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The cover of a skylight

To Add A Skylight or To Not Add A Skylight …


There are many people who consider adding skylights to their home when building or renovating. This article will touch base on the pros and cons of adding a skylight to your home.

Skylights are a great way to brighten up a room or space with natural daylight and to make your space look bigger. This is extremely helpful when you want to cut down on turning on the lighting in your home, as skylights if placed in appropriate locations of your home can have you utilizing the natural light for your every day use. Along with this benefit, skylights allow you to bring in the natural beauty of the outdoors, sunlight during the day and stars at night.

Although the pros of adding a skylight to your home above seem great you will want to not the cons of skylights. Skylights over time can have a tendency to leak. Unfortunately because of this they can leak precious heat and energy, especially if installed incorrectly. Another con is that on cloudy days you can experience more heat loss than gain. Sun glare on furniture and carpet can also fade out because the sun from skylights can be intense. You will want to keep this in mind when considering where your skylight will be installed.

The installation and upkeep for skylights can also be quite expensive ranging from $200 to $3,000 just for the product and installation depending upon which type of skylight you choose. Add this to any necessary maintenance and repairs unforeseen and skylights can be costly.

After weighing the pros and cons here and you are still adamant about installing a skylight in your home be sure to contact a reputable window company, consider a remote skylight for easy opening and closing capabilities, and always be sure it is installed correctly so you can avoid unnecessary repairs and maintenance down the road.

A clean carpet

Choosing the Right Carpet


Finding comfort in your home has a lot to do with the comfort found under your feet! Flooring is extremely important. Focusing on carpet for your flooring which is usually found in your bedroom or living room areas, the areas where you and your family want to relax the most you will want to focus in on a few very important points.

There are several benefits to installing carpet in your home. Not only does carpet offer a calming, comforting, homey feel to any room it also improves a home’s acoustics as it absorbs noise rather than reflecting it back into the room. Carpet also provides warmth longer when it’s cold outside, which conserves energy and reduces heating bills making carpet a really good choice for the rooms you tend to use most.


Carpet has a lot of characteristics to pay attention to. If you are looking for a luxurious feel to your carpet you will want to pick a deeper pile cut of carpet. Carpet pile refers to the density of fibers—flat (short pile) or shaggy (long). It goes in hand with pile height, which is the thickness of a rug measured from the surface of a rug to its backing.

Be sure to consider the maintenance and care of your carpet. The shorter the carpet fibers the easier to clean.

Let’s breakdown some of the best types of carpet which are available today and where they can be best utilized in your home.

Four of the most common materials of carpet are nylon, polyester, polypropylene, and wool. Nylon is the most popular fiber used in carpets making it extremely durable and resistant to wear and tear. Nylon is a great choice for high-traffic areas. Polyester is soft, great with wear and tear and is a stain and fade resistant fiber which is also economically friendly. Polyester would be a great choice for your bedrooms and sitting room. Polypropylene is moisture and molding resistant and is comfortable. This is a great carpet choice for basements. Wool carpet is a natural fiber durable and stain resistant and environmentally friendly flooring.

Now that we have gone over the carpet choices available let’s focus on several local carpet companies that can help you pick exactly what you need in your home. Here’s our top three picks for you:

  1. ProSource – Since 1991, ProSource Wholesale® has established itself as the leader for home remodeling success. We’ve achieved this by providing exceptional, bundled offerings not found elsewhere. We offer a staggering mix of products — flooring, kitchen and bath — at low, wholesale prices (think: no retail markups). ProSource® excels at delivering personalized service through our dedicated account managers and in-house design experts. We’re committed to the success of our trade pro members and simplifying the process for homeowners. When embarking on a home improvement project, partner with ProSource.
  2. Molyneaux – The Molyneaux Family has been Pittsburgh’s #1 family owned flooring business since 1930.
  3. Rusmur Floors Carpet One Floor & Home – As a cooperative with 1,000 stores worldwide, we not only have enormous buying power, but we have partners in all of the major brands, mills and manufacturers. We’ve done the research for you. Just tell us your needs, and we’ll satisfy them beyond your expectations. With one of the largest selections of carpet, hardwood, laminate, ceramic tile, vinyl, area rugs and more — and you’ll always find the best products and great savings … every day.

Give your local flooring experts a call with any additional questions you may have.

A rainbow wheel

Choosing the Right Paint


When it’s time to revamp your home or add the final touches to a new build one of the most important choices you will have to make is the choice of your paint colors. Paint colors can make or break your home. Using dark colors without the right lighting will have your feeling dreary and make your space seem smaller. Whereas, using light colors in your home and adding a little contrast color with the baseboards, furniture and accent pieces will have not only make your home feel bigger. Combine this with the right lighting it will also have you feeling vibrant and energized!

Take a look at the following steps that will help you in your paint color choose selections!

1- Access the Space & Use Thereof

Accessing your space and the use thereof, is extremely important. Think about where you are going to have the layout of your furniture and how you are truly going to use your space. Be practical! Don’t go all pretty but not functional, because you will be kicking yourself later. Be sure not to cover up any natural light from windows to keep your windows open and spacious. Remember if you jam-pack a room or don’t space it out properly no one’s eyes will be focused on your lovely paint color!

2- Get Inspired & Browse the Net

Take a little time and get inspired by browsing the Internet. There are wonderful articles and images online from interior decorators and everyday DIY’ers sharing their stories and images of what they have done. Let these type of stories inspire you to new heights. Write down your color options and head to your local Sherwin-Williams, Lowes or Home Depot store and match some swatches.

When you narrow down what you believe you want grab a pint of that color and paint a 12″ x 12″ square on your wall. One clever concept out there is a peel-and-stick paint square which you order on line and attach to your wall to see if you like the paint you’re trying before you paint the entire room. Take a look at Samplize

3- Long Lasting Colors to Focus On

There are all sorts of colors out there in the world today where it becomes quite overwhelming for one to choose exactly what they want. What you will want to do is to stay with the neutral color schemes and try blending a two tone effect to the room with a nice natural almond colored paint for the walls with a white baseboard and door trim. Of course you could go a bit darker with your paint color but you do want to make sure it isn’t overbearing. In fact, something like the Purbeck Stone, farrow & ball grey. Join this with a white trim as mentioned above and it would definitely be a lovely warm neutral that enriches your space.


best grey paints

4- Going For It

Now that you have narrowed down your choices, tried a spot or two in several places it is time to go for it! Schedule the Painter or tackle the space yourself with Family and friends. Be sure to cover the flooring with plastic or painters paper and tape off the baseboards and trim for fast, easy painting with clean cut lines. Good luck and have fun!

A living room next to a dining area

New House … How to choose the Furniture


You’re Builder is almost done with your new home, yet you don’t know how to choose your furniture. An empty home doesn’t help anyone so within this article we will help you to manage your time wisely, find the right furniture to suit your needs and we will have you into your new furnished home so you can enjoy your new home.

Defining the Must-Have’s
Within any fresh start to life you have to define your must-have’s. These must-have’s will help you to stay focused on your goals and budget, keeping the practical functionality of you and your families lifestyle in mind. Create a list of must-have’s by brainstorming. Your list should look something like this:

My Must-Have’s:

  • Kid-friendly
  • Pet-friendly material
  • Durable
  • Non-itchy material (you may have sensitivity to certain fabrics, write down the ones to avoid)
  • Leather
  • Low-maintenance

Defining Your Style
At this point in your life you understand yourself, your style, your comfort needs and truly what makes you you. Utilize this knowledge of who you are from the start! If you are more of a traditional person rather than a contemporary one you will want to keep your focus on the traditional styles when visiting furniture stores or shopping online.

Traditional furniture offers elegance and romance while contemporary furniture is subtle and urban in its appeal. Both styles are wonderful and can offer the right setting for you and your Family.

Knowing Your Budget
Now that you have your Must-Have’s and you’ve narrowed down your style you will want to browse online stores and get the feel for what prices are running for bedroom sets, couches, recliners, etc. Look at your pocketbook and decide how best you plan to afford the necessity furniture items you have mapped out. When you create your budget plan break it down by room: bedroom, living room, office, dining room. This way you can easily see what needs to be spent where.

Calling in the Professionals
You now have the right foundation to call in the Professionals! Reach out to a few local furniture stores that offer free consultation and design. Some of these companies even offer a digital or virtual snapshot of furniture they offer that you are considering into room snapshots of your home so you can see the layout and look first hand! This is a great way to make some rockstar decisions! When meeting with these professionals have them first meet you in your home, snap some photos and take some measurements. You will then want to schedule another meeting with them at their store where you will bring samples of your flooring, cabinet color, carpet, etc. to help pull colors and styles together.

Enjoying Your Choices
With all of your preparation, planning and implementing of your Must-Have’s, style choices and budgeting along with your research and working with a professional you will find everything came together perfectly. You can now enjoy your furniture choices for years to come.

Two people wearing hard hats

Working with Your Contractor


Building a home or renovating an existing home is a huge undertaking for anyone. Within this article we will walk you through several steps that will help you stay on track, on budget and in a great working relationship with your Contractor.

Step One – Defining your goals
Any project or task starts with clearly defining your goals! In a new build scenerio you first have to pick a designed home plan or layout that works with your everyday needs. Don’t choose the design because your friends love it and it would work for them. Your home should have all of the space and functionality that fits your lifestyle! When you plan your home layout the way you need it to work for you, you can then add the creative flare that creates the excitement and breathtaking look that your friends and family will love!

Step Two – Sketch away
After you decide your goals you will now want to put these concepts and ideas on paper by sketching a rough draft. This sketch doesn’t have to be perfect, it simply is putting your thoughts into a visual concept so discussions can begin. Marinate on this sketch for a day or so and make sure you have everything you are looking for in your new design that solves the current problems you are struggling with, within your existing home.

Step Three – Reach out to your Contractor
Finding the right Contractor to suit your needs is critical, yet one other important aspect is to make sure as you interview, check reviews and meet with your potential Contractor is that you are comparing apples to apples. By mapping out your thoughts and creating that sketch in step two above you have now a great foundation to start your discussions with when talking to Contractors. Great Contractors will take the time with you, truly listen to you and offer solutions and further ideas. Always do your research and ask for references, then choose the Contractor that you feel the most comfortable with.

Step Four – Working with your Contractor
Upon choosing your Contractor you want to make sure there is a mapped out timeline for work to begin and finish. Unfortunately, in construction that timeline has to be flexible so don’t let it be set in stone in your mind. The reason to know a preliminary timeframe is to see when you need to have certain decision made, such as products and materials. This is one area in which can really hold up a Contractor and the project so be sure to do your part and stay focused on getting these items picked out as soon as possible.

One other thing that will help you to work with your Contractor in a successful way is to make sure you work out the right plan or process of giving access to your property. In a new build, the Contractor has full reign and can come and go as needed, however on an existing home and in doing a renovation the Contractor has to rely on your schedule for access. Be sure to make arrangements that do not hinder the Contractor but also do not ruin your day and week. You want to have your Contractor work normal hours, such as 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. or somewhere within that timeframe. This way you know what to expect and how best to manage the every day events of your day.

Lastly, a great way to work best with your Contractor and to help you stay on track and on budget is whenever a change order comes into play, have your Contractor draw up an invoice for that item. Pay that change order and get a receipt before work begins. This will help you to keep the the original estimate on point, meet the milestones and have you not be overwhelmed with a huge invoice for the original project cost and change orders all at once at the end of your project. Not only does this help you but it puts less stress and financial strain on the Contractor as materials for each change order has to come out of pocket until payment is complete.

Step Four – Enjoying the Ride
By applying steps one through four above you will truly be able to enjoy the ride of creativity and great craftsmanship of your Contractor all while watching your plan and design concepts come to life! By working together you and your Contractor you will find the experience to be a smoother process overall.

Be sure to offer a testimony online to your experience with your Contractor. Sharing your experience with others is always rewarding. If you loved your Contractor and his/her work you’ll help others finding a great Contractor and you will help

A photo collage of different roofing

How to Decide Your Roofing


If you are like many of us in the midst of replacing your roofing or even building a new home and it’s time to decide what roofing materials to use, you will want to read this article in it’s entirety. As you know there are many options for roofing from shingles, to metal roofing, to solar tiles, …and more. Let’s take a look at your options:


Roof shingles come in many different styles that can really allow your home or building to standout. Finding the one that best suits your home is easier to do when you have all the facts.

3-Tab roof shingles create the typical rectangular shingle look you see when driving by homes. Many colors are available, you can install it easily yourself and the pricing is great as it is the cheapest roofing option. Mostly found on rental housing or lower costing homes.

Architectural Roof Shingles

Architectural roof shingles are a premium type of asphalt shingle known as “dimensional”. These shingles last longer and look better.

Tile Roof Shingles

Terracotta clay roofing tiles are used a lot on historical properties and homes with old world, southwest, mission type architecture style. They are more energy efficient and come in many different styles and shapes.

Wood Roof Shingles

Wood roof shingles are a great sustainable roofing option. In fact, they provide a natural insulation up to two times that of asphalt shingles. This allows you to conserve home heating and cooling costs, and significantly save on energy bills which is always great!

Shake Roof Shingles

Shake shingles have been used for roofing and siding for years and years. From cedar wood shakes to wood shakes which tend to have a rustic textured appearance, you truly can’t go wrong. Just note, there is maintenance you have to consider. A proper cleaning, allows for the infestations and moisture to be removed, allowing the shakes to breathe again and stay dry. On average, a good cleaning should last between six and eight years. Do keep this in mind.

Slate Roof Shingles

Slate roof shingles are durable, eco-friendly and fireproof. Roofs done with slate are extremely impressive. Although slate is very costly, including the installation these roofs will last a very long time. To maintain a slate roof you should at least once a year carry out an inspection to look for leaks or repairs. The one downside now a days is that there are very few true slate roof repairing companies or individuals to help with repairs. They are out there but it is no longer their main focus as not many people can afford a slate roof and installers have to expand their skillsets and handle other roofing materials to bring a paycheck. If you find a good slate roof repair company hang on to them!

Solar Roof Shingles

Solar roof shingles are simply thin-film photovoltaic (PV) cells designed to look like traditional shingles transforming the suns energy into electric that can be used in your home. Clever doesn’t even express this unique and powerful concept.

Solar roof shingles are durable and can withstand high-speed hail impact and very high winds.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is a flat or corrugated metal panels that run up and down the roof slope. Made out of coated steel or aluminum metal roofing is a great option for an energy-efficient approach. Metal roofs reflect solar radiant heat, which can reduce cooling costs by 10-25%. Great for homes, garages, barns and more.

In summary, deciding your best roofing option truly depends on your budget, the look you are looking for and what you overall goal is with your home or property. Doing your homework, knowing your area/market, these items will help you make a great decision. Hope we helped. Good luck!

A man in a plaid polo shirt

Home Loan for New Construction


YOU HAVE A PLAN, a plot of land in sight, Togo Custom Home’s in mind to build and a design in mind…but how do you pay for it?

A home loan for new construction covers the cost of building a new home, splitting payment from the bank to the contractor as certain milestones are made. Loans like these typically lasts for 12 months and then must be paid off or converted to a standard mortgage.

Similar to the standard mortgage process, getting a home construction loan includes the normal underwriting of your loan application and adds a thorough vetting of the home builder.

Construction Loans … How They Work

There are several construction loan option out there, however the two most common, construction-to-permanent loans and standalone construction loans, is what we will focus on today.

Construction-to-permanent Loans, automatically converts to a standard mortgage when the construction is finished. The lender may call this conversion a modification or refinance. The benefits is that the borrower does not have to go through the loan application process all over again, saving time, hassle and monies on a second closing.

Payment on a constuction-to-permanent loan tends to be a little higher than a standard mortgage because during construction the borrower typically pays interest only. It is not until construction is over that the loan is then converted to a standard mortgage and payments are reworked based on the length of time for term of loan.

Standalone construction loans. This is a short-term loan that funds a home construction project that stands on its own. There is no permanent financing upon completion of the project, therefore you do not have financing to live in the home afterwards. You will have to apply for a mortgage for the permanent financing.

One advantage of getting a standalone construction loan is that you will have time to shop for the best terms for the permanent mortgage prior to completion of the new home. A disadvantage already mentioned is that you will have additional paperwork and costs incurred for closings if you decide to go this route.

What You Will Need to Qualify for a Home Construction Loan

Qualifying for a home construction loan your income, debts and credit history will be analyzed. Your loan underwriter will walk you through everything you need by giving you an application and answering any questions you may have in the process.

Prior to contacting your loan underwriter begin to gather the following information which will help you get a head of the game:

  • Proof of identity
  • Recent pay stubs
  • Proof of other income, such as alimony, child support, self-employment, Social Security or disability
  • Recent tax returns
  • Recent bank statements
  • Recent statements for other assets such as brokerage or retirement accounts
  • List of your debts with minimum monthly payments
  • Other liabilities, such as alimony or child support payments
  • Source of down payment
  • Current rent or mortgage payments
  • Profit-and-loss report if self-employed
A person in front of a house

The Importance of Home Inspections


What is a home inspection?
A home inspection is an objective visual examination of the physical structure and systems of a house, from the roof to the foundation. Home inspections are conducted by a home inspector who has the training and certifications to perform such inspections.

The standard home inspector’s report will cover the condition of the home’s heating system; central air conditioning system; interior plumbing and electrical systems; the roof, attic and visible insulation; walls, ceilings, floors, windows and doors; the foundation, basement and structural components.

Does everyone need a home inspection?
Since buying a home is usually the largest single investment you will ever make then yes a home inspection is necessary to minimize unpleasant surprises and unexpected difficulties. A home inspection may just identify major repairs or builder oversights that can be addressed or help you walk away from a buying a deal that isn’t a deal!

On the flip-side if you are planning on selling your home, a home inspection if passed can give you great leverage in assuring the buyer that everything is good. If failed, the inspection can give you the opportunity to make the needed repairs which can be done to put put your house in a better selling condition.

What will it cost?
The inspection fee for a typical one-family house varies geographically, as does the cost of housing. The average home inspection costs around $315, with condos and small homes under 1,000 sq ft. costing as little as $200. Larger homes over 2,000 sq ft. will run $400 or more. Radon or mold testing will cost extra, but will typically cost less if you purchase them with a home inspection.

Home inspections are a sensible way to assure yourself as a buyer or seller that you are getting or receiving what you pay for. Although there are costs involved home inspections are very important and should always be done.

A brown house

The Finishing Touches – Vinyl Siding or Brick?


Deciding between vinyl siding and brick isn’t really just based on cost. What you need to do is look at the costs, durability and the numerous design options that you are truly looking for, consider these options and the length of time you will be staying in your home, the real estate market and then decide from there. Why is this so important? It is because too many homeowners either over spend when building a home that they don’t plan on living in for more than 5-10 years and others underspend by choosing vinyl on a home that they will only spend 5 years living in and expecting a larger return on the resell.

So what are you to do? What should be your focus? Your focus should be on the length of time you are planning to stay in your home and what dollar value the real estate market will hold for your home. Keeping these two items in mind you’ll be able to take a look at your budget, seeing what you can spend and how best to invest your hard earned money.


Vinyl siding is plastic exterior siding for houses and small apartment buildings, used for decoration and weatherproofing, imitating wood clapboard, board and batten or shakes. It is an engineered product, manufactured primarily from polyvinyl chloride (PVC) resin.

Brick is simply a small rectangular block typically made of fired or sun-dried clay, used in building. Brick combines perfectly with passive building design to harness natural sources of energy, creating an energy efficient warmth in winter and cool in summer. Brick home exteriors are more expensive than siding, yet since bricks are porous, problems with drainage and mold may arise if the home is not maintained. With an adequate drainage system, a brick exterior offers more overall advantages than other home exterior options.


When you are looking for longevity you will want to Brick is your best solution. As mentioned the resell value of your home will be putting more in your pocket while not having and maintenance issues. Vinyl siding unfortunately can also adversely affect the long-term value. Continue reading to learn about the differences of brick vs. vinyl siding and to find out why brick adds timeless beauty and value to any space.

Along with longevity you should also focus on durability, Vinyl siding typically has a warranty of 25-50 years after installed. When compared to brick, vinyl siding is more susceptible to impact damage from hail, tree limbs and other objects creating scratches, dents and more. Brick on the other hand is extremely durable. In fact, brick masonry can last 100 years when installed properly. Brick is made from natural materials, which results in better health, comfort and well-being for homeowners.


There are a few things you have to keep in mind when deciding upon your exterior look of your home. If leaning to vinyl siding you’ll need to set time aside each year because you will need to wash your vinyl siding annually. You will also need to replace any sections that get damaged, noting that not all siding colors match year after year. You could still choose a higher quality siding but you will still have some weathering issues, whereas brick is maintenance-free.

One of the other culprits that shoot down siding besides the maintenance, bending, cracking, breaking and becoming very brittle in severely cold conditions would be heat! Yes, heat is the greatest enemy of vinyl siding. In fact, studies show that vinyl cladding may ignite as a result of a fire inside an adjacent dwelling only six feet away.

Brick is fire-resistant, impact-resistant from wind-borne debris, and provides excellent resistance to sound transmission, all on a scale superior to that of vinyl siding.


Brick has a natural ability to absorb, retain and release heat when temperatures rise and fall, resulting in less energy required to heat and cool homes.

Thermal mass is the ability of a material to store heat and then slowly release it. For homeowners, this means that during the summer months, a brick home stays cool during the hottest part of the day. During the winter, brick walls store heat and radiate it back. Vinyl, aluminum and wood are all thin, light building materials that do not have good thermal mass properties.

Sustainability is a key feature of genuine clay brick which is a green building material made. This products are commonly used in new construction for an authentic look and feel.

Unfortunately, vinyl siding is not an environmentally friendly option. The primary component of most vinyl siding is polyvinyl chloride (PVC), a derivative of petroleum and salt. Environmental concerns about the use of products made with PVC primarily focus on two materials: chlorine, used as a raw material in PVC production, and dioxin, a toxic by-product of manufacturing processes involving chlorine.


When comparing brick to vinyl siding, brick is ultimate winner! If you are seeking curb appeal, durability, low maintenance and high value brick should be your choice. If you are simply wanting to save upfront costs, don’t mind regular maintenance and repairs and you aren’t looking for extra added value on the resell consider vinyl siding.

The Right Kitchen Renovations to Increase Your Homes Value

Kitchens are one of the main selling features of a home. This is where all the action happens and family and friends join in for great meals, talks, fun and more! This is exactly why choosing the right kind of kitchen upgrades during a renovation or new build is key!   

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