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Allergy-Proof Your Illinois Home

Ah, spring! It’s the season for outdoor adventures, home renovations and unfortunately, seasonal allergies. If you have severe or mild allergies, spring can be a sneezing, itching, eye-watering nightmare. Instead of covering your face with nasal spray and eyedrops or hiding inside this year, try removing environmental allergy triggers in your home.

1. Vacuum those carpets

Carpet flooring is the natural nemesis of allergies. It traps dust, pollen, pet dander and just about any other histamines you can think of. The cheapest and easiest defense is cleaning your carpets. If you find your allergies are getting worse, consider upgrading your vaccuum.

The permanent solution:

Allergy

If you have wall-to-wall carpeting, you could spend half your life vacuuming your floors and never be finished. Instead, replace your carpet with tile. A flooring upgrade will add instant appeal to your home and boost your resale value. If you want hardwood floors with half the work, call our sister company Custom Bath Solutions. They offer porcelain tile hardwood flooring which has all the charm of hardwood floors but are much more durable and low-maintenance.

2. Ditch your Drapers

Your drapes act as a magnet for all the dust, pollen and pet dander coming in through your windows. Clean your drapes more often, or opt for a drape-less window solution.

The Permanent solution:

Many of our customers have trouble deciding how to cover their patio doors. Drapes for patio doors are huge and expensive, and traditional blinds are hard to dust. Luckily, there’s an easy solution: replace drapes with blind-in patio doors. We offer blind-in patio doors from Paragon Windows & Doors that have blinds sealed between two glass panels. Since the blinds aren’t exposed to dust, you get dust-free shade.

3. Dry out your bathroom

The bathroom is especially vulnerable to mold and mildew because of all the humidity that enters the room from daily activities. If you find mold or mildew in your bathroom, you might consider upgrading your bathroom ventilation fan or cleaning more often.

The permanent solution:

Use mold and mildew-resistant materials in your bathroom! Our sister company, Custom Bath Solutions offers acrylic showers and tubs that are coated in SilverSheild technology. This anti-microbial protection ensures that your bathroom will be mold, mildew and maintenance-free.

4. Dry out your basement

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Moisture in the basement is a huge problem for the structural integrity of your home and the people living in it. A wet basement will cause mold and mildew problems. If you ignore the underlying leakage problem, mold can spread to hard-to reach areas of your home until an easy solution is out of reach.

The permanent solution:

Purchase a basement-waterproofing system. In Peoria, Illinois where so much of the area sits in a flood plain, a water-tight basement is a great investment. Our system is called B-Dry Basement Waterproofing. B-Dry has an amazing reputation from previous customers and addresses the five most common ways that water enters your home.

5. Get Air-Tight Windows

Cheap and old windows often have air leakage problems that let in allergens and mold-causing moisture. There’s a number of DIY repairs you can do to fix your existing windows, but none of them guarantee a better seal.

The permanent solution:

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The only way to ensure proper sealing on your windows is to have them professionally repaired or upgraded. Our replacement vinyl window collection from Preservation Windows has superior weather-sealing technology. These windows are certified by the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) and tested for air-infiltration and water resistance. Plus, Preservation windows have a spacer system that prevents condensation on the inside of your frame.

6. Reduce Your Home’s Humidity Levels

If you have a mold allergy, you should be tracking your home’s humidity levels. Pick up a hygrometer at a local hardware store and measure the humidity levels in each room. If you read a humidity level above 60%, consider purchasing a dehumidifier.

The permanent solution:

We offer a TON of moisture-resistant products. My favorite is our Preservation Integra Siding. This replacement vinyl siding features a ClimaSheild Thermal Support System. This siding features molecular waterproofing, an interlocking weather seal, and a diamond-groove drainage plane to ensure that all moisture is directed away from your home.

7. Reduce Clutter

Clutter doesn’t directly cause allergy problems. However, clutter can collects dust easily and makes cleaning your home more difficult than it needs to be. To minimize time spent cleaning, store unessential items in storage bins, closets and attics.

The permanent solution:

Get an amazing storage system. Not only will it make cleaning easier, it will simplify your life in ways you never imagined. Our sister company, Woodfront Kitchens can custom-build beautiful storage systems that will make cleaning easy. Check out their profile on Houzz for ideas!

8. Clean Your Gutters

Even though your gutters are on the outside of your home, poorly maintained gutters can lead to moisture problems inside the home. In addition, gutter debris is filled with allergens that can affect your health. The easiest way to take care of this problem is to clean your gutters.

The permanent solution:

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It’s likely you’ll always have allergies in the spring, and always have gutters to clean. Why not kill two birds with one stone and buy a Gutter Helmet? Gutter Helmet will give your home superior drainage so you reduce the risk of moisture entering your. Plus, you’ll never have to stick your hands in gross, allergenic gutter goop again.

 

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Custom Home Improvement and Coffee

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*This story was written by our new Show Room Saleswoman, Magen Meers

How do you like your coffee?

I recently visited a small and trendy boutique coffee shop for the first time. The atmosphere was beautiful. Gray walls with green accents in the form of live plants peppered the shop. Several tables containing small groups of men and women happily sipping their drink of choice chatted or huddled around laptop screens.

I approached the counter and stood staring at the menu mounted on the wall. A barista stood behind the cash register staring at me. I scanned the menu for something familiar. I was suddenly in a panic- I didn’t recognize anything on this menu! This was a coffee shop right? Where were the lattes and mochas that I’m used to? I glanced at the barista, still staring.”Ummmm,” I began sheepishly, “I’m not really sure what I want.” No response. Just the smallest look of annoyance and a small nod. Clearly he was not going to help me out with any recommendations, so I continued in a game of “Name That Espresso Drink” with him.

“I want something warm and sweet…but not too sweet like a mocha.”

He continued to look annoyed but this time he spoke. “Well you can get lattes with flavors or mochas. We have something called a Meow that is kind of like a latte with honey and cinnamon.'”

Convinced, I ordered the Meow (that’s what I heard although after some research, I think it was a Miel.) I paid for my purchase and stood waiting for my drink, anxious to get the heck out of there and avoid the judgement of the all-knowing barista.

Despite my less than perfect customer experience, the drink was delicious. Honey and cinnamon are my two favorite flavors and the combination was lovely. I began sprinkling cinnamon in my home brew and sweetening with honey but it wasn’t quite the same. I found myself craving a repeat but was hesitant to return to the shop. Remembering a gift card I’d been carrying around for a large-chain coffee shop, I thought I’d see if they could recreate the delicious drink there. I pulled into the driveway behind a long line of cars.

“Great,” I thought, “They’re going to love a custom coffee order. Especially when I don’t even know what drink I want!”

At the speaker a cheery voice greeted me.

“Do you have any drinks with cinnamon and honey in them?,” I said tentatively.

Without pause, the speaker responded “Sure, we can try it!”

Maybe they have a drink on the menu that’s similar, I thought. The line moved quickly and I found myself at the window in no time to collect my coffee. A young, smiling face waited for me. She took my cash and offered up two things: a drink in one hand, and a handwritten note in the other.

“I wrote down how we made your coffee so if you like it, you can order it again.”

“Oh, is there a drink like this and I just didn’t realize it?” I asked.

“No,” she replied, “we just came up with this so we wanted you to know how we made it.”

Impressed, I thanked her and shoved a dollar in the tip cup before driving away.

I’ve relayed this story to no less than ten people. Why? One, because it’s a really delicious drink and everyone should try it. More importantly, because it reflects an excellent customer service experience. Today’s marketplace offers a lot of choices. Choices are great but sometime staring up at a coffee menu, searching for the perfect lamp online or making choices to begin a full-scale remodel can be terribly overwhelming. We have customers that come to us and know almost exactly what they want to do. They have a vision and we make it happen. Other times, we know we want something but we’re not sure what.

That’s where our customer service sets us apart from the rest. We can help you choose exactly the right product. Whether it’s a new entry door, new kitchen counter or a complete bath remodel, we can help. Home improvements should be fun and exciting- not overwhelming. Our salespeople, designers and show room staff (me!) can guide you through each step of the process so there’s no guessing. If you have a “custom order” like my fancy espresso, we can help! Not only do we “do” custom orders- every design we do is custom. You can start by visiting me in our beautiful showroom in Washington and filling out a free, no-obligation project estimate form. Don’t know how you want your coffee? Let us help! We’ll even write down the recipe.

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4 Home Improvement Tax Breaks You May Qualify For

Tax Breaks

Tax Break 1: Major Energy-Efficient Upgrades

This tax break can save you up to $500 on energy efficient upgrades under the Residential Energy Credits program. However, there’s a lifetime total of $500 on this tax deduction, so be sure to check that you haven’t already met this limit. This tax break is especially relevant if you’ve purchased new energy efficient replacement doors, replacement windows, or a new roof.

  • 10% of the cost of replacement doors
  • 10% of the cost of replacement windows and skylights ($200 cap)
  • 10% of the cost of an energy-efficient roof (excluding labor)
  • 10% of the cost of home insulation upgrades (excluding labor)
  • $300 for a biomass stove
  • $300 for air-source heat pumps
  • $300 for central AC systems
  • $150 for efficient hot water boilers
  • $300 for water heaters
  • $200 for furnaces and fans

Tax Break 2: Green Energy Upgrades

This tax break goes in the personal tax credit category. If you added a renewable energy system to your residence, you’re eligible for a 30% tax rebate for your expenditures. This applies to both main residencies and vacation homes. Some expenditures covered include the cost of on-site preparation, assembly and installation, and piping and wiring to connect a system to the home.

Here’s the best part: there’s no cap on this deduction! If you’re kicking yourself for not going green earlier, don’t worry. This tax credit is available through 2019. Here are some green energy upgrades that qualify for this tax break:

  • Solar panels
  • Solar water heaters
  • Fuel Cells
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Wind turbines

Tax Break 3: Medical Modifications

This tax break is especially relevant to readers that have completed a bathroom renovation with Custom Bath Solutions in the past year. Medical modifications include improvements made to accommodate your home for care of a disabled individual. This person may be you, your spouse or your dependent.

Here’s the catch: the eligible cost of improvement is reduced by the project’s addition in value to your property. So if you spent $40K on medical modifications that increased the value of your home by $10K, only $30K are deductible. If the home improvement project did not increase your property value, the entire cost can be included as a medical expense. In addition, the cost of medical modifications must be more than 10% of your adjusted gross income (or 7.5% for persons 65 and older).

Here are some medical modification projects that qualify for deductions:

  • Lowering or modifying kitchen cabinets and equipment.
  • Installing railings, support bars, or other modifications (like a tub to shower conversion) in your bathroom
  • Replacement doors and modifying door hardware
  • Modifying electrical outlets and fixtures
  • Widening interior and exterior doorways
  • Entrance and exit ramps
  • Installing lifts or modifying stairways
  • Modifying fire alarms, smoke detectors, and other warning systems
  • Grading the ground to provide access to the home

Tax Break 4: Reduce Your Capital Gains Profits

In the eyes of Uncle Sam, that is. We would never advise you to sell your home for less than it’s maximum potential. If you make a profit on your home over $250K per individual (or $500K as a married couple), you’ll have to pay capital gains taxes on those profits. However, you can deduct the money you spent on value-adding home improvement projects from your total sales profit.

Let’s say you purchased a new home 7 years ago for $250K and then spent $60K on renovations. This year, you sold your home for $560K and put away your sales profit of $310K. If you don’t include the cost of renovations in your total profit, you can lower your taxable capital gains profit to $250K and keep that $60K you spent on renovations, tax-free.

For your home improvement project to qualify for this tax break, the project had to be an upgrade that increased the value of your home. Repairs projects are considered only “maintaining” the current value of your home and are not eligible to deduct from your total capital gains profit. Here are some projects that are eligible:


For the nitty-gritty details, talk to a tax advisor about which tax strategy is right for you. If you’ve purchased tax credit eligible products from us in the past year, we will be happy to send you a letter confirming your installation. Just call (309) 717-0105 and we’ll be happy to help you in any way we can.

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Eliminate Chores From Your To-Do List

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1. Cleaning the Shower and Tub

Cleaning the bathroom is perhaps the grossest of all chores. It’s dirty, slippery and smelly. I’d estimate that 80% of domestic arguments begin with, “No, I cleaned the shower last time.” Unfortunately, because of things called “hygiene” and “proper sanitation,” there’s no getting around it.

Mold and mildew are bound to sprout up, UNLESS you’ve purchased a shower or tub from our sister company, Custom Bath Solutions. Their showers and tubs are made out of a non-porous acrylic material guarded by Silver Shield™ anti-microbial protection. Silver Shield™ guarantees that your shower or tub will be mold, mildew and maintenance-free for as long as you own your home. Now you can stop scrubbing and start sudsing in the most beautiful bathroom you’ll ever own.

2. Re-staining the Deck

You wouldn’t trade those long summer days spent playing outside with the kids and grilling with a cool drink in your hand for anything in the world. Last Friday, you noticed that your deck has begun to fade, just like it does every 2 years. Now you’re spending your weekend out in the sweltering heat with a paintbrush in your hand and a mixture of sweat and tears in your eyes. Does this sound familiar?

If you had Fiberon Horizon decking, you’d never have to stain your deck again. That’s because Fiberon Horizon decking is protected by PermaTech coating, resulting in a deck that’s resistant to stains, scratches, splits, mold, mildew, moisture, insects and best of all, hard labor.

3. Cleaning the Gutter

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Cleaning the gutter probably takes second place on our grossest chore ranking. It’s certainly the riskiest chore many people have to do. Nobody likes sticking their hand in gutter goop! If you’re afraid of heights, you’ve probably had nightmares about dangling from your gutter like Clark Griswold. For the sake of your sleep, you should get Gutter Helmet. Gutter Helmet’s patented, maintenance-free design will keep leaves, twigs and other debris out of your gutter. Now you’ll never have to scale your house again, unless your house needs repainting…

4. Re-painting Your House

This task can feel like a beast if you have a large house or more than one story. The paint on your exterior is most likely peeling because your siding is made out of wood or metal. These materials are especially vulnerable to bad paint jobs and weathering. According to one expert, about 1 in 10 exterior paint jobs go awry. If you had vinyl siding, the paint would never peel because there would be no paint.

Even better, if you had our Integra Vinyl Siding your siding would never rust, crack, peel, rot, dent or fade. Come visit our showroom for the lowdown on all of our truly maintenance-free siding.

5. Cleaning Your Windows

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Okay, we can’t really make it so you never have to clean your windows. We’re not magic! But half the battle of cleaning your windows is running in and out of your home like an indecisive cat to clean both sides of the window pane. We can help you with that.

Most of our Preservation Windows have tilt-in top and bottom sashes to make cleaning safe and easy from inside your home. Now you can stay inside and bask in the sunlight coming in through your brand new windows just like your spirit animal.