Blog Archive for October, 2016

Choosing the right home

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 30, 2016


Deciding on where you are going to spend years of your life is exciting—and scary. Choosing the right home requires a lot of thought, both before you start house-hunting and when you prepare to make the offer.

Before you leap, answer these questions.

Is it the home or the address you like?

Yes, location is important, but it’s up to you to determine HOW important. Are you willing to settle for a less-than-ideal home because it’s in the city, town, or neighborhood you like? If so, can you live with the compromises you’ll be making with this house?

Are you enamored of the floor plan?

The layout of your new home is essential. Pay attention as you walk through the house. Look from one room to the other. Does it flow the way you’d like? Don’t let finishing touches overshadow underlying floor plan issues that are nagging you.

Have you factored in the costs for renovation and upkeep?

The purchase price is just the start of your new home investment. You might have made a mental list of improvements, but have you tallied it up? Did you consider the cost to maintain the landscaping and that swimming pool that seems so inviting on the hot summer day when you are house-hunting? Is it going to exhaust your budget to pay for the home’s heating and electricity? Even something as seemingly simple as rewiring to accommodate your electronics can add up. Factor it all in before you choose.

Are you going to grow into this house—our out of it?

We want “move-in ready”, but that’s living in the moment. What about five or six years from now? Will this house still be your idyll? Will the area continue to develop, and is that what you want? Is your household growing or shrinking? Maybe you have an aging or ill family member who might need to live with you in a few years. Will this home accommodate that life change? People look for a home where they will live for 15 or 20 years. In reality, the average American homeowner moves every six or seven years.

Can you envision a life here?

Did you get excited when you pulled up to the house the first time? Did you picture your car in the driveway? Can you imagine you and your family living here comfortably? You should be able to see your furniture in the rooms. The interior should spark your excitement, maybe thinking, “Oh, this is how I’m going to decorate this room” or “We can put the Christmas tree over there” or “What a great space for your grandmother’s piano!”

Your home choice is one of the biggest decisions you make in your lifetime. Take the time to consider all your options and the value they add, if any, to your decision.

Chimney fire prevention in 3 easy steps

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 19, 2016


The growing chill in the air ignites the urge to cozy up in front of a crackling fire. Before you light that log in your fireplace, be sure you’re not sparking a chimney fire.

Approximately 23,000 chimney fires occur every year, causing near a billion dollars in damage, and potentially the loss of lives.

Chimney fires are usually caused by creosote build-up. That’s the highly combustible residue that remains in your chimney when burning wood. The wood emits smoke, vapor, gas, hydrocarbons, tar fog, and wood particles. When the internal temperature of your flue gets high enough, the creosote ignites. The fire can explode and erupt in flames, or quietly smolder undetected.

A chimney fire can also result from a faulty chimney liner. If your chimney liner doesn’t provide adequate protection from the searing heat, sparks can escape into your home and ignite a fire.

You can prevent a chimney fire with three easy steps:

  1. Have your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned. At the beginning of the heating season, hire a certified chimney inspector to examine your chimney—specifically, the chimney liner and ventilation. The chimney inspector will check for creosote build-up, cracks, and leaks, and make sure the vent is in good working order. A good chimney sweep thoroughly cleans the chimney, flue, and vents.
  2. Use the right wood. Not all woods burn the same. Seasoned hardwood—like ash, oak, maple, hickory, and beech—is best. It has been fully dried out, and the ends should appear cracked, showing the wood is dry. When wood is still green, it creates more smoke as the moisture is dried. This additional condensation can lead to creosote build-up.

Never burn any treated wood materials—e.g., plywood, pressed wood, pressure-treated lumber, engineered wood, like laminate. These materials have been chemically treated and could emit dangerous gases when you burn them.

  1. Take precautions outside.
    • Stack your firewood at least 30 feet from your home, to avoid any risk if the wood catches a spark.
    • During your fall clean-up, clear away fallen leaves, pine needles, and debris from the roof and flue. Anything near the chimney is at risk of catching sparks and starting a fire.
    • Place a spark arrestor screen over the chimney opening. The mesh keeps sparks from escaping to the roof and igniting a fire.

For some tips on finding a certified chimney sweep, visit the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA).

Must-have new home features, by generation

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 14, 2016


Each person has a unique vision of the “dream home”. It could be spacious and luxurious or a country retreat. Maybe the house offers single-level living or has several stories.

Everyone seems to agree that spacious island kitchens, and updated bathrooms with separate tub and shower are essential. Still, different age groups are looking for different “must-have” features in their next home.

How does this list fit your new home wishes?

Baby Boomers

  • Single-level home. They don’t want stairs!
  • The coziness offers special comfort.
  • Low-maintenance surfaces. Granite and quartz are preferred.
  • Walkable, sociable communities. Boomers want walking trails and common areas to come together with friends, family, and neighbors.
  • This generation wants more detail, done with quality, like crown modling and built-ins.
  • Flexible space. Their lives are changing. Kids are moving out. They want the next home to be easily converted.
  • Storage. Even though they are often down-sizing their life, they want to be able to organize everything they keep, for easy access.

Gen X

  • Breakfast bar. Generation X (Echo Boomers) like to relax with their coffee and read the latest on their tablet while sitting at a counter.
  • Eco-friendly. New homes have energy-efficiency built in, but appliances aren’t enough. Home systems (HVAC), light fixtures, windows and doors—it all needs to respect the environment.
  • Upstairs laundry rooms. This generation of homeowner wants two (or more) floors, and they don’t want to haul laundry up and down those stairs.
  • Closet organizer. Gen X is particular about their clothes, and they will appreciate the value of a spacious, organized closet to store them.
  • Second-floor loft. Specifically, they are seeking a getaway to be alone with their laptop.
  • Outdoor fireplaces. They grew up with campfires but they want something more updated now.
  • Natural light. Their parents tolerated fluorescent lighting (to a point), but Gen Xers want ambient light streaming through windows.


  • Open interior: The fewer the walls, the better. Open floor plans are ideal, so they can designate the purpose for themselves.
  • Low maintenance: No carpets or wood-burning fireplaces or stoves. Easy-care floors and surfaces, gas or ventless fireplaces are the way to go.
  • Spa bathrooms: While most homebuyers want a nice bathroom, Millennials will likely accept nothing less than the latest trends, from vanities to showers and tubs to plumbing fixtures.
  • Tech-ready. They want everything “smart” so the new home must be ready to handle the Millennial’s ever-expanding technology needs.
  • Energy-efficiency. Their new home must be eco-friendly, from construction materials to systems and appliances.
  • Less detail. Millennials aren’t impressed by crown molding and fine details.

New homes are always exciting. Finding the perfect one can be a chore, but remember, it’s out there!

Halloween Home Decorating Contest

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: October 13, 2016


Calling all Tuskes Homeowners!

Fall is in full swing at all of our communities and we have noticed awesome Fall and Halloween decorations out there.  We love what we are seeing so much that we are announcing our Halloween Home 2016 contest for Tuskes Homeowners!

Show us your spookiest community spririt the by sharing your decorated home with us.  Send us your spookiest, scariest, funniest Fall and Halloween home photos. Prizes will be awarded for the Top Three! It’s EASY to Win!

We’re accepting submissions from now until October 31st! Send your submissions to,and the winner will be announced on Facebook on November 1st.

In your submission, please include your exterior photo, community you live in, house number, name, and phone number. Then sit back with some hot cider and the candy you stole from your kids and wait to see if you are a winner!

6 tips for organizing your garage

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 6, 2016


The garage becomes the repository for all things you don’t know what to do with or don’t have space to store in the house. It can reach a point where you spend too much time searching for the one thing you need, and you can’t even fit your car in there.

What? Are you already there?

Before winter comes, invest a weekend in restoring order to your garage. Not only will garage organization save you from rummaging in the bitter cold, but you’ll also be ready with holiday decorations AND have one less spring cleaning task.

To get you started, here are 6 tips for organizing your garage.

  1. Empty the contents. Remove everything from the garage. Otherwise, you’ll just move things from place to place. Start with a clean canvas.
  2. As you’re emptying the garage, have a trash can ready. Immediately discard anything that isn’t worth keeping or appropriate to donate. Set aside a box for the items you will give away—to charities, thrift shops, family and friends. Animal shelters love old blankets, sheets, and pillows. Books can go to your library or senior center. Household items are welcomed at women’s shelters.
  3. Get zoned “in”. Plan storage zones for your garage. For example, Workshop, Sports Equipment, Gardening, Holidays & Home Decor, and Memorabilia. Zones where you will store items you use regularly should be close to the front of the garage, for easy access.
  4. Map it out. Your garage has plenty of storage, when you know how and where to use it. Pegboard on the wall is great for storing tools, extension cords, tape (duct, electrical, painter’s masking), and other small items. Closet shelving systems work well in garages, too. And you have the bonus of overhead storage, with hooks and racks that can be mounted to your ceiling. Clear, plastic bins make it easier to find items without opening boxes.
  5. Label everything. Use large labels that are easily visible to mark the contents of each garage storage container. If you use a pegboard, label what goes where, so that everything that is removed can be replaced where it belongs.
  6. Stick to it. Once your garage is beautifully organized, keep it that way. Make sure you put everything where it belongs. As soon as you get lazy and think, “I’ll store it there later,” you open the door for the clutter bug to return. And they breed like crazy!


ask martha

Ask Martha!

email phone chat