Quick and Easy Winter Maintenance Tips for Inside Your Home

Christmas at home

We’ve already posted about preventing freezing pipes and home improvement chores to take before the weather gets cold. There’s plenty more to do around your home to help prepare you for winter, however. Here, we’ll share some quick tips for keeping your home tidy, organized and comfortable throughout the holiday season. These are all easy and fast tasks that anyone can do, but that also make a big difference.

  • Holiday lights

Let’s start with a staple of the holiday season. Most of us will be hanging lights and other decorations this year, which starts with getting them out of storage. If you find your lights are in a tangled mess, your first task will be to untangle them, but then you can take some extra time to learn how to properly store them so that next year, they’ll be untangled and ready to hang. After you hang your decorations, it’s also a good idea to walk around with a critical eye. You aren’t looking for anything hanging crooked, however. You’ll be looking for anything that might pose a fire hazard. Be sure to move fabrics away from candles, and don’t let hanging lights that will get hot rest against anything flammable.

  • Fire extinguishers

It’s a good idea to periodically check your home’s fire extinguishers. The holiday season is a perfect time to check them since you’ll likely have a number of fire risks around your home. First, ensure you have an extinguisher in the kitchen, and another near your fireplace. Next, be sure they are both charged and ready should you need them. Finally, be sure that every member of your family knows where the fire extinguishers are and how to use them. This way, if a fire does break out, anyone can quickly put it out.

  • Ceiling fans

Most of us only think about using ceiling fans during the hot summer months, but they can be useful in the winter too. Your ceiling fans should have a switch that reverses the way they turn. Instead of circulating cool air throughout the room, they’ll be sucking warm air away from the ceiling and evenly distributing it. Try it and you’ll find what a difference it makes. Additionally, you can add extra rugs and floor coverings in the winter to keep rooms warmer.

  • Clean air

There are actually a couple of tasks you should get to when ensuring your family has clean air throughout your home. First, replace your air filters. Most air filters need to be replaced at least three or four times per year, and it may be more if you have pets. If you haven’t replaced the filters you used with your air conditioner all summer, you’re well overdue. Replace theses and not only will air quality be better, but your heating system will be more efficient. And, if you’re running your heater often, the air in your home is likely to be more dry. To combat this, you can use humidifiers, but be sure to clean them periodically. A humidifier is a great way to keep your home more comfortable, but you don’t want it putting new contaminants and toxins into the air.

  • Carpet cleaning

The holidays may see a number of house guests for family get togethers and parties. That usually means your carpets will be in need of a good cleaning once the holidays are over. Take the time now to schedule a professional carpet cleaning for January, or look into investing in your own equipment. Those spills and stains left from your holiday parties will need attention in 2016.

If you’re in the market for a new home for the new year, contact us at Perry Hood Properties. We build high quality homes in Tulsa, Broken Arrow and Bixby and even have a number of already completed homes that are move-in ready.

4 Tips For Preventing Frozen Pipes

Water droplet falling from faucet

With winter and colder temperatures here, it’s time to start worrying about frozen pipes. Your first task should be to unhook any hoses that you have connected to outdoor spigots. Leaving these connected can quickly result in pipes freezing and bursting, which can lead to water leaking into your walls inside.

About one in 55 home owners will submit a property claim due to water leaking or freezing this year. And water in your pipes typically begins to freeze when temperatures outside reach 20-degrees. That’s not far off in Oklahoma. So, here are some precautions to take to keep your pipes safe and warm this winter.

  • Wrap and insulate

If you were cold in your home, you’d probably wear extra layers and maybe cover yourself with a blanket. It’s the same idea for your pipes to keep them from freezing. Foam pipe covers are available at virtually any hardware store and are inexpensive. Or, you could make a bigger investment for a more permanent solution and wrapping pipes with fiberglass insulation. Regardless of which option you choose, it’s much cheaper than the average $5-thousand cost of repairing a burst pipe.

  • Exposed pipe

It’s important to also assess the environment of pipes in different areas of your home. Those on the exterior of your house, like an exterior faucet or spigot, are typically in the most danger of freezing. There are also pipes that lead from the exterior to the interior, and pipes located in colder areas, like the garage, or the basement in older homes. You can insulate these pipes as well, but if you’re going to be away from your home for an extended period of time, it might be a good idea to turn off the water completely and let the taps run dry to eliminate the risks.

  • Keep the heat on

Speaking of going away for the holidays, many of us may consider turning off our thermostat or turning it very low. The idea is that you don’t need to spend money to heat a home that no one will be staying in. Even with no one home, however, your home needs to stay warm to keep pipes warm. Turning the heat off completely during the winter could leave your home below freezing, which could cause even interior pipes to freeze. Other items in your home, like electronics, could also be damaged by prolonged exposure to the cold. And, when you return home, heating up your home from these low temperatures puts a great deal of stress on your heating system and can actually cost more in energy costs than leaving it on.

  • Running taps

This is probably the most common advice for preventing frozen pipes. Before a cold snap, leave faucets running. First, you want to leave a steady stream of water running from the tap, not just a drip. Second, this doesn’t actually keep water in your pipes from freezing. It does, however, minimize the damage. With water running, air pressure in the pipe is released, which can prevent tearing of the pipe even if freezing does occur. If you have both hot and cold taps, you’ll need to leave both running to accomplish this.

There’s no sure-fire way to tell your pipes are frozen until you turn on a faucet and no water comes out. If that happens this winter, turn off your water supply immediately. You could try to heat the frozen area by insulating it and heating it with a hair dryer, but be advised that dripping water is a potential electrocution hazard. Your best option is to call a professional plumber to fix the problem.

When you’re ready for a new home for your family, contact us at Perry Hood Properties. We build brand new homes in Tulsa, Bixby and Broken Arrow. You can start from scratch, or choose from our currently built and available homes.

3 Home Improvement Tasks To Make Your Heater More Efficient

Winter scene outside window

Winter has officially taken hold in Oklahoma, which means many of us firing up our heaters for the first time in months. Regardless of the current state and quality of your home’s heating system, there are a few simple tasks you can do around your home to help it work more efficiently. This will help to keep your home warmer, and decrease your monthly energy bills. Here’s where to start.

  • Glass

The glass in your home, be it windows or glass doors, are a leading culprit for heat loss. To help insulate them, a thin sheet of plastic film can be added. This is a cheap way to instantly make your home more efficient. You can also help keep the heat in by simply closing blinds or curtains at night. Then, during the day, keep them open during the sunniest parts of the day to get the maximum heating benefit from the sun. These are small, simple steps, but you’ll be able to see the difference on your next heating bill.

  • Doors

Even solid wood or metal doors can lose a lot of heat if they’re not properly maintained. The weather stripping should be your primary concern. Check that it hasn’t become worn and ineffective and be sure to replace it periodically. Next, you can simply close your exterior doors and see if any light is allowed in around the edges and feel for any cold air coming through. If you notice any areas that are open, seal them with a variety of available products at your local hardware store.

  • Drafts

A similar approach can be taken throughout the rest of your home. If one room seems to be colder than the rest, there’s a good chance that room has a draft somewhere that needs to be sealed. The traditional way to find a draft is to light a candle and slowly use it to trace the walls and windows. It will flicker when you find the draft that’s allowing a stream of cold air into your home and allowing warm air out. Finding these drafts can take some time, but eliminating them makes your home significantly more efficient.

These simple tips will help your home’s heating system keep your home warm, but it’s also important to keep your heater healthy. Have it inspected each year in the fall before you begin to use it and follow the factory maintenance schedule. This will keep your heater running smoothly and safely each winter.

If you’re ready to move your family to a new home this winter, contact us at Perry Hood Properties. We currently have a number of already constructed and available homes in some of Tulsa, Bixby and Broken Arrow’s most popular neighborhoods. Or, you can opt to start construction on a home that fits your specific standards.

7 DIY Thanksgiving Decoration Ideas For Your Home

Thanksgiving candle tray

Thanksgiving is a great time to welcome friends and family into our homes and enjoy home-cooked meals together. It’s also a great opportunity to incorporate some fun decorations to really get into the holiday spirit. Here are a few ideas that might just spark your imagination.

  • Message board

Here’s a different way to talk about what everyone is thankful for. Put up a message board and as guests arrive, have them write down their ideas. You can even have small leaves cut out of construction paper to further the Thanksgiving theme.

  • Use the mantle

The mantle above your fireplace is a great place for decorating for the holidays. Consider a harvest theme with plenty of ceramic pumpkins and maybe some ornamental plates. Bundles of dried wheat also look very fall and festive. You could even use a small chalkboard to write inspirational or seasonal quotes.

  • Wreaths

Decorating your front door ensures that guests get into the holiday spirit the moment they arrive. Consider creating your own Thanksgiving wreath this year. Start with an evergreen wreath and add your own touches like pine cones, roses, berries and hydrangeas.

  • Candles

The warm glow of candles throughout your home certainly creates an inviting ambiance. You don’t have to be limited to plain candles, however. Decorate your glass votive holders by wrapping them with paper, corn husks or anything that you can think of. Add a feather, bow or other item for some flair. Just be sure the decorations are far from the actual flame.

  • Cornucopia

This is a Thanksgiving tradition that immediately brings back memories. There’s no better Thanksgiving centerpiece than an overflowing cornucopia. Fill it with anything meaningful to you. Leaves, fruit, gourds, or even photos could make an ideal filling.

  • Glass containers

Sometimes, the simplest decorations can be the most effective. Take, for example, this idea of filling glass containers with signs of the season. Fill one with a variety of colors of leaves, another with gold and red ribbons, and one with walnuts, or pecans. Adorn the containers with bows or ribbons and you’ve got a simple decoration that’s easy to make.

  • Family photos

The holidays are a great time to teach your children about their ancestry, or just to remember your loved ones. There are a number of creative ways you can use family photos in your decorations. Consider making copies of baby pictures, then cutting them out and making a family tree on your wall. The best thing about family photos is everyone can enjoy them and they never look out of place.

These are just a few options for decorating your home for Thanksgiving.

If you’re ready for a new home to decorate, contact us at Perry Hood Properties. If you act now, you could still close on one of our currently available homes in Tulsa, Broken Arrow and Bixby before the new year.

3 Reasons Fireplaces Make Great Additions To Your Home

Perry Hood home in Bixby with fireplace

With colder weather coming in the near future, most homeowners are already getting out the quilts, space heaters and winter clothes to attempt to stay warm during this harsh Oklahoma winter. That also means it’s time to get your fireplace cleaned and inspected before another season of use. If you don’t have a fireplace, you may consider adding one to your current or future home. Here are a few benefits you’ll get when you do.

  • Ambiance

Imagine walking into a room with a roaring fire on a cold, gray, winter afternoon. Now imagine walking into the same room, with the same furnishings and decorations, but no fireplace. It’s a completely different feeling and the room even looks different. In many ways, a living room or den is incomplete without a fireplace. Not only does it add a rustic charm, but the warmth, glow and sound of a crackling fire even serves as a relaxing addition. So, in addition to the design benefit of making a room look more inviting, there’s the added benefit of making a room feel more inviting too.

  • Energy costs

This is perhaps the most obvious benefit of having a fireplace in your home. When you’re able to use your heater less, your utility bills will decrease significantly. Anyone who has regularly used a fireplace in the winter can tell you that the heater isn’t necessary when the fireplace is in use. While you can’t expect the fireplace to heat your entire home, it heats up the room it’s in quickly, and retains heat for a long time. Over time, that heat moves to other rooms to keep them warmer too, so you can keep your heater off for longer. In most cases, any costs associated with your fireplace are off-set by your energy savings.

  •  Easy to use

There was a time when you needed to be able to build a fire from scratch in order to make use of your home’s fireplace. That’s no longer true, however. Starting a fire in your home’s fireplace is often as easy as flipping a switch. Whether you have an electric, wood or gas fireplace, the process of starting a fire is simple and easy to learn. Additionally, clean-up and maintenance of your fireplace is as easy as ever. While regular cleaning is required to keep dust and soot from building up, modern fireplaces stay cleaner for longer and don’t require you to regularly sweep the chimney. All of this contributes to the overall experience of owning a fireplace being easier than ever before.

At Perry Hood Properties, we regularly include fireplaces in our homes and floorplans. You can even enjoy an outdoor fireplace on the patio, as well as a fireplace in your living room. Browse through our currently available homes or call us to start building a home specifically for you and your family.

Winter Preparation Tips For Your Home

House in winter

Are you the type of person who bristles at the sight of Christmas decorations before Thanksgiving? Many of us want to enjoy fall and its holidays before fully embracing winter, but when it comes to preparing your home for the winter months, it could be costly to wait. Here are a few winter preparation tasks to finish ahead of the cold weather to ensure your winter is comfortable and your home is able to stand up to winter weather.

  • Inspect your heater

In Oklahoma, it’s not a question of if you’ll need your heater this winter, but a question of when. Fall temperatures have been mild so far, but eventually, you’ll want to kick on your heater. Be sure to have a professional inspect it before you need it to ensure it’s both as efficient as possible and safe to use. Before the professionals arrive, you can perform so simple tasks yourself. Change the filters, clean the vents and look into your ducts for signs of leaks. Performing these tasks and having routine inspections can prolong the life of your heating system and ensure it doesn’t break down in the dead of winter.

  • Prepare the outside of your home

By looking for damaged areas and properly sealing your home before the cold weather arrives, you help to make your home more energy efficient and easier to keep heated all winter. You also help to prevent moisture and water from causing costly damage to walls and floors. Start by walking around your home and looking for any cracks to the exterior. You can fill and seal any that you find with caulk. Then, look at the weather stripping around your doors and windows and replace any that is damaged. Ineffective weather stripping can allow a great deal of heat to escape your home and is inexpensive to replace so it’s worth this exercise.

  • Yard maintenance

Most of us would associate yard work with the spring and fall, but there are a few chores to get out of the way to prepare for winter also. First, trim your trees that are close to your home. As snow and ice accumulate on the branches, they’re likely to break and fall on your roof, gutters or other areas of your home. Similarly, it’s important to trim shrubs and bushes before winter, especially those located near your air conditioner. Keeping the unit free of debris will be helpful when you’re ready to use it again next spring.

These three tasks will help you prepare your home for the winter months.

If you’re ready to move into a brand new home before Christmas arrives, contact us at Perry Hood Properties. We have several move-in ready homes that have been recently finished available in Tulsa, Broken Arrow and Bixby.

3 Things To Consider To Determine If You’re Ready To Buy A Home

Couple buying a home

If you’ve been renting, living with family or with roommates for the past few years, you might feel it’s time to buy your own home. Or, maybe you’ve just gotten married and you and your new spouse are ready to buy a home to start a family. Before making the investment into a house, however, be sure you’re ready for the commitment. Here are three tell-tale signs that you’re ready and able to buy a home.

  • 6-month reserve

There’s much more to consider when buying a home beyond just the price of the house itself. First, consider some worst-case scenarios. What if you lose your job or are unable to work? Are you able to continue to afford your home while you get back on your feet? There may also be unexpected costs that make one month’s expenses substantially more than the average. A tree could fall, a pipe could burst or an appliance may suddenly fail. These are just some of the reasons why it’s important to have plenty of money saved up before you purchase a home. The general rule of thumb is to calculate your average monthly expenses. You can do this by looking at your spending over the last 18-months and adding in an estimated mortgage payment instead of your rent payments. If you could reasonably survive for 6-months off your savings by paying that average each month, you should have enough for any unexpected circumstances.

  • Staying put

If you’re forced to turn around and sell your home within two years of buying, you’re likely to lose money on the deal. In that short of a time period, the amount your home is likely to increase in value will be negated by inspection fees and real estate commissions. Some of the tax benefits you get from buying a home could be negated, as well. Of course, it’s not always up to you whether you have to move or not, but if you aren’t fairly certain that you’ll be in your new home for at least 2 years, it might not be the best time to buy.

  • Household income

This last step is almost a combination of the first two. You not only need to be able to accurately estimate your finances for the foreseeable future, but you also need to have a sense of stability. You’ll want to try to estimate the annual income you and the rest of your household is likely to bring in for the next few years. This doesn’t need to be accurate to the dollar, but rather in a range. This would be where you consider details like changing to a one income household when you have a child, or if you’re planning a career change or want to start a business. If you already know any significant changes are in your future, be sure to account for them now so you can decide what your budget for a new home is and whether or not you want to buy one before that change occurs.

By going through the exercise of looking at your finances and planning accordingly, the home buying and owning process becomes much less stressful.

When you decide you’re ready to buy a new home, call us at Perry Hood Properties. We have existing homes throughout the Tulsa, Broken Arrow and Bixby area or can walk you through the building process to create your dream home.

Keeping Pests Out Of Your Home This Fall

Spider web

There are a number of concerns to deal with around your home when fall arrives. One of the biggest annoyances and frustrations for most homeowners is pests trying to escape the cooler outdoor weather and getting into your house. While a preventative call to an exterminator is always helpful, there are a few other efforts you can make yourself to make your home more difficult for insects and other pests to infiltrate.

  • Seal it up

It’s pretty simple when you think about it. Spiders, bugs and mice all get into your home through small holes and cracks around windows, doors, dryer vents and other areas. Insects can typically squeeze through holes no bigger than 1/16 of an inch, while rodents only need about a quarter inch opening. Caulk, expandable foam, copper mesh and cement can all be used to close up gaps. Sealing your home also serves to make it more energy efficient so it’s a worthwhile exercise before the weather gets cold.

  • Outdoor lighting

If you’ve stepped outside with your porch light on after dark recently, you’ve noticed the swarm of moths and other insects present. Not only do you outdoor lights attract insects, but they bring other pests like spiders, who don’t react to the light but rather the assortment of bugs the spiders typically eat. The simple solution is to turn these lights off to keep the bugs away, but leaving the outside of your house dark all winter can be unsafe. Instead, consider replacing bulbs in your outdoor lights. There are a few alternatives to traditional bulbs that are less likely to attract insects.

  • Vegetation

Shrubs, trees and ivy look great around the outside of your home, but they are also home to a variety of pests. If insects, spiders and rodents make your garden home, it’s more likely that they’ll try to migrate indoors when it becomes warmer than outside. If you don’t want to completely move plants farther from your house, you can research specific plants that are inhospitable to the type of pests you’re usually seeing. This is also a reason to clear away fallen leaves and debris, which can also be home to pests.

  • Cleanliness

Even with all of these precautions, some pests are still likely to get inside from time to time. In order to make your home less attractive to them, it’s important to keep it tidy. Obviously, when food, crumbs and residue are left uncleaned, ants and mice are likely to be drawn. Sweeping and vacuuming also makes it less likely that you’ll face an infestation. Even clutter like piles of clothes or books can be a good hiding place of bugs. And, the longer they’re allowed to hide in your home, the more likely they’ll be able to breed and become a much bigger problem. By keeping floors swept, and your home clean, pests become easier to spot and less likely to stick around.

Taking these steps now can help you enjoy a pest free fall and winter.

And if you’re ready to move out of your old home and into a brand new one, contact us at Perry Hood Properties. We have a number of currently available homes in Tulsa, Broken Arrow, and Bixby, or can help you build your dream home in neighborhoods throughout the area.

Where Should These Rooms Be Located In My Next Home?

Woman in laundry room

When building your next home, you have the opportunity to change specific elements of your current home that you’ve found cumbersome and impractical. One particular opportunity that is present during the design phase is the ability to place certain rooms where they’ll be most convenient for you and your family. How you typically use and live in these rooms will dictate where they’re best placed within your home. Here are a few of the most important rooms, in terms of placement, and some insight into how to consider where they should be located in your home.

  • Laundry room

The placement of your laundry room is arguably the most personal decision you’ll make in your home. Ask ten people where they’d most like their laundry room and you’re likely to get ten different answers. Generally, having the laundry room close to the bedrooms makes the most sense, but some prefer to have it close to the main entryway in order to immediately capture muddy clothes. Others are open to an upstairs laundry room, but some don’t want to be forced to walk up and down stairs just to do a load of laundry. This is where a careful analysis of how you use your current laundry room will come in handy and give you an idea of where it will work best in your next home.

  • Master suite

It’s tempting to want your master bedroom to be close to the living room and kitchen so that all your most often used spaces are close by. When you do so, however, you put your peaceful bedroom in high traffic areas, which makes it much less peaceful. This is especially true if you have other members of your family living in your home who will be using those areas while you’re sleeping. Remember too that you also don’t want to be too close to the garage either. While, ultimately, these decisions are up to you, most people find that avoiding sharing a wall with a high traffic area makes for a more usable and enjoyable master suite.

  • Kitchen

Again, consider how you most often use the kitchen. Of course it’s a place to prepare meals. For many, it’s also where most meals are eaten. You’ll also be bringing in groceries weekly to unload there. And, during parties, it’s the room where most guests congregate for some reason. With that in mind, where should the kitchen be located? In most cases, putting it close to a main entry point is preferable. This way, unloading groceries is simple, guests gain quick access to it and, while you’re cooking, it’s easy to keep track of who comes and goes. In many cases, it’s a good idea to put the kitchen close to the main living area too. Not just so snacking options are close by, but also because it diverts some of the traffic from the living room through the kitchen.

  • Garage

The placement of your garage is slightly more limited than other rooms, but it still requires some thought. It’s likely to be on the front or side of your home and on the main level. Based on what we know about the placement of other rooms, we also know it’s likely to be near your kitchen. You probably don’t want it close to any bedrooms if possible, however. If your family is one that uses the garage as the main point of entry, it’s also a good idea to place the laundry room close by. Consider that, especially if you have small, active kids, there may be many dirty shoes and articles of clothing coming through the garage. You certainly don’t want those going directly into a living area or bedroom. Having them in the kitchen isn’t so bad, and of course being able to divert them directly into a laundry room or mud room is ideal.

At Perry Hood Properties, we have more than 30 years of experience building homes for families in Tulsa, Bixby and Broken Arrow. After considering how your family uses your home, come see us for recommendations and suggestions on designs for your new home. Contact us today to start your home building process, or consult our listings of already constructed and available homes. 

Fire Safety Tips For The Fall

Sitting in front of fireplace

The fall can be a particularly dangerous time around the house as a number of fire risks will be present. In fact, October is Fire Prevention Month. With that in mind, here are some specific risks you’ll encounter during the fall and how to prevent them from turning into a disaster.

  • Smoke and CO alarms

Every home should feature both of these helpful safety devices, and most do. Unfortunately, it’s easy to forget about them and let batteries wear out. Both smoke detectors and carbon monoxide sensors should be checked at minimum twice per year and the start of fall is an ideal time. Go ahead and replace the batteries even if they’re currently in working order. Then test to ensure these alarms are able to alert you in case of emergency. In many cases, especially with carbon monoxide sensors, you may need to install additional alarms, or move them so they’re easier to notice.

  • Cooking

Since many of us will be using the stove and oven more in the fall and winter, now is a good time to brush up on fire prevention tips for your kitchen. The first and most important tip is to never leave cooking unattended. When you walk away from a stove in use, you allow for the possibility that grease will ignite, a nearby flammable item is too close to heat, a child or pet could disturb cooking and cause a fire or a number of other dangerous situations. Each year, more than 150-thousand house fires are caused by cooking equipment. Don’t take any unnecessary risks. Additionally, know how to deal with a fire if it starts in the kitchen. Turn off heat to the stove immediately and cover a flaming pot or pan with a lid until the fire goes out and it cools down. If a fire starts in the oven, turn it off, but don’t open the oven door.

  • Space heaters

For chilly nights and mornings, many of us use space heaters around the house. Unfortunately, there are many potential hazards tied to these heaters if you’re not careful. They should never be left on when you leave or while you sleep. Modern space heaters often come with thermostats or timers to keep you from leaving them unattended. Additionally, it’s important to keep the area around your space heater clear. It should be sitting on a non-flammable surface and be at least 3-feet from any flammable materials.

  • Escape plans

Rather than part of prevention, your family’s escape plan is important in the event of an emergency. Everyone in your home should know what to do in case of fire. First, be sure you have a working fire extinguisher and that everyone knows where it is and how to use it. Next, set up multiple escape routes and practice them. Each member of the family should know how to get out regardless of where they are in the house at the time of a fire. These escape routes may require additional items like ladders, so be sure to include training for that as well.

The start of fall is a good time to remind yourself about changing smoke alarm batteries, having your furnace inspected and having your fireplace and chimney cleaned and inspected. Each of these tasks should be done at least once per year, so get in the habit of doing it at the same time annually.

If your family is ready for a new home, come see us at Perry Hood Properties. We build homes throughout the Tulsa, Bixby and Broken Arrow areas. Look through our current selection of available homes, or contact us to start the process of building your own custom home today.