February Newsletter

:house_with_garden: February Newsletter :snowman:Winter TLC for Your Chicago Home

Hello, Chicago Homeowners!

As we embrace the heart of winter, our homes continue to provide us with warmth and shelter. We’re back with another essential home maintenance tip to keep your abode cozy and well-maintained during the chilly month ahead.

Tip of the Month: Love Your Plumbing – Prevent Frozen Pipes

Chicago’s frigid February temperatures can bring about the risk of frozen pipes, which can lead to costly damage and inconveniences. Taking preventive measures to protect your plumbing can save you from headaches down the road.Here’s what you can do:

  1. Insulate Exposed Pipes: Identify pipes in unheated areas such as basements, crawl spaces, and attics. Insulate them with pipe insulation or heating tape to keep them from freezing.
  2. Drip Faucets: On especially cold nights, let faucets in vulnerable areas (usually the ones farthest from the main water supply) drip slightly. This keeps water flowing and reduces the chance of freezing.
  3. Open Cabinet Doors: If you have plumbing along exterior walls, open cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around the pipes.
  4. Maintain Heating: Keep your home adequately heated, even if you’re away. A consistent indoor temperature helps prevent freezing.
  5. Disconnect Outdoor Hoses: If you haven’t already, disconnect and drain your outdoor hoses. Close the inside valve that leads to the hose connection.
  6. Seal Leaks: Seal any gaps or cracks in your home’s exterior to prevent cold air from seeping in and potentially affecting your plumbing.
  7. Travel Precautions: If you’re planning to travel during winter, keep your home heated or consider shutting off the main water supply and draining the pipes.
By taking these steps, you can ensure that your pipes remain protected and your home stays warm and functional throughout the winter season.

Local Spotlight: Winter Culinary Delights

While you’re taking care of your home, why not savor the flavors of winter in Chicago? Explore local bakeries offering fresh-baked goods, warm up with hearty soups from neighborhood cafes, and indulge in the city’s diverse culinary scene.

Remember, a little maintenance now can save you from major repairs later.

Stay warm and take good care of both your home and yourself, Chicago!

Until next month,

City Home Inspectors, LLC
cityhomeinspectors.com

Lead Paint

Dear Homebuyers, Homeowners, and Realtors,

Welcome to our blog, where we unravel an often-overlooked aspect of the homebuying journey – lead paint testing. In this concise letter, we’ll explore why this step is a must for every savvy homebuyer.

Health First:
Lead exposure, especially for children, can lead to developmental issues and health concerns. Testing ensures your dream home doesn’t conceal a silent threat to your family’s well-being.

Regulations and Transparency:
Dating back to 1978, the ban on lead-based paint is a pivotal regulation. While sellers should disclose, testing ensures transparency and aligns with your legal right to know about potential hazards.

Protecting Your Investment:
Discovering lead-based paint influences property value. Being informed about potential costs allows you to negotiate wisely and ensures your investment aligns with both financial goals and a commitment to a safe home.

Conclusion:
As you navigate the real estate landscape, make lead paint testing a priority. It’s not just about ensuring a beautiful home; it’s about safeguarding your family’s health and securing a wise investment.

Stay Happy and Safe!

Warm regards,

City Home Inspectors
info@cityhomeinspectors.com
1-866-422-9843

December Newsletter

:house_with_garden: December Newsletter :snowflake:Winter Wisdom for Chicago Homeowners

Hello, Chicago Homeowners!

The magical season of snowflakes, twinkling lights, and warm gatherings is upon us. As we revel in the holiday spirit, let’s not forget about the important task of home maintenance. We’re sharing a valuable tip to keep your abode cozy and well-maintained throughout the winter, ensuring a delightful holiday season for you and your loved ones.

Tip of the Month: A Gift to Your Home – Winter Roof Care

With Chicago’s winter weather known for its snow and freezing temperatures, giving your roof a little extra attention during December can go a long way in preventing potential issues and ensuring a comfortable home.

Here’s what you can do:

  1. Inspect for Leaks: Before the snow arrives, inspect your attic and ceilings for any signs of leaks or water stains. Addressing leaks promptly can prevent further damage, especially when the snow melts.
  2. Clear Debris: Make sure your roof and gutters are clear of leaves, branches, and other debris. Accumulated debris can trap moisture and lead to mold growth or ice dams.
  3. Check Shingles and Flashing: Examine your roof’s shingles and flashing for signs of damage or wear. Damaged shingles can allow water to seep in, while damaged flashing can lead to leaks around chimneys and vents.
  4. Seal Any Gaps: Inspect the areas where pipes, vents, and chimneys penetrate your roof. Seal any gaps or cracks with appropriate materials to prevent water infiltration.
  5. Trim Overhanging Branches: Snow accumulation on overhanging branches can lead to breakage, potentially damaging your roof. Trim any branches that could pose a risk.
  6. Attic Insulation and Ventilation: Ensure your attic is properly insulated and ventilated. Proper insulation helps prevent heat loss, which can contribute to ice dam formation.
  7. Professional Inspection: If you’re not comfortable with heights or roof work, consider hiring a professional to inspect your roof. They can identify potential issues and make recommendations.

By taking these steps, you’ll be safeguarding your home from winter’s challenges and ensuring a worry-free holiday season.

Local Spotlight: Winter Wonderland in Chicago

While you’re focused on maintaining your home, don’t forget to take in the beauty of Chicago’s winter wonderland. Enjoy ice skating at Millennium Park, stroll through the Lincoln Park ZooLights, or warm up with a cup of hot cocoa at one of the city’s charming cafes.As you prepare for the festivities, remember that a well-maintained home is the gift that keeps on giving.

Wishing you a joyful holiday season, Chicago!

Until next month,City Home Inspectors, LLC :house::snowflake:
Cityhomeinspectors.com

November News Letter

:house_with_garden: November Edition Newsletter :snowflake:

Your Guide to Fall Home

Greetings! As we bid farewell to the colorful leaves and welcome the first snowflakes, November reminds us that winter is just around the corner. We’re back with another essential home maintenance tip to ensure your abode remains cozy and well-prepared for the colder months ahead.

Tip of the Month: Embrace the Gutter Duty Chicago’s winters are known for their snowfall, which can lead to icy conditions and potential damage if your gutters are not properly maintained. Gutters play a crucial role in directing melting snow and rain away from your home’s foundation, preventing water damage and ice buildup. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Clear Leaves and Debris: Before the snow arrives, make sure your gutters are free from leaves, twigs, and other debris that can clog them. This will prevent water from pooling and freezing, which can lead to ice dams.
  2. Inspect for Damage: Check for any signs of damage such as cracks, sagging, or loose gutters. Replace or repair damaged sections to ensure proper water flow.
  3. Install Gutter Guards: Consider installing gutter guards to help prevent debris from accumulating in the first place. These guards allow water to flow through while keeping leaves and debris out.
  4. Test the Downspouts: Ensure that downspouts are clear and functioning properly. They should direct water several feet away from your home’s foundation to prevent water from seeping into your basement or causing erosion.
  5. Prevent Icicles: Trim overhanging tree branches that can contribute to ice buildup and icicles. Icicles can be beautiful but can also be a sign of poor drainage and potential damage.
  6. Schedule a Professional Inspection: If you’re not comfortable with heights or the task seems daunting, consider hiring a professional to inspect and clean your gutters. They can ensure a thorough job and address any potential issues.
By taking these steps, you’ll protect your home from water damage, ice buildup, and potential foundation issues. Plus, you’ll be one step closer to enjoying a worry-free winter season.
Local Spotlight: Indoor Activities for Cozy Days As the weather gets colder, it’s the perfect opportunity to explore Chicago’s indoor attractions. Visit the Art Institute for a dose of culture, catch a show at one of the city’s renowned theaters, or simply indulge in a day of comfort food at local cafes and restaurants. A little maintenance now can save you from major repairs later. Stay warm and cozy, Chicago!Until next month,
City Home Inspectors, LLC :house::snowflake:
Cityhomeinspectors.com

Stay on Budget and Keep the Holiday Jolly

The season to be jolly is fast approaching. However, even though the holiday season is filled with happiness and joyous moments, it comes with its fair share of challenges; the major one being overspending. You may be having a budget every year, but you are always unable to stick to it and hence find yourself having spent well over your budget at the end of the holiday season.

This year we want to help you change that by following these helpful and useful tips:

Tip 1: Make a Realistic Estimate of Your Holiday Expenses

It is unfortunate that when making a budget, most people underestimate their expenses. They only include certain costs such as gift and decoration purchases but they leave out plenty of other expenses. Consider other costs such as travel, food, alcohol, and special events. By doing so, you will have a more realistic idea of your total projected cash output. If your total projection seems out of reach, make a conscious decision on what to cut back. You do not have to host a lavish party to have fun. You can still spend less and have a great time with friends and family.

Tip 2: Start Shopping Early

There are less than 20 days left before Christmas. There is plenty of time to take advantage of the sales. Most people will wait until the last minute and end up getting caught in the last-minute rush to purchase gifts. Do not be that person. Start your gift shopping early preferably earlier in the year. This way, you can spread the costs so they do not hit you all at once. Looking for bargains on unique gift items not only saves you money but can also be fun. You should definitely try it.

Tip 3: Consider Gifts That Are Big On Thoughtfulness But Small On Cost

When most people hear homemade gifts, their minds quickly shift to ugly presents. This does not have to be the case. If you have a talent or a creative gift, put your creativity to work and save money this holiday season. If you love baking, try some new recipes and surprise your friends. Their taste buds will surely be grateful. Also,

think about the services you can offer. If you are good with kids, offer to give childcare which is a more meaningful gift than some electronic clock you would have bought.

Tip 4: Be an Educated Consumer

If you have a list of items you need to buy this season, this tip is for you. To save money on your budget, compare shop prices to make sure you buy from the cheapest store. In this internet era, you do not have to step foot in a shop. You can do it all on your laptop from the comfort of your home. Once you have found the best price for an item, go to the manufacturer’s website to look for coupons. If you wish to make an order online, search for free shipping offers. Once you combine the two, you will save loads of money on your gift purchases.

Getting through the holidays and sticking to your budget is an accomplishment you should be proud of. However, you should not beat yourself up if you went a little over the budget. You always have another chance to do it better next year.

— Please remember us when you or someone you know is in need of a home inspection. A referral from you would be our greatest compliment.

Green and Healthy Floor Refinishing – 5 Tips From the Pros

As many homeowners prioritize natural beauty and ease of maintenance in their living spaces, hardwood floors have become a popular flooring option. And for many consumers, that means refinishing existing wood floors that need a little help to regain their original luster.

 

If you’re considering sprucing up your floors, you may want to pay close attention to the environmental impact of your plans. It’s important to factor in the processes and products that will optimize your family’s health and wellness instead of exposing them to potentially harmful chemicals.

 

Happily, today’s new hardwood floor refinishing systems and products offer better options for a safe and efficient process. Here are five steps you can take to ensure your floor project ends with a gloriously lustrous, durable, beautiful floor that won’t adversely affect the inhabitants of your home.

 

 

(1) Choose A Credible Contractor.

 

Shop around for a professional who understands how to work with the specific floors you’ve installed without introducing toxicity into your home environment. The best alternative may be a Bona Certified Craftsman® who’s been trained on how to revive, recoat and refinish wood floors of all kinds without using potentially harmful chemicals.

 

(2) Make A Joint Plan.

 

Instead of simply handing the entire project over to your contractor, work with him or her to create a refinishing plan that specifies how, when and where the work will take place and what kinds of products will be used. One way to make that easier is by using Bona’s Floor Visualizer, a new online tool that can help you visualize how different flooring choices will look in various rooms of your home.

 

(3) Go Dustless.

 

Insist that your contractor use a certified dust containment system that will eliminate virtually all floating dust particles from the floor sanding process. OSHA advises that airborne wood dust is carcinogenic, which can lead to respiratory issues or even cancer.

 

(4) Opt For a Waterborne Finish.

 

While some contractors offer less expensive options such as acid-cured varnishes, conversion varnishes, or “Swedish” finishes, those varieties contain high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) that can adversely affect your home’s air quality. The formaldehyde in acid-cured finishes can agitate respiratory illnesses and/or cause nausea, dizziness, headaches and irritation of the eyes, nose, or throat. Another problem? Those harsh finishes can keep emitting problematic chemicals for up to 90 days as it cures.

 

In comparison, water-based finishes are lower in VOCs, emit minimal odor, dry much quicker, and are overall safer and more convenient for people, pets, and plants. Further, they’re durable, beautiful, and clear-drying on all kinds of hardwood floors.

 

(5) Know Best Practices for Maintenance.

 

Once your waterborne finish is cured, you can best maintain your new gorgeous wood floors by avoiding the use of vacuums, steam cleaners, vinegar-and-water solutions, oil soaps, paste waxes, furniture polishes, and other harsh cleaning products formulated for other surfaces. Instead, look for cleaning solutions like Bona’s Hardwood Floor Cleaning solutions that are developed for wood floors, are biodegradable, use plant-derived ingredients, and are Safer Choice certified.

 

With today’s technology, there’s no reason to settle for hardwood floor renovation techniques that are harmful to the environment and your home. Choose wisely when it comes to the health of your family. For more information on safe and environmentally sound care of your hardwood floors, visit US.Bona.com.

Gifts for the home are appreciated for years come.

If you’re like most people, you’ve spent more time at home in the last year and a half than ever before. While there are probably things you love about your house, spending so much time there makes you acutely aware of where upgrades are in order.

 

Fortunately, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on renovations to give your home a refresh. This holiday season treat yourself to these gifts for the home that will help you elevate favorite spaces so you can enjoy them for years to come:

 

 

Sing In the Shower

 

Imagine taking a soothing shower and as the warm water washes over you, you’re also surrounded by your favorite sounds. This immersive sensory experience is a great way to wake up in the morning or relax in the evening, thanks to the multifunctional Moxie showerhead.

 

Combining a luxurious spray with a high-quality audio speaker with sound by Harman Kardon, this wireless speaker elevates every shower. Whether you’re in the mood for a favorite podcast, rocking out to dance music or breathing deep to calming tunes, you can customize the experience by pairing it to your phone or other personal device. Plus, because it’s portable, you can bring it wherever you want to go, from the bathroom to the bedroom and beyond.

 

Ease Kitchen Cleanup

 

Whether you’re baking treats to spread some joy or cooking up a feast for friends and family, the kitchen becomes the hub of the home. This also means it can become mess central. With a Kohler Step Can garbage container, throwing away messes is simple with hands-free operation thanks to a sturdy foot pedal.

 

 

From slim 2.5-gallon trash cans to large 13-gallon options, there are sizes to fit any space. Clean lines and thoughtful designs allow it to be placed right against the wall or a cabinet for a flush fit. Made with a sleek stainless-steel fingerprint-proof finish, this can will stay cleaner longer, no matter how messy your kitchen adventures get.

 

Style The Bathroom

 

Bathroom countertops can become chaotic surfaces packed with grooming and wellness supplies. A touch of organization can transform the space with style similar to what you see in home magazines. Explore Bente collection accessory sets in a variety of colors to match your bathroom aesthetic, including ebony pearl, oyster pearl and herringbone.

 

These accessory sets hold favorite bathroom supplies, enhancing the beauty and organization of the bathroom countertop space. This helps you create a cohesive, elevated look that is especially appreciated if you’re hosting guests. Staying at someone else’s home? Bente sets come in a beautiful gift box and make a great hostess gift.

 

Create Mood with Light

 

When you update lighting, you not only add style to spaces, you make them more functional, too. Ambient lighting is typically overhead lighting that can be adjusted to brighten or dim the room to set the mood or enhance surrounding light. Adding task lighting designs, such as a lighted bathroom mirror with magnification or a decorative tabletop reading lamp, elevates the overall decor aesthetic, while also providing the perfect light for grooming to start your day or an intimate lighting source to help you tuck into that favorite book at night. Accent lighting can highlight architectural details and other decorative elements within a home. When all of these lighting types align, you can create a sophisticated atmosphere that is also intuitive to your personal taste and lifestyle.

 

No matter what your lighting needs, Kohler lighting is available in a wide range of styles and finishes for whole home solutions. From statement-making chandeliers and flush-mounts to pendants, sconces and bath bars that can be paired or grouped for dramatic effect, each piece is

 

expertly crafted using the finest materials and is quality tested to ensure the design remains beautiful for many years to come. Many of the Kohler Lighting designs also offer color-matched finishes to complement Kohler faucets and fixtures for seamless bathroom applications.

 

Whether it’s a gift for yourself or a gift for a loved one, these upgrades are high impact yet affordable. This makes spending time at home more enjoyable than ever. (BPT)

6 twists on foundations plantings

Foundation planting refers to the plants that directly border your home’s foundation. The right look can make your home more welcoming or even a tad more dramatic. Some people are born with a green thumb while others have a difficult time picturing what their home could be. Maybe you know what you like but aren’t certain what’s right for your home. For a few ideas that you may not have considered, consider the following twists on traditional foundation planting.

 

Skip The Structure

 

Foundational plantings sometimes look incredibly formal, forming stiff rows of color in front of the home. However, you may get better results if you have one or two focal-point plants around your home that you group colorful shrubs around. Azaleas, salvias, and spireas will all serve as excellent highlights for the main event.

 

Modern And Minimalist

 

As with a lot of things in life, less is more. Many contemporary homes will use just a few rush marches to get a little greenery in an otherwise stark environment. This style might not be great for a 4-bedroom Tudor, but it will look excellent on a sleek home with a high wall as a barrier. There are plenty of shrubs you can get, like pale rush, that don’t require a lot of maintenance. How’s that for simplifying things?

 

Wild And Wonderful

 

There’s no rule saying that your foundational plants can’t bring a touch of the wild to your home. There are plenty of plumes, grasses, and seeds that will bring the meadow from the forest to your home. Trim the foliage when winter comes along or leave it as is for a little more visual flair and texture (even when the rest of the neighborhood looks a touch barren.)

 

Drama In Tight Spaces

 

If you have a small patio or deck between your home and garage, then make it a lot more dramatic by giving the garage foundation and home the right plants. You might be surprised at how good larger plants (like elephant ears) look in such a tight space. Contrast greenery on one side with a different color on the other, such as dark purple or even bright orange. It may create a more inviting space to encourage people to use the deck more often.

 

A Different Take On Traditional

 

There’s nothing wrong with wanting the more traditional shrubs that tend to border a home, especially if that’s what you’re used to. Evergreens are usually the go-to for homeowners because they truly do look beautiful all year round. If you want a small twist, try breaking the greenery into different shapes (e.g., circles or geometrically correct squares.) Or use boxwoods (rectangular containers to hold a single specimen) to break up the shrubs and to add a little more color amongst all the dark green.

 

Pale Green And Silver

 

For a more Mediterranean look, consider using olive trees or muted rosemary shrubs to complement a stone home. The paler colors won’t draw a lot of attention, but they can make it appear more understated. You can think of this choice like using the minimalist style with just a little extra.

 

 

— We look forward to working with you on your next real estate transaction. A referral from you would be our greatest compliment.

3 Ways Credit Plays into Mortgage Refinancing

We found this article very informative and wanted to share it with you. Many people refinance their mortgage within the first 5-years and this information can help make the process go more smoothly.

 

If you’re thinking about refinancing your mortgage, there’s often a lot to consider. For instance, your decision to refinance may rely on current interest rates or your personal financial situation.

 

Your credit score also plays a role in the mortgage refinancing process. While it can certainly factor into your ability to refinance, the relationship between your mortgage and your credit score can be complicated. However, it doesn’t need to be.

 

What to Know About Credit Scores and Refinancing

 

Credit requirements can vary depending on the terms of your loan. But at the same time, many programs share similar traits. Here are a few you’ll want to know:

 

The Score You Need Can Depend on the Type of Loan You Have

 

According to NerdWallet, if you’re refinancing a VA or conventional loan, you’ll typically need a score between 620 and 720 to qualify. And if you have an FHA loan, you need a score between at least 500 and 580 to qualify.

 

Fortunately, lenders understand that life happens and are willing to work through different options if your credit score recently dropped below the requirements. For instance, there are different streamline financing options for VA loans, FHA loans and USDA loans that don’t require credit checks or score benchmarks.

 

A lot of people also choose to get home loans through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, two of the largest home loan lenders in the country. Both typically require a minimum credit score of 620 to get approved.

 

Good Credit Isn’t the Only Thing You Need to Qualify

 

When you’re looking to refinance, having an excellent credit score can be beneficial. However, your score doesn’t automatically make you eligible. Lenders will look at a number of other things before they approve refinancing, such as your:

 

  • Debt-to-income ratio (DTI): The amount of debt you have compared to how much money you make.

 

  • Loan-to-value ratio (LTV): Allows lenders to assess the lending risk before approving a mortgage or a mortgage refinance. Loans that have a higher LTV are typically considered to be a higher risk.

 

If your lender says you have a high LTV ratio, that doesn’t automatically disqualify you. There are government-sponsored programs from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that are available for borrowers who have LTV ratios that are 97.01% or higher.

 

Refinancing Can Drop Your Score Temporarily

 

Like any changes to your installment accounts, refinancing your mortgage can lower your score. However, you don’t need to worry about this as much if your credit is already in good standing.

 

There are a couple of reasons why your score may drop. One is that lenders take what’s called a “hard inquiry,” or a detailed look, at your credit score. Such hard inquiries can cause your score to drop by a few points. The second is that the fact of refinancing itself can reduce your credit score. The third is a possible increase in your utilization ratio, which is calculated by comparing the amount you owe versus your total credit limit.

 

Start the Refinancing Process on the Right Foot

 

There’s a lot involved in the refinancing process. But when you know where your credit score is at before you begin, it can help you create a better plan for action.

 

 

If you’re thinking about refinancing your mortgage, here’s some good information to help you along the way.

 

 

— Please remember us when you or someone you know is in need of a home inspection. A referral from you would be a great compliment.