice. It's important to know that every cut is a wound. The larger the wound, the longer it takes to seal - if ever. Open wounds from large cuts are the perfect opportunity for decay causing pathogens to enter the tree. Instead of having large limbs removed, consider removing weight/limbs from the tip to lighten the load.
Now that you are informed, this should be much easier. Avoid "point and cut" companies. These are the ones who know little about arboricultural practices but have a chainsaw and are willing to cut wherever you point. Find an ISA Certified Arborist — preferably with a Tree Risk Assessment Qualification. They have the knowledge to guide you on what is best for both you and your trees. Yes the initial cost may be a little more, but the results will save you far more down the road. My hope is that this brief "do it yourself" tree risk assessment is helpful. Importantly, this is a very watered down version as a guide to help you spot defects and hazards and should not be a substitute for a tree professionals thorough inspection and advice.
By Shem Kendrick
ISA Certified Arborist SO-7151A
Tree Risk Assessment Qualified
TCIA Tree Care Specialist
Spring is arriving in Savannah. This means longer days full of sunshine and warm weather. This also means that drinking outside tops everyone's list. Historic Downtown Savannah has no shortage of places to enjoy a beverage alfresco. More and more, locals and visitors alike are seeking higher ground for fun. And Savannah has answered the call with rooftop bars. Besides, of course, beverages, these bars offer comfortable seating and views. Some of the bars below offer views of the Savannah River, while others offer a view of the rooftops of the Historic District. Both are equally lovely in their own way.
The Peregrin is located atop the luxurious Perry Lane Hotel. The hotel is on Drayton Street, in the heart of the Historic Downtown District. As such, The Peregrin provides a rich view of the cityscape of Savannah. Besides craft beer and bar snacks, the bar offers cocktails, a carefully curated wine list, and frozen beverages. The Peregrin has a dearth of seating, from barstools to comfy couches.
The Grove's Rooftop Bar overlooks City Market--perfect for people watching. With a full food menu and fun beverage options like the shareable The Grand Mule and the Prosecco Pop (a glass of prosecco served with a King of Pops popsicle), The Grove is a great place to kick back and enjoy observing the bustle of Downtown Savannah. Happy Hour specials are available 5 days a week and a brunch menu is offered on the weekends.
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The weather is warming up and the sun is sticking around a bit longer. Naturally, we start looking around for our favorite outdoor dining spots. The Wyld Dock Bar is one of our favorite places to enjoy the very best of sunny Savannah days. The Wyld is located on the banks of Country Club Creek and is close to both Downtown Savannah, Thunderbolt and Midtown. The restaurant is also accessible by boat.
The Wyld Dock Bar is tucked away at the end of a quiet little road on the southeast edge of Savannah. The restaurant itself is a cozy shack of weathered wood. The front lawn features an oyster roast area and is dotted with wooden picnic tables — perfect for resting with a cold beverage while waiting for a table. Waiting diners can also gather around the fire pit or enjoy a quick game of bocce ball.
The Wyld offers indoor seating and outdoor deck seating. The decks are comfortably shaded and are a great place to watch the changing waters of the tidal creek and the vibrant green marsh grasses. One section of the deck at The Wyld is a designated seating area for diners with their four-legged friends.
The Wyld Dock Bar offers lunch and dinner, and the menu features fresh and locally caught seafood. The dishes are simply presented New American offerings, but all highlight the natural flavors of the seafood. The scallop corn fritters are lightly breaded and are a tasty twist on plain ol' hushpuppies. Two of our favorite dishes feature fresh caught fish. The local crudo, made with sheepshead and topped with fresh shaved jalepenos, is a perfect snack. The steamed banana leaf fish taco has grouper steamed in a banana leaf and topped with basil-dill chimichurri and spicy tomato jam. The tacos are served with black beans and warm tortillas.
The Wyld also offers a variety of liquid refreshment, including local craft beers, craft cocktails, and wines. The Wyld also features a frozen slushie with a rotation of flavors. A few sips of a frozen Painkiller, some light breezes over the water, good conversation with friends, and freshly-caught fish tacos. Now that's the way to enjoy a Savannah day.
2740 Livingston Ave
Savannah, Georgia 31406
Savannah doesn't lack for natural beauty. A number of varieties of flowers and plants make the Historic Downtown District sparkle. None so much as the camellia embody the genteel beauty of Savannah. These evergreen shrubs boast large and colorful blossoms and adorn Downtown Savannah like jewels.
Camellias have been a part of the southern landscape for over 200 years. The plants were first introduced to the United States by way of Charleston, South Carolina in 1786. Camellias can serve several functions in landscape planting. They are staples in most of the squares in the Historic District. Camellia bushes can be used for foundation plantings, screens, accent plants, background groupings and hedges.
The colors of the camellia blossoms found in Savannah range from snowy white to deep ruby red. Camellia bushes can grow to a height of up to six feet tall and two feet wide. Some of the most beautiful variations of camellia blossoms include pale pink blossoms with darker pink stripes. The broad, glossy dark green leaves of the camellia contrast beautifully with the lush and fragile blossoms of the camellia's blossoms. When the camellias come into full bloom in the winter, their stately and refined elegance call to mind the Southern belles of Savannah's history.
Some of our favorite squares to admire these Savannah belles are along Bull Street: Chippewa Square and Wright Square. Both of these squares are dotted with artfully spaced camellia bushes. Calhoun Square, on Abercorn Street also hosts photo-worthy camellia bushes. Although these bushes in this square are a bit shorter than their sisters in Chippewa and Wright Squares, they are no less stunning.
The natural beauty afforded by the camellia shrubs and blossoms is something that Savannah visitors and locals alike can enjoy. The camellia blooms add a dash of color to our occasionally gray winter days, and remind us of the promise of warmer weather just ahead.
Fall is here! Well, at least according to the calendar, fall is here. The weather in Savannah may not feel like summer's over, but now is the time to get to work on some colder-weather maintenance for your home. This way, you can have everything ready before the weather changes. Read on for our handy list of home maintenance to-dos for fall home maintenance.
Fall is when gutters can fill up quickly and we still have a few weeks of hurricane season so keep them clean to protect your property. Make sure all drainage areas are unblocked by leaves and debris. Consider installing gutter guards to make the job a lot easier.
Check for soft spots, which can indicate rotting wood. Use a screwdriver to probe the wood trim around your windows, doors, railings and deck. Use caulk to fill the holes, or completely replace the wood if it is rotted.
Lower humidity and cooler (not yet cold) temperatures make fall a good time to paint the exterior of your home.
Inspect your roof, or hire a licensed professional to examine your roof for wear and tear. If the shingles are curling, buckling or crackling, replace them. If you have a lot of damage, it's time to consider replacing the entire roof.
Fall is the perfect time to divide or move perennials. Remove your dead annuals and mulch hardy perennials.
Clean your gardening tools before storing for the winter. Better still, make sure your storage area/shed is clean before storing your tools.
Cut dead branches out the trees to prevent them from coming down and causing damage in a late tropical storm or future winter storm. Wait until late winter to prune healthy trees and shrubs though.
Fall is a good time to aerate your lawn; it will allow moisture and nutrients to get into the roots. When you're done, spread fertilizer then grass seed. It's also the right time to fertilize turf grasses, preferably with slow-release, all-natural fertilizer. When given adequate nutrients, turf grasses have the ability to store food in the form of carbohydrates during the winter months. That will mean a better-looking lawn come spring.
Pests love attics because they are full of nice warm insulation for nesting, and they offer easy access to the rest of the house. If you have gable vents that lead into your attic, it is a good idea to install a screen behind them to keep those critters out.
Each fall, check carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms and put in fresh batteries. These are very important detectors to have in a home and their importance can't be overstated. Check your furnace filters and check for drafts.
A wood burning fireplace is a wonderful feature to have in your home. However, unless you are well versed in chimney construction, contact a reputable chimney sweep service to do a check before the cold weather sets in. Items such as bird or animal nests built during the summer, as well as excessive soot deposits from the previous winter, can easily obstruct flues and dampers, thereby increasing the chances of chimney fires.
Take a few hours here and there for some basic fall home maintenance. It will help you spot developing problems, and, consequently, prevent costly repairs. For best results, use the tasks above as a guide; everyone's home is different and over time you will develop a fall home maintenance routine specific to your property.
2018 has been a quiet year in general throughout the 100 Mile Coast. However, the rest of country has seen its share of fires, storms and flooding. So, with September being National Preparedness Month, it is a good time to check up on your preparedness level. Although never really wants to sit down and consider worst-case scenarios that we can face, by taking the time to make sure that you and your family are preparing for an emergency, you are giving yourself peace of mind and staying one step ahead. Preparing for an emergency may sound like a daunting task, but it can be reduced to 3 easy steps: Get a kit. Make a plan. Be informed.
While most of us automatically reach for bottled water and flashlights in an emergency, there are some other items to consider as necessities in your emergency kit, such as:
You'll want to make sure that you have these items in an easy-to-carry container that you can use either at home or take with you in case of an evacuation. This is just a list of necessities that you should have on hand in your kit, but it is by no means a definitive list. You will want to make sure that you pack additional items based on the types of natural disasters common to your area (i.e., rain gear, surgical or N95 masks, plastic sheeting, etc.), as well as your family members (extra supplies for infants and the elderly).
One of the most important things that you can do to remain safe for an emergency and/or natural disaster is to meet with your family members and discuss how you will respond to emergencies that are most likely to happen where you live. This includes:
Don't wait until it's too late. Learn about the types of disasters that are more likely to occur in your area, whether it's something that affects only you and your family, such as a house fire or medical emergency, or something that affects your entire community, such as a hurricane or flood.
Make good use of the resources available to help you prepare yourself and your family members for disasters/emergencies, such as those offered by FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), CEMA (Chatham Emergency Management Agency), and the American Red Cross. Preparing both yourself and your family for emergencies and disasters takes only a little bit of your time, and should you ever find yourself in need, that time will have been well worth it.
Summertime is nearly here in the Lowcountry. This means longer days full of sunshine, which is great if you're at the beach, but not so great if you're trekking across hot pavement. It's always fun to go shoe shopping for summer sandals, but don't forget about your four-legged friends' feet. Sure, shoes are available for dogs, but those can be uncomfortable (and hot!) in the summer. A cheaper and more comfortable option is a paw protection wax .
Paw protection wax is an all-natural product that forms a barrier on dog's paws. Formulated with vitamin E to moisturize, help soothe wounds and keep paws healthy paw wax is nontoxic, hypoallergenic, and easy to apply. The wax is absorbed into the paws and forms a semipermeable shield, which allows perspiration to escape through the toes. In addition to snow, ice, and hot pavement, paw protection wax also protects from irritants such as sand, salt, and rough terrain.
Paw protection waxes are made from food-grade waxes that are non-toxic and non-allergenic, so it's ok if your dog licks their paws after an application of the balm. You can even use it on yourself as a protective balm against windburn.
One of our favorite paw protection waxes is Musher's Secret, a dense, but breathable wax originally developed in Canada for sled dog races and it's ideal for protecting your dog's paws from extreme temperatures — hot or cold. While any paw protection wax will need to be reapplied depending on your dog's activity, a little bit of the product goes a long way. Just a small amount on each paw is good for a week's worth of walking.
Make the most of the summer days in Savannah for you and your pooch, and keep their paws protected.
Locally, find paw protection wax at Woof Gang Bakery locations. But just call ahead to make sure paw protection wax is in stock at your nearest location because of its popularity. Find your nearest store here.
You can find Musher's Secret online at Amazon.
And don't forget to pick up a travel dog bowl to keep your pal hydrated too!
Savannah doesn't always experience winters that are as harsh as other parts of the country. Every winter in Savannah there will be a few days when you discover an extra draft or two around the house. But as this season has already shown us, it's always good to have strong plan to winterize your home. A draft or two during a typical cold snap is pretty tolerable, but a few days and nights well below freezing can make a older Southern home more uncomfortable. Here are a few tips for making sure your home is ready for whatever the rest of this winter throws at you.
Run Fans in Reverse
Many homes in Savannah have ceiling fans, which are absolutely necessary in the sultry summer weather. But many people don't realize that running fans clockwise will change the distribution of the air in your house produce a warming effect. Most ceiling fans come with a handy little switch that will reverse the direction of the fan blades from counterclockwise (cooling by driving air down) to clockwise (warming by drawing air up). Just don't forget to switch them back!
Drafts can waste anywhere from 5%-30% of your home energy use. This is a problem that can be easily remedied with a draft snake. Make one of your own by using a rolled bath towel, or get creative with scraps of cloth and fillings such as sand or kitty litter for added heft.
Mind Your Thermostat
It's easy to forget to turn down the heat when you're leaving your house, but doing so is one of the easiest ways to save money. Most houses shell out 50%-70% of their energy budgets on heating and cooling. For every degree that you lower your thermostat during the winter, you will save between 1% and 3% on your heating bill. Better still, invest in a programmable thermostat such as a Nest.
Put Up Some Plastic
Like the draft snake, this is an easy and inexpensive and temporary method for winterizing your home. Pick up a window insulation kit at your local discount or hardware store. If properly installed, the plastic will be virtually invisible. A little patience, the kit and a hair dryer and you will have less drafty and more efficient home. Speaking from experience, you will notice a difference in the amount of heat that your home retains from insulating your windows with one of these easy-to-use kits.