Sposen Homes Blog

     
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Show your home some love during this “Stay at Home” order.  We like binge-watching Tiger King like everyone else, but instead you can stay productive and finally get around to those preventative maintenance projects that have been on your “to-do” list.  Your home is one of the biggest investments you will make and keeping it in proper working order requires maintenance.  Here are a few indoor and outdoor homeowner preventative maintenance projects you can do while stuck at home.

  1. HVAC System

We live in Florida and our air conditioner systems run yearlong!  To ensure your system is working efficiently be sure to clean and/or replace your air filters on a monthly basis.  Doing so will ensure the unit is not under additional stress, and you are getting the best indoor air quality.  In addition to filters, the condensation lines should be cleaned out.  To do this you will want to pour a 50% mixture of water and white vinegar (2 cups) into the condensation line to keep it free of debris and growth.

  1. Clean Gutters

People often don’t stop to think about the issues that can arise from clogged gutters.  Believe it or not routinely keeping your gutters free of debris will help prevent damage to your roof, the exterior of your home and your homes foundation.  The purpose of your gutter system is to take the collection of rainwater away from your roof and foundation, from the use of downspouts.  When your gutters or downspouts are clogged with debris, they don’t allow the rainwater to flow away from your home, and this can be putting the integrity of your home at risk.

  1. Test Carbon Monoxide & Smoke Detectors

You should be testing and making sure your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are working and free of dust to ensure they continue to work properly.  This testing should be done monthly.  To test, press and hold the test button and be sure you hear a loud siren.  If the sound is weak or nonexistent, replace your batteries immediately!

  1. Clean out Dryer vents

Homeowners may not realize but lint build ups happen in more places than just inside the dryer.  Proper dryer maintenance includes, cleaning the lint trap housing, the interior dryer duct and the dryer vent.  Be sure you are routinely clearing out all locations mentioned above to ensure your dryer is working efficiently, offers less chance of mold buildup and greatly reduces the risk of the lint build up becoming a fire hazard.

  1. Cleaning

We all remember to vacuum, clean bathrooms, and wash windows but here is a list of routine cleanings we don’t always think to do and now have the time to do!

  • Clean range hood filters
  • Clean drains in shower and sinks
  • Clean faucet aerators & shower heads
  • Clean kitchen sink disposal
  • Clean refrigerator coils
  • Clean and dust light fixtures

We suggest to all our homeowners that writing down key preventative maintenance dates on a calendar is beneficial to keeping you on track.  Items to be done monthly, you can mark down on the same day each month and so on.  Keeping up with preventative maintenance will bring years of added pleasure to you and create longevity in your home systems.

 

In 1957, when Cape Coral was founded it was a developing rural community. The infrastructure was not in place to provide public utilities and municipal services to all areas of Cape Coral, which spans an area of 120 square miles. At that time, property owners within service areas were given options to pay off assessments for services to their parcel.  They could pay the amount in full, defer until they built, or make payments on a 20-year plan.

When the city continued to grow rapidly, property owners building in areas not serviced with utilities used septic tanks and well pumping systems.  In 2010, the City invested in the infrastructure to service these areas by building a second water plant in the North Cape.  The ability to offer city water and sewer was necessary for the development of the City for homeowners and businesses.

In order to finance the expansion of utilities and services, now and in the past, a special assessment fee was put into effect.  Special Assessments are one-time charges to property owners when their property is serviced for drinking water, sewer or irrigation water.  This includes vacant property.  Once any of these services are available, hookup to water and sewer lines is mandated by the City for all developed properties.  Irrigation line hookup is optional and existing wells may still be used, but for irrigation only.

The assessment that the property owner is responsible for is determined by the location and linear frontage the property will require.  The pipes must run along the street line, and the more frontage your property spans determines the length of pipes, and labor to install the pipes needed in order to service your property.  These costs along with impact fees and permit fees is what property owners are being “assessed” on.

Properties vacant during the assessment installation that decided to defer until they “bettered” the property, ended up creating a lot of debt for the city.  With so many vacant lots in this status the city decided to implement a “Betterment” fee. This fee is the total cost of the assessments and impact fees and is due in full upon applying for a building permit.  If your property has betterment fees attached to it and you have questions you can call The City of Cape Coral, Billing Division at 239-242-3851.

Once a property is evaluated for real estate listings, those properties with assessments satisfied, often listed as “assessment in and paid” become attractive to buyers.  Properties listed with special assessments in pending status, often becomes leverage for buyers to discuss price negotiations on the property.

Below you will find a map outlining the utilities extension zones defined until 2022, and a link for assessment payoff amounts, payment plans, as well as financial services offered by the City.

https://www.capecoral.net/department/financial_services/assessments.php

 

While most industries have been hit hard by the Coronavirus-caused chaos, the home builder industry, has steadily remained on the rise.  Together with a stable economy and record low market interest rates, the industry is showing no signs of slowing down.  In fact, leading this growth is the decrease in mortgage rates, low unemployment and the increase in wages.

The latest reports by the Department of Commerce, shows spending on private construction has increased 1.5% to $1.023 trillion in December. Spending on home construction climbed 2.1%, which was motivated by a 2.7% rise in single-family home construction.

Now with three consecutive cuts on interest rates as of early March, mortgage rates remain low permitting consumers to borrow more easily.  The Federal Reserve is expected to reduce the benchmark lending rate in the coming weeks in order to combat the negative impact of the Coronavirus threat on the economy.

Mortgage rates continue to show a decrease in the last few weeks with the 30-year-fixed-rate mortgage dropping to 3.56 percent from 3.71 percent in Bankrate’s weekly survey, as of early March. This reflects the lowest level since October 2016. Many in the industry are saying we will continue to see decreases forthcoming.

If you have been looking for a new home to build, now is the time to act. With the low supply of existing homes for sale, and demand among buyers, building will likely see an increase. Also, with rates this low you are basically guaranteeing a low payment for the whole life of the loan, with a fixed-rate mortgage.

As experienced and knowledgeable builders in the Southwest Florida area, we are happy to discuss your individual needs and work with you to build your dream home.  Below you can find articles for additional information and mortgage rate information. Stay safe and stay healthy!

https://www.nasdaq.com/articles/can-home-builders-continue-to-thrive-amid-coronavirus-threat-2020-03-09

https://www.bankrate.com/mortgage

Spend anytime in the City of Cape Coral or Fort Myers area, and you will see the cities growth present all around you.  From the steady stream of businesses coming here, consistent restaurant openings, recreational parks being added, and rapidly growing housing market, the area is on its way to over one million residents projected by Lee County in 2040.  Which is no easy task when you’re only 50 years in the making.

Being recognized as one of the fastest growing metro areas in the country, is very exciting for our community.  It’s a sign of a healthy job market and economy.  With the growth comes a better quality of life and amenities for our residents.  Many more people are discovering just what living here is all about.  The unbeatable weather, accessibility to the water, and the growing number of families to the area, makes Southwest Florida where everyone wants to be.

As a new construction builder in the area we feel it’s important to provide quality homes that represent the buyers building here.  When looking to make the beautiful southwest Florida area a place to call home, we have a knowledgeable new construction specialist team that knows the region well, and will be able to help you determine the area that best fits your needs.

Contact us today and start your journey to owning a piece of this fast-growing community!

Cape Coral – Fort Myers make Census list of fastest growing metro areas

 

In order to build a home in Florida you will need an approved building permit.  The purpose for a building permit is to ensure that the home you plan to build complies with structural and safety standards, as well as zoning ordinances in the city/county or municipality you are building.  Structural standards and zoning ordinances will vary from different municipalities. Therefore, obtaining a permit requires knowledge of the area you are building in, planning and knowledge of the overall process.

Permit departments review plans to make sure they meet local building codes.  In short, building permits are used to ensure building codes are being met.

Most builders don’t start the permitting process until they receive the initial funding for the construction contract.  In order to save time, at Sposen Homes we start the permitting process once we receive the initial deposit on the build contract.

The first step is to order the boundary survey for the property that is being built on. This survey is used to formally determine the outline of the parcel. The survey will call out the right of way, property boundary lines and any easements that may exist on the property.

Next, the architectural plans are ordered.  They are completed by the architect and they give a detailed description of the home to be built on the parcel of land.

After the architectural plans are received, they are sent to the site engineer as well as the structural engineer.  The site engineer then places the house on the parcel, taking into consideration any setback or elevation requirements.  The structural engineer then looks at the house plan to make sure the house is engineered to meet any local building requirements, including wind codes.

Once all of that is complete, our permitting department assembles and submits it to the city for their review and approval. This review can take between 2-6 weeks to be approved depending on the application volume at that time it is submitted.

During the review process the permitting department regularly checks the status of the application to ensure any concerns or rejections are addressed quickly and efficiently.

When notification of permit approval is received, we pick up those permits within 24-36 hours of notification.  The client is then notified of the permit approval and we schedule a pre-start orientation so that everything can be reviewed one last time before construction begins.

During the construction process routine inspections are performed.  The purpose of these inspections is to ensure details outlined on the architectural drawings are replicated in the field on the job site.  Some Inspections may include foundation, concrete, framing, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, drainage and landscaping.

Each inspection must pass in order to move onto the next phase of building.  Once the property passes all inspections a CO (certificate of occupancy) packet is assembled and submitted to the city.  The city can take 24-48 hours to review and approve it and then issue a certificate of occupancy. The CO states the home meets all building codes and has been inspected to meet those requirements.

Once CO is approved and final funding is received homeowners take possession of the home.

Below you will find links to Florida building code information, as well as Cape Coral inspection details.

http://www.floridabuilding.org/fbc/commission/realignment/fbc-dca_business_functions_revrd_3-10-11.pdf

https://www.capecoral.net/department/community_development/permitting/docs/Inspection%20Service%20Brochure.pdf

In most parts of the country September comes with cooling temperatures and fall colors. In Florida, September means the beginning of a different season… Hurricane Season. Many lifetime Florida residents have lived through several severe storms.  The majority claim that if the proper precautionary measures are taken there is no reason to abandon your home or neighborhood.

So, what are the proper steps? Here’s a list of tips to help you breeze through even the most intense storms.

  • Bring loose, lightweight objects inside that could become projectiles in high winds (e.g., patio furniture, garbage cans); anchor objects that would be unsafe to bring inside (e.g., propane tanks); and trim or remove trees close enough to fall on the building.
  • Cover all your home’s windows. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” exterior grade or marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install.
  • Keep your cell phone plugged in to ensure a full charge should you lose power.
  • Turn your refrigerator or freezer to the coldest setting and open only when necessary. If you lose power, food will last longer. Keep a thermometer in the refrigerator to be able to check the food temperature when the power is restored.
  • Fill Plastic bags or containers with water and freeze ahead of time. These can help keep the contents of your freezer cold and be used for other purposes should you lose power.
  • Stay away from the windows. Flying glass from broken windows could injure you.
  • Use a generator or other gasoline-powered machinery outdoors ONLY and away from windows.
  • Do not walk, swim, or drive through flood waters. Turn Around. Don’t Drown! Just six inches of fast-moving water can knock you down, and one foot of moving water can sweep your vehicle away.

Heed this advice for the best chance to protect your property and family this hurricane season.

Congratulations, you’re now the proud owner of your very own in-ground pool. Whether you’ve had one built at your existing home or just purchased a new property with a pool already on site, afternoon fun and frolicking is on the horizon. But before the fun begins, there are a few things every new swimming pool owner should know. Quality Materials, proper chemical care, and a strict maintenance schedule are paramount in maintaining the quality of your pool’s finish and ensuring the health of your family and friends who swim in it. Calcium hardness, pH levels, and alkalinity levels all play an important role in the safety and quality of your new private oasis. Failure to maintain any of these important chemicals within the recommended ranges can cause your water to enter an “aggressive” state accompanied by some serious consequences.

 

Pool finishes are primarily made up of some form of plaster or white cement. One of the primary elements of these materials is calcium. Calcium is a chief ingredient to 3 major molecules contained within dry cement mix. Tri-calcium silicate, di-calcium silicate, and tri-calcium aluminate when mixed with water react to form interlocking bonds of calcium silicate hydrate and calcium alumino-silicate hydrate. Another by product of this reaction is the more soluble compound calcium hydroxide which makes up around 25% of the finished product. Because calcium is the primary element in a pool finishes chemical makeup, it is important to be sure it is present at the appropriate levels within the pool water. If the hardness of the pool water is below or above the recommended range, the water will act on its own to correct the imbalance causing some costly and unsightly side effects.

 

If the calcium hardness level is to low (pool water is too soft), the water will pull the much-needed calcium from its only available source… the finish. With calcium hydroxide being the most soluble calcium-based material within the pools finish, it is the first to breakdown. Calcium will begin to leach out to correct the imbalance causing the previously smooth finish to crack or dissolve away.

On the flip side, if the calcium hardness of your pool water is to high (pool water is too hard), the excess calcium will bind to the finish causing grey, white, or brown spots to appear. The only remedy for this issue is to drain the entire pool and have it acid washed. Industry standards recommend calcium levels in a swimming pool be within 200 – 400 parts per million (ppm).

 

The effects of imbalances in pH and alkalinity can cause similar issues to those of poor calcium levels, along with a host of other issues as well. Although they measure slightly different metrics, PH and alkalinity levels have a close relationship with each other. Both are associated with the concentration of acidity in your pool water and an imbalance in one could, in many cases, mean an imbalance of the other as well.

The pH scale is a tool used to measure how acidic or basic your pool water is.  A low pH measurement means the water is to acidic causing the water to be corrosive to finishes, equipment, and irritating to swimmers’ eyes and skin. A high pH reading means the water is more basic causing chlorine to be less effective turning your pool into a breeding ground for algae and bacteria. Industry standards recommend a well-balanced pH be between 7.3 – 7.7 ppm.

 

Alkalinity gauges the waters ability to resist changes in pH. It measures the amount of alkaline substances dissolved in the water. These alkaline substances buffer changes in pH by neutralizing acids. To raise the alkalinity (increase pH) you simply ad carbonates, bicarbonates or hydroxides to the water. This practice will decrease the amount of acidity in your pool and as a direct effect cause the pH reading to increase. Those most commonly used products to increase alkaline readings in a pool are sodium carbonate and sodium bicarbonate. To lower the Alkalinity reading (lowering pH), simply dilute muriatic Acid in a bucket of water and pour it evenly within your pool. Industry standard alkalinity levels should fall between 90 – 120 ppm.

 

The best practice is to maintain a strict weekly testing regiment and to take quick action if your pool ever falls outside any of these recommended ranges. Following these guidelines should keep your pool finish looking great, ensure warranty coverage remains in effect, and provide a safe swimming environment for you and your family.

Indoor plumbing is arguably one of the most important technological advances of the modern age. Proper management of wastewater has helped to dramatically increase the average life expectancy of humankind as well as decrease societies susceptibility to waterborne diseases. Modern septic systems treat waste produced inside your home by toilets, showers, washing machines, and faucet use. Failure to maintain the system can cause huge and sometimes costly problems for homeowners. Here are some general rules that will keep your system functioning for the life of your residency.

  1. Toilet paper and human waste are the ONLY things you should be flushing down your toilet. Excess food waste down a drain or garbage disposal can drastically increase the amount of sludge in your septic tank. Grease and all other food scraps should be disposed of with regular garbage. If you tend to put a lot of food waste down the disposer it may be a good idea to add a grease interceptor between the kitchen sink and septic tank. You should also never dispose of anything non-biodegradable using your septic system. Common problematic items include cigarette butts, feminine products, condoms, disposable diapers, paper towels, or any other plastic or non-biodegradable items.

 

  1. Protect the area where your septic tank is buried. Septic tanks should be installed under an area of soft ground with relatively low traffic. Excess weight from driving even small vehicles over it could cause the tank to collapse, leaving you a very costly and smelly repair to deal with. Excess water in the soil and above ground can cause a similar problem so it is important to pay special attention to the drainage tables around the septic system. Automatic sprinkler systems in the area are also not recommended.

  1. Limit excess water use with a few simple efficiency practices. Easy water saving habits can go a long way in preserving and extending the life of your septic system. Not letting faucets run while shaving or brushing your teeth can save gallons of water a day. Installing more efficient faucets and toilets can also cut household water use nearly in half. Prevent unnecessary water waste by addressing and repairing any leaky faucets or pipes. Even a small drip can add up over a long enough period.

 

  1. Maintain a consistent maintenance schedule and always consult a licensed professional when fixing or modifying your septic system. As a homeowner it is important to know the location of your septic tank and drain field along with a sketch and your maintenance records for future service visits. You should also keep a detailed record of any inspections, pumping’s, permits, and any other maintenance activities. It’s also highly recommended to have your system inspected annually by a licensed professional to take preventative action before small issues become big problems.

 

Educating everyone in your household about proper septic system care will have a direct effect on the overall health and lifespan of your system, possibly saving you thousands of dollars in the process.