Summer home projects

As the summer weather is kicking into full gear, it is the perfect time to check some things off your homes list to maintain it’s functionality.

The summer holds fun in the sun but also some intense heat and stormy temper tantrums. To prepare for these possible hazards, it’s important that we check the inner workings of our homes and ensure proper maintenance is conducted.

Below is a list of the important areas of your home that will affect your homes energy use, as well as determine your homes current condition and ability to withstand the weather in the future as well as safety.

  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors– Check batteries and ensure they work, replace if they don’t.
  • Exterior home cleaning– Your home, just like all the others become susceptible to stains, moss,  and bacteria, which can lead to the shortening of your homes life span, not to mention damage it’s curb appeal.  While pressure washing can cause damage, an alternative option would be soft washing, which is a safe and eco-friendly, biodegradable option that will bring your curb appeal back in full force while increasing energy savings and extending the life of your home. (Always ask professionals before putting yourself in risky situations. If need be, hire the professionals to accomplish the necessary tasks.)
  • Clean and replace window screens– Windows and screens naturally get dirty with the constant wear and tear of weathering. However it is important to clean both to avoid the entrance of dirt and debris from outdoors, into your home. If you have dirty windows and screens, simply opening your window when there is a slight breeze will allow for dirt to be blown into your home at a constant rate, potentially causing health problems or allergy issues.
  • Air conditioner filter– Seeing as how the summer is generally hot, it’s no surprise the air conditioner is our favorite appliance this time of the year. Before running the appliance, check the air filter to make sure it is still in a clean condition that will not do more harm than good. These filters should be cleaned out every two weeks, especially when it is active for long periods of time. You can clean these filters by washing with warm water or using a vacuum cleaner.
  • Air conditioner fan– The air conditioner unit also has a fan that needs to be cleaned like the filters. To remove the fan, it is important to turn the unit off, remove the frame, and take out the fan motor. Clean and replace in the same manner as the filters.
  • Furnace filters– Furnaces also have filters that need to be cleaned, especially after long days of activity in the winter. The cleaning process is a simple wash, however if the filter has a cardboard frame, it needs to be replaced as it is not a permanent filter.
  • Hose inspection– Inspect the hose lines of your washer, dehumidifier, dishwasher, icemaker, toilets and refrigerator for any kind of leaks, cracking or wear and tear. These hoses will need replacing every 3-5 years.
  • Attic and Basement Inspection– At least once a year it is a good idea to inspect your attic and basement for any indication of pests, insects, water leakage, mold, mildew, and any peeking daylight when the lights are off. Any of the listed problems can result in serious repairs down the line if left long enough.

That’s all we have listed, but that’s never all. There is always something to check on and maintain in a home, but it’s important you do so in a manner that is most efficient with the time of year and potential weathering that will occur.

Until next time, have a safe and fun summer in the sun!

give us a call at Xpand Inc. if you have any needs for additions,  remodels or custom home building!

Phone: 952-292-6107

What Is Involved In Building a Home

Back right side view of the house

Our last article talked about Prior Lake and it’s great possibilities involved with living near the town. Today we thought it would be good to give a comprehensive look at what it takes to build a home!

Building a home is one of the most exciting processes you could imagine. The chance to make an environment that suits you perfectly, and be able to say you made it. Along with building your home, you get to choose the location, adding another layer of freedom and personalization!

So let’s break down the basis of this process so you can get a rough idea of how this all works!

  • Pick a plot and have a design made up for the home
  • Prepare the site and pour the foundation of your home! This will entail the construction crew leveling the site and begin laying out the houses foundation details with markers.
  • Rough framing process begins. The basic skeleton of the home is formed  (walls, roof, floors).
  • Install a rough version of the plumbing, electrical and HVAC. This entails things like pipes and wires, sewer lines and vents, water supply lines, bathtubs and showers, duct-work and HVAC system.
  •  Installation of the insulation! The key to a perfect temperature in a home comes in a variety of materials. Fiberglass, cellulose, foam mineral wool, concrete blocks, spray foam and foam board and rigid foam.
  • Next up is when the drywall is installed along with the brick and stucco, stone and siding.
  • Now that the base aspects of the house are built, you get to start designing  the interior with things like trim, baseboards, casings, window sills, molding, stair balusters and even cabinets and fireplaces! At this point, you get to start defining the characteristics of your interior. Something we offer at Xpand inc. is the option of custom work, for example custom cabinetry! We can help you Xpand beyond the normal confines of interior structures and really elaborate the uniqueness of your home!
  • Moving forward, now is the time to install hard surface flooring and counter tops. This means you will want to know the material your going to use for the counters. A strong material that is a wide favorite would be something like quartz and granite, but we will be able to go through the other types of material with you to ensure you have a nice range of options that match you and your dream home!
  • Moving forward in the process towards your dream home, we have the installation of light fixtures, outlets and switches along with the necessary electrical panels. Lights can really define an atmosphere and give a great sense of wonder, so be sure to consider the manner in which they are presented and what they will be emphasizing!
  • At the same time as the fixtures, it will be the time to install sinks toilets and faucets, the components that can help define a bathrooms style!
  • Final clean up is near! Your home is almost at its final stage! It may seem like it came fast while reading this, but the actual process takes around 12 weeks to do, and your anticipation during that time will cause the days to move slowly! At this stage of the building process, mirrors, shower doors and carpeting are all installed and finely cleaned. At the same time the greenery around the home is planted and the exterior landscaping is completed to compliment your home.
  • The final, but most exciting step is the walk-through of your finished home.  This will be the realization of your dream home. At this step you want to pay close attention to aspects that the builders need to fix. We at Xpand will explain the the needs of your home in terms of maintenance and responsibility, as well as warranty coverage and procedures. Be sure to take notes and ask questions!

That’s it. You now have the home of your dreams! Or, you would if you went through this process, but that’s also an exciting factor, you still get to go through these steps and create a masterpiece that signifies you and your family, your home will break the cookie cutter mold and stand out from the rest!

Give us a call today and lets start the process of your dream home! We will Xpand your dreams into reality with Xcellent service! 

 

What your driveway has in store for you come spring!

Still on the spring shtick, hoping it will arrive sooner rather than later. Spring is a beautiful time of the year! However spring can also be a bearer of bad news, due to the unfortunate effects of temperature change.

Underneath the banks of snow is the thing we used to call a driveway, made of either concrete or asphalt. These materials are affected by weather and depending on the damage, could become a serious problem for you and your vehicle!

So let’s say the snow is gone and the sun is shining, what should you inspect your driveway for and how should you treat it?

Concrete driveways

Concrete is a great looking driveway material, and has a low maintenance requirement. However, concrete is an expensive material as well, meaning if a problem occurs and is let go for a period of time, the endeavor of fixing it will grow in cost.

Cracked and crumbling concrete is no good. Water from the melting snow, or rain even can both seep below your driveway causing the ground to shift, which can lead the stress on the material and the aforementioned results.  Due to living in a climate that often drops below freezing point, this means we our more susceptible to the damage. If you see any pooling of water on the surface of your driveway, and that is left, there is a good chance of cracks occurring at that point as well.

When the weather is permitting, inspect your driveway carefully for cracks, holes or crumbling.  Be sure to check the expansion joints of your driveway as well, for this is often a location people miss and regret later on!

If your unsure of the situation of your driveway, call a professional! Generally, getting someone to just look at your driveway is free, along with the advice that follows!

If you happen across cracks, use some driveway sealing material like caulk. If you have parts of your concrete driveway that dips in, you can fix that as well with concrete re-surfacer! It is recommended to re-seal your driveway every 3 to 5 years to ensure its life span, as well as keep away damaging growths such as moss and lichen!

Asphalt

Asphalt driveways give a great smooth texture that makes your feel like your driving on a cloud. Asphalt is also durable, however, it does require regular maintenance and a watchful eye. If your asphalt develops a little crack and is let to sit, the whole driveway can fall apart after a while.

Just like concrete, asphalt is susceptible to damage from extreme temperatures and moisture. Weed encroachment, potholes, as well as cracks are a possible result. Just like concrete, make sure there are no dips in the surface that would allow water to pool. This will also result in cracks and problems!

The remedies for these issues are basically the same as concrete driveways. Fill any potholes and patch any cracks, while also filling in any dips in the surface! If you happen across weeds rising along the edges of your driveway, be sure to pull them and clean up the area with and edging tool or hoe. If there is a really invasive weed problem, consider installing rubber mulch edging around your driveway with a weed proof mat underneath. Asphalt is recommended to be re-sealed every one to three years, while also being aware of any moss and lichen to prevent them from entering between the seal-coating.

We are all excited for this gray sky to fade in wake of the shining sun, however we cant be dazzled by the light and forget to check our driveways condition!

If you have some need for a new driveway or questions, feel free to give us a call! We at Xpand are dedicated to achieving your dream home! Cracks free!

 

Spring sun, spring cleaning!

I know it’s a little early to be using the “spring cleaning” slogan, but on a day that is as bright as today and all the melting snow, it’s hard not to get ahead of myself!

Although there are many days left before truly reaching the first day of the spring season, it is always good to be proactive and prepare yourself for what needs to be done when it arrives! This means home maintenance for a smooth transition into the coming days. We don’t want to have some damage from the winter go unnoticed!

Let’s break down a quick list on things that should be checked out during the spring weather to ensure your homes integrity!

  • Gutters and all things downspouts- Remove any debris that has accumulated in the gutters and downspouts, while ensuring everything is connected properly. Often gutters can get moved and become unattached and pull away from the home. Use caulk or epoxy for any leaks.
  • Home siding- Pressure washers are not only fun, but useful! Go rent a pressure washer and get the mold and grime out of the nooks and crannies of your home! Check for any weathering or paint damage that may have occurred during the frigid weather.  If there is wood showing, or paint chipping, properly sand or remove at the site of damage and apply a primer and new coat of paint!
  • Exterior caulking- Go around your home and look for deteriorating caulk. Scrape away the bad caulk and reinforce the areas with a fresh caulking.
  • Windows, doors and thresholds oh my!- Check for any cracks and caulk issues and fix accordingly!
  • Screens- Window and doors screens are vulnerable little sections! Check to see if there are any holes that have occurred in the screens. If the hole is big as or bigger than a quarter, then bugs can get through, defeating the purpose of the screen. Either patch the holes or replace the screens, but don’t toss the old screens, rather save them for repairs next year! Be sure to tidy up any loose frames so there isn’t any flapping parts in the wind!
  • Drain waste and vent system- Flush out the drain waste and vent system to avoid any problems in that area!
  • Heat pump- Lubricate blower motor to ensure future efficiency
  • Foundation- The foundation is, as it sounds, important for the integrity of your home. Check your homes foundation for cracks and heaving or deterioration. Then search your walls and floors of the foundation concrete and masonry for the same problems. If you find large amounts of cracks or bricks losing their mortar, call a foundation professional. If the crack is large enough to fit a nickel, call immediately.
  • Roof- Look for fallen shingles or broken shingles, as well as surface flashing, eaves and soffits. Clean what you can and check flashings around all surface projections and sidewalls.
  • Decks and porches- Look over your decks and porches for any loose members of the structure and replace or repair as seen fit. Open decks and wood fences need to be treated every 4-6 years. If something looks off in terms of color of the stain, or some of the wood turns a dark grey, call a professional to treat the surface.

That’s all we have for your spring home maintenance tips today! I’m sure we will be in a winter warning again soon, but catching these problems when the weather allows could save you time and money in the long run!

Don’t forget to give us a call if you have any questions about your home and the possibilities of additions or some form of renovations! We are here to make your dream home after all!

Concrete floors? Let’s give it a shot

I know, we have been doing a lot of posts that involve the floor of your home lately, but to be fair, it’s only because there are so many great options! Concrete floors are no exception!

For this snippet, we will explain the aspects of concrete floors in a home that really give it an advantage over other flooring options! Most often we think of an organic material like wood or bamboo, but concrete has some seriously rocking advantages to them!

Let’s quit dilly dallying and get into the bullet points!

  • Variation in design- Concrete often brings forth the idea of grey, cold and industrial, however it doesn’t have to be that way. Concrete has some great options for visual alteration ranging from stains, colors and hardeners. How you integrate the color into the floor is a big part of the process as well. You can add the color during the mixing process to add a nice even spread across the concrete or produce a translucent finish with a unique design finish!
  • Texture- Not only does concrete have a wide range of color application but concrete can also be altered with surface texture for design or practical purposes! Some surface textures include troweled, smooth and polished, each of which can add a unique feeling to a room. There is also an option called stamped, which allows for the creation of patterns such as tile!
  • Type of concrete- Generally there are two types of concrete flooring options. Existing concrete which uses the concrete already in your home but enhances it for visual appeal and daily use. Decorative overlay, which is concrete on top of certain surfaces that are already installed, and can be used to either mask damage, or just give a new and fresh look to a room!

Concrete flooring has some strong innate functions that can benefit not only your home, but the world as well! That’s right, concrete flooring can be a eco-friendly option! The creation of concrete does not deplete natural resources, does not requires as much energy to create, and is poured locally! Concrete is a strong defense against mold, mildew and odors, which can improve or at last keep a healthy air quality. Concrete absorbs the temperature around it, which can help cut energy costs for heating and cooling, due to the minimizing need for continual production! Lastly concrete can be recycled, cut down and reprocessed!

That’s all for today’s rock solid dream home options! If you have any questions for comments don’t hesitate to call! We will work with you to achieve the home you and your family can call dreamy!

How to match your wood flooring!

The last couple articles we posted involved some aspect of the flooring and wood as one of the options. As beautiful as wood flooring can be, sometimes we run into issues matching that flooring with its surroundings, and maybe even the other types of flooring we have in the home.

This article, we will try to help with some tips on matching your wood flooring in your home, to have a seamless and beautiful result! Things to consider during the process would be bullnose trim, stain pens and T-molding and all the variations!

Match Tones

Generally, homes don’t start out as mismatched, but overtimes it becomes an issue due to sun fading. Knowing this, we can actually use it to our advantage and minimize this as an issue and turn it into a strength. When choosing your laminate or engineered flooring, match the faded tones of your already existing flooring, so that when sun fading does occur the variation will look intentional and still cohesive. Once the rest of the room is put together, the variation in tone of the flooring will look like a beautiful mosaic!

Staining

When your expanding your flooring and need to think about staining, don’t stress trying to stain and sand the preexisting and new flooring. Instead of adding to your work, talk to a contractor and get help in altering the color of the stain to match the value of the already installed wood flooring. These custom mixed stains can really save time and effort, as well as help blend the flooring in with itself.

Solving the transition dilemma

Often when using two types of wood flooring, there can be an issue at the meeting point. Often a disjointed feeling can accompany the meeting of two wood types and ruin the feeling of room transition. To solve this, use a T-mold! T-molds allow for a less abrupt transition between flooring types by laying a cover of the main wood type across the seam of the joining wood flooring’s. The rounded edges of the T-mold allow for a comfortable and logical transition of hallways to rooms.

Stain pen perfection

With wood flooring, it’s nearly impossible to escape the marks of hastened traffic. Knicks and scratches are rather obvious on wood flooring and can sometimes become overwhelming or an issue for selling. To solve this problem, we need naught but a pen! Stain pens are similar to paint pens in use. Shake the pen before use, and the press down on the area that needs treatment. Fill the problems with stain and then wipe away the excess with a damp cloth. If the resulting stain is too light, simply apply another coating with the pen until the desired value is achieved and the mark(s) are hidden well away from attention. Easy peasy!

That’s all we have for today’s wood flooring tips! Come back later for more tips and tricks and services! Remember to call and inquire about our services and how we may help you achieve your dream home! 

Basic basement maintenance for the winter!

From fall to winter, there are plenty of opportunities for your basement to have some form of water damage. Between the heavy rains or the quick winter thaws (especially with Minnesota season madness) your foundation may have some breaches.

There are a couple things you can do to be aware of the possible dangers and costly repairs that arise from those pesky natural occurrences!

Rain and Snow

First, with heavy rain or frost, foundation cracking can occur. The shifting soils with the constant shrinkage and expansion due to climate,along with improperly directed drainage can become an issue in weaker areas of your basement foundation. When handling foundation cracks, repairs costs can rise significantly if you ignore the little cracks and let them expand into a bigger problem. Basically being active about foundation management no matter how small the problem, is essential. That being said, not all cracks need tending to. Call a professional to check out the foundation and use a felt tip pen to mark locations that may be problematic, fully circling the affected area, and then keep an eye on its progress, to identify if there needs any further action.

Dry season condensation

Its commonly known that basements can become damp during the spring seasons what with the rainfall and departing winter melts. What’s important to take note of, is the appearance of moisture in the basement even when there hasn’t been rain recently, or any snow melts. This could identify a hidden issue. Generally this is due to a factor outside of the basement, involved with some other area of the property. Anywhere from poor drainage, poor ventilation, obsolete plumbing etc… can lead to condensation in the basement. The best option is to call a professional to pinpoint the issue. This may seem like a hassle but will be much easier than mold removal or property damage!

Why to make basement maintenance a priority

No matter the season or climate situation, its important to be aware of the condition your basement is in. Spending time to examine its physical properties and integrity can do nothing but help save you stress and money down the road! Ensuring your basement is a place of comfort and enjoyable use, it will help you to notice the little things through your enjoyment of it, allowing you to catch issue before they become problems!

That’s it for today! Now go check out your basement! While your at it, give us a call for a friendly conversation about basement additions!

Oh! and don’t forget! Today marks the last weekend for the Parade of Homes in Savage, MN! Come on out and take a look at our new homes that might be something you didn’t even know your family needed! 

Autumn maintenance! What needs to be done to prepare!

Master Bedroom Window View with backyard and lake view

Autumn is a brisk season! Full of long-sleeve shirts and hoodies, pumpkins and apple cider. Autumn is one of the most vibrant of the seasons and can be an inspiring time for change and growth! However, the chilly wind and foreboding of winter is to be taken serious! As a homeowner you’ll need to make sure your home is maintained well enough for the coming weather conditions!

This checklist will surely help set you in the right direction!

  • Cracks, nooks and crannies! Openings in sealant around windows, doors or others of the sort can cause a chilly breeze through the home and amp up those heating costs! Be sure to go around your home and check all the spaces that have sealant and ensure there are no openings/ cracks that’s letting the brisk air in, among other things!
  • Insulation in your home is vital for keeping the warmth. Check your homes insulation and ensure you have enough, ensuring there are no exposed joists!
  • Take a moment to check the condition of your furnace. Replace the filters of your furnace if necessary and ensure its in working order so there is no issues during the colder days!
  • Water lines can sometimes freeze during the odd autumn temperature drops, so make sure they are also insulated well to avoid any freezing pipes! You can also clean out the lines before hand which will help reduce the possibility of clogs and freezing.
  • Drain your water heater! Over time, the water heater has sediments build up, which can cost efficiency by 50%! Be sure to drain those sediment buildups out and keep your water heaters efficiency running high as possible!
  • Gutters and the like! Ensure there is no clogging by leaves or other debris in your gutter. Clogged gutters can lead to leaking/flooding in a home which is no fun for anyone.
  • Ensure your roofs integrity is in proper condition. Check the tiles/panels and make sure there are no broken/cracked/missing pieces. This will also help avoid leaks as well as possible mold/rot development.
  •  As mentioned in a past article, its important to check your chimney for any buildups of soot or harmful oils. You don’t want a surprise chimney fire whilst sitting down on a chilly night next to a comfy fireplace!

 

You have the tools and need to make the time to ensure your home is in proper condition for the coming season(s). Don’t let your home become a shadow of what it used to be!

While your at it, be sure to call us about your dream home additions! Fireplace, decks (maintenance free!), and garages oh my! Happy autumn falling everyone, from one family to another.

 

How to prevent a basement from flooding!

Unfinished Basement & Walkout

Floods are a mess, a big mess, and a flood in your basement is just plain wrong! Basement floods can blind side homeowners and really hurt them financially.

Generally flooding can happen due to some poor sealing around windows, doors, or due to electrical outages, causing your sump pump to stop pumping the excess ground water out. Another cause could be a clogged or loose gutter, which can result in leaking. Floods can ruin foundations of your home, not to mention your basement flooring or items. If flooding isn’t caught soon enough or handled well enough, mold and rot can also occur!

So lets talk about ways we can prevent flooding in your beautiful home!

  • Start by checking your roof, ensure gutters are hanging correctly and are free from excess debris and leaks.
  • If you don’t already have one, a sump pump is essential.  Newer sump pump systems have two pumps, one being able to run on electricity and one being able to run on a backup power source! When acquiring a sump pump, ensure it is in fully functioning condition.
  • Hire a plumber to take a gander at your basement and suggest which version of sump pump would be best for your home!
  • In the off chance your still having some floods despite the aforementioned anticipatory measures, the french drain is an option. A french drain is a gravel-filled trench that goes around your home. The water that falls into the trench travels through a perforated pipe at the bottom of the trench.  The water that enters the pipe is lead away from the home to a safe distance where it will cause no problems at all!
  • If installing a french drain, ensure it is not leading the water to neighboring homes or yards.

Floods are a wet mess that can be avoided with vigilance and the right equipment and understanding of your home!

Give us a call today to have a basement to protect! Don’t forget to ask about those addons! 

The paint you apply to your home is more than decoration!

Front side view of house

Most people think the paint outside their homes  is merely for appeal, however it has a more vital purpose!

Paint on the exterior of your home is a form of weather defense so to speak. Rain, wind, cold, and damp conditions can be battled with the right quality primer and paint!

Weather is a relentless force that can chip away at the longevity of homes, so finding ways to protect your home from strong weather conditions is of the utmost importance!

Paint your homes sides, trim  and other surfaces when the exterior paint begins to start bubbling/peeling/flaking or when your seals begin to wear down and need a new caulking. Keep your eye open for any of these signs after a strong weather passing.

Benefits and tips for maintaining the exterior paint:

  • Dampness wont get sealed into the walls and ruin insulation or encourage the development of rot or mold.
  • Before applying a new coat to your home, be sure to first caulk any areas necessary, that may have been caused by unwelcome house pets.
  • Choosing a high quality paint as well as an environmentally friendly paint with low volatile organic compounds (VOC) allow for a cleaner air quality in the home.

Not only is paint important outside your home but has some added effects inside the home as well!

  • Painting interior walls can minimize dust and dirt that occurs over time.
  • Painting bathrooms and kitchens specifically need to be able to withstand the daily routines that involve heat/humidity. Paint with sheen has a longer life span!

The next time your about to pain your home be sure to understand not only its visual appeal but also its defensive mechanics to help keep your home healthy!

Give us a call today and let us help you decide on a color as well as a new home design or addons!