Category Archives: Home Modifications

Simple Ways to Decorate Your Front Doorstep

Are you ready for holiday parties and welcoming your loved ones to your home? Decorate your front door with some festive embellishments to offer a warm welcome. Even the simplest decorations can go a long way and will only take a few moments to hang!  Here are a few ideas to inspire your holiday door and front porch décor!

 

Recycle a Wreath


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Repurpose old Christmas decorations for your front porch. Old ornaments, strips of ribbon, pine cones, and more, can be fastened to a wreath and hung on your front door. Reduce, reuse, recycle, and be merry while you do it! We do not recommend over-the-door wreath hangers as they can throw doors out of alignment.

 

 

Swap Out Your Doormat

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Replacing your doormat with a seasonal one is another fun way to decorate your front doorstep. Choose a wintery message or a cute Christmas icon to get into the holiday spirit!

 

String or Garland Lighting

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Add joy by lighting up your entryway with string or garland lights. Frame the door, wrap columns and railings, or even the walkway leading up to your door. Try finding energy efficient lighting options so your energy bill doesn’t skyrocket and to reduce your carbon footprint.

 

Jingle Bells


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Greet your guests with a holiday jingle by adding a strand of Christmas bells around your door handle.

 

Natural Greenery

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Keep things simple with greenery, whether man-made or fresh. Drape it around your door frame, along the banisters, and add a small tree to the stoop. It’s festive throughout the winter season. Elevate it with some ornaments, bows, or with white fairy lights for nighttime.

Going Green in Your New Home

In the past few years, we’ve all put more focus on sustainability and going green. We replace plastic straws with reusable or biodegradable ones, carry reusable water bottles, bring our own bags to the store, and put as much in our recycling bins as possible. There are also ways to go green when you’re building your home. Here are some simple ways that you can make a difference in the environment while building your home.

 

Appliances and lighting

Switching to energy efficient light bulbs and choosing Energy Star appliances will reduce energy and water use. They also use less energy and water, reducing your utility costs.

 

Insulation

Another money-saving and earth-friendly choice is investing in quality insulation. You will use less energy to heat and cool your home, which will cut costs on your electric bill. Talk to your builder about available options.

 

Solar Energy

You can choose solar panels to power your entire home or use solar energy to power just some parts of your home. There are vendors available to add these once your home build is complete.

 

Windows and Doors

The entry points to your home are also entry points for summer heat and winter cold. Choose high quality doors and double paned windows to keep your house at the temperatures you want it. Also consider low-emittance, or low-e, windows to reduce heat from the sun from entering your home, without reducing natural light. Horizons East’s uses low-e windows as a standard. One of which, is the Ply Gem 1500 series, and was recognized as the “Most Efficient” of Energy Star in 2021. Look for sustainable produced and low-e rated products when making selections for your new home.

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detectors

We all want to keep our family safe. Taking certain precautions in your home can help. One simple, important way to protect your family at home is with carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

 

Carbon Monoxide Detectors & Maintenance

Carbon monoxide is a gas that has no color and no odor, making it virtually impossible to detect with your own senses. It is potentially lethal and can cause a number of symptoms, such as chest pain, vomiting, or dizziness.

Carbon monoxide detectors have an alarm that sounds whenever they sense unsafe levels of carbon monoxide.  There are a few kinds of detectors on the market, but in general, the alarm is set off when carbon monoxide causes a reaction in the chemicals the detectors contain.

There’s easy maintenance for carbon monoxide detectors to ensure they are working properly. Simply test the detectors once a month by pushing the test button on the front of the unit. Replace the batteries as often as the manufacturer recommends and replace the detector every few years. Also, remember to keep them clean and free of dust.

 

Smoke Detectors & Maintenance

Smoke Detectors are another simple, but very important way to protect your family. Some smoke detectors can also detect carbon monoxide. It is important to have a both types of alarms in your home at all times, whether they are separate devices or a hybrid unit.

Smoke detectors set off an alarm when smoke causes a chemical reaction inside the device or heat rises to a very high level. Maintenance for smoke detectors is similar to the maintenance of carbon monoxide detectors, but be sure to check the manufacturer’s instructions for specifics. Generally, you should test them once a month and change them out every few years. Also, keep them free of dust.

 

What About False Alarms?

Sometimes, both detectors may give a false alarm. For example, smoke detectors can go off because of steam, which causes a similar reaction as smoke would inside the device. Carbon monoxide detectors may sound a false alarm if they are too close to appliances that use gas, like a stove.

Even though a detector may give a false alarm, always take any alarm seriously and take appropriate action until you can confirm the alarm was false and your home is safe. Since carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless gas, it is strongly advised to have a professional come out and verify that there is no leak in your home if your carbon monoxide detector sounds an alarm.

Winterizing Your Roof

Winterizing your roof can prevent damage from icy conditions and make your life easier in the long run. Prevention costs less than repair and replacement! Here are some ways to keep your roof intact all winter long.

 

Clean Gutters, Downspouts and Roof Areas

When rain and snow hit your roof, they leave through your gutters if applicable, as we don’t typically install gutters. Keeping gutters and downspouts debris-free prevents poor drainage.  Proper drainage prevents damage to your roof, landscaping and siding.  To protect your foundation, ensure downspouts are pointed away from the house. Good practice is to drain into a splash block.

Additionally, debris has a habit of getting trapped in valleys on the roof and can prevent water, snow and ice from draining, which causes damage.

 

Insulate & Vent Your Attic

Insulating and ventilating your attic will prevent heat loss and money loss in energy bills.  They can also help prevent ice dams and icicles from forming. Check with a local roofing expert for their recommendations on your roof’s insulation.

 

Check for Damage

Before winter starts, inspect your roof.  Pay special attention to any areas where you have had repairs before and make sure all shingles are intact. This can prevent leaks and further damage.

 

Trim Your Trees

When snow falls, it can weigh down tree branches.  Heavy branches can break and fall onto the roof of your home. Remove and trim the branches that extend over your roof to prevent limbs from landing on your home.

These tips will help you get through winter and protect the roof over your head.  However, if you detect a leak, do not walk on the roof while it is wet. Shingles are very slippery when wet and walking on the roof is potentially harmful to the roof itself.  If you are able to go into the attic space, it is recommended to install a bucket or container to prevent excessive damages. If this is done, be sure that the container is placed on a SOLID surface and is empties periodically depending on how bad the leak is, and how fast it will fill the container. Take note of where the leak is located and call a professional or inspect it yourself once the shingles are dry.

Winterizing Pipes and Exterior Fixtures

Before winter hits, we often take measures to winterize our lives. We may buy sweaters, new boots, chains and antifreeze for the car, and generally get our lives ready for cold weather. Just like our wardrobe and our vehicles, it is important to prepare your home for lower temperatures.

One specific way to prep your home for winter is to winterize your pipes. Winterizing pipes can protect your plumbing system, as well as keep your water accessible, even when the weather is below freezing. By winterizing your pipes, you will prevent water freezing inside the pipe which stops the line and can burst the pipe.

Here are a few things to do before the first freeze of the year arrives.

 

Drain, Turn Off, and Disconnect

Outside the home, make sure to disconnect and drain any garden hoses. Locate the shut-off valve for the exterior faucets and close the valve to stop the water inside the home.  The shut off valve may be in an access panel, or near the back wall in a garage or basement.  Open the exterior faucet to drain any remaining water in the pipe.  Leave the exterior faucet turned on (open) for the winter to prevent the trapping and freezing of moisture.

 

Keep a Heat Source On

Heating your home is one of the best defenses against freezing pipes.  A warm environment prevents freezing.  Keep your thermostat set at 60 degrees or higher during very cold weather.

 

Insulate

Insulate outdoor or exposed pipes with insulation sleeves, wrapping or using slip-on foam pipe insulation. Do not leave any gaps in the insulation.  Cold air can affect the pipe in these spaces. Good practice is to tape to prevent sun dry rot of insulation, so it doesn’t have to be done as often.

 

Going Out of Town? Prep the Pipes.

If you are leaving your home for an extended period during cold weather, you may need to take extra precautions. Keep the thermostat set at 60 degrees or higher and drain water lines before you leave. To do this, turn all sinks, shower heads, etc. on at around half flow with both hot and cold water, then shut off the main water valve, any water pump and the hot water heater.  Leave the faucets on and flush every toilet.  This should drain the water from your interior pipes.

When you return home, turn on the main water valve and pump.  Let water flow through the pipes and water fixtures for a few minutes. This may be noisy for a few moments. After you turn off the faucets, toilets should fill up again, too.  Be sure to turn your hot water heater back on once it fills. If a toilet, faucet, or showerhead does not have water coming through it, you may have a frozen line. If that is the case, call a plumber immediately.

Fireplace Safety and Care

Fireplaces, whether wood burning or gas, offer homeowners a warm haven during cooler seasons.  Understanding proper safety and operating procedures is important for any homeowner with a fireplace.  Families with children are often concerned about the possibility of accidental burns and increased fire hazard.  No need to fear.  In this article, we will share safety and care tips for wood burning and gas fireplaces to help you enjoy this feature of your home comfortably and safely.  We’ll also point out when it’s important to hire a qualified technician.

Gas Fireplace Safety

Gas appliances have some automatic safety features, but they still require good safety habits from you, the homeowner.  Here are a few helpful safety tips for gas fireplace use.

  • Always obtain and review your fireplace’s model information and manual so that you fully understand how to operate and maintain the appliance.
  • Know exactly where the gas shutoff and control key are located, before operating the fireplace.
  • For direct vent and B-vent fireplaces, practice operating the valve before the fireplace is used for the first time.

What to Inspect

Damper inspection is similar to that of a traditional wood burning fireplace.  Direct vent and B-vent appliances do not have dampers, but still check the flue termination to look for bird or rodent nests or the buildup of spider webs.  Debris from your lawn can also contribute to clogging the horizontal direct vent.

You can contact a local National Fireplace Institute (NFI) professional technician to inspect for leaking seals, loose gas fittings, dirty burners, or anything else that might affect the safety of your gas fireplace.

Wood Burning Fireplace Safety

The National Fire Protection Association recommends chimneys be swept at least once a year, at the beginning of winter, to remove soot and debris by a professional. Here are several safety items you can check yourself.

  • Store wood away from your home’s foundation and bring in what you need to use in small batches.
  • Choose the right woods: dense, hard woods such as oak should be split and stored in a high dry place for about six months.  A mix of seasoned and more green wood is helpful to control how long your fire burns, but avoid soft woods such as pine.  Pine can produce more creosote and eventually create a hazard.
  • Clean ashes out regularly, ensure they are completely cool before dumping them or spreading outdoors.
  • Use a metal-mesh screen or glass fireplace door to prevent hot embers from popping out of the fireplace onto flooring.
  • Ensure young children are unable to reach hot surfaces or fireplace tools.

What to Inspect

Inspect your damper to ensure it is opening and closing properly.  Check the flue for creosote buildup.  Creosote is a chemical mass of carbon formed when wood, tar, or fossil fuels are burned.  Creosote buildup is one of the many causes for chimney fires. Make sure a wire-mesh cap covers the top of the chimney to keep birds, squirrels, rain and other debris from entering and blocking the flue.  Finally, as always, test your smoke alarms to be sure they are functioning properly.

Once a year, before you start using the fireplace, contact a professional to clean and inspect your flue, damper and fireplace.

When you understand how your fireplace works and use basic safety measures, you can enjoy a warm fireside with your family all winter.

5 Tips for Finding a Home Builder You Can Trust

It seems there’s a builder everywhere you look these days. Everyone knows so-and-so that did some project at the house down the road. But how do you know you’re getting a reputable builder? How do you know the individual you are trusting with your money and, let’s face it, the next several years of your family’s living arrangements is actually to be trusted? Take your time to ask these questions before selecting a builder and you’ll be on your way to a pleasant build with a builder you can trust to take care of your needs both now and along the way. Continue reading

Thank you for visiting Horizons East Building Co

Horizons East is a residential and commercial building company located in Jacksonville, NC. Horizons is your go-to builder for all things construction related. Whether you are looking to build the brand new custom home of your dreams, purchase a new home already under construction, remodel your current home, or build your new office, Horizons is the company for you. Continue reading