3 Smart Steps To Protect Your Vacation Home When You’re Away

(BPT) – Whether it’s a cabin up north, a villa down south or a quaint cottage near family, many people in the United States own second homes. There are seasons you may spend more time at these vacation properties, but for many people, much of the year they remain empty. That’s why it’s important to take precautions to ensure your property and belongings stay safe even when you’re not there.

Not only are vacation homes a target for thieves, but empty homes are often vulnerable to the elements and the unexpected. For example, can you imagine the damage that a water leak would cause a home if it remained undiscovered for weeks … or months? With a proactive approach you can keep your investment safe and give yourself important peace of mind.

To keep your second home secure, consider these smart steps:

1) Create the appearance of a lived-in home

It doesn’t matter if your home is in a well-traveled section of the city or a remote part of the forest, you want it to stay secure from criminals. Vandals and robbers scout for empty homes, so one of the best ways to deter them is to make your property appear to be lived in. If they think someone is home, they’re more likely to stay away.

To create the appearance of a lived-in house, stop mail and newspaper deliveries immediately. Nothing screams “empty house” like a few weeks’ worth of papers at the front door. Next, keep the lawn mowed and trim the landscape, so the home is well maintained plus doesn’t have overgrown shrubs where criminals can hide. Finally, alert a trusted neighbor that you’ll be gone, so they can keep an eye on things. Don’t know anyone nearby? Or is the property isolated? Consider hiring a property manager to check on the house periodically.

2) Consistently monitor water use

Even small water leaks can cause big damage, and if you’re not living in a home, that damage can multiply quickly. From leaks that cause terrible mold growth to burst pipes that flood entire floors, it’s easy to see why water is a top concern for owners of second homes while away. One simple solution is the Phyn Plus: Smart water assistant + shutoff. This intelligent device is installed on the main water line after the meter by an authorized Uponor Pro Squad team plumbing expert. Once installed, it uses programmed data and learns the home’s water-use habits, so it can proactively detect leaks and water problems in real time.

Phyn Plus has no moving parts that are susceptible to breakage or blocked by particles in the water, so it consistently monitors the home’s water use 240 times per second to detect tiny changes in water pressure. If a change is detected, you are alerted through a smart app on your phone, so you can take appropriate next steps. Phyn Plus will even shut off the water when an emergency is detected. You then have the ability to monitor or turn the water back on from any remote location. Learn more at www.phyn.com/installation.

3) Implement multiple security measures

Of course, you want to ensure you secure all doors, windows and other points of entry. But to really keep tabs on your second home, consider investing in a security system with an app or program for easy remote monitoring. With a live-monitor feature, you can check your home at any time. Additionally, programmable lights that turn on at set times inside give the illusion of people being home, and motion lights outdoors eliminate dark corners.

Finally, you might consider registering your home as vacant with the local police. Some cities offer a free service where an officer will come periodically to check your home while you’re away. Keep in mind this might not be available in your area and there may be a time limit for how long you can request these checks, but it’s worthwhile to call your local law enforcement and ask.

Put worries aside and keep your second home safe and secure by following these simple steps. That way you can feel confident that every time you visit your vacation property, you can enjoy it to the fullest.

5 Smart Home Upgrades That Will Pay Off Later

(BPT) – Whether you want to make the most of your home now, or you’re thinking of selling soon, smart upgrades can boost your enjoyment of your home and increase its resale value. Some upgrades improve the aesthetics of your house, while others help save on energy costs or improve the functionality of the home. Still others can add a touch of luxury.

Why not consider smart upgrades for right now, instead of waiting until you’re ready to sell? You can certainly appreciate the upgrades now, while confident that they will pay off later. Here are some ideas:

Timeless hardwood floors

Designers and real estate agents agree that installing or refinishing a hardwood floor can boost not only the look of a room, but will make the room easier to design around – and to sell. Most homebuyers look at replacing aging carpeting in a new home, to refresh and put their own stamp on rooms. Hardwood floors have long been coveted by real estate agents and luxury homeowners alike, as they provide a blank canvas to work with, allowing new homebuyers to choose area rugs and accents to create their own design aesthetic.

Energy-efficient windows

This is one of the smartest upgrades you can make, as it improves the aesthetic from the outside (that all-important “curb appeal”), enhances your enjoyment of rooms from the inside and reduces energy costs. Advances in technology behind high-performance window glass have made a huge difference in terms of the amount of insulation and energy-efficiency they provide. Low-emissivity coatings on glass help control heat transfer through windows that have insulated glazing. In addition, the latest window frames – from metal or fiberglass to vinyl – offer superior insulation and long-lasting performance over standard wooden frames. Installing the best new windows for any room, or the entire house, offers an outstanding return on investment.

New doors

Like windows, doors also present a face to potential buyers from the curb, and can help decrease energy costs. The front door is an obvious place to start. You’ll want to consider your local climate and its needs, such as good weather-stripping to keep out the cold or sturdy screen doors to keep out bugs. Garage doors are also a great choice for updating, especially if they are large and highly visible. An upscale garage door is built from highly durable materials and looks as good as it functions. For any door facing the curb, including the garage door, choose a color and style that matches the overall look of your home, and that will last many years, through a variety of weather conditions.

Cleansing seats

Haven’t you always wanted a toilet with a heated seat, plus warm-water cleansing and warm-air drying, operated by remote control? How about an automatic LED light to help you see in the dark? You can elevate your daily routine with a Kohler Cleansing Seat, designed to fit most toilets. The seats are ergonomically designed, and will complement a range of decors. The Cleansing Seat also offers carbon filters to help keep the space fresh, and the wand that sprays water is self-cleaning. The flush and lid are both motion-activated. This toilet upgrade with customizable amenities will make you feel like you’re at a spa or luxury hotel. Then you may wonder how you ever lived without it.

Beautiful outdoor living space

Everyone today is looking for ways to spend time outdoors comfortably – whether this means a deck, patio or gazebo. If you have a functional area outdoors, consider improvements – is the space big enough? Could you add privacy fencing or shade? Do you want a better cooking area or fire pit for entertaining? If you don’t currently have a usable outdoor space, look at your property as a whole and consider what makes sense for the space and your lifestyle. You could consult a professional to help you design a more beautiful and comfortable outdoor space.

Making smart choices about home upgrades means planning for the long-term life of the house, and improving the enjoyment and functionality of your home right now. With so many possibilities, consider what upgrades would add the most benefit for your everyday routine.

3 Things To Know About Saving Money On Your New Roof

(BPT) – Replacing an aging or damaged roof is an important step to protect your home from the damage the elements can dish out – heat, wind, rain, snow, sleet and hail. But homeowners may not realize that the type of shingle they choose can make a big difference, not only in the protection it offers to the home, but also in the cost of their homeowners’ insurance.

Here are a few things homeowners should keep in mind when looking to save money with a new roof:

1) Roof replacement can save money

Even though it’s initially costly, homeowners in large parts of the country can actually save money by installing a new roof.

For years, insurance carriers have been incentivizing homeowners to install shingles that are rated for impact resistance in an effort to reduce the number of roof claims. As a result, using qualifying impact-resistant roofing products may qualify for significant premium discounts on homeowners’ insurance in some states.

“Insurance companies are spending so much each year replacing roofs that we’ve started to see some companies change their straight deductible to a percentage of the home’s total value,” said Curt Boyd, owner of Academy Roofing in Aurora, Colorado. “Homeowners see a $4,000 deductible and they don’t want to spend that to replace their roof every two years. They start looking for ways to buy value.”

The nudge toward impact-rated shingles (sometimes called “IR” shingles) is increasing. Recently, some municipalities in Colorado went as far as mandating UL 2218 Class 4 Impact Resistance classification for all new roofs, a trend that’s anticipated to continue in other severe weather-prone areas.

2) The type of shingles you use matters

Most major shingle brands now have a UL 2218 Class 4 Impact Resistance classified shingle available, but the way the shingles are reinforced differs widely. The newest IR asphalt shingle on the market, the Heritage IR shingle from TAMKO Building Products, Inc. reinforces the entire back of the shingle with a strong polyester fabric. Other methods used to reinforce IR shingles include using fabric over portions of the shingle or coating the shingle with another substance.

While they are distinctly different than traditional shingles because of their reinforcement, these UL 2218 classified options still offer the pleasing aesthetics homeowners have come to expect from modern asphalt shingles.

3) Check with your insurance carrier

Many major insurance providers offer premium discounts for UL 2218 Class 4 classified shingles, but the percentage of savings and the areas of the country where the discount applies vary by carrier. Homeowners should check with their insurance carrier online to see a list of pre-approved shingles and regions, and get a quote from their local agent. Boyd said that he’s seen premium discounts close to 30 percent in Colorado for Class 4-rated products.

Learning about the newest and most effective shingles on the market can help save money and worry, by protecting the home from the top down and potentially reducing insurance costs. Homeowners contacting their insurance carrier and getting educated about roofing options can make a smart choice for their homes and their wallets.