What is a Bridge Loan?


Bridge Loan Article

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a Bridge Loan as: a short-term loan used to finance an enterprise, investment, or government pending the receipt of other funds.

I explain to my customers that a Bridge Loan essentially transfers available equity from your current residence to be used as a down payment, or partial down payment, on the property you wish to purchase without having to sell your existing home first.

The Bridge Loan scenario goes something like this:

You have decided that you’ve outgrown the home you’re currently living in and want to purchase or build a larger one. You’re excited about the possibilities until you realize you do not have a large sum of money saved for a down payment. Before you decide that upgrading to a new home isn’t a possibility, take a look at the equity you’ve built in your current home. If there is enough equity to cover the down payment for the purchase or construction of a new home, you have a few options to liquidate that equity, such as:Bridge loan meaning

  • Selling your home first.
    While this is always an option, it’s rarely one most folks elect to do when building a home. You would have to find somewhere to live during construction, move twice, pay to store household goods until your new home is complete, find short-term rental options, find landlords who will accept pets, etc.
  • Securing a Home Equity Line of Credit.
    This can be a good option if you already have an established line of credit in place. However, most lenders won’t approve a new line if they know you will soon be selling the property. Plus, this would add another payment to your monthly debt obligations.
  • Utilizing a Bridge Loan.
    This is an interest-only loan (so your monthly debt obligations are lowered) and allows you to live in your current home while your new home is under construction. With some Bridge Loan products, you’ll have only one interest-only payment versus multiple payments with a Home Equity Line of Credit.

How does a Bridge Loan work?

Bridge Loans are usually limited to owner-occupied residential properties, so assuming you live in the house you intend to sell, a bank will generally lend you money against the value of the home. In most cases, that value is limited to 90% of the appraised value.

Here is a quick illustration:

  • If the appraised value of your home is $200,000, the bank would lend you up to $180,000, which is 90% of the value ($200,000 x .90 = $180,000).
  • Now subtract your current mortgage balance. For easy math, let’s say you owe $100,000, so subtracting that from the $180,000 value leaves you with $80,000 of available equity to be used as a down payment for the purchase or construction of your new home.

It’s also important to note that there are some additional costs associated with Bridge Loans. First, your lender will order an appraisal to determine the current value of your home. Second, if you have outstanding mortgages, they will be paid off and transferred to the Bridge Loan. Lastly, you may incur a higher interest rate on the Bridge Loan (compared to your current mortgage), but keep in mind that a Bridge Loan is a short-term loan used only for the few months that it takes to sell your current home. This increased interest does not typically amount to a sizable difference between your previous mortgage and the Bridge Loan.

Final Thoughts

There are many types of Bridge Loans. Be sure to speak with your mortgage lender to discuss different options and determine which is the best product for you. You may be able to combine your current mortgage and the new purchase or construction loan into one Bridge Loan. Or, you could discover that you have enough equity in your current home to pay for your new home outright. No matter what your situation is, a Bridge Loan can be a great tool when used correctly and strategically to help you purchase or build your new home.


Scott Hart
Senior Sales Manager
Waukesha State Bank
NMLS #526247


Scott Hart joined the Waukesha State Bank Mortgage Team in 2015 as the Assistant Manager and Sales Trainer and was promoted to Senior Sales Manager in January of 2017. He has been in the industry since 1997 where he’s worked side-by-side with top real estate brokers, developers and new home construction professionals throughout the Waukesha County and greater Milwaukee area.

Scott has been selected as Milwaukee Magazine’s Five Star Mortgage Professional every year since 2011, has been named a President’s Club Award recipient from 2004 to 2012, and was nominated as the MBA Lender of the Year in both 1999 and 2000.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a promotional advertisement or to solicit business.

HTTP to HTTPS: Now’s the Time.

Converting http to https


When it all comes down to SEO, there are those who simply cannot stand the thought of it, and those who are absolutely in love with all that is technical. If you are an enthusiast of HTTPS, chances are, you have already had a good amount of experience with converting http to https.  If you are in that first group, however, the thought of HTTPS likely brings forth feelings of trepidation. It is perfectly understandable. And even though most of HTTPS is relatively simple, there are aspects that just seem to scream complexity.

The good news is that, in addition to being largely simple, in order to utilize HTTPS on your website, you don’t need to have a complete understanding of the work that goes on behind the magic curtain.

Converting HTTP to HTTPS and Assigning Importance

HTTPS has been around for a long time and, in truth, was long ago adapted by many leading businesses. That’s because it’s always been a good idea. But what has just become apparent to some is an announcement by Google stating that one significant ranking factor will be HTTPS. That got the attention of many SEO experts.

At the time of the announcement, affecting global searches of less than 1%, it was a minimal ranking factor. It isn’t a major factor, even now. But here’s the thing – with security a real issue these days, it is something that is taken very seriously by Google. And that seriousness will only heighten over time. So, it’s understandable why a good number of SEO experts immediately switched to HTTPS, quickly jumping on the bandwagon.

Whether initial improvement was immediately seen or not, the fact remained that now their site had the Chrome and Firefox symbol, assuring visitors of a high level of security.

The Basics of HTTPS

First of all, HTTPS stands for Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure. So why is it so secure?

When data is submitted by a user, it is protected by multiple layers. Those layers are as follows:

  • Authentication prevents your customers from getting tricked into giving away data. Your SSL certificate comes into play here. ssl certificate
  • There will be no corruption involving your data thanks to data integrity.
  • Only you have the decryption key, making all your data completely resistant to interception. This is called encryption.

Who Needs HTTPS?

HTTPS is a good thing for, at least, two reasons: in addition to your site becoming more secure for your users, you will experience at least a mild rankings boost. And though a bigger impact should be noticed in the future, particularly if you’re just getting started, a big difference won’t be seen immediately.

Whose pages need HTTPS? You should at least have HTTPS on any site pages to which people post personal information or if you accept payment on those pages.

Who might not require HTTPS? Security reasons and the need for HTTPS may not be high on your list if all you have going on is a blog. If your users just want to get added to your mailing list, and all they give you is their email address, there’s no real danger of personal information getting out.

Implementing HTTPS

If you have decided that more security and better ratings are for you, you’ll need an SSL certificate. You can purchase one from any number of websites, online, or buy one from your hosting company (recommended). Here is a list of oversimplified steps that you can follow to implement HTTPS.

First Step: You will need to decide on an SSL certificates which comes in three types:

  • Extended validation provides the greatest security and is frequently used by sites that get a lot of important information and by e-commerce sites.
  • Organization validation is good if you receive high amounts of personal information from your users and it includes authentication.
  • Domain validation is the most basic of the cheapest but doesn’t cover much more than encryption.

Note: If you think you may have trouble installing your certificate, going through your hosting company is recommended because they will assist you with the installation.

Second Step: The creation of a URL map and redirect, though simple, takes time and effort. In essence, what you’re doing is re-directing everyone from all the pages of your old site to your new HTTPS site. One way of doing this is to use a simple spreadsheet as your URL map. It will contain the former URLs and the new URLs that correspond to them.

Third Step: This is another one that is time-consuming but necessary. All the internal links on all the pages of your website will need to be linked to your new HTTPS pages.

Fourth Step: Of course, you’ll need to change more than just the links to your pages. Resource links to scripts, style sheets, images, and more must be replaced. HTTPS must now be used by all files served and used on your site.

Note: Many CDN’s do not support HTTPS. So, if you are using one, you’re going to have to make sure that HTTPS is supported by your CDN. This does complicate things a bit further.

Fifth Step: Once your site is all put back together, you’ll need to add it to WMT (Google Web Master Tools) again. This will limit negative effects on your traffic because Google will once again be crawling it. Your former sitemap should also be re-submitted.seo experts milwaukee

Final Step: Execute a test run to make sure that everything is up and running and that the entire procedure was a success. Test everything that you changed. If in the very near future, you notice a small drop in your traffic, this could point to a problem that you may have missed during your test run.

Maybe it’s because it’s so important, and we tend to shy away from the crucial things, but not everyone is a huge fan of technical SEO. Hopefully, by now, you at least have a better idea of how to change your site over to HTTPS and whether or not it is appropriate for you.

Black Raven Media, LLC © 2017






How to Choose the Right Insurance Company for your Home Owners Insurance


Buying a home is a huge financial decision. Some adequate measures should be taken when choosing the right insurance agency for your homeowners insurance. Properly detailed in this article are some tips to consider when shopping for the perfect home insurance agency.

At the inception of your insurance policy, you are offered the option of setting the homeowners insurance deductibles. The deductibles define how much you’d pay out of your pocket on a claim. Choosing a higher deductible lowers the monthly premium but also increases your personal spending before the insurance company pays out. On the other hand, choosing a lower deductible means paying less of your personal money after a claim, but higher monthly premiums. The rate of deductibles paid each has its pros and cons, the perfect side boils down to personal circumstances and financial security.

Make Sure You Have All the Proper Documents

Have all the proper documents of your new home in place. If you recently purchased a home then it’s necessary to get a claims report from the seller. The claims report contains a detailed history of flooding, fires and other incidents. It keeps you informed on the home defects that could increase home owner’s insurance rates or even make it difficult to get insurance. The insurance industry uses the comprehensive loss underwriting exchange which is a database that provides a history of damages to the home that results in a claim being filed. The database details the date, type and amount paid for the claim as well as other

Consider factors like inflation and the general costs. You’re going to want your house insured for its replacement value, not its market cost. The replacement value entails the expenses taken to rebuild or repair the entire home. Also consider the transportation and labor it would take to get and install the materials at the site.

Be Honest When Getting Insurance Quotes

When getting quotes for home insurance coverage it is important to be honest with answering questions. Providing incorrect information could lead to an incorrect quote or worst still cancellation of your policy.  For example, if you plan on upgrading your kitchen this would reflect positively on the value of your home and your insurance coverage needs to be upgraded for your protection. Likewise, if you plan on having a home office, you have to ensure you have the proper liability coverage just in case a client slips on the vinegar floor you forgot to towel dry.

Newer homes are always in better conditions than older homes and therefore cheaper to insure. Factors like plumbing, light fixtures, electrical systems and other components within the home are considered in insurance premiums, gathering information about them can curb potential issues.

Ask Google to Help

Using the internet is a very effective way of researching for the right insurance company for your home. Simply type in “homeowner’s insurance quotes” on google or any given search engine and you will be provided with a number of pertinent information and options.

Save money by taking advantage of discounts, most companies offer home owners insurance discounts for complying to instructions that mitigate risks, it’s awesome to take advantage of them. From home detectors to shutter installations to burglar alarms and water safety systems, you will be able to save some extra cash on your home insurance premiums. Most home insurance companies offer special discounts for being a new home buyer.

Increase Your Chances of Getting a Better Rate

Credit score plays a vital role in getting an incredible insurance rate. The higher your credit score the lower your perceived risk may be. This could increase your chance of getting a better rate.

The location of your home also determines how much you pay for insurance, this should be taken into consideration when purchasing a home.  Premiums could be on the high side if a home is located on a geographical location that is vulnerable to natural disasters like tornadoes or wildfires. On the flip side if the house is in a hamlet with emergency fire services, and free from catastrophic events then rates could be lower.

Communication With Your Insurer is Paramount

Make market research and analysis for coverage, to find a policy, consider getting quotes from different home insurance companies and access their coverages, limits and deductibles.  The perfect deal should strike a balance between protection and price. Communication with your insurer is also necessary, a company well known for flamboyant customer services is necessary to avoid stressful negotiations. Your policy is important, if you’re in doubt of anything speak with your insurer as it is their obligation to simplify all the terms for you.

Ensure to rigorously read the home owners insurance policy manual. Most homeowners do not have knowledge of the coverage and this is a very reoccurring issue. The cause of the error is quite understanding because a standard home owner’s insurance policy manual is quite an intricate piece of literature. It outlines the nuances of what is and isn’t covered –it doesn’t make for a particularly fascinating read.

Builders Showcase Fox Cities

Black Raven Media LLC Announces the Launch of Builders Showcase Television Fox Cities

Contact Information:
Builders Showcase Television Fox Cities
Debra Lopez
Email: dlopez@builders-showcase.com
Phone: 262-989-0604


Builders Showcase Fox CitiesAppleton-Green Bay, WIBlack Raven Media LLC is excited to announce the launch of Builders Showcase Fox Cities, a local home building, and remodeling television show that will feature the best that Fox Cities has to offer.

Builders Showcase Television will air three times every week on NBC-26 and will also stream weekly on Facebook Live and YouTube. The television show and the show’s website aim to create a one stop resource resulting in a much more efficient way for consumers to shop versus those consumers having to explore numerous sites for the information they are in search of.

Black Raven Media is confident that Builders Showcase Television Fox Cities will duplicate the show’s proven formula for success the Milwaukee and Madison television shows have created for the home building and improvement industry.

“There’s nothing like Builders Showcase Television in the market place where Fox Valley home builders and remodeling companies can share their story with their local audience every week.  And although we acknowledge how the digital age has transformed the marketing landscape, our show demos still watch television,” noted Black Raven Media LLC President, Debra Lopez. “We also offer a comprehensive digital marketing division that focuses solely on the home improvement industry offering our advertisers the best of both worlds,” she added.

Builders Showcase Fox Cities airs on WGBA NBC-26 on Sunday mornings at 9 AM, 7:30 AM on WACY and Saturdays at 4:30 AM on WGBA NBC -26. The show will also stream weekly on Facebook Live, YouTube Live Streaming and 24/7 at Builders-Showcase.com.

About Black Raven Media, LLC

Black Raven Media is a full-service advertising and marketing firm focusing on the home building, remodeling and home improvement Industry. The agency includes digital marketing, video production, television production and Public Relations services.


5 Steps to Buying a Newly Constructed Home

Milwaukee Home BuildersIf you’re in the market to purchase a new home, you have an important choice to make – do you buy a previously owned home or one that is newly constructed? Both have definite advantages. With either choice, financing could be a big part of the picture. Additionally, the budget is decidedly different depending on which home you purchase but is an essential component of the equation. Let’s take a look at the steps a buyer might consider if a newly constructed home seems like the best option.

Find Out What Is Considered Extra and What Is Standard

What we are referring to here are upgrades and amenities. Upgrades will enhance your home but also something that you’re going to pay extra for (i.e. granite countertops, high-end appliances, etc.). Amenities, on the other hand, are things that come with the home. Amenities in certain communities, for example, could include a gated entrance, fitness center, clubhouse, community pool, etc.

When It Comes to Real Estate Agents, Builders, and Neighborhoods, Do Your Research

Here are a few things to consider when researching your potential new neighborhood:

  • What are the plans for the area (your agent or the city planner’s office may know)?
  • What are the zoning laws and will they be changing in the future?
  • If the development is still in the midst of construction, can you live with jackhammers and trucks starting at 7 AM?
  • Are Internet and cable readily available, what company offers service to you, and is the home already wired?
  • Do HOA rules and fees apply (is there a homeowners’ association)?
  • Talk to the neighbors and get a good feel for the community. Drive or walk around.

The Good, the Bad, and the Options

When you buy a newly constructed home, there are three ways in which to do so. You may choose to have a home designed and built precisely to your exact specifications. You can choose a home that has already been constructed on spec. Or you could go with a house that is somewhere in between – a semi-custom built home where you choose upgrades, finishes, etc.

Regardless, there are ups and downs to buying a brand-new house. Consider the following situations which can typically apply where homes/neighborhoods are being freshly built:

  • Can you deal with the marginal lack of privacy presented by homes being built so close to each other?
  • If a cookie-cutter type look exists, will it drive you crazy?
  • Can you wait a couple of decades for freshly planted foliage and trees to mature? And do you have the time, money, and patience to deal with planting or sodding a new lawn?
  • If the home is far from the city, will the commute be too much?

Demand a Home Warranty and Inspection

Home warranties vary, but typically they can run for up to 10 years. And though new homes come with a builder warranty that is implied, demand a builder’s warranty that will cover a specific period (i.e. one year following the move-in). This will cover any craftsmanship defects and should have an insurance company’s backing.

Never assume that just because the house is new, nothing will go wrong. For that very reason, place a contingency in your sales contract that specifies the successful completion of a professionally executed home inspection (and you get to choose the inspector).

It’s Time to Wrap up the Deal

You need to decide whether you’re going to find your own financing or, as is frequently the case, use the builders’ ties with outside lenders or their in-house mortgage lender. Because most mortgages can last 30 years on average, find out everything you possibly can about the entire process of mortgaging.

Don’t let any papers put before you go unexamined. In fact, getting an attorney (even if you are relatively comfortable with the legal process) is a good idea. If you don’t understand the meaning of every word in any legal form, do not sign it. And don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Making a Great Home Buying Experience!

Are you considering уоur first home рurсhаѕе? If ѕо, the fоllоwіng 7 ѕtерѕ wіll help mаkе sure thе process goes wеll fоr уоu.


1: Analyze thе Financial Side оf Rent vѕ. Buу 

When уоu’rе considering a mоvе from renting tо owning a home, you muѕt fіrѕt соnѕіdеr thе fіnаnсіаl ramifications of соntіnuіng tо rеnt vеrѕuѕ taking оn a mоrtgаgе. Things tо tаkе іntо соnѕіdеrаtіоn іnсludе thе соѕtѕ оf оbtаіnіng уоur mortgage (сlоѕіng соѕtѕ, dоwn payment, еtс), аѕ wеll as the соѕt оf regular home maintenance, hаzаrd insurance, and рrореrtу tаxеѕ. Fаіlіng tо crunch thеѕе numbers саn really hаunt уоu dоwn thе lіnе.

2: Gеt Prеаррrоvеd bу a Mortgage Lеndеr 

This is kеу. You must get mоrtgаgе рrеаррrоvаl before beginning your hоmе purchase ѕеаrсh. No Rеаltоr оr seller wіll take уоu ѕеrіоuѕlу unlеѕѕ you саn furnіѕh a lеttеr from уоur hоmе lоаn lender ѕауіng thаt you have bееn pre approved fоr ѕеt lоаn amount.

3: Decide Exасtlу Whаt Size аnd Tуре Hоmе Yоu Wаnt

After gaining a gооd іdеа of whеrе buуіng vѕ. Renting wіll рut you – ѕреnd tіmе dесіdіng exactly whаt ѕоrt оf hоmе you want. Knоwіng thіѕ information wіll hеlр уоur Rеаl Eѕtаtе Agеnt do a better job for уоu. Things to соnѕіdеr іnсludе hоmе ѕіzе, numbеr оf bеdrооmѕ аnd bаthrооmѕ, аgе, neighborhood, аnd extras.

4: Tаkе Tіmе to Fіnd thе Right Real Eѕtаtе Agent or Home Builder

Sеlесtіng a good hоmе buуеr rеаl estate аgеnt іѕ nо easy task. Sоmе rеаl estate аgеntѕ аrе more fаmіlіаr than оthеrѕ wіth thе ԛuеѕtіоnѕ аnd concerns of ѕоmеоnе nеw tо buуіng hоmеѕ. Yоu’ll need thіѕ еxреrtіѕе tо bе ѕurе thіngѕ go well. Frіеndѕ аnd fаmіlу are grеаt rеfеrrаl ѕоurсеѕ.

5: Vіѕіt Prореrtіеѕ

Rеvіеwіng рrореrtіеѕ іѕ thе next and most еxсіtіng ѕtер. If уоur budget is limited, you mіght nееd tо mоdіfу ѕоmе оf your еxресtаtіоnѕ. Don’t wоrrу. It’ѕ nоrmаl to hаvе tо аmеnd ѕоmе оf уоur “muѕt haves,” as you саn аdd ѕоmе оf these lаtеr оnсе уоu’rе іn the home. Hоwеvеr, knоw whаt уоu can and саnnоt live wіthоut. Some things juѕt саn’t bе аddеd later.

Onсе уоu have seen a fеw hоmеѕ thаt you like, mаkе a lіѕt оf the bеѕt options аnd go bасk to ѕее thе hоmеѕ оn your short lіѕt. Whеn уоu dо thіѕ, bе ѕurе tо take аnоthеr lооk аt thеіr lосаtіоnѕ, pricing options, еxtrаѕ, аnd hоw much work, іf any, wіll bе rеԛuіrеd in оrdеr tо fix them uр.

6: Drаft Your Offеr and Gеt Ready tо Nеgоtіаtе

Gеt with уоur Rеаltоr аnd dесіdе what will mаkе a fаіr оffеr. Always lеаvе rооm fоr nеgоtіаtіоn, and you should bе able tо arrive аt a рlасе where bоth уоu and thе ѕеllеr аrе hарру. Remember, thаt good negotiations lеаvе both раrtіеѕ fееlіng аѕ іf thеу’vе gained ѕоmеthіng.

7: Review thе Final Offer, Sіgn, аnd Close 

Thе transaction сlоѕіng іѕ nоrmаllу a fаіrlу hаѕѕlе frее еffоrt, but іt саn be mаdе difficult if your ѕаlеѕ contract оr mоrtgаgе fіnаnсіng present аnу dіffісultіеѕ. Always review уоur соntrасtuаl аnd mortgage paperwork bеfоrе уоu ѕіgn аnуthіng, аnd request thаt items bе mаdе сlеаr іf аnd whеn needed. Lеаn heavily on уоur real еѕtаtе аgеnt аnd mortgage brоkеr. All оf thіѕ mау seem lіkе a lоt, but уоu’ll be hарру уоu followed thrоugh wіth еvеrуthіng іn dеtаіl.


As a financing alternative, a few home builders offer Turnkey Construction. When purchasing a new home with Joseph Douglas homes, they can offer you turn-key pricing. Turnkey pricing offers you the convenience of moving into an existing home with all the advantages of a new construction home. There are NO pre-construction loans or monthly payments. Yet, you get to make as many of the selections as you’d like.

In addition, Joseph Douglas Homes offers “Ready-to-Go Homes™.  Their “Ready-to-go-homes consists of their most popular plans under construction in many of Southeastern Wisconsin’s most attractive neighborhoods and ready for you to move in.

Joseph Douglas keeps an impressive inventory of fully decorated models to view. Visit any one of their several models during model hours or call the sales office for a private tour.

Do Not DIY: 4 Projects Home Owners Shouldn’t Attempt Themselves

DIY home improvement projectsEveryone loves saving money. Why pay someone to do work on your house when you can buy the supplies and do it yourself? Especially when HGTV makes it look so easy! Well, there are plenty of projects you can do on your own at home, but we have compiled four projects that you should never try on your own.

1. Tiling

Installing tile isn’t the most complicated process, that’s for sure. There are plenty of DIY-ers that can install tile floors or backsplashes. However, most contractors would agree that you should leave it to professionals. A professional flooring company will always install the best looking tiling. Homeowners can’t match experts with the planning and precision that is necessary for installing tile. Cutting tile, laying it out, and spacing it just right are only a few of the reasons that homeowners should hire a contractor. There’s nothing worse than seeing a mistake in your tile work, and then always second-guessing your DIY decision.

2. Floor refinishing

Watch enough YouTube videos and you may think that refinishing floors would be a breeze. All you have to do is rent the machinery, spend an afternoon working on it, and it’s all done, right? Wrong. Spend too much time with the sander on a specific spot, even for just a second too long, and you will have a mark that will require fixing. Suddenly, that easy floor refinishing is going to cost more than you originally thought. Flooring professionals have worked day in and day out with these machines, and know exactly how to operate them with ease. Don’t even worry about doing this yourself, and hire a professional who has done this a million times before.

3. Electrical work

If you mess up tiling or floor refinishing, you’re left with marks or visible mistakes that you can hire someone to come and fix. If you mess up with electrical work, you could end up seriously injured or, perhaps, dead. Obviously there are projects you can do yourself. There are plenty of YouTube tutorials about electrical projects. However, most experts would agree that you shouldn’t take chances and leave it to professionals. If you are unsure about what you’re doing, the best case is that your electrical work won’t function properly. Worst case, and you end up injured. It’s just not worth it.

4. Roofing

Installing a new roof, or even fixing your existing one, can be one of the highest ticket projects in your whole home. With a price tag as high as that, it’s always tempting to see if you can DIY your roof. Professionals would highly advise that you steer clear of roofing projects. First, they’re normally large projects that can be overwhelming to homeowners. Second, and perhaps most importantly, these are dangerous projects. Working at excessive heights can lead to injury, and like electrical work, it’s just not worth it.

There are so many videos online about how to successfully complete DIY projects in your home. The confidence you get from saving money and doing these projects on your own could lead to taking on too much. If you’re unsure about a project, or worried about injury, always speak to a professional.

Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

The winter weather can be tough on your home, even when it’s a mild winter, like we had this year. That means, as the weather warms, you should take a look at your home to see if there are any issues that came about during those harsh winter months. Here is a quick checklist that every home owner should look over for Spring.

1. Check your roof

Perhaps the most important maintenance tip for Spring is to check your roof for any damage from the winter weather. Even in more mild winters, cold weather and snow can damage your shingles and create leaks. While they don’t seem like a major issue now, but roof damage could lead to incredibly expensive maintenance issues down the line.

2. Look at the foundation

Inspecting your foundation isn’t the most glamorous jobs, but it needs to be done. Cracks in your foundation can lead to massive bills, and winter weather is known to cause many issues with foundations. Also, be on the lookout for pooling water spots around your home. Any low spots could collect water, which can cause damage as well as become a place for insects to thrive.

3. Clean your windows

Windows get beat up during the winter months. When the sun starts to come out and warm up, it’s a great idea to just have those windows sparkly clean! The sunshine can come through as well as making your home look nice to passersby.

4. Check window seals

As mentioned in the previous section, windows are definitely casualties of the winter storms. Not just aesthetically, but also in a more serious way. As Spring approaches, it’s important to check the seals and caulking in your windows. Little gaps in your window seals can lead to higher energy bills as air passes through. Plus, it’s a fairly easy fix, so it’s well worth your time!

5. Inspect walkways and your driveway

Similar to the issues surrounding your foundation, walkways and driveways get beaten up during winter. The same way roads are destroyed by snow and the products used to make them drivable, your driveways and walkways suffer the same fate. Salt treatments and large amounts of snow can lead to cracks, which are not only eye sores, they also can lead to larger maintenance down the line.

The Rising Trend Of “Design-Build” Remodeling

Design-Build RemodelingIn most home remodeling projects, the client works with a designer who comes up with the plans. Those plans are then sent over to the builder (or multiple contractors) who will then perform the work. Unfortunately, due to the disconnect with the two steps, there are openings for the end product to not be exactly what you envisioned. Wouldn’t a remodeling project be simple if you talked to a designer and explained your wants and needs, then they went off and made it happen? That’s the philosophy behind “design-build” remodeling.

What is “design-build” remodeling?

In “design-build” remodeling, the person who works with you to design the project is the same person who then implements the designs and does the work. It’s one stop shopping for a client. It’s a complete “turn-key” approach to home remodeling. If done correctly, the client can be 100% satisfied with the work, and not worry about the hassle of dealing with multiple contractors.

Benefits of “design-build” remodeling

As a homeowner, your job shouldn’t be to play mediator. Unfortunately, with some remodeling projects, you have to be the middle person between your designer and builder. With “design-build,” you don’t have to be concerned with that.

Another major benefit is the idea that a designer might not be fully equipped to look at an existing structure and decide what would make it better. There might be underlying issues that a builder is better suited to see. However, the opposite is also true, the builder isn’t equipped to help make design choices for the homeowner like a designer would be able to. Having both designer and builder in one would eliminate that problem.

Finally, if there is any issue during the remodel, you won’t have the finger pointing between the multiple parties involved. The remodeler is the same company as the designer, so they worked together to come up with the plans. There’s no one to point the finger at.

When beginning a large home renovation, it’s important to understand all your options. A “design-build” remodeler might be the best opportunity for you to achieve the remodel of your dreams.

5 New Year’s Resolutions For Home Owners

new years resolutions for your homIt’s a new year, and you know what that means – Resolutions! No, these aren’t the resolutions that everyone breaks, like going to the gym or eating better. We are talking about resolutions for your home. These resolutions aren’t just going to make your life in your home a little easier, they can also save you quite a bit of money!

1. Take off your shoes!

This may be a no-brainer for some, but there are tons of people who still wear their shoes as they enter their home. In Wisconsin, it’s a lot more difficult to do this, especially with our winter gear, but it’s important to be mindful of this throughout the year. Dirt can ruin carpeting and rugs. Allergens and other nasty things will enter your home on the bottoms of your shoes, so take them off when you enter. We all want our carpet and floors to last as long as possible, so take off your shoes!

2. Clean your windows!

How often do you clean the inside AND the outside of your windows? For most, this isn’t a common occurrence. However, just cleaning your windows thoroughly once or twice a quarter can make a huge difference. Not only will they look nicer and add a feeling of space to your home, they also save you money! Yes, clean windows let that precious sun in, which can help decrease heating bills.

3. Start a maintenance fund!

Experts agree that a maintenance fund is an important thing to have for all homeowners. There’s nothing worse than unexpected maintenance issues. Busted HVAC, faulty appliances, and a variety of other issues can cost an arm and a leg to fix! So, you should put aside money regularly to a fund, so when these headaches occur, you have the money available. It’s recommended that you stash $1 per square foot of your home each year.

4. Change your HVAC filters regularly!

Another no-brainer that seems to be forgotten quite a bit is replacing your HVAC filters. While it’s recommended that you replace them at least every 3 months, it’s important to check on them regularly. Depending on usage, you may need to replace them sooner. Replacing these will allow easier air flow which can help lower those heating and cooling costs, while also extending the life of your furnace and A/C unit.

5. Conduct mini-inspections!

Unfortunately, homes don’t last forever. Roofs need to be replaced. Exterior cracks form. Chimneys need cleaned. There are potential issues that can hit you at any time. However, if you regularly walk around and inspect these things, you can notice when things begin and take actions to prevent a catastrophe. Walk around as if you are on an inspection. Look at the roof, chimney, exterior, heating units, etc., and you will begin to notice when things take a turn for the worst. This can save you money and headaches down the line.

Following these five resolutions in 2017 will not only save you money, but they will also alleviate stress throughout the year. Perhaps then you can follow through on those other pesky resolutions that seem to fall through the cracks!