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Roof and Gutter Maintenance for the Homeowner

Cleaning and inspecting your roof and gutters may not sound like the most fun way to spend a spring weekend, but with regular maintenance and attention, it’s really not so bad and can save you some major headaches down the road.

The first thing to keep in mind when checking out your roof should be obvious – Be careful.  Take your time, look where you step and watch your footing.  Once you feel comfortable walking around, start checking your caulking for cracks and wear and look out for shifting shingles.  Especially in new homes, stress from expansion and contraction can crack and damage your roof and walls.  Lastly, check your vent covers and make sure no rodents or birds have moved in.  Mesh guards can go a long way in keeping critters out, so if you haven’t already, this is a great time to install them.

Spring and fall are probably the easiest time for your bi-annual gutter clean out.  Just like with your roof, safety is key. Make sure your ladder has a good footing, take your time and always use a spotter. If the debris in your gutters is dry, cleaning them out could be as simple as hitting them with a leaf blower. If they’re damp, though you may want to take a trowel and scoop everything out into a bucket, being sure not to scratch or damage the gutter in the process. From there, spray everything out with a garden hose. Keep an eye out for leaks and holes. Smaller cracks can be fixed with a little bit of spat caulk, while larger holes will require a patch made from the same material as your gutter, secured with epoxy and roofing cement.  Sagging sections are generally just the result of loose nails and can be remedied with a few pounds from your hammer. If that doesn’t work though, replacing them with screws should secure them in place without a problem.

There you have it! Just a few short hours of work can buy you the sound peace of mind that comes with knowing your roof and gutters are in great shape all year long.

Home Heating and Cooling System Maintenance

Home heating and cooling repairs aren’t just inconvenient, they can also be extremely costly. With only a short afternoon’s worth of regular maintenance though, they’re easily avoidable and can save your household big money.

A clean furnace filter keeps your compressor coils from clogging, increases the life of your blower motor and keeps your unit running more efficiently. You’re going to want to change your filter once a month through the heating season and year round if there’s air conditioning in the system. When you open the door to your furnace filter, you should find the filter where the cold air enters the unit. Remove the dirty filter and replace it with a new one with the arrows facing towards the blower. 

If you heat your home with a wood stove, be sure to remove your ashes every few days and never let them build up to the door. To maximize efficiency and prevent chimney build up, you’ll want to run the stove with the damper wide open for 10 – 15 minutes a day through the burning season and focus on burning small, hot fires rather than big blazing ones. Not only do they use less wood, they’re also much easier on your stove. Inspect your chimney twice a month through the burning season and have it professionally cleaned twice a year.

That’s it! In no time at all, you can ensure your heating and cooling systems are firing on all cylinders all year long.

Maintenance Tips for your Sump Pump

Your home’s sump pump is its first line of defense against flooding and foundation damage.  If it goes down, your home is at risk of serious damage with colossal cost.  Fortunately, regular maintenance is quick, easy and safeguards you from these expensive repairs.

Cleaning and maintaining your sump pump is very simple and should be done at least once a year, or better yet, every 3 – 4 months.  First you’ll want to turn off your breaker and disconnect the pump’s power cord from the outlet.  From there, detach the pump from the discharge pipe and remove it from your sump pit.  Clean off the outside of the pump, scrub the inlet screen with a wire brush and remove and clean the check valve.  Grease or oil your pump bearings if need be, then put it all back together and return it to the sump pit.  Finally, turn everything back on and pour in a bucket of water to make sure everything is running smoothly and check that the float is clear of the side walls.

This is also a good time to check your drainage ditches and culverts.  Make sure that weather and erosion haven’t left them blocked or diverted and clear out any blockages that may have built up.

There you have it!  A quick clean can keep your foundation safe and your money in the bank.

Why Buy New?

Are you looking for a home, or just purchased one?  Did you ever ask yourself “Why don’t I build a new home”?  If you thought about it, did you conclude that buying a new home was the direction for you?  Congratulations, then, the following may reassure you that you made the right decision!

When making any big purchase, many consumers have the choice to buy new or previously owned goods.  From cars to mobile phones, consumers can sort out the pros and cons of each and make informed decisions about which to buy; a home is no different.

    1. Price

Comparative with Resale Homes

    1. Location

You can choose which home site your home is built on

You can choose where on your home site your home is placed.

    1. Home Design

You pick details (colors, materials) on exterior

You select features within your home

You pick floor plan

With feature-rich home, you design the home to meet your specifications

    1. Warranty

New homes have full warranty coverage

    1. Better Engineered

Results are a more energy-efficient home

Cost-effective to build, therefore less expensive to buy

    1. Environmentally-friendly/Green products

Air quality better – allergen-free

Better functioning

    1. Customized to you

Interesting, personalized features

Feature-rich homes

    1. Boost Local Economy*

Home building has created tens of thousands of jobs in 2013

Building 100 single-family homes creates more than 300 full-time jobs

Building 100 single-family homes generates $8.9 million federal, state and local tax revenues that communities rely on to help fund schools, police and firefighters

Once you decide to “buy new”, why choose Belmonte Builders? Our current customers provide some of the best testimonies.  For example, we have built multiple homes to our own customers! Often they start with a home for their growing family. Eventually this leads into upsizing into home that suits their needs as they grow.  Once the family has grown up and moves on, the time for a low maintenance option is considered.  Belmonte Builders can build a home for every phase of your life!

We strive to make every home the best one we ever built; we make efforts for continual improvement.  Over time, one area that has made significant leaps is the technology that we use to build homes. With this improved technology, we are able to focus on things like energy efficiency and home designs. Last year alone, 97.5% of our homes obtained Energy Star Certification – this translates to a home that will save the homeowners money and will retain its value over time.

All through the process, we uphold quality and integrity as our foundation. Once you step into a Belmonte home, you will understand why our customers choose to build with us.  See for yourself – be sure to visit our model home in Arlington Heights.

 

*Source for the local economy information is provided by the National Home Builders Association (NAHB)

Homebuilder FAQs – Community Types

Q: What types of homes do you build?

A: At Belmonte Builders, we dream, design and build custom homes of different types, for all lifestyles and situations.  All of our homes have one thing in common: an unsurpassed level of detail and quality.  We invite you to browse our list of communities and homes to find just the right fit for you:

Traditional home communities are built around your lifestyle with a contemporary home setting that reflects your values.  The type of home where friends and family gather to spend time together – comfortable neighborhoods with sidewalks and streetlights close to schools, shopping and events with a variety of floor plans designed to accommodate all of your needs.  Starting in the low $300’s.  Our Traditional home communities are located in Clifton Park and Saratoga Springs, New York and span some of the best school districts in the Capital District.

Estate Home Communities represent the best in exclusive, premiere custom home neighborhood living. With standard features that are typically considered upgrades, these one-of-a-kind executive homes are built with the highest level of quality craftsmanship amid private and picturesque settings.   Special interior and exterior features and a professional interior design consultation are part of what sets these Belmonte custom homes apart. From the mid $500’s. Estate communities in Clifton Park and Saratoga Springs, New York in the Shenendehowa and Saratoga Springs School Districts are the perfect choice for finding custom homes near Global Foundries and General Electric.

Maintenance Free Communities by Belmonte are custom designed for relaxed and transitional living, with ranch-style floor plans and first floor masters, along with classical architecture and all the quality that you expect from a Belmonte home.  Halfmoon NY from the low $300’s. Our newest Maintenance Free community – in Wilton, New York – The Mill at Smith Bridge is coming soon! Stay tuned for updates on our web site.

Selecting Your Home Site

Selecting your home site is one of the most important parts of your new home building process. Answering the question, “How do I choose my home site?” is often difficult to answer; there are many variables that can influence a customer’s home site selection.   Many underestimate how many factors influence this selection process, yet it is one of the most important considerations when building a home.  Here are a few variables and tips on selecting your home site:

  1. Size of the home site
  2. Solar direction
  3. Position in the neighborhood in relationship to its surroundings
  4. Unique features a home may have due to the natural site features

1. The size of a lot is most likely the one variable that is the most obvious to consider when thinking about home site selection.  In some cases, the mindset is “I want the biggest lot in the community” in other cases, the size of the home will dictate the size of the home site.  Although not always known by home buyers, the house you build (it’s footprint) will dictate the minimum size of the home site.  This isn’t always the way home buyers process their thoughts about site selection, however.  Most often, if size is the determining factor, the buyer goes with the largest site.

2. Another factor that is considered for home site selection is the solar direction.  Obviously every site in a neighborhood will not have morning sun, afternoon shade.  For the home owners who are gardeners, solar direction is especially important.  Plants and trees are installed based on the solar direction and the amount and intensity of sunlight the areas get.  Some home owners place the priority on a site which faces a direction that will help shield their lawn from the scorching sun.  In addition to landscaping affects of the home site, there are also spiritual reasons for selecting a site based on its direction in relation to the sun.  For these customers, the selection of the home site is limited only to sites which face a certain direction.

3. Third on the list of variables is the position of the site in relation to the neighborhood.  The first example is a home located in a cul-de-sac.  This is a desirable placement of a home for a few reasons.  The natural engineering of the cul-de-sac also lends it to having privacy.  In many cases, privacy is equated to quality in regard to home sites and placement.  Most home owners’ desire privacy, but that often comes with a price, whether in new home construction or existing home sales.  Face it, no one wants to hear their neighbors’ conversations, or see them in their robes at they fetch the Sunday paper, but privacy is important enough for some home buyers that they budget in the privacy factor when planning to buy a home.  A couple of privacy features that will be discussed are: cul-de-sacs and forever wild.

i) A home located in a cul-de-sac is one that will get less traffic.  Naturally, travel through a cul-de-sac is reduced simply because the design of it.  A cul-de-sac has no outlet; it can be a street that ends, or a lollipop shape roadway.   This would mean that the traffic that travels the cul-de-sac is limited to that of the homeowner and visitors with secondary traffic by service vehicles, delivery or emergency vehicles (the latter being far less frequent than the others). For these reasons, a cul-de-sac is naturally safe (traffic is forced to slow down) and quiet (having less traffic).

ii) Another ideal home site location is one which has a back yard that abuts “forever wild” space.  As the term implies, forever wild land is land that is dedicated as protected area.  That is, it is never going to be developed.  The Department of Environmental Conservation allocates certain regions to be deemed protected.  This ensures that (amidst development) green space remains, eco-systems thrive and wet lands stay intact.  The intent is to preserve some natural space as forever wild.  What this ensures the home buyer is that they will never have a neighbor immediately behind them.  For many, this concept is their utmost priority when selecting a home site.  The idea of having a rear yard boundary with acreage of trees is well worth the higher differential.

4. Another variable that influences the selection of home sites are the features that a home may have due to the influence from physical attributes of the site (for example, the grade of the site).  Two examples of such features are: Walk-out basement and a Garden level basement.  The pros versus cons of each can be weighed by the home owner.  Each home buyer has their own reasons for preferring one over the other.

There are so many factors to contemplate before selecting your home site and there really is no right or wrong way to choose one.  This is part of the home building process that needs to be considered, but some future home owners never really thought of!  To help manage this potentially overwhelming process, it’s best to make a list of what you need to be satisfied with your home site.   It is also helpful if you walk some of the sites on your list of possible home sites to get a better “feel” for the site in real life.  Bring your camera phone and take photos so you can mull it over later, long after the walks are completed.  In addition, drive about the neighborhood at different times of the day.  This will give you an idea of how traffic flows through the community or how quiet it is.  Whatever home site you end up selecting, be sure it meets your top-most criteria from your list.

Your Initial Consultation with Belmonte Builders

You’ve decided to build a new home.  What’s next? The next step is more-than-likely the most important one…you must meet with your perspective builder and make certain that the one you choose is the right one!  This is when you begin to build a relationship with the team of people who will walk you along the journey of home building!

For those who like it simple, here it is:

  1. Make appointment with us :  Call 518-371-1000
  2. Determine your living space needs
  3. Distinguish “wants” versus  “needs”
  4. Know your budget

And now, for the details:

  1.  First things first – make the appointment! Be sure that you allow enough time for us to answer all of your preliminary questions.  It is suggested to allow about an hour and a half for this first appointment.  It may seem like a long time, but you’d be surprised at how quickly time passes and the questions that you come up with during the initial consultation.  Setting up the appointment ensures that you will get the other items done in preparation and ensures that you won’t procrastinate! Our main office number is 518-371-1000
  2. Next, you should have an idea of how much living space you will needKnowing the exact square footage is not necessary, but an understanding of how many bedrooms, bathrooms, guest rooms and so forth will help us create a home that fits you and your family’s needs.  If you’ve had an opportunity to look through our collections and have found floor plans or elevations that appeal to you, make note of them and bring them to your appointment.  It may be helpful to take notes right on the brochure – that way you don’t forget the small details.  We do take thorough notes and listen very carefully to your needs at each meeting, but if you bring the notes that capture your thoughts during your initial browsing of floor plans, this is assurance that you won’t forget to bring up all of your questions at this consultation.  We build your home 100% custom to your specifications and your needs, so these plans serve as a good starting point to get you thinking about all aspects of a custom home, both inside and out.
  3. Now, you should start two lists – one is a ‘Wish List’ the other is a ‘Need List.  This helps pare down the things you can’t do without (need) versus the things that you’d like, but can manage with something else (want).  Specifically, know the number of bedrooms and bathrooms you need.  Have a sense of the number of guests you will periodically host so you can plan for that.  Do you want a media room?  How about a library?  Can you manage your home office and study integrated in the same space?  Some home owners can’t go without an outdoor living area.  However you need it, you decide.  If you put something on your wish list, there is a very good possibility that you can add on in the future.  Just be sure to ask us what possibilities are open for future additions and modifications.  One great starting point to visit is our online gallery.  Our photo gallery is a small collection of photos that we have compiled for your viewing pleasure.  It may help to give you some idea of the detail that goes in to creating your unique home.  Until you begin this process, you may not know that you choose every detail that goes into your home – it will reflect you and your family’s unique taste and style.
  4. Finally, and possibly equally as important as any of the aforementioned items, know your budget!  By sharing this with us, you will be certain that any recommendations that are given to you will be done so with this in mind.  This allows for us to understand the financial boundaries that you have set and to better guide you through the decision-making process in a realistic manner.

The key is to be as well-organized as you can so that you can get the most out of your initial consultation.  Don’t worry- if organization is not one of your strongest attributes, we are well prepared to assist you through the entire process!  We’ve done this so many times over the years, we’ve made many adjustments and changes and as a result, created a well-oiled machine out of this previously arduous process.  You will neither be left alone nor left guessing what you need to do at any step.  We are with you at every step of the way.  Some tools that we provide you with are:  checklists, information sheets, vendor lists and a home owner’s manual so that you will have all of the information you need at your fingertips!

Open communication with the entire Belmonte Builders team ensures that your needs are met, and those needs are reflected in the specifications of your new home.  Be patient through the process.  At times, it can be stressful, but if you stick to your needs and wants (and understand the difference), you can make decisions much easier. Once you leave this first appointment, you should expect to receive a proposal from us.  This will factor all the details you want, the cost of the home and options as well as a rendering of your perspective home.  One of the most exciting parts of building a home is the very first time you see it illustrated!  The rest is really up to you…once you make your decision, we would be honored to help you build your dream home!  Belmonte Builders builds Homes As Individual As You Are.  518-371-1000

How to Find Your Builder

The thought of building a new home may be overwhelming to many people, but if you are a discerning person, who knows what you want and aren’t willing to settle, new construction may be your best bet. Believe it or not, building a new home can be a terrific experience! Picking the builder that is right for you is the key to success.

There are many things to consider when buying a home, and most people know the first place to start is location, location, location. Be sure to think about what environment you’d like to live in. Are you a person who prefers the solace of being surrounded by only nature? Do you have children and want to be sure your home is in a neighborhood with other kids and a great school system? Perhaps you’ve successfully navigated through parenthood, and now want to enjoy the freedoms that can be found in a maintenance free community. Knowing where you want to call home is the first step in building the home of your dreams.

Once you’ve identified the community and type of home you’re interested in, it’s time to do some research. Use the local newspapers, chambers of commerce, builders associations and internet to find builders who have communities that fit the community and lifestyle you’re looking for. Go visit their neighborhoods and identify which may suit your needs. Be sure to note the addresses of homes that catch your eye. This will help the builder know what your style is and help speed the process along. Then- you guessed it- more research.

Find out all you can about the builders you are considering. It’s much more than just comparing price per square foot. Be just as concerned with the quality of what you can’t see, as you are about what’s on the surface. Remember, you get what you pay for! Next to location, the quality of your home is of utmost importance. Be sure to check on the builder’s reputation, length of time in business, longevity of his staff and vendors, check references….have they had “repeat” customers? That’s the true test of a great builder!

Your home is most likely the single largest investment you’ll ever make, and having a home built just for you can be one of your proudest accomplishments. If you take your time, and choose wisely, you’re sure to find the perfect builder for you!

Belmonte Builds Customized Homes

Belmonte Builders understands that each family is unique. That’s why we meet with you one on one to design the home that you’re looking for. Belmonte can customize your new home around your family’s needs and desires. Whether it’s a first floor master, a teen room so the kids have someplace to “hang out”, or a special room that allows you to honor your heritage or religion…we can incorporate any unique room into your floor plan. We also understand your home may be your single largest investment, so we always make sure your home design allows for future changes to these special floor plans as an option for the next owner. We strive to protect the value of your investment, and of course the quality and craftsmanship that Belmonte is known for will always stand out.

We know that your time is invaluable. Belmonte has developed our new home construction process with this in mind. Each family is led step by step through the process by our experienced and highly knowledgeable staff. We ensure everything is organized and taken care of, so all you have to do are the fun parts…select the items that make your home uniquely yours! Belmonte Builders, Homes as Individual as You Are!

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