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Tuskes Homes Joins Fig Magazine to Celebrate the Lehigh Valley’s MAKERS

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 8, 2017

 

Tuskes Homes joined Fig Magazine on Thursday night to celebrate the launch of their Fall 2017 issue, the MAKERS issue. Hosted by Lehigh University Art Galleries, the launch party featured a preview of the community’s latest art exhibit and celebrated the Lehigh Valley’s most innovative artists, creators, and makers—including Tuskes Homes’ own residential architect, Marci Werley.

“It was wonderful to meet with such an incredible group of individuals,” said Marci of participating in the Fig MAKERS edition. “The creativity and innovation that they are bringing to Bethlehem is what makes this such an exciting time to be building homes in the area.”

As lead architect, Marci designs the beautifully handcrafted, custom homes for which Tuskes Homes is known. A Lehigh Valley resident herself, Marci envisions home designs that combine the region’s preference for classic styles with the modern conveniences local residents love. She meets with homeowners to discuss their plans, and devises a floor plan that suits their needs and brings to life the dream home that they’ve worked so hard for.

Joining Marci in the MAKERS issue are local chefs, artists, jewelers, distillers, glassblowers, woodworkers, luthiers, designers, and more. One common theme among these local cultural icons: their commitment to cultivating a sense of community in Bethlehem.

“A sense of community is so important to us as home builders, but also as people who live here,” Marci said. “The Tuskes team lives here too, we have families here, and there is nothing more important to us than building our homes in a strong and growing area like Bethlehem.”

For more information about local home design trends or to inquire about building your dream home, contact Martha at 484-626-1616 or visit www.tuskeshomes.com.

Want to keep up with the local events and happenings in Bethlehem? Follow Tuskes Homes and Fig Bethlehem on your favorite social channel!

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Save Your Energy! 4 Simple Tips for Energy-Efficiency at Home

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 5, 2017

Conserving energy at home does more than just protect the planet—it can also save you money. The costs of using excess electricity, water, and fuel add up over time, and decreasing your usage is often as easy as flipping a switch or turning a dial. Try a few of these easy ways to cut down on energy usage at home. Your wallet (and Mother Nature) will thank you!

Do laundry less often. Wait until you’ve accumulated a full load of laundry before running your machine. Running full loads rather than smaller ones means that more clothes are being washed with less water—plus, you won’t need to do laundry as frequently! In addition, wash clothes with cold water whenever possible. According to Treehugger.com, only 10% of the energy your washer uses goes toward running the machine; the other 90% is used merely to heat the water.

Unplug unused chargers. Cell phone and battery chargers consume approximately 0.26 watts of energy when not in use, according to Energy.gov. Leaving one charger plugged in won’t break the bank, but a whole family’s worth of chargers can add up to 10% of your energy bill.

Buy new, not used. In general, new homes tend to be much more energy-efficient than older ones. Modern appliances use less energy, newer toilets waste less water, and the latest HVAC systems require less fuel. If you’re looking into moving to a new location, consider buying a newly constructed home or working with a home builder that designs homes with energy-efficiency in mind. Here at Tuskes Homes, we love power-saving products such as energy-efficient GE appliances, which are installed in our new homes.

“Daylight” your home. Rather than using artificial light, open up the curtains and let the natural light illuminate your living space. Not only does daylighting conserve energy and save money, but it also beautifully highlights your home’s interior. Natural-light lovers will adore Tuskes Homes floor plans such as the Kingston and Monocacy, which feature numerous windows throughout the home, plus additional window options in the great room. Tuskes Homes’ open-concept floor plans help natural light flow throughout the home, and unique features such as transom windows and French doors make daylighting a natural part of living.

 

Yes, you DO need a home theater system

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 1, 2017

Televisions keep getting bigger and “smarter”. Video streaming selections keep getting broader and better. Siri, Alexa, and Google make it easier than ever to find the movies and programs you want,

A home theater system is no longer a matter of enjoying the occasional movie in the comfort of your home. Today, it’s how people are experiencing entertainment—from sports to movies to everyday programs

So, if you’ve been wondering whether you should invest in expanding your viewing quality, the answer is, yes, you DO need a home theater system.

To retrofit your current home with an integrated home theater system, you’ll need more than televisions. Preferably, speakers are fit into the wall, rather than exterior speakers mounted on them, and cables must be run to give you the connectivity. For true surround sound, you’ll be installing a speaker in the ceiling as well.

Are you considering a move to a new home? If you’re building from the ground up, adding a home theater is not complicated. Your builder can work the design and infrastructure into the plans so that it fits seamlessly. This opportunity also allows the homebuyer to expand the system into more rooms. For example, add the viewing to your kitchen, where your family and guests often congregate, and install a wall-mounted television for your outdoor living space.

A home theater system isn’t as complicated or expensive as you might think. In addition to the televisions, you’ll need a home theater receiver (also known as AV receiver or surround sound receiver) with Bluetooth connectivity, and the speakers. You might also want to consider the lighting in your media room. It’s easy to add dimmer switches for the existing light fixtures. Do you need room darkening shades?

You can expand your technology from the basics, depending on your desired home theater experience. Here’s a great guide to all the bells and whistles.

Are you ready to go from renter to homeowner?

Categories: Blog | Posted: August 17, 2017

For the past few years, you might have been watching the real estate market with interest, but didn’t feel ready to make the leap from renter to homeowner. You can still take advantage of low interest rates.

Why are you hesitating?

Here are some telltale signs you might be more ready than you think.

You’ve been paying rent on time for years. That monthly payment shows you’re responsible, and that you’re used to committing a sizeable sum each month to your living expenses. When you consider that your monthly mortgage payment could be even less than your rent, then you should feel confident that you can handle it.

You have a secure job. You’re getting good performance reviews and your employer is in a solid position, possibly even growing. If you like your job and see your future there, you have the job security that’s important when you commit to a mortgage.

Your credit is good. A good FICO score is 700 or higher, but you can get a loan with a lower credit score, as long as your debt-to-income ratio is within the acceptable range (e.g., your total debt is less than 30% of your annual income). The higher your credit score, the better you will do, both in terms of how much you can borrow and at what rate. Talk to a lender about mortgage pre-approval so you know where you stand before you start your new home search. Many lenders can give you direction for improving your credit score to qualify for the home you want.

You know what you want in a home—and it’s probably not roommates (or parents). You’re becoming more aware of home designs, wandering through home centers, and exploring neighborhoods. You’re imagining yourself as a homeowner, instead of seeing it as a distant reality.

Seeing is believing. That image of homeownership could be closer than you think. Talk to a real estate professional and a lender to explore your options. You’ll never know if you’re ready to buy a home if you don’t make the move!

Home Design Trends Taking Bethlehem by Storm

Categories: Blog | Posted: August 4, 2017

 

We are loving some of the classic, yet modern, home designs that the Tuskes Homes design team and homeowners have been bringing to the table in Bethlehem recently. If you’re thinking about investing in a new home, or simply looking to upgrade your current home’s style, check out a few of these trends that have caught our eyes.

 

This yoga loft in our Hanover Oaks model home is looking good!

 

    1. Add a touch of tranquility with a yoga loft. If you have an extra bedroom or other space you’re not using, take a few easy steps to transform it into a serene room for yoga. Just add a yoga mat, a speaker for some peaceful music, and set up a small table for your favorite scented candles or aromatherapy. For a little extra décor, visit some of the shops in Historic Downtown Bethlehem and look for antiques, sculptures, or wall art to add to your personal sanctuary.

We can’t get enough of these Saratoga Farms homeowners’ gorgeous black and white design concept for their new home.

 

2. Keep it simple with classic black and white. Having trouble deciding on a color scheme for your new home? Black and white is a classic combination that never goes out of style. Plus, if you decide to add colorful decorations later on, it’ll be easy to find something to go with this neutral color scheme.

Brightly colored shutters add a unique touch to this home in Bethlehem’s Maple Shade community.

 

3. Give your shutters a pop of color. Bethlehem is a colorful city, so to give your home an equally vibrant personality, consider opting for colorful accents. Bright reds or blues look amazing against more a more neutral background. Choosing unique shutters is a great way to add some character to your new home!

Add a few rocking chairs and you can sit and admire this stylish blue door all day long!

 

4. Or, pick a colorful front door. One popular trend in Bethlehem right now is a pop of color on the front door. Choose a shade that stands out from the rest of your home and expresses your personality, rather than a color that matches your shutters. A colorful front door will make your home’s exterior as individual as you are, and your new home will feel uniquely yours!

These homeowners in Hanover Oaks added incredible landscape lighting to their home’s exterior.

 

5. Light up your landscape. You’ve worked hard for the home of your dreams, so why not show it off day and night? Add some lighting around the outside of your home to highlight the landscaping and facade even after the sun goes down. Not only does the extra lighting look fantastic, but it’ll also make pulling into your driveway late at night much easier and safer.

This two-story stone fireplaces adds a rustic, warm charm to this Maple Shade home.

 

6. Add a stone fireplace for a rustic, chic flair. Everyone loves to curl up by the fire on a cold winter’s night, and Bethlehem certainly has its fair share of those. Give your fireplace a bit of style with a stone surround. Mount your television above the hearth, or simply place candles or vases on top of the mantle. Stone fireplaces look especially beautiful extending to the ceiling of a two-story great room.

This farmhouse sink is the perfect combination of functionality and style.

 

7. Upgrade your kitchen with a new sink/faucet combo. Especially trendy in Bethlehem right now are farmhouse sinks, which feature a deep basin with an apron front, making cooking and cleaning a breeze. When paired with a modern, classy chrome or stainless steel faucet, this is a kitchen design choice you’re sure to love. Add some under-cabinet lighting to accentuate your beautiful new sink!

Pendant lights complement the spectacular island in this open-concept kitchen.
8. Bring in some elegant pendant lighting. Bethlehem homeowners love putting pendant lights above the kitchen island in their homes. Not only does it add some sophisticated style, but it makes your kitchen warm and welcoming, perfect for entertaining–and we know Bethlehem likes to entertain! From modern to rustic, there are endless styles and several beautiful metallic finishes from which to choose.

Choosing the Right School District – Before Your Move.

Categories: Blog | Posted: August 3, 2017

Finding the right home in the right neighborhood is always a challenge for a homebuyer. Parents with school-age children have even more to consider when it comes to picking “Location! Location! Location!”

When you’re moving within your own region, you already have knowledge of the school district’s reputation. If you’re moving farther, you need to take the time to consider various factors when choosing a school. Here are some questions to ask yourself and the schools.

  1. What type of learning environment is best for my child? No one knows your child better than you. Determine whether she will thrive in a small or large classroom, needs a particular type of curriculum (structured versus non-structured, liberal arts, faith-based), or would benefit from a school that offers bilingual education.
  2. Does the town support the school? The town’s annual report will show how much of the tax dollars are spent on education. Look at the spending per pupil to determine how deeply the town is committed to education. A properly funded school will have up-to-date computers and technology, a library of diverse resources, proper sporting equipment, and a well-maintained campus.
  3. What services are offered? A school that employs a full complement of staffing—including on-site nurse, resource officer, librarian, and guidance counselors—is better equipped to provide a safe, healthy, and nurturing environment.
  4. What extra-curricular programs are available? The classroom is just one part of the overall education experience. Extra-curricular programs, like clubs and sports teams, provide valuable learning for young people. If your child is an avid lacrosse player, for example, and the school you’re considering doesn’t have a team, then you might want to look elsewhere for the right school.
  5. Does the district offer school choice? Having the ability to choose from more than one school for your child is a benefit. Some districts have a lottery where a certain number of students can attend a different school that better suits their needs. If you have a child who is musically inclined, the possibility of enrolling him in a magnet school for the performing arts may be just what you want.
  6. How does this school’s rating compare locally, regionally, and nationally? Visit GreatSchools.org to view a detailed report on the schools in the area you’re considering, including parent reviews. Keep in mind that all schools whether they are rated highly or not as a whole often have tracks for either highly skilled students or those that have special needs that are excellent. Don’t let a single score scare you from making the best choice for your children.

Once you have done all of this advance research, you can take the extra step and schedule a tour of each school to see and sense the environment for yourself.

How to improve indoor air quality in your home

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 27, 2017

You might think that the air outside is harmful, but did you know that your indoor air is often more polluted? Pollutants are brought in—through vents and windows, in cleaners and air fresheners, and on clothing—and can stick around when there’s no place for them to go. The chemicals found on new carpet and furniture and a fresh coat of paint on the walls contribute to indoor air pollution. Formaldehyde is used in a wide range of products, from pressed boards to drapery fabric. Any area with standing water—like a leak under a sink or a damp basement—creates an environment for mold and mildew to grow.

Children, elderly, or people with asthma are particularly sensitive to allergens and pollutants. Make the air safer to breathe. Here’s how to improve the indoor air quality in your home.

  1. Invest in a good vacuum cleaner. Choose a vacuum with a HEPA filter, rotating brushes, and strong suction to get rid of pollen, dust mites, pet dander, lead, and even toxins like fire-retardant chemicals (PBDEs). At least twice a week, vacuum the floors—including edges—baseboard, trim around doors and windows, upholstery, and walls. Clean the HEPA filter frequently.
  2. Mop after vacuuming. It sounds like double-duty, but a good mop can pick up a lot of dirt and dust that your vacuum misses. Dampen the mop with water only—not cleaners.
  3. Put a mat at every entry. Wherever people are coming into your home, be sure you have a sturdy floor mat to catch some of the dirt and pollutants on their shoes.
  4. Leave shoes at the door. Leave a place by the door for people to take off their shoes, so you can minimize anything they could track into your home.
  5. Manage the humidity. Mold, bacteria, and dust mites thrive in a moist environment. Use a dehumidifier to remove dampness from the air, and empty the drip pan frequently. You can also reduce humidity by running the exhaust fan in the kitchen when you’re cooking, and in the bathroom during and after each shower. Vent your dryer to the outside, fix plumbing leaks, and avoid giving your indoor plants too much water. Aim for a humidity level below 50% in your home.
  6. Avoid artificial fragrances. Everything from air fresheners to launder detergent and household cleaners includes synthetic fragrances that emit chemicals and gasses into the air. Instead of air fresheners, use sliced lemons and baking soda to add a pleasant scent to the air.
  7. Bring in purifying houseplants. Certain plants actually remove indoor air pollutants, like formaldehyde, benzene and xylene. Bring in aloe vera, azalea, Boston fern, Chinese evergreen, dracaena, English ivy, ficus (weeping fig), Gerbera daisy, heart leaf philodendron, mother-in-law’s tongue (also known as snake plant), peace lily, rubber plant, and a spider plant. If you have children or pets, check to make sure the plant is safe for them.
  8. Open your windows. Welcome fresh air into your home and let the bad air out. When weather permits, open your windows for at least 20 minutes a day.

Earth, Wind & Sun – Which Direction Should Your New Home Face?

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 20, 2017

Once you’ve decided to build on your lot, it’s time to decide how to position your home on the property. Siting is critical to making the most of the homesite’s positive features. Factor in these considerations when siting your home.

Sun

A lot that faces north-to-south in relation to the street enables you to site your home facing the road and capture the desirable southern light. If your home will be located in a region of warm climates, you might prefer more windows on the north side, to avoid too much heat from the sun.

With an east-west facing lot, you’ll position your home to get the more abundant southern light. With the front of your home not facing the street, you’ll have some choices to make about the entry.

By carefully planning the window placement, you can harness the sunlight to conserve energy.

Soil

What type of earth will you be excavating? The difference between solid rock and sandy soil (and everything in the middle) will affect your bottom line for excavation, foundation, and drainage. The type of soil can vary from neighboring homesites, and even within your own property lines. Even an experienced builder can unearth surprises when the excavation begins, so keep this in mind when estimating your construction budget.

Slope

Is your homesite flat or sloped? Property with an incline is beneficial if you plan on including a walk-out basement, but it comes with a cost, depending on the steepness of the slope. When you site a home on a slope, you will need to determine how the drainage will be engineered. Pumping sewage and drainage uphill is more costly than the other direction; however, if you live in an area with heavy rains, you don’t want the water rushing to your basement.

Wind

How does the wind impact your property? Where does it hit with the most strength? Winter winds normally come from the north. Position your home to avoid the strongest gusts—particularly with relation to outdoor living spaces and structures—and plan to add trees and tall hedges as windbreakers.

Your architect and engineer work with you to achieve energy efficiency, cost effectiveness, and curb appeal.

5 Outdoor kitchen trends for 2017

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 13, 2017

Outdoor living spaces have evolved dramatically in the past decade. The backyard grill has transformed to an outdoor kitchen, complete with everything you need to prepare, serve, and clean up after full-course meals.

Thinking of updating your al fresco culinary space? Here are the latest outdoor kitchen trends for 2017.

Expand the function. A kitchen requires more than a grill and a prep area. This year, homeowners are adding refrigerators, ice makers, sinks, dishwashers, side burners, smokers, and pizza ovens, so they can handle all the kitchen tasks outdoors, and avoid running in and out of the house. They’re installing more elaborate cabinetry for the added storage they need in the expanded outdoor kitchen (powder-coated metal cabinets offer style with durability). They’re adding or upgrading countertops, with materials like granite, soapstone, concrete, and stainless steel. Quartz, although a popular choice for the indoor kitchen, doesn’t stand up to direct sunlight.

Hatch an egg. The Kamado-style grill—like the Big Green Egg—has caught on in recent years, but the concept has been in use for thousands of years. These versatile ceramic grills can be used as a smoker, grill, and even a pizza oven. The design enables a broad range of cooking temperatures, from low (for smoking) all the way up to 800°.

Entertainment is a bigger priority than ever. You’ll be spending more time in your upgraded space, so your outdoor kitchen might include a separate bar or drink station, a large-screen television, wine cooler, and keg.

Fan the flames. An outdoor fireplace or fire pit add form and function to your outdoor living space. Cook over the open flame. Cozy up by the crackling fire. Mount your outdoor TV above the fireplace mantle. What better place to enjoy football games in the fall?

Chandeliers have stepped outside. While you’re installing or expanding the electrical wiring in your outdoor living space, now is a great time to change your exterior lighting. Chandeliers have found their way outdoors, and enhance the aesthetics.

Most commonly overlooked home maintenance chores

Categories: Blog | Posted: July 6, 2017

Owning a home comes with lots of responsibilities. In addition to paying the bills, you also need to keep up with the upkeep. There are some basic, routine maintenance chores that will increase your peace of mind while also decreasing the repair bills that come with neglect.

Here are the most commonly overlooked home maintenance chores.

CLEAN…

Gutters. Dirt and debris builds up in your gutters and prohibits the flow of rain and melted snow. If the water backs up, it can cause damage to your home. Clean your gutters in both the spring and the fall.

Exterior dryer vent. You might remember to clean the dryer’s lint trap after every load, but don’t forget that lint is also collecting in the exterior vent. A clogged dryer vent is a fire hazard. Have your exterior vent checked and cleaned once a year, or when you notice that your laundry isn’t drying properly.

Refrigerator coils. Dust collects on the coils on the back of your refrigerator, reducing the appliance’s efficiency. Twice a year, summon up your courage and go where very few people ever venture.

REPLACE…

Curled or damaged roof shingles. Twice a year, inspect your roof as a proactive measure. Replace any shingles that aren’t in stellar condition, because ignoring this task could lead to leaks.

HVAC filters. A dirty filter makes your air conditioner and furnace work harder, which not only boosts your energy bill but reduces the air quality and the life of your HVAC system. Replace the air filtert monthly.

 

DRAIN

Water heaters. Sediment—sand, grit, and other minerals that haven’t dissolved into your water—collect at the bottom of your water heater. By flushing the water heater once a year, you enable your system to function at its best.

Outdoor faucets. Water expands when it freezes, and this ice can lead to burst pipes. Before the cold winter arrives, turn off the shut-off valve and drain any water remaining in the line.

CHECK…

Water pressure. Excess water pressure can burst hoses (e.g., washing machine). Low water pressure causes that rush of cold water in the shower when someone flushes a toilet. Use a simple pressure gauge to check your water pressure once or twice a year, or when you’re experiencing water flow issues.

Invest a little time in your home to keep everything working safely and efficiently. After all, you’ve invested so much in it already.

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