Easy Ways to Customize Your Home’s Exterior

In a country that abounds with suburban developments of similar-looking homes, adding a personal touch to your property might be high on your list of priorities.

In the past, the options for customizing the exterior features of a house may have been few and far between. But today, everything from siding to roofing is available in a wide range of styles, colors and designs.

If you’re looking to customize your castle with ease, concentrate your efforts on a few of the following areas:

  • Trim. Exterior trim can give your home a graceful, almost Victorian appearance. One option is Restoration Millwork from CertainTeed, which comes in 15 shapes and has a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) composition that looks and feels like wood, but performs even better.
  • Siding. If you want to give your home a fast and major makeover, consider replacing its siding.
  • Available in a vast array of colors and textures, siding can make your home stand out and increase its value. Vinyl and fiber cement are two materials that are easy to maintain and will last over time.
  • Decking. Outdoor living is a hot trend this year and adding a deck is one of the most dramatic ways to customize your home. Since many decks are made with easy-to-clean materials such as weather-resistant composite decking, they’re easy to maintain as well.
  • Railing. To match a new deck or patio, consider adding a railing such as the Panorama Composite Railing. This product is a new industry favorite. Its core is made of a durable composite material that is capped with colonial-white or desert-tan PVC for a lasting, freshly painted look. Composite and steel balusters allow you to further customize the look of the railing and decking.
  • Roofing. A set of new shingles can add a touch of personality to your home or improve its curb appeal if you’re planning on selling it. Since the roof covers the most area of a home’s exterior, it makes a big difference in first impressions.
  • Fencing. The wood look is often a favorite for fencing. And, with the Bufftech Chesterfield privacy fence, a product that features CertaGrain authentic wood texture, homeowners can achieve the wood look with all the long-lasting, fade-resistant benefits of a vinyl fence.

For more information, visit or call 800-782-8777.

Article courtesy of NewsUSA.

Tips for Choosing the Right Kind of Mortgage

Home buying can be a stressful or uncertain business at times. In today’s market, there’s much debate about what type of mortgage to get – an adjustable-rate or a fixed mortgage – and how do you know when it’s time to consider refinancing an adjustable-rate mortgage?

Market Street Mortgage, one of the nation’s leading retail originators of residential mortgage loans, offers these tips:

If you are buying a home now, consider whether you’ll be able to handle the possibility of rate increases before choosing an adjustable-rate mortgage. Don’t let the decision be simply “What is the cheaper payment to get me into the house” because it may not be the best choice for the future. Depending on your situation, you could also consider a five-year ARM if you know you’ll move before it starts adjusting, or if your projected income will also increase. On the other hand, for stability, select a fixed-rate mortgage to provide a steady principal and interest part of your mortgage payment.

Take the time to compare the two options side by side. Ask yourself how much you are really saving each month by choosing the adjustable-rate mortgage over the fixed. Is it worth the risk of how the rate will adjust in the near future? Or is it worth the cost of refinancing later?

And what if you already have an adjustable-rate mortgage?

Review your documents and determine what the initial fixed period is. For example, a 5/1 ARM is fixed for the first five years and then adjusts every year after that. So, if you plan on remaining in your home once the loan starts to adjust, you should determine whether you’ll be able to afford the new monthly payment that will go into effect. Get in touch with your mortgage consultant before you reach the adjustment time, so you can start tracking rates and reviewing your options.

Talk with a mortgage consultant so they can provide you with an analysis and the right tools to assist in making your decision. To find a quali-fied mortgage consultant, visit

Article courtesy of NewsUSA.

Cedar Offers ‘Green’ Benefits

Protecting the environment in our daily lives – also known as “going green” – has become something that’s on everybody’s radar these days, even when it comes to constructing a house. If you’re considering building a log home, two of the major factors to consider are the effects your home will have on your wallet and the environment.

When researching the types of wood available for building, people don’t always realize the many “green” advantages that cedar has to offer. Cedar is grown and harvested in a naturally sustainable manner, unlike plantation-harvested pine, which requires large expenditures of fuel, fertilizers and insecticides to produce timber ready for harvest. With cedar, the wood’s natural resistance to rot and insects eliminates the need to treat saplings in the forest, which drastically cuts down on harmful environmental toxins that are used to produce many other kinds of wood.

Cedar also requires less fuel when being milled. Maine-based Katahdin Cedar Log Homes harvests its logs from nearby forests, then air-dries them to a desirable low-moisture content of 12 to 14 percent. Katahdin has also discovered other “green” practices to reduce fuel consumption in its milling process, such as a biomass boiler, which uses waste sawdust to heat the mills and reduce fuel consumption by almost 90 percent.

You’ll also save fuel when building with cedar. The thermal mass and insulating R-factors are much higher for cedar than for common pine because cedar has more tiny, insulating air pockets and a drier composition. Katahdin offers an optional insulation package for no extra charge that maintains the look of cedar log walls inside and allows for more efficient interior wiring than a traditional solid log wall.

Saving on construction labor and time when building your log home will not only make the environment a better place, it will also help put a little green back into your wallet. For more information, call toll-free (800) 845-4533 or visit

Article courtesy of NewsUSA.