Back To School Fall Maintenance Tips

Back To School Fall Maintenance Tips

Shorter days and cooler nights bring forth sweaters and pumpkin-spice lattes. All indicators that it’s time to prep your home for the coming stormier seasons.

Too often we meet someone excited about a remodel only to discover that deferred maintenance is going to evaporate the larger chunk of there. Budget. Keeping atop these annual maintenance tips (and more!), will help make your bigger ideas become a reality.

Inspect your roof. Replace missing, worn, loose, shingles. Gently clean mildew and moss to allow free flow of water off your roof shingles. If you aren’t sure how to properly clean your roof that is safe for it’s longevity and the health of your surrounding yard and ground/stormwater, please ask us for a referral to someone who does. [ProTip: YouTubers don’t all have it right! Some suggestions will harm your roof’s longevity.]

Clean gutters and downspouts. Clear leaves, twigs, and other items out from your gutters. Afterwards, run water through them to ensure water is draining properly to, down, and out of the downspouts. [ProTip: Avoid calling us for an unplanned basement remodel by ensuring ALL water drains away from your home’s foundation (and not towards your neighbor’s foundation either!).]

Prepare your fireplace. Have your chimney thoroughly cleaned and inspected by a professional each year. Not only will it help your indoor air quality and ensure your fire burns efficiently, but having your chimney and fireplace maintained also ensures you equipment is discharging the least amount of particulates possible. Even new, efficient fireplaces only stay as such if maintained properly. [ProTip: if you don’t use your fireplace but aren’t ready to remove it, use a chimney balloon to seal up the flue.]

Batten down the hatches. Reduce air leaks and potential water intrusion by weather stripping or caulking the doors and windows. While you are poking around, check that your siding joints are also properly caulked and that there is a solid 6”-12” of space between the ground and your siding around your entire home. [ProTip: Not all caulks are appropriate for all situations/materials. Do your research.]

Schedule an HVAC system checkup. Maintaining your heat pump or furnace ensures your system stays as efficient as possible. Gas furnace inspections often include a carbon monoxide test as well. [ProTip: recent years building codes have required a carbon monoxide detector – if you have lived in your home a long time, you might check that you have one and that it is functioning – there are easy plug-in options if needed.]

Detector Tests. While you are testing your carbon monoxide detector, check on your smoke detectors too. Smoke detectors can last up to 10 years, while carbon monoxide detectors usually last about six. [ProTip: write the date of installation on your detector so that you don’t have to remember if you installed it the year your son broke his arm or your niece won the state championship.]

Feed your garden. Apply compost and natural fertilizer to your grass and gardens in the fall to prevent winter damage.

Protect outdoor furniture. Yes, outdoor furniture is built to be outdoors. However, our winter rain, wind, and freeze can be really harsh and cause your furniture to loose it’s luster sooner than you’d like. Protect your furniture by placing it under a covered patio or underneath a sturdy waterproof cover.  [ProTip: If you use a waterproof cover, ensure it has vents so that condensation and moisture will evaporate]

Create a clean energy plan. In the Northwest, our biggest consumption is energy. Insulation is your first line of defense against high energy consumption. When the power goes out, it will help keep your home warm longer by creating a barrier against the cold elements outside and keeping the warm air inside – inside!. It also happens to keep the hot days of summer weather out, reducing the need (or desire) for air conditioning. We have solutions for all styles and conditions of homes – so don’t listen to the naysayers – reach out to us! If you can’t change out your heating system to a high efficiency one or offset with solar panels – at minimum, create a family plan for how to keep your energy needs as lite as possible. [ProTip: also plan for what heating system or hot water heater will be your next best step – that way if/when one falls, you will have a better system conceptualized to implement at your fingertips rather than making a knee-jerk decision in the moment.]

Back To School Fall Maintenance Tips

Protect Yourself: Hiring a Licensed Contractor is Important for Homeowner Liability

Summer is here and before you jump into that long list of home renovations and updates, be sure to think about who you will hire to do the work. Many people prefer money-saving options of handling home repairs themselves or hiring unlicensed contractors. But when it comes to home enhancements, the cheapest routes are not always the safest routes and can end up costing your much more in the long run.

Here are just a couple of reason why you should hire a licensed contractor for all of your home maintenance and project needs:

A licensed contractor offers insurance.

Home remodeling is a risky occupation – ladders, saws, drills, nail guns… lots of opportunities for injury. If that person is a licensed contractor, by WA State law, that also means they are required to pay into worker’s comp (owners can waive it, but then take on the liability for themselves) – meaning the contractor’s license covers the injury. Unlicensed contractors, on the other hand, can bill (or even pursue legal action) homeowners for the injury stating unsafe conditions.

Additionally, all licensed contractors are required to have active liability insurance and bond to cover the unthinkable. Unlicensed contractors are quite often uninsured.

Of course, licensed contractors often cost more, because, well, we have more costs to run a fully legitimate business. While we don’t advocate hiring an unlicensed contractor, we do recognize that a risk assessment of an injury or damage occurring with a piece of work, may pencil out in some situations. Anyone can verify a contractor’s status.

A licensed contractor ensure that building codes are followed and met. 

Licensed contractors are often more experienced in how meet all requirements set by the appropriate zoning jurisdictions. They will schedule inspections to verify their and their partners’ is of quality craftsmanship and passes applicable inspections.

Contact us today to go over your summer list of to-dos and leave the worry to us!

Homemade Lawn Fertilizers That Are Safe From Hazardous Chemicals

Homemade Lawn Fertilizers That Are Safe From Hazardous Chemicals

Many homeowner love their lawn – even just a little patch of lawn. It is tough in the PNW to keeping a lush, full, and healthy green lawn. This summer try these effective and easy-to-make homemade lawn fertilizers! From coffee grounds to molasses and much more!

* Pro Tip: if you want the look of grass but with less hassle and encourage positivity in the environment, plant clover instead. Even Bob Villa agrees!

Coffee Grounds
Mix half a pound of coffee grounds with 5 gallons of water and spray your lawn with it. Sprinkle the coffee grounds on the lawn and rake into the soil. It is one of the best Homemade Lawn Fertilizers.

Epsom Salt & Ammonia
Mix one cup each of Epsom salt and ammonia in a bottle. Add two-three tablespoons of this mixture in a watering can and spread it over 200 square feet of grass. Alternatively, you can mix it with equal parts water to make a liquid fertilizer for covering your entire lawn.

Compost Tea
Take a clean 5-gallon bucket and fill it with 4 gallons of chlorine-free water. You can use a well or rainwater too. Add one cup of compost per gallon of water in a fine mesh bag or pantyhose. Tie the bag, put it in a bucket, and squeeze it to infiltrate the water. Brew the compost tea for 24-36 hours, and stir and rearrange the bubbler a couple of times every day. During the hours of completing the brew, apply the tea with a pump sprayer, and reapply the fertilizer every two to four weeks in the early morning during the growing season.

Epsom Salt & Molasses
Mix Epsom salt and molasses in a 1:2 ratio. Let the components dissolve and then dilute them in 5 gallons of water. Spray this solution on the lawn and repeat in 2-3 months.

Let’s Talk About Siding!

Let’s Talk About Siding!

MHC Siding Option - Shou Sugi Ban

Shou Sugi Ban solution detail on the front entry.

The clouds parted and we collectively opened our doors and cautiously stepped outside. As excitement continues to brew for the amazing PNW seasons ahead, we’ve started spending more time on the outside of our homes and scrutinizing a number of things about our homes and gardens — which might include our siding. Some of you may find as you look a little closer that your siding could use a little love. Maybe sections show wear and tear (or worse)… but how to proceed – repair, cover, or replace?

1. Repair: Is it a small amount of damage? Then repair is likely doable, depending on if you need new material and if it is available anywhere. You will want to take note if the existing material has asbestos in it. While the amount of potential asbestos dust is minimal in many repairs. Rules for contractors working with asbestos materials are much more strict than you as a homeowner.

corten steel andrepurposed barn wood

A mix of corten steel and
repurposed barn wood.

2. Cover: it was super popular mid- and later last century to cover wood siding with aluminum or vinyl siding. Sometimes the wood was damaged, sometimes the homeowner was wooed by the lack of maintenance. Depending on a whole slew of things, sometimes the “cover-up” trapped moisture and made matters much worse. It’s one of the reasons we are not fans of just covering problems. If you’re going to replace siding, we recommend demo’ing the existing and taking the opportunity to improve your insulation, shear walls, and weather-resistant barriers.

3. Replace: Replacement can be a full overhaul or partial. Think about what angles you and others see two sides of your home together – it may be possible to lessen the cost impact and just repair one or two sides. Sometimes the effort for repair isn’t worth the difference in cost between that and replace, given a variety of circumstances. Plus, there are some pretty cool, eco-friendly options out there that can also give your house a simple face-lift.

All in all, there are some pretty incredible sustainable, functional, and aesthetic solutions that can stand-alone or be combined with other new and old solutions. From cement board and trim made with concrete waste (called fly ash) to recycled compressed paper, thermally-treated hardwoods that don’t need any maintenance, and even siding made from rice husks (a by-product of the rice industry)! They all come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors to meet a plethora of aesthetic needs. To view more projects, visit our Project page .

Co-hosting a Site on the 2023 Northwest Green Home Tour

Co-hosting a Site on the 2023 Northwest Green Home Tour

2023 Northwest Green Home Tour
April 29, 2023 from 11:00am-5:00pm

We are excited to announce that we will be co-hosting a site again this year on the Northwest Green Home Tour with Lucy Johnson Interior Design. Come see the rest of the kitchen this pictured “family member” gets to enjoy!

The Northwest Green Home Tour is a FREE educational community event. You’ll see and learn first-hand how your neighbors are generating their own electricity with solar panels, lowering their energy bills with insulation, and creating healthier home environments for their families with better building materials and systems. Get your FREE tickets here.

3 Eco-friendly Essentials to Include in Your Upcoming Remodel

3 Eco-friendly Essentials to Include in Your Upcoming Remodel

Focusing on the quality and purity of the air in your home.
This might not be top of mind for most homeowners, but any well-insulated building also needs excellent airflow. This ensures that moist, stale, and contaminated air moves out of the home and prevents the accumulation of mold and mildew. This is why a powerful air renewal system is highly desired in the sustainable design world. Many of our design partners consider air quality in their design work and have seen an uptick in demand lately – especially with the rise of summer wildfires over the past few years. Read more on breathing clean air and what can you do to minimize your chances of breathing viral particles and standing smoke.

Thermal insulation is an eco-friendly home essential.
Insulating your home will make your space more comfortable throughout the year as you will enjoy consistent indoor temperatures. In many cases. Intentional design that creates passive heating and cooling through the tactical placement of windows and shading is an environmentally conscious strategy for keeping temperatures comfortable. But it’s those intentional choices made during the construction process that helps turns the home into a self-contained, eco-friendly oasis.

Using salvaged materials.
Salvaged or reclaimed materials are building materials that have been recycled specifically for reuse. Sometimes it is merely reusing the materials already available in your home, but most are building materials that were carefully deconstructed from other homes or buildings for reuse and can greatly lighten your remodel’s carbon impact. Not only does the reuse of materials lessen the overall impact on the planet, but it also can lessen the impact on your wallet while also adding a unique character that is hard (and sometimes impossible) to replicate. Learn more about the benefits of using salvaged materials.