Deck Maintenance painted terrace railings

Deck Maintenance Before the Parties Occur

How many invitations for outdoor parties have you received so far this season? Maybe you’re planning your own which means you’ve been making sure your backyard is decent for viewing. When was the last time you gave your deck any thought though? With all of the people you plan on having over in the coming season, you want to make sure that your deck is as safe and beautiful as the rest of your yard. If you haven’t done any deck maintenance  in a while, here are a few things you should do before that first party rolls around.

Protecting Your Deck from Weather

You’ll need two cloudy, mild days to do this (not back to back), so you’ll need to start this process in the early part of the year. Start by clearing the deck surface and in between the boards of all dirt and debris, then use a cleaner appropriate to the material your deck is made of—wood, composite, or vinyl—and coat the entire surface of the deck and railings with it. Be sure that it soaks for only as long as necessary before thoroughly rinsing every surface, and then allow your deck to dry completely.

If you have a wood deck, return after at least two days have passed, and you can begin the process of sealing the deck, which starts with sanding down the surface and replacing any loose or missing nails/screws. You can use a large paint roller to apply the sealant, with no more than two coats, as you don’t want it to pool in places and leave an uneven stain. If your deck is made of composite, you will need a specialized sealant, but if you have a vinyl deck, you can skip this step completely. Sealing the deck is an annual task, so be sure to consult a contractor on the best way to care for your deck when it is first built.

Inspecting the Structure

Early summer – after all of the spring rains have moved away – is a good time to check the structural integrity of your deck, and to ensure that the wood is free of rot and cracks. Use a screwdriver to inspect structural posts and stairs; if the screwdriver can be driven more than an inch into the wood, it needs to be replaced immediately. You should also take the time to replace any cracked boards in your deck, as rot has a tendency to form inside of the cracks and will eventually compromise the structure.

Your deck is a great place to spend time with friends and family throughout the spring and summer, it gives your backyard a homey feel, and it adds equity to your home, but only if you maintain it. If you have questions about how best to take care of your deck, or if you need help repairing damage to it, please call Liberty Builders for a consultation.

Eco-Friendly Fiberglass insulation

Stay Eco-Friendly While Cooling Off This Summer

Dealing with the summer heat can be pretty awful, especially here in the south. There’s always the option to crank up the A/C, but it’s not the optimal option for people who are trying to be more eco-friendly and kinder to the environment. Fortunately, there are a lot of ways that you can beat the heat without having to break the bank or falling back too often on your air condition.

It Starts at the Top

Science taught us long ago that dark colors absorb heat, while light colors reflect it. This fact holds true in everything, including the color of your roof tiles. The darker your roof, the more of the summer heat it absorbs, warming your home throughout the day. Choosing a metal roof or painting your roof white will deflect the heat and help to keep the temperatures inside your home lower throughout the sweltering summer months.

Windows

Regardless of the type of windows in your home, during the summer you should dress them with long, black out curtains that are backed in white fabric to help deflect the sun. This is especially important for windows that face the south and west; as the sun sets, it will shine directly into the house, raising the heat levels you’re already dealing with. To combat this, you should keep the curtains closed while you are out of the house, and only open your windows at night when everything is naturally cooler.

Insulation

We cannot stress enough how important it is to insulate your home. Insulation helps to keep the cool air in your home during the summer and the warm air in during the winter, lowering your energy costs by a significant amount over your lifetime. Call Liberty Builders if your attic isn’t insulated yet as it will pay for itself in a very short time.

Ceiling Fans and Lights

If you have ceiling fans, why haven’t you turned them on yet? They don’t do much for you while you’re not in the house, but once you are home, flip them on, and the temperature in the room will drop to a comfortable level. You should also consider switching out your traditional light bulbs for LED lights. Traditional bulbs heat up quickly, and when everything around you is hot, more heat just adds to the discomfort, but LED lights remain cool and won’t contribute to your heat problem.

Battling the heat and being a responsible, environmentally conscious homeowner isn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it is possible. If you have questions about how to keep your home cool this summer without overusing you’re A/C, contact Liberty Builders for tips, answers, and quotes for big projects you’ve been considering. In the meantime, plant some trees around your home because their shade will help keep your home cool, and there’s nothing greener than planting trees.

Exterior Home Renovations

Exterior Home Renovations that Add Value to Your Home

Exterior Home renovations can be expensive and time consuming, so it’s natural that as the homeowner, you’ll want to one day recoup the investment. Renovations should definitely be done based upon need before cosmetic updates, however, the good news is that no matter what updates you choose to make to your home, when it comes time to have it evaluated or sold, nearly all of your renovations will give you back more than 70% of the money you put into them. Here are three exterior home renovations that will give you the most return on investment.

 

Landscaping

The first impression of your home is the front yard, making it one of the best investments on the home reno checklist. Landscaping makes your home look nicer and more inviting, especially if you are looking to put your home on the market, but even if you aren’t, you should still invest in it. Proper landscaping will protect your home from the elements, helping to drain water away from your foundation and keeping it cool during the summer with well placed trees. Experts agree that a well-executed landscape renovation is between 95-100% return on your investment.

 

Siding and Front Entryway

Updating your siding and front entryway will also add value to your curb appeal, and give you back around 90%. Your siding needs to be replaced or refurbished around every 10 years, which will help give your home a fresh, well-kept look. Meanwhile, simple updates to the front entryway such as a new coat of paint in a trending color and repairing downtrodden sidewalks and steps will help rejuvenate the look of your home.

 

Deck

Adding a deck to your backyard will add a great deal of value to your house, and bring back around a 90% return on your investment. Creating an inviting, comfortable space in the outdoor portion of your home for socializing will add great appeal for future buyers but only if your backyard is big enough to accommodate it. If your backyard is small, it’s best to leave the green space and landscape it accordingly, especially if you have children or pets.

Every homeowner wants to increase the value of their homes through the years, and be sure of getting back some of their investment back when it comes time to sell, but it’s also important to do things that will bring comfort to you down the line, and to do thorough research into what are the best investments for you. If you are considering home renovations and have questions about where to start, contact Liberty Builders today.

Interior Home Renovations

Interior Home Renovations that Add Value to Your Home

Interior Home renovations can be expensive and time consuming, so it’s natural that as the homeowner, you’ll want to one day recoup the investment. Renovations should definitely be done based upon need before cosmetic updates, however, the good news is that no matter what updates you choose to make to your home, when it comes time to have it evaluated or sold, nearly all of your renovations will give you back more than 70% of the money you put into them. Here are three interior home renovations that will give you the most return on investment.


Kitchen Remodel
There are two types of kitchen remodels: major and minor. If you change the footprint of your kitchen in order to make it larger, then you are doing a major remodel; anything else is a minor remodel. Don’t let the name fool you though, because minor remodels, which can and often do include changing the cabinets, countertops, and appliances, generally have a better return on investment than major remodels do.

 

Bathroom Remodel
You can also perform major or minor remodels on bathrooms with the same criteria as kitchens, but again, a minor remodel generally has a much better return at resale, sometimes over 100%. Not that anyone would say no to a larger bathroom, especially in the master bedroom.


Insulation
As the world moves closer toward ever greater energy efficiency, it’s no surprise that homeowners and potential buyers are interested in making their homes as energy efficient as possible. Adding insulation to your home is a pretty painless way to add value, not only for future resale, but during your time in the home as well. Insulation is meant to keep your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter, and it will help keep your energy bills down through the years.

Every homeowner wants to increase the value of their homes through the years, and be sure of getting back some of their investment back when it comes time to sell, but it’s also important to do things that will bring comfort to you down the line, and to do thorough research into what are the best investments for you. If you are considering home renovations and have questions about where to start, contact Liberty Builders today.

Dont's of Home Maintenance

The Dont’s of Home Maintenance

Home maintenance is an ongoing job for all homeowners; for as long as you own a home, you will have a checklist of things that you will have to care for and uphold. We’ve provided you with lists on how to look after your home, but we also have a few tips on what you should NOT do to the exterior of your home if you want it to remain solid and beautiful for as long as possible.

Painting Your Home

If your home has wooden siding, it will need a fresh coat of paint about once every 10 years, a far more complicated job than it seems. It can also be an expensive job, so there’s no shame in wanting to repaint your home yourself; however, a common mistake people make when attempting to paint their houses themselves is skimping on the power wash before the painting begins. If you don’t properly wash the siding, the paint will not dry evenly and may begin to flake off within the year, forcing you to redo an expensive and time-consuming job. Something else to consider before painting your home is the age of the house. Many houses built before the late 70s are covered in lead-based paint and can be hazardous for your health if you start stripping it off the siding. If you live in a home built before 1978, consult an expert about the exterior paint and the best way to go about removing it without damaging your health, and that of your family or neighbors.

Don’t Ignore the Cost of Things

Home maintenance and improvement projects are expensive, but necessary parts of homeownership. There will always be things around your home that need to be repaired, and keeping up with things like curb appeal is important for the sake of the neighborhood, as well as for your own property values. So while you may want to add an addition onto your home, consider how much your current maintenance costs before you embark on a new project so that the maintenance you are already in charge of does not suffer because you cannot afford to keep it up for a time.

Don’t Get in Over Your Head

The world, and specifically the internet, is full of DIY solutions for everything, including everything involving home maintenance, and it’s both responsible and admirable when homeowners try to fix issues in their homes. No one can be an expert on everything, however, and everyone’s time is limited, so it’s important to know when it’s time to call a professional. DIY is great, but sometimes it can make the situation worse and end up costing you more than if you had called in a contractor from the beginning.

Don’t be ashamed to ask for help from the professionals; your home is worth looking after properly. If you need help with a project, or would like some home maintenance advice, your friends at Liberty Builders are standing by to be of service.

Home Update Plan

The 10 Year Home Update Plan

If you are a homeowner, then you know that home maintenance is a regular part of your everyday life, and will be for as long as you own your current, or any future homes. There are countless sources that help you keep track of the upkeep of your home season to season, but what about the bigger items of your home, like your roof, the water heater, and the very walls that shelter you from the summer heat and the winter cold? These are things that are built to last, but they need a little help every once in a while. If you’ve been in your home for at least a decade, you may want to think about a few of these items.

Home Exterior Siding

Houses with wooden siding are built to withstand the weather with the help of paints and stains, but the exterior paint has yet to be invented that can indefinitely hold up against decades of UV rays, rain, and snow without a little bit of upkeep. Experts say that homeowners should inspect the siding of their homes every 5-10 years for signs of severe wear and tear, such as flaking paint or rotten wood. Faded or flaking paint means that it’s time for a fresh coat, while rotting siding means fresh wood for your siding, in addition to a fresh coat of paint.

Roof

The roof is the home’s first line of defense against rain, snow, and ice, so it’s bound to take a beating throughout the years. If you don’t inspect your roof for damage every season, checking it once every ten years for general wear and tear is a safe timeline to follow. If you live in areas with high winds, or your home is surrounded by multiple trees, there’s a good chance you’ve lost a few roofing tiles over the last decade, and replacing those before it becomes a major issue is always the more economical road to go down, even if you choose to hire a contractor to address it rather than do it yourself.

Water Heater

Most water heaters only have a lifespan of 10 years, but if you’re lucky enough to have one that lasts longer than that, upkeep is absolutely essential, especially in states like Texas that live with hard water. Flushing the sediment out of the bottom of the tank will help extend the life of your water heater, but you should definitely make a habit of keeping an eye on it the closer it gets to that 10-year mark.

Home Appliances

A few other essential home items you’ll need to start looking after more carefully as they enter their first decade are mostly found indoors, like your toilets, the dishwasher, washer and dryer units, and the garbage disposal. Your garage door opener may also start to give you problems around this time, so if you start to notice a lag in performance, you may want to park your car in the driveway or on the street until you can fix or replace it. The most important items inside the home to maintain after a decade are your smoke detectors and your carbon monoxide detector. These items could save your life someday, so please do not neglect them while going through your checklist items.

Maintaining a home is a big commitment, and sometimes you run into issues you can’t solve on your own, so if you need advice on how to fix a problem in your home or need a contractor, give Liberty Builders a call at 210-714-1655, or visit us at http://www.libertybuilders.net/ for a list of our services.

After Winter Home Maintenance

After Winter Home Maintenance Checklist

If you can believe the groundhog, Spring is on the way. That’s news that the entire country can celebrate after such a rough winter. As the cold gives way to rising temperatures and rainy days—we have to get those May flowers somehow—our homes might start to show a little bit of wear and tear from the long and brutal winter. To help you avoid any water related disasters, we’ve put together a handy maintenance checklist for your home before those Spring rains appear.

1. Check for Water Damage

The very first task is to inspect your roof, chimney, gutters, and siding for any damage. Problems like damaged or missing roof tiles, cracks in the chimney, clogged or loose gutters, or rotted siding should be addressed immediately, by yourself or by a contractor. Left unattended, these problems could lead to water damage to the interior of the home, further damage the roof, or ruin your home’s foundation, creating far more expensive problems than any damage that may appear from this initial inspection.

2. Service HVAC and Change Filters

Spring often feels a lot like summer in certain parts of the country, and the idea of wanting to turn on the AC is completely understandable. Before doing so however, you should have your HVAC serviced by a repairman or contractor, as it’s been sitting dormant for several months outside in the elements. Now is also a great time to change the HVAC filter in your home; experts agree that you should change it every 3-6 months, and Spring is an excellent time since some members of the household may have allergies.

3. Inspect All Windows

Spring is a wonderful season when you can open the windows and effectively cool the house down, but before you do, you should ensure that all of your window screens are fully intact. Harsh winter weather or falling debris can leave holes in the screens, which will only serve to let bugs inside where they don’t belong. Check your storm door for similar repairs.

4. Check Curb Appeal and Safety

Cold weather can also be harsh on concrete. Check your main walkway for cracks that need repairing or pavers and bricks that need to be replaced. Once the warm weather has set in, you can put down fresh soil and start planting flowers and shrubs while getting rid of any weeds that somehow survived through the frost. Now is also a great time to replace any outdoor lights that have gone out, and to ensure that the doorbell is working properly. Last, but certainly not least, test all of your fire alarms and replace the batteries, if necessary.

Once you finish this checklist, you can begin planning for your Summer and Fall renovation plans. If you’re in need of professional repairs or replacements, call Liberty Builders today!

Keep Your Gutters Flowing

Keep Your Gutters Flowing Year-Round

February can be a volatile month when it comes to weather; the temperature fluctuates between cold and pleasant and it’s often raining. It’s not the ideal month for doing any sort of outdoor home maintenance, but it actually is a great time to go out and check your gutters for any damage before the spring rains set in.

 

Gutter Maintenance is Important

Gutter maintenance and repair can and should be done all year long since each season of the year has their own unique ways of clogging them up. In winter, icicles and ice dams are the biggest dangers that homeowners have to face on their gutters. As picturesque as they may look, ice dams especially have the potential to crack, bend, or burst the gutters they are attached to if they are not dealt with before they grow too large.

Tree debris, such as leaves or pine needles, could fall into the gutters during storms, contributing to the creation of ice dams or icicles, or cause water from storms to back up onto the roof, rot wood siding, or create puddles dangerously close to the foundation rather than flow away from the house as the gutters are intended to ensure. As unpleasant as the idea of climbing around the roof on a February day is, water damage prevention to your home truly is worth it.

Gutter Protection

If you’re tired of climbing onto a ladder in all weathers to clear out your gutters, there are products that can help keep your gutters clear throughout the year, such as the Leaf Relief® by Ply Gem that you can find on our website. It acts as a guard against leaves, twigs, and other debris clogging up your gutters and causing disastrous water damage to your property throughout the year.

If you are interested in having a gutter guard such as Leaf Relief® installed, or if you would like more information on gutter maintenance, feel free to visit our website for more details, or give us a call, and we’ll be happy to assist you.

 

winterizing your home exterior

Winterizing Your Home Exterior: A Checklist

In Texas, no one waits for the temperature to drop before breaking out their coats and scarves but as the cold weather starts to roll in, wrapping your house up for the winter is just as important as wrapping up yourself. Neglecting exterior home winter maintenance can lead to costly repairs, long waiting lists, and possible emergencies at the time of year when most can least afford them. So here is your checklist for making the outside of your home winter-proof so that you can enjoy winter the way it’s supposed to be enjoyed; inside, warm, and safe.

The Roof

Head up to your roof to inspect for any damage. Missing shingles and other damage should be immediately repaired in order to avoid possible leaks during winter storms. While you’re up there, you should go ahead and clean your gutters so that you can avoid icicles and ice dams throughout the season. Detritus built up in gutters can cause a back-up of water that will freeze and could ultimately damage your gutters or roof if not taken care of quickly. It’s best to just clear your gutters before it gets cold and stormy than to have to go out into the cold later and knock down dangerous ice dams afterwards. While you are focused on the top of your home, if there are any exposed pipes in the attic, insulate them to protect them from freezing.

The Windows and Doors

Give your house a once around and search all of the windows and doors for drafts. There’s nothing inherently wrong with cold weather, but you shouldn’t have to be cold inside your own house. Gaps between doors, windows and your walls will lead to that. Any gaps wider than a nickel should be filled with caulk, and any old window putty should be replaced as soon as possible to prevent any heat loss during those frigid winter nights.

The Exterior

Winterizing your pipes and outdoor spigots is essential to ensuring that you don’t end up with broken pipes and an expensive emergency call to a plumber. Any exposed water pipes outside should be insulated to protect them from freezing during cold nights, and the same should be done for any pipes in basements or attics. Meanwhile, outdoor spigots should be drained by shutting off the water valve in your home long enough for all of the water to be removed from the pipe, and the same should be done for all water hoses. If you have an underground irrigation system, which should be drained to avoid frozen pipes throughout the winter.

Additional Items

  • Have your chimney cleaned before its first winter use to prevent any unwanted fires. Experts recommend that you cover you’re A/C with something sturdy to protect it from damage from falling objects like tree limbs or ice dams.
  • Trim any tree limbs that look dead or have grown too close to your house. In the event of an ice or snow storm—they do occasionally happen in Texas—weaker tree limbs can become weighed down by snow or ice and fall, damaging whatever is in their path. Since it’s better for the overall health of the tree to remove these limbs anyway, removing them while you’re winterizing your homes’ exterior is a good idea, as it solves two potential issues before they ever have a chance to become a serious problem.

Even if you live in parts of the country with traditionally mild winters, performing winter exterior maintenance will only benefit your home in the end, and with this handy checklist, the maintenance will be faster and easier than ever. For more information on winterizing your home, or for expert advice on how to perform these tasks, contact Liberty Builders.

Home Maintenance Tips for Fall includes cleaning gutters

8 Home Maintenance Tips for Fall

Fall is the perfect time to care for big exterior home repair projects before the shorter days of winter come along to make things more difficult. The hazardous winter weather can limit your time outdoors so make the move now and improve the appearance of your home’s exterior before it’s too late. Liberty Builders of Texas is here to help give you an idea of what to look for when it comes to exterior home care. Check the following items off from your list of fall home maintenance repairs and projects.

  • Care for Trees and Shrubs
    The fall of leaves from existing trees on your property is about to take place. Rake them up, but first, inspect your trees for any dormant or dead areas and trim them away.
  • Examine your home
    Look for signs of damage to your home by taking a walk around your property and inspecting your roof, siding, and foundation. If you spot something out of the ordinary, act on it now before the winter takes effect.
  • Replace your Siding
    Update your exterior paint job before the season changes if you feel your home needs an updated look.
  • Seal Gaps
    Critters, such as mice and raccoons, tend to find shelter indoors during the colder months. Make sure areas like your laundry room, garage, and pantry don’t have gaps and holes that lead outside.
  • Clean the Chimney
    Schedule a chimney cleaning and maintain the cleanliness of it throughout the cold months. Add a cap to your chimney as this will prevent critters from entering your home through the roof.
  • Maintenance the Heating System
    Ensure your heater is in working order before turning it on.
  • Check Weather-stripping
    If the weather-stripping on your windows and doors are damaged, it’s time to replace them to cut energy costs and improve heating in the house.
  • Clean Gutters
    Keep this task on the end of your checklist because after most of the leaves have fallen from the trees, you’ll want to start cleaning your gutters and downspouts. Clogged gutters can damage your roof and siding.

Keep following Liberty Builders for seasonal exterior home maintenance tips! If you’re in need of exterior home repairs, give us a call today.