How Much You Need to Budget for Home Maintenance

Hands-down, the absolute best way to protect your home’s value is regular maintenance. Researchers have found that homes that received regular maintenance were able to add an additional 1% of their home’s value every year. On the other hand, homes that received little-to-no maintenance prematurely aged, taking 10% off of the value when it came time to sell.

Here’s the thing:

Maintenance costs add up, and maintenance by definition is not immediately urgent. Families all over the U.S. are burning their earnings and value because they’re fixing home emergencies instead of preventing them.

So what’s the big change you need to make in 2018?

You need to start a maintenance budget.

How Much You Need to Set Aside for Home Maintenance

There are three schools of thought about saving for home maintenance: the House Price rule, the Square Foot rule, and the Combo rule.

The House Price rule is simple: your annual maintenance budget should be 1% of what you paid. So if you paid $450,000 for your house, you should save $4,500 a year.

The Square Foot rule is also simple: your annual budget should be $1 for every square foot of your house. So if your house is 2,400 square feet, that’s $2,400 a year.

The Combination rule takes two steps because it’s the average of the two amounts above. So if you paid $450,000 for a 2,400-square foot home, your annual maintenance budget is $3,450. Keep in mind that no matter what rule you end up using, you’re not going to spend your budget every year. Instead, you’ll save it in a fund for when you need it.

Factors to Add to the Mix

Not all homes need the same amount of maintenance. Weather, climate, age—these all affect how much you’ll spend on repairs and upkeep. On top of the rules above, there are some factors you’ll need to consider (and add to your budget).

Add 10% to your annual budget for each of the following items that are true for your home:

  • Is in a floodplain or at the bottom of a hill
  • Is over 20 years old
  • Was not well-maintained by prior owners
  • Is in a place that reaches freezing temperatures
  • Is a single-family home (not a condo or duplex)

So if your home is local to us (Norwalk, CT), then you should already tack on an extra 10%. That would make the total annual budget for our imaginary home $3,755 (using the Combo rule).

If there’s one thing you should know from following JM Roofing & Siding, it’s that we care about protecting every home’s value. It’s not only good for you—it’s good for your neighbors and for the local economy. When your house wins, everyone wins.

A Short Guide to Maintaining Your Home’s Siding

Our mission is to help homeowners save money while increasing the value of their houses, so we want to help by equipping you to clean your siding. Just a few minutes of vigilance (and a couple hours of hard work) once a season will protect your home from damage and maintain its curb appeal! Learn how to clean and inspect your siding below.

How to Spot Siding Damage

The worst thing that can happen to your siding is moisture getting inside and behind it. The water (which isn’t visible at first) freezes in winter, expanding and damaging the joints and connections of the siding. Spotting the signs will help ensure that repairs can be made quickly (and cheaply).

Here’s what you’re looking for:

  • Cracked caulking
  • Expanded caulking pulling away from gaps
  • Wood: peeling paint and cracking boards/trim
  • Stucco: cracks and chips
  • Brick: deteriorating mortar

Once you’ve inspected your siding or had the necessary repairs completed, it’s time to clean.

How to Clean Your Siding for Cheap

Here’s what you’ll need to buy from the nearest hardware store:

  • Trisodium phosphate
  • Soft-bristle brush with a long handle

First, mix ½ a cup of trisodium phosphate with a gallon of warm water. Once soapy, you’re ready to go.

Second, mentally divide your siding into 10-foot sections. Focusing on one section at a time helps ensure that you’re cleaning thoroughly (and allows you to take breaks and pick up where you left off).

Third, dip the brush and clean from the bottom to the top. Once done, move on to the next section (and repeat until finished).

How to Clean Mildew Off Your Siding

Mildew looks like black, spotted stains that won’t go away no matter how hard you scrub. To see if it’s mildew, dip a cotton ball in some watered-down bleach. If the black spot disappears after touching it with the bleach, it’s mildew.

Mix four parts water to one part bleach, put on a mask and gloves, and scrub the mildew with the soft-bristled brush. Make sure you don’t get the bleach mixture near any plants you want to keep.

With this short guide, you’ll be on your way to protecting your home’s value and appearance for years to come! If you have any questions, call a roofing expert at JM Roofing & Siding today: (203) 299-0716.

The #1 Thing That Destroys a Home’s Value Over Time

Regular exercise and home maintenance are vital for the same reason: a little effort today prevents a lot of pain tomorrow. Taking care of your home is not only an investment in your house—it’s an investment into your family’s financial stability. Real estate expert Mark Strickland reports that homes that are neglected or out-of-shape for their age lose up to 10% of their appraised value.

For most residents in Connecticut, that’s a loss of $24,000 or more.

So, what’s the single greatest threat to your home’s long-term health?

Moisture.

Water damage is one of the most costly threats your home faces, but thankfully, the signs of moisture damage appear early—as long as you stay vigilant.

The 5 Questions You Need to Inspect Your Home for Moisture

Once a season (or frequently during heavy rains), do a cursory inspection of your home for moisture damage. It should only take you about 30 minutes to answer all 5 questions—and once they’re answered, you should have a pretty good idea of the shape of your home.

  • Are your gutters clogged or overflowing?
  • Is water flowing toward or into your home?
  • Do your basement walls have dark stains on them?
  • Does your window caulking have cracks or gaps?
  • Are the back of your cupboards showing signs of mold growth?

Homes are (ideally) designed to let water flow away from your home. When they don’t, it leaves your home open to damage. Clogged gutters, dark stains on your basement walls, and cracks in the caulking are all risk factors (or symptoms) of moisture getting into your home. Don’t let it happen.

Don’t procrastinate if you see any issues from the 5 questions above—call a handyman or roof repair service immediately to take care of it.

Do Seasonal Checks of Your Water Appliances

Every time daylight savings rolls around, set aside a day to check all appliances that use water, especially your:

  • Washer
  • Refrigerator
  • Water heater
  • HVAC system

As long as you’re staying on top of your home’s upkeep (and keeping moisture out), you’ll be able to maintain your home’s value—and maybe even increase your asking price if you sell.

5 Snow Removal Tips You Need in a Pinch

Freshly-fallen snow is beautiful, but honestly, sometimes you just need to get to work—and ice and snow all over your car and walkway is another 15 minutes of time you don’t want to spend. To prevent ice buildup (or to get rid of it quickly), check out our 5 snow management tips below—most of which can be done using household items you already have!

#1: Put Pickle Juice in a Spray Bottle for a Spray Deicer

Salt is a well-known deicing tool, but not all of us have deicing salt sitting around our garages. Sometimes a cold snap takes us by surprise and leaves ice all over our windshields (where abrasive table salt might do some damage).

The fix? Pour briny pickle juice into a spray bottle. The salt in the pickling liquid acts as a non-abrasive deicer. Just spray all over your windshield, then wipe down with a towel.

#2: Put Salt in an Old Sock & Wipe Down Glass Surfaces

Okay, you don’t want to damage your windshield or windows, but you also don’t like pickles. Not to fear! We have a solution for you. Go ahead and pour some regular table salt into a sock the night before you’re expecting ice or snow. Wipe down your windshield, windows, and mirrors softly.

Use this sparingly, though. Doing this too often will cause damage to your car. If you’re going to be using deicing salt a lot (or for a lot of surfaces), we recommend buying a bag at a local hardware store or Walmart.

#3: Use Rubbing Alcohol on Windows to Prevent Ice & Fogging

This is great for windows around the house. Spray some rubbing alcohol on your windows and wipe down with a clean towel. Bonus: this will leave your windows clean and streak-free, in addition to preventing the glass from fogging up.

#4: Lay Out an Industrial-Strength Tarp at Night

Instead of spending time blowing away or shoveling snow from walkways/off cars, just cover them both with a strong tarp. Once you’re ready to leave, you just drag the tarp to the side and voila! Instant walkway. This only works when you’re expecting snow, so make sure you check the forecast and lay out the tarp before you go to bed.

#5: Keep a Bucket of Fireplace Ashes in Your Car for Traction

This tip makes great use of something you wanted to get rid of anyway: fireplace ashes. During the winter months, drivers have to keep an eye on where they park. Snow and dirt create loose slurries of mud that prevent tires from moving forward. When mixed with mud/slush, fireplace ash creates a thick mixture that’s easier to drive out of when you’re in a jam. Instant traction!

This tip also works well with kitty litter, in case you don’t have a fireplace.

There you have it: 5 fast, easy ways to remove ice (or get moving) as quickly as possible. If you have any other tips, comment on our Facebook page here!

6 DIY Doorway Decor Ideas for the Holidays

Home decor blogs have two effects on people: the first one is the initial “oh that’s so cute/fun/cool!” when they see a finished project. Usually followed by the realization that our homes will never look like the holiday-themed model homes we see in magazines and on Instagram accounts.

Not to worry! The good folks at JM Roofing may not be professional decorators, but we know how hard it is to make time to decorate our homes (and have them look good by the end).

Below, we’ve gathered 6 of the best (as in, best-looking in the least amount of time) DIY Christmas decorating projects. We hope you try a couple out (and relieve some pressure in the process)!

#1: Turn Your Entrance Into a Gift

We started easy on this one: all you need is two pieces of long fabric and a large, festive bow (available pretty much anywhere).

Source: https://pin.it/nzvofap4igqgoh

#2: Make a Candy Cane Wreath

We have a theory that only 3% of candy canes ever get eaten. Here’s what you can do with the other 97%! All you need to make a pretty wreath for your door is some string, a snowflake decoration (for the center), a ribbon for hanging, and 16 candy canes.

Source: https://pin.it/5mu2kimuspicuz

#3: Word Art (feat. a 3-Letter Word)

You can’t get much easier than the word “joy” when it comes to word art. Buy a “J” and a “Y” from a home decor site, and make a wreath out of leftover Christmas ornaments. All you need is some glue, and boom! Instant Instagram and Facebook cred.

Source: https://pin.it/rg2zgumhhdhxvu

#4: Use Leftover Boxes to Create a Pile of Gifts in Your Entrance

The human brain is actually hardwired to see piles of wrapped boxes as festive.*

*not actually true, but you get what we’re saying.

With all the empty boxes from your online shopping, you can create an awesome display of decorative wrapped gifts outside your doorway in no time (and get rid of clutter around the home). Just get some wrapping paper and some bows from Walmart, and you’ll be in business. Extra credit if you place the boxes in the center of a wreath or some garlands.

Source: https://pin.it/o3yzjqstpjpymk

#5: Fill Shutter Slats with Garlands

Have leftover garlands from Project #4? If you have shutters, use them! Just place garlands through and in the shutters as a homey, holiday-themed invasion of your windows.

Source: http://www.myhomeideas.com/?&Ntt=entryways&N=8255&view=gallery&sp=mostrecentedit&iid=newsletter-120320-entryway-statement&ad=5&dir=back&No=31

#6: Place All Your Christmas Cards on the Door in a Tree Shape

This is quite possibly the easiest project on the list—and it has multiple benefits! Gather up all of your Christmas cards from years past (or this year, if you’re popular), and tape them to the inside of your front door in a tree shape. It’s a decorative way to remind yourself of all the loved ones in your life (while getting rid of the piles of Christmas cards you have lying around the house).

Source: https://pin.it/7tvdddxd7gvqjb

Have any tips or recommendations? Comment on our Facebook page to let us know (and maybe give us a “Like” while you’re at it)!

 

The Pros & Cons of Winter Roof Maintenance

Like most things in life, winter home projects have drawbacks and advantages. The advantage of finishing your roof maintenance now is peace of mind. For go-getters who like starting and finishing projects quickly, that’s the chief reason they want to get maintenance in the winter.

But sometimes, it is worth waiting til spring. Below, we discuss some of the things you need to consider before you call a contractor.

The Pros of Winter Roof Maintenance

Okay, so you’re on the fence about roof maintenance. Here’s the biggest reason why it’s a good idea: there’s only two ways to find out if your roof is having problems. One, you wait until the rain and snow arrives and let the water leak into your home. Two, you get the roof checked out and have all the newly-discovered leaks fixed.

Only one of those doesn’t end in water damage.

Additionally, proactively getting maintenance in the winter ensures that the small problems don’t add up. Water and snow tend to put pressure on all the small issues your roof has—but enough small problems (and pressure) add up to catastrophic damage inevitably.

Another reason to get roof maintenance is to ensure that your roof has effective drainage. Gutters get neglected pretty often, meaning water can pool on your roof or property for longer than you want. Unclogging and cleaning your gutters ensures that the snowmelt goes where you need it to go.

The Cons of Winter Roof Maintenance

Like with any winter project, there are trade-offs—and we feel duty-bound to warn you about them. In general, roof adhesives (which are vital for repairs) don’t seal well in extreme cold. So if you end up having to fix a ton of leaks in cold weather, the solution may only be temporary.

Shingled roofs have an additional downside: shingles are more likely to crack from mishandling in cold weather. The other downside is that shingled roofs run the risk of creating “ice dams” from runoff. The preventative solution for ice dams is using ice shield membranes. The problem is that the ice shields need sunlight to properly adhere to your roof.

There are ways around these risks, but you definitely need to find a reputable roofer if you’re planning a winter roof project. Inexperience or disregard for the manufacturing specs could lead to problems for your roof down the road.

There’s an upside for those of you with metal roofs: literally none of these drawbacks affect metal roofing systems.

In Conclusion

We don’t want to discourage you from getting roof maintenance this season. Far from it—the benefit far outweighs the risks. However, winter projects require an experienced and knowledgeable company at the helm. Cold weather is tricky, and you want to make sure your contractors know how to account for the extra risks.

If you’re not sure if you should wait out the season or get maintenance immediately, give JM Roofing & Siding a call. We’re happy to help.

How to Get Your Home Thanksgiving Ready in Less Than a Week

With many of us working up until the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, the weekend before ‘Turkey Day’ is when the real work gets done. If the idea of non-stop cooking and cleaning for an entire weekend has your head rushing, we’re here to offer a bit of help. Despite what you may think, it is possible to get your home in tip-top shape in just a few days.

Preparing home for thanksgiving

Sharpen your kitchen knives.

Dull knives will prove to be a big problem come dinner time. Less than a dozen strokes of your blade against a whetstone will make sure your knives are ready to slice and dice even the most stubborn turkey.

Childproof your home.

Despite being so important, this is one of those things that often gets overlooked. Wrap up and store away any electrical cords that may be running on the floor, cover outlets, and make sure stairs will be protected by closed doors or a gate supplied by the parents.

Make your oven shine.

No appliance gets more use on Thanksgiving than your oven. A non-toxic cleaning solution of baking soda, lemon juice, and vinegar will make your oven shine and prepare it for whatever the day throws at it.

 

Make room in your coat closet.

Plan ahead for the influx of winter coats that will be coming your way by clearing out a closet near the door for guests’ belongings. You may have to pile your things on your bed, but if you keep the door closed, no one will notice!

Get your entryway holiday-ready.

It’s the first thing guests see when they get to your house, so make sure your doorway and entryway make a good impression. Fix any gaps in your siding and make sure snow isn’t covering your steps or roof.

Make sure the exterior of your home looks just as good as the interior this holiday season by calling JM Roofing & Siding! From siding and roofing repairs to snow removal, we’ll have your house party-ready in no time!

How Much is ‘Too Much’ When it Comes to Snow on Your Roof

When it comes to keeping snow off of your driveway, there’s a lot you can do — salt it the night before, shovel, or park your cars on it. But what are you supposed to do about your roof? While sure, you’re not walking on your roof in the winter, it’s still important that you keep snow build-up to a minimum.

snow on roof

How Much Snow is ‘Too Much?’

Two years ago, Boston suffered an unprecedented 44 roof collapses in just two days, all due to snow. Though a few factors come into play (like your roof’s slope, construction, age, and exposure to wind), most roofs can withstand about 20 feet of snow per square inch. Traditionally, one foot of light, powdery snow will weigh around three pounds per square foot, while one foot of icy snow will weigh closer to 10 pounds.

Protecting Your Roof

With FEMA suggesting that you never walk on top of your roof, especially when it’s snowing, what’s a homeowner to do? The best way to protect your home is to be proactive.

  1. Look for signs of a distressed roof. Loose shingles, cracking walls, leaks, and jammed doors are all signs of an overstressed roof. Keep a small problem from becoming a big one by having your roof repaired or replaced before the first snowfall.
  2. Calculate how much snow is on your roof. When snow does come, it’s important to keep track of how much is on your roof. The average roof can support around four feet of lightly packed, fresh snow.
  3. Remove excess snow and ice. If you notice snow is starting to reach three feet or more, you should start thinking of ways to remove it. Safely remove snow from the ground with a snow rake or call the professionals at JM Roofing and Siding and we’ll do it for you!

 

Our Connecticut-based roofing and siding company can inspect your roof before the first snowfall and ensure your family’s safety. We are also happy to now offer snow removal services! To learn about prices and availability, give us a call at (203) 299-0716 or request a free estimate online!

6 Simple Ways to Get Kids Interested in STEM

Children today are growing up surrounded by technology — so much so that the average two-year-old can work a tablet or cell phone (two!). But if you want your child to have an interest in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM) as they grow up, you have to do more than just put a tablet in their hands. Get your little one excited about STEM today with a little advice from us science, engineering, and math-loving builders.

Get kids interested in STEM

Make STEM fun and accessible.

You don’t need a laboratory in your house to spark a kid’s interest. In fact, it’s better to show them how math and science are used in real-life situations. The next time your little one asks to help you out in the kitchen, let them count eggs and divide or multiple cups of ingredients.

Watch STEM-related videos.

TED Talks for children, Brain Games, and Bill Nye the Science Guy show kids how cool science can be.

Take STEM outside of the home.

Zoos, aquariums, and museums give your child hands-on experience and let them explore in a kid-friendly environment.

Get them involved in extracurricular activities.

While we’ll never deny the importance of sports, schools have a lot more to offer than just football, baseball, and basketball. Inquire about a robotics club or math team in your little one’s school.

Talk about STEM in the real world.

Most kids love math and science, they just don’t know it. Does your child like video games or playing on your phone? Start a discussion about coding with them. Do they love amusement parks? Talk to them about physics and building.

Buy toys that encourage STEM exploration.

Blocks and Legos are STEM staples in the toy industry. More recently, brands have come out with toys that teach coding basics and app development.

At JM Roofing and Siding, we use our love of STEM to design and build custom roofing and siding options for your home. For more information, give us a call at 203-299-0716.

Is Your Home Prepared for Harsh Winter Weather?

Winter in Connecticut is always a bit of a toss-up. Will we wake up Christmas morning to a foot of snow or a sunny 60-degree day? While we’re usually hoping for the latter, there’s no way to know what Old Man Winter has in store for us. That’s why it’s so important to hope for the best but prep your home for the worst.

Winter house prep

With chilly weather already upon us, take every precaution to keep your home and family safe this winter by:

Knowing where your water valve shut-off is.

It’s best to winterize your pipes to some degree every fall, whether you’ll be staying in your house or not. If temperatures suddenly drop, the water trapped in your pipes could freeze. When water freezes, it expands and can potentially crack your pipes. If a pipe does burst, knowing where your valve shut-off is can potentially save you thousands of dollars worth of damage.

Having your roof examined.

Snow covered roofs and dangling icicles may make for a wonderful holiday card, but they’re actually signs of potentially bigger problems. Lots of long icicles can mean that your home has an ice dam. Avoid a dam by making sure your attic is well ventilated. You should also have snow removed from your roof to prevent it from melting and dripping into your attic or weighing down your roof.

Stocking up on necessities.

Having a few extra batteries, containers of gas, jugs of water, and a first aid kit can help you avoid any hectic runs to the grocery store days before a big storm.

Inquiring about snow removal.

The last thing you want to do is look into snow removal services the day of a big snow storm. Before you get wind of an incoming storm (or even better, at the end of fall) connect with a reputable snow removal company.

Let JM Roofing & Siding tackle half of this list for you! Our Connecticut-based roofing and siding contractors can inspect your roof before the first snowfall and ensure your family’s safety. We are also happy to now offer snow removal services! To learn about prices and availability, give us a call at (203) 299-0716 or request a free estimate online!