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The Importance of Home Maintenance

The Importance of Home Maintenance

We are excited to announce a new division of Stearns Design Build, Stearns Home-Care.

As remodelers, on a daily basis, we see the impact of a lack of maintenance. Often homeowners just don’t know how to do the maintenance. Other times they are busy professionals that don’t have time. The most troubling is when we see elderly people who just cannot keep up with it and have to leave their homes for assisted living sooner than they otherwise would.  We see the unnecessary expense and inconvenience that comes from poor maintenance.

Offering a Home-Care program for routine maintenance was a natural fit for us, as it highlights three of our four core values. Maintaining a home preserves its Quality. This is something we do as an act of Caring for our clients. We are committed to building and maintaining Relationships. We love getting to know our clients and their homes.  Our fourth core value is Honesty, which is transparent in everything that we do.

We know that your family home is your sanctuary and it’s a privilege and an honor to help take care of it.  

Maximizing Curb Appeal

Maximizing Curb Appeal

A lovely home with simple lines that are hidden by a single color of paint. This home’s existing beauty has been hidden by the improper use of color.

A significant change in paint was applied to accentuate the different elements of the exterior of the home. Such as the windows, trim, and doors. A new roof and repairs to the siding and trim complete the renovation and breathes new life into the home.

Additionally, the ample back screened in porch was given a makeover by replacing old wood framing with sleek aluminum posts for the new screen. This provided the porch with a better view and connection to the large back yard.

6 Reason to Consider Us for Your Next Remodeling Project

6 Reason to Consider Us for Your Next Remodeling Project

Because your home is your family’s sanctuary, finding the right remodeler is almost as important as finding the right family doctor. We might be the right company to provide care for your home. Here are five key reasons why our clients have chosen us.

 

1. Project Management

  • Clean projects with a focus on dust control.
  • Strict adherence to project schedules
  • All participants well-coordinated for a project that flows smoothly
  • Use of Gantt charts and collaborative software.

2. Reputation

  • Aggie owned
  • 25 years in business
  • Viewable third-party reviews sent to all our clients.
  • Customer service award winner
  • Big Fifty (national award given to topflight remodelers from the United States and Canada)
  • Guild Master awards for customer service
  • Newman Ten winner

3. Construction Knowledge

  • Quality of Craftsmanship
  • Deep knowledge of Building Science
  • Deep knowledge of green building and energy efficiency?
  • Highly skilled in project management

4. Design

  • We have a unique articulation of design focused on creating spaces that create health and happiness. This is the transitions theory of design.
  • Remodeling design that respects the character of the existing home.
  • Remodeling design to the specific lifestyle and character of our clients.

5. Communication

  • A spelled-out pattern of detailed communication.
  • Weekly updates in design and daily updates during construction.
  • Clearly written scopes of work and specifications
  • Clear process for changes along the way

6. Value

  • We understand that remodeling value is a unique equation for every client. We seek to understand the variables that are most important to our clients for their remodeling projects.
  • We are a good choice for those who include elements of quality, durability and efficiency in their equation for remodeling value.

The Good the Bad and the Ugly in Siding Choices

DSCN0910

DSCN0910

In the south, we love brick and rock façade homes. In fact, many neighborhoods require a large percentage of it on their homes.  This is a shame because not only can siding be beautiful, it is also a much more energy efficient choice for our climate.  Rock and stone provide a thermal mass that act as a significant solar collector gathering heat and dissipating it to the home throughout our long summers. One of the likely reasons that neighborhoods tend to require lots of masonry is because we so often get siding wrong.  Here is a look at a range of common choices.

The Ugly

Vinyl – Though this is a very common siding material, it is, in our opinion, one of the worst.  Generally speaking, vinyl is an especially bad building material in most applications.  There are a few exceptions to this such as Andersen 100 windows; which include fiber in the vinyl to help stabilize it. One of vinyl’s many problems is that it expands and contracts rather drastically with changes in temperature.  In fact, we have seen the reflection off of nearby windows melt vinyl siding. We have always been told that the UV inhibitors in vinyl keep it from cracking. Nonetheless we have seen large sections of wall rot behind vinyl siding that had cracked. The cracks were not easily seen and the wall rotted without the homeowners even knowing that it was happening; at least until the siding started to fall off the house. But the most frequent failure we see with vinyl siding has nothing to do with the vinyl but with the aluminum trim that is applied on Fascia and othr trim.  In very many, perhaps most cases, water is able to get behind this metal and it cannot escape.  As a result, the rot cannot be seen and is not realized until it is too late.  This also happens with aluminum siding but because we do not see all that much of this siding in our area we have left it off of our list.

Hardboard – This material is often referred to generically as Masonite, who was an early manufacture of the product.  In 1996 the maker of Masonite Siding lost a large class action suite because the material was unfit for exterior use.  Today, Masonite no longer makes siding.  However, much of the siding remains in place and there are other similar products on the market. A few years back, when there was more of this product still around, we may have put this above vinyl as our least liked siding.

The Bad

Engineered Siding – This is a large group that includes plywood’s and composite woods; such as Smart Siding.  Our hot, humid climate is hard on these products.  More often than not, failures are more a product of poor installation than anything else. Commonly this siding is run closer to the ground than it should be because our slab foundations are built too low to the ground.  In addition, they are often improperly flashed to protect them from water infiltration.

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Pictures 003

Wood – This is difficult – we love wood siding. It is the real thing.  Nevertheless, for several reasons, it is not a great choice for our hot, humid climate.  Over the years, as we have grown wood faster and faster, it has lost a lot of the durability that it once had. But even well-cured, old growth wood has a tough time in our climate.  Nonetheless, we feel that for the well-informed and motivated client, it can be a great choice.  There is a lot that can be done that goes above and beyond a typical application to give wood siding a fighting chance.  This includes making sure that protective coating goes on every surface; especially end grain which is most vulnerable to rot and most often left unprotected. Though we almost never see it in our area, a rain channel behind the siding is also crucial to making wood siding durable.  Furthermore, proper window and trim details are also rare but important to maintaining wood siding.

The Good

A great siding choice for our climate is fiber cement siding. It is stable and rot proof. It also holds paint very well and is fire proof.

At Stearns Design Build, we specialize in wood and fiber cement sidings because we feel that they are the best choices for our climate.

To schedule a free siding or trim inspection, give us a call 979-696-0524 or your can arrange to have us call you.

Check Grout and Caulk inside the House

Caulk is an important barrier against water and air leaks but it does not last very well.  If the caulk is dried and cracked or if it has come loose you will need to replace it.  When repairing caulk clean all of the old caulk out and clean the surfaces.  Use a hair dryer to make sure that the surface is very dry before you apply caulk. If you are dealing with a gap of 1/8” or larger, we recommend that you use backer rod before applying caulk.  If you are not experienced with a caulk gun, it is a good idea to run a piece of tape along either side of the caulk line, leaving enough room for the caulk to make good surface contact.  Once you have smoothed the caulk you can pull the tape and have a very clean professional looking caulk joint. With the grout you will be checking for a few things. First check to make sure that it is clean.  Dirt and grime can discolor grout.  Often when grout is dirty it will take on more of a modeled look.  Using a cleaning solution scrub a small section of grout to see if it changes color.  If it does it will need to be cleaned.  Depending on how dirty it is, this process will determine how you will need to clean it.  There are specialized, often toxic, grout cleaning products.  Almost always the most important ingredient in cleaning grout is elbow grease.  Once the grout is clean you can check for loose and cracked grout that will need to be removed and repaired.  If the grout does not seem to be overly dirty or in need of repair, check to make sure that the sealer is still working.  If water beads up on it, the sealer is working.  If you have to scrub the grout, clean it or if water did not bead up on it you will need to reseal it.  There are many different sealers on the market. While we specify penetrating grout sealers in new construction they are usually not a good choice for resealing because previously sealed grout will not allow absorption.  In most instances we recommend an acrylic surface sealer for regrouting. Read the instructions carefully and follow all of the recommended steps accordingly.  This is not difficult but attention to detail is important.