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Tips for choosing the right wall colors for your home

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 13, 2017

For some people, changing colors in a room is like changing your hairstyle. It’s nice to try something different—and it’s easy enough to change back if you don’t like the result. For others, the prospect of switching is a scary proposition.

Painting a room is one of the most affordable ways to make a big change in your home. The only hard part can be the color choice. Looking at the array of paint chips in the store can be overwhelming. Before you head there, narrow down your choices.

Here are some tips for choosing the right wall colors for your home.

Look at your wardrobe. What colors do you like to wear? That’s a big clue to your color preferences. If you’re drawn to neutral colors, you’re comfortable with those soft shades, making this palette a smart choice for your interior walls. If your penchant for lime green or sunshine orange feels too daring for your walls, tone it down a bit.

Inspect your photos, artwork, and other accents. What colors prevail? You chose these decorative pieces for the message they communicate, but was color a factor as well?

Pull the paint color from a print. You might have a favorite pillow, upholstered chair, or even table linens. Zoom in on the shades that might work well on your wall. Take the fabric to the paint store and ask them to match it.

Use a color wheel. See how colors relate to each other. A color wheel gives insight into the hues that work harmoniously together. You might like a monochromatic color scheme, with variations of a particular color (lightness and saturation). A complementary color scheme uses colors that are opposite each other on the color wheel, usually a warm and a cool one (yellow and blue, for example). An analogous color scheme combines colors that are next to each other, like blue and green, or orange and red, and varying shades of those colors. There are several other options for color schemes, but this will get you started. Once you choose the color scheme, you build your palette of specific colors.

Check out color trends. Home décor colors are like fashion. They change with the seasons and the years. Greenery was the 2017 Pantone Color of the Year. The foliage-inspired shade is like a springtime refresh. Home décor watchers are expecting 2018 interior color palettes to move from pastels to more intense hues. With palettes named “Far-fetched”, ”Resourceful”, and “Resourceful”, you might find one to suit your taste.

Think holistically. Your house is a sum of its parts, which includes your wall colors. Make sure you have smooth flow from room to room. This is where organizing a whole-house color palette will help.

Donate to Toys for Tots with Tuskes Homes!

Categories: Blog | Posted: October 12, 2017

We are collecting gifts on behalf of Toys for Tots of the Lehigh Valley now through Monday, November 27th at our model homes! To donate, please bring a new, unwrapped toy to any one of our model homes at the following communities:

  • Hanover Oaks: 6877 Gwenmawr Road, Bethlehem, PA 18017
  • Maple Shade: 3796 Bethman Road, Easton, PA 18045
  • Saratoga Farms: 4314 Belmont Drive, Lower Nazareth, PA 18020
  • Sand Springs: 14 Reserve Drive, Drums, PA 18222

All toys will be donated locally to Toys for Tots in Northampton and Lehigh Counties. This is a great way to give back to the communities in which we build our homes. We are proud to have partnered with Toys for Tots for nearly 20 years, because We Live Here Too!

The Toys for Tots Foundation is a program by the U.S. Marine Reserve Corps. Its mission is to help less fortunate children throughout the country experience the joy of Christmas, and to play an active role in the development of one of our nation’s most valuable resources: our children. The program seeks to unite all members of local communities in a common cause during the holiday season through their annual toy collection and distribution campaign, and to contribute to better communities in the future.

Thank you for considering donating! We hope to see you soon!

Which is the best smart home assistant?

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 30, 2017

If your name is Alexa and you’re an actual person, you’re probably getting asked a lot more questions these days. ”Alexa, what time is it?” “Alexa, when is the next full moon?” “Alexa, how far is it to the nearest coffee shop?”

And you can thank Amazon for this annoyance.

Amazon launched the Echo in 2015 in the U.S. This cylindrical speaker connects to a voice-activated, computer-generated, smart home assistant named Alexa. Alexa is capable of answering questions (when properly phrased), playing music, acting as a timer or alarm clock, requesting an Uber ride, checking your calendar, making lists, reading audiobooks aloud, and reciting the news and weather updates. Of course, Alexa can also place your Amazon orders, too.

Yes, Alexa is smart, but is she the best smart home assistant for you?

Google Home emerged soon after Echo, and at a lower price point, while offering the same type of assistance. The Echo Dot, a hockey-puck-sized version of the larger Echo, gives you a very affordable entry into the smart home assistant experience.

If you want the most accurate “intelligence”, Google Home appears to have a slight edge. Digital agency Stone Temple quizzed both devices. Google Home was able to answer 3,383 questions, while Alexa was only able to answer 1,030. Of those responses, Google Home was correct 89.5% of the time, and Alexa achieved 86.9% accuracy. Alexa relies primarily on Wikipedia for information, while Google reaches a wider range of third-party sources, like Google Maps for checking traffic conditions.

Google Home can also remember your last question. So, if you ask, “Who won the last Super Bowl?” and followed up with “What was the score?”, you’d get both answers. With Alexa, your second question would have to be, “What was the score of the last Super Bowl?”

Amazon Echo, however, currently has the edge on managing your smart home devices, like your thermostat, lighting, security, home entertainment, and appliances, but Google Home is gaining ground. Compare the Alexa-enabled smart home devices with Google Home’s list of supported devices and partners.

Google Home will also connect your videos, photos, and television, via Chromecast. You can even tell it to skip ahead 30 seconds on a video, and show photos of a selected person, location or time period. Alexa isn’t quite as savvy.

Both Google Home and Echo offer hands-free calling. Tell them to call a contact from your list or ask your smart home assistant to find a phone number.

Apple is finally responding to the demand for the smart home assistant. The Apple HomePod is scheduled to launch before the end of the year. It promises to have superior audio, but like all Apple products, will also emerge in limited quantities and at a higher price than Google Home and Amazon Echo.

Home energy efficiency ratings, explained.

Categories: Blog | Posted: September 15, 2017

Energy efficiency is one of the top priorities for homeowners. No one wants to waste energy (or money) on a home, appliances, or systems when there are ways to avoid it.

You’ve probably seen many of the ratings systems and codes tossed around, but do you know what they mean? Here’s a quick guide to the most common energy efficiency ratings and how to interpret the scores.

HERS. The Home Energy Rating System (HERS) measures the energy efficiency of a home and assigns a performance score. This rating is based on the efficiency of a standard new home. A home that was built according to the 2004 International Energy Conservation Code receives a HERS score of 100.

The survey, which must be conducted by a certified HERS professional, examines your home’s construction and systems:

  • Ceilings and roofs
  • Exterior walls, both above and below grade
  • Attics, foundations, and crawl spaces
  • Garage and basement floors (over unconditioned spaces)
  • Windows, doors, vents, and ductwork
  • HVAC, water heating system, and thermostats

A score of 70 indicates that your home is 30% more energy efficient than a standard new home. U.S. Department of Energy estimates that an average resale home has a score of 130, meaning a home that is 30% less efficient than the standard.

The program was developed by RESNET (The Residential Energy Services Network), which created the training and certification standards for HERS Raters and Home Energy Survey Professionals. Look for a RESNET qualified home energy professional to conduct a HERS survey.

What this means to you: The lower the HERS score, the greater your energy savings. A score of 80 or below might qualify you for an energy-efficient mortgage and increase your home’s resale value.

ENERGY STAR. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency developed this program in 1992 to assess the energy efficiency of products, systems, and even buildings. ENERGY STAR certification can be awarded to anything from a major appliance to a light bulb, from your central air conditioning system to a ceiling fan. Even those strings of holiday lights are measured for energy efficiency. Your home’s electronics account for 21% of your annual energy usage, so all those televisions, external power adapters, printers, and small appliances account for a significant amount of the overall expense. Compare that to your major appliances, which constitute about 12% of the annual usage.

ENERGY STAR certification is awarded after a third-party organization tests and verifies that the product or home meets the stringent requirements of the program. An ENERGY STAR-rated home is evaluted with a HERS index, as well as other criteria.

What this means to you: The average annual energy cost for a single-family home is estimated at $2,060. By investing in ENERGY STAR products and systems, you can lower your cost and contribute to preserving our natural resources.

SEER. The Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) was established by the U.S. Department of Energy to identify the efficiency and operating costs of air conditioners. SEER is a measurement of the total cooling output (measured in BTUs) divided by the total energy used for that output—similar to the MPG rating for a car. A higher SEER rating indicates a more efficient air conditioner.

In 1992, a SEER 10 was the standard, but that rating was increased to 13 in 2006. A central air conditioning system was required to have a minimum 14.5 to qualify for ENERGY STAR.

What this means to you: The higher the SEER, the greater the energy efficiency. A higher SEER will cost more to purchase, but can save you up to 40% in cooling costs.

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.

Tuskes Homes Story: The #Lot8ers

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 17, 2017

 

Tuskes Homes presents… The #Lot8ers


If there’s one thing you learn after three generations of building homes, it’s that a home is made from more than brick and stone; it is also made from memories and laughter. It’s our homeowners that make our communities what they truly are: a place for your journey to unfold.

Anyone can build a house, but to build a home takes heart. When we handcraft our homes, we do it with one thing in mind—you. We know that home is where your story begins. We know it’s not just where you’ll hang your hat, but it’s where you’ll make and share memories for years to come. It might be messy or clean, modern or classic, big or small—no matter what, it’s a place that reflects your personality inside and out. After all, home is where the heart is, and we believe your new home should be crafted with as much care as you’ll put into it when you’re there.

We take the time to get to know our homeowners so we can learn more about your needs and can craft a home that fits your lifestyle. The Walter family, lovingly known as the #lot8ers, chose our Hanover Oaks community in Bethlehem. We’ll take you through their journey from breaking ground to moving in, so stay tuned to learn more about their Tuskes Homes Story!

 

 

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!

The right time to sell: Lehigh Valley homes going for 98.3 percent of list price

Categories: Uncategorized | Posted: August 16, 2017

If you’ve been thinking about selling your house to build your brand-new dream home, you’re in luck!

At a time when the Lehigh Valley is being recognized as one of the best places to live in America, a low supply of housing inventory has made this a strong seller’s market. According to WFMZ, housing inventory is down almost 40 percent from the previous year, with the average home taking just 41 days on the market to sell.

In addition to the short listing time, sellers should be most excited by how much of the list price they’re receiving: on average, homes in the Lehigh Valley are selling for 98.3 percent of the list price, the highest number seen since 2007.

For buyers, the Greater Lehigh Valley Realtors Association recommends acting fast. Scheduling appointments and knowing what you’re approved for can help potential buyers make an offer right away. With some homes selling in a matter of mere hours, waiting even a day can sometimes mean losing the perfect home.

Here are some tips for buyers and sellers to make the most of the current housing market:

SELLERS

  1. Don’t try to outsmart the market. The housing market is cyclical, and no trend ever lasts too long. Don’t wait for good weather to put your home on the market. The best time to list is now—a seller’s market won’t last forever, so don’t wait for the right season or a specific day of the week to sell your home.
  2. Be prepared to move. In a market that’s selling so quickly, it’s a good idea to have a backup plan for your living situation. You don’t want to have to reject a good offer just because you have nowhere else to go. Whether you’re building a new construction or buying a move-in ready home, have a plan in mind in case the offers come quickly.
  3. Know your buyers. Read up here and here on the newest generation of homebuyers to understand what they look for in a home, so you can make yours as millennial-friendly as possible. No matter how good the market is for sellers, you should always keep your home clean and ready to show for last-minute appointments.

BUYERS

  1. Schedule appointments. Planning a visit with the home specialist will make you a priority client and ensures that the specialist gives you the time and attention you deserve to see your potential new home.
  2. Get pre-approved. While not required, knowing what you’re approved for prior to visiting homes can help you make a decision more quickly. With homes selling so fast, putting in an offer right away is the best way to guarantee that you don’t lose your dream home.
  3. Scope out the community. When you choose a new home, you’re also choosing the community that comes with it. Make sure your ideal home is also in the ideal location. Neighbors are like in-laws—you need to love your whole community, not just your home.

With opportunities for recreation, booming industries, a rich culture and history, shopping, dining, and more, Allentown, Bethlehem, Easton, and the surrounding towns are some of the best places to live in the world—at least, in our entirely biased opinion. But one thing that’s indisputable: with such exciting developments in the region, there’s never been a better time to buy or sell your home in the Lehigh Valley.

Looking to buy a new home? We have move-in ready and customizable new construction options available in several amazing communities all across the Lehigh Valley. Click here or call Martha at 484-626-1616 to learn more!

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