How to Tell If Your GFCI Outlet Has Power - Part 2 Sump Pump and Treadmills

How to Tell If Your GFCI Outlet Has Power

Welcome back! I’m Shaun Sterba, Warranty Manager at Charleston Homes. Today I wanted to talk to you about Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI).

Down in the furnace room, we have a sump pit that is plugged into its own dedicated GFCI outlet. If the light is illuminated, follow the troubleshooting steps listed previously. After heavy rains, lighting or snow melts, it is good practice to reset the outlet to make sure it’s working and it hasn’t accidentally tripped. Also, a sump pump has an unknown lifespan and is common practice to replace it every few years. Also, our electrical systems do not support treadmills and if you plan to use one, we recommend having a licensed electrician professionally install a 20 amp dedicated breaker for the treadmill.

Thanks and have a great day!

How to Tell If Your GFCI Outlet Has Power - Part 1 - Kitchens and Bathrooms

How to Tell If Your GFCI Outlet Has Power 

Welcome back! I’m Shaun Sterba, Warranty Manager at Charleston Homes. Today I wanted to talk to you about Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI). All of our kitchens, bathrooms, exterior, garage and basements will have GFCI outlets. You can tell if the outlet does not have power by noticing the illuminated light on the unit. To restore power, simply press in on the reset button and the illuminated light will disappear. There are different styles of GFCI outlets; but generally if there is no power press the reset button on the unit and power will be restored. As a general rule of thumb, all of our bathrooms are connected to master bathroom. This means if the light on the unit is illuminated, none of the outlets will work until the main unit is reset.

Thank you and have a great day!

Now is the Time for You to Winterize Your Sprinkler System!

Now is the Time for You to Winterize Your Sprinkler System!

Today I wanted to talk to you about the importance of winterizing and draining your sprinkler system. In the basement of your home, you will find the utility room where the main water line comes into the house. You will see two valves on the unit and by turning them at a 90 degree angle, that will shut the water off to your house; that is not what you want to do. Above those valves, you will find a red valve that will control the water going to your sprinkler system. Once you turn it 90 degrees, water will be shut off from going outside. Once the water is shut off, there is a drain valve above it where you should get a bucket and allow the water to slowly drip out. This can take up to several hours. Once on the outside of your home you will find the backflow preventer and you will turn the valve and allow the water to drain out by just leaving it open.

When it comes to actually winterizing your sprinkler lines, we leave that to the professionals at Turfbuilder Irrigation; they use compressed air to blow the lines out. Anytime the temperatures dip below 50 degrees or freezing, I highly encourage you to drain the lines until you feel the need to water again.

Thank you for joining me and have a great day!

Are You Having Trouble Finding a Home?

Are You Having Trouble Finding a Home?

Welcome back! We have had a phenomenal year due to the fact that most of our homes are presale. This means we weren’t building homes and waiting for them to sell; we had many people coming to us and building from scratch. Our low on-hand inventory is not alone, the Omaha area in general is lacking inventory.

The lack of inventory is creating frustration for buyers as they cannot find the home they are looking for. When buyers come to us with this issue, we simply tell them “let’s build it!” We help you find the lot and the floor plan and are more than happy to make it happen.

If you or someone you know is thinking about buying, give us a call or stop by one of our model locations. They’re open seven days a week. Have a great day!

Don't Wait Until Spring!

Don't Wait Until Spring!

It is shocking that we are already halfway through October. If you are looking to move into a new home, the soonest you could move in would be mid-April 2014 as we are sold out into spring. Most people’s mindset right now is that it's late fall, the holidays are coming soon and I am not ready to move. The reality, however, is that now is the time to buy so you can move in next spring. Additionally, interest rates are still staying low making it a great time to purchase a home and to also get an extended lock through your lender to secure your pricing and your final interest rate price.

Don’t forget, our models are open 7 days a week and we would love to have you come out and visit Pebblebrooke or Saddlebrook. Thanks and have a great day!

Pebblebrooke - Our Newest Subdivision

Pebblebrooke - Our Newest Subdivision

Autumn is here and today we’re at our Pebblebrooke subdivision on the corner of 174th street and Highway 370 where we opened our new models earlier this year. The sales and successes of this new subdivision have been phenomenal and there are still plenty of lots available. We do have lots that we are going to re-plat this fall to make more lots suitable for three-car garages. These lots are some of the most affordable in southwest Omaha and the locations include prime interstate access, minutes from schools and Chalco recreation center.

If you have not been out to visit us, our models are open seven days a week and we would love to see you. Thanks for watching and have a great day!

Building an Accessible Home - Part 2 - Warranty Check Up

Building an Accessible Home - Part 2 - Warranty Check Up

Hey, guys! Welcome back to our video blog!

At Charleston Homes we take pride in our homes and the service we provide. We want to be there for our customers before, during and after the home building process.

That’s why we are here today with the Hoell family. They have been in their home for 11 months now and we wanted to follow up with a checkup to see how everything has been going. Like many other families, the Hoell’s needed to customize their home to fit their needs.

A wheelchair accessible home was a must for them. So, we made sure the bathroom was large enough to comfortably move around in. We also added roll-over thresholds to help accessibility and many other adjustments to make life a little easier.

With these changes, the Hoell's find their daily routines much easier! This is just one example of how we work to make your home perfect for you and your needs.

Here's part one of this series:

If you need any help or have any questions. Please give us a call!

Seal Your Exterior Foundation Cracks

Hi everyone, welcome back to our video blog!

Today, I wanted to talk to you about sealing any exterior cracks you may have on your foundation above grade.

Many of you don’t know that your waterproof warranty does not cover any leaks above grade.  Now, here, we have our tar line and the tar line is meant to expand with the crack. Cracks in the foundation will happen and are very normal. Water can come in through the crack and exit on the inside into the basement.

To seal you can use Vulkem. It will leave a line; you can paint over it later. Start from top and go down to the tar line. Then take a rag and push everything into the crack. That’s it! It’s best to do it in the late spring or summer.

That’s all for today, if you have any questions please give us a call!

Thanks for watching!

Driveway Maintenance

Hi everyone, today I’d like to talk to you about driveway maintenance.  Summer is drawing to an end and that means winter weather will be coming before you know it.  So I want to talk about sealing your driveway, the control joints and any cracks you may see as well as sealing the surface with a penetrating sealer.

First we have a crack we want to seal. The product we like to use is Vulkem 116; you can get it at any hardware or home maintenance store. The color you should get is limestone; it matches most concrete shades.

So, the reason you want to seal the cracks is when the weather drops and snow falls, water gets into the cracks. It freezes and then will bust open the top. We seal then in the summer so the water can’t get in. Sealing the control joints is important as well because it prevents moisture from soaking in the ground underneath the driveway.

When you apply the Vulkem 116, you don’t need a lot, just enough to cover the surface.  Now, this is a polyurethane sealant so it can be a little difficult to get off your hands. So if you want to wear rubber gloves you can, but you’ll take your finger and push the sealant in the crack a little more.

It will be pretty tacky and sticky before it dries. Sometimes you can spread sand over the sealant to help with the tackiness. After about 2-3 days it should be dry.

Another maintenance item is sealing the surface of your driveway. Concrete is porous on the surface and all the way through.  You want to seal that surface for the winter months when you are tracking in salt from cars. You want to use a penetrating sealant. Try not to use an acrylic sealer; that just goes on surface and doesn’t soak as a penetrating sealant would. You would just spray that in a pump sprayer on a clean driveway!

So if you have any questions give us call! Thank you so much for watching!

Air Flows and Seasonal Adjustments

Hi there! Thanks for joining our blog today! I wanted to discuss airflow and seasonal adjustments of your damper and register vents!

Today we’re in a two story model. I want to point out if your home is equipped with dampers, there is a lever you need to adjust accordingly depending on the season.

When the lever is in line with the pipe, it is in the on position; it is open all the way. Inside the duct there is a flapper where a fan can be manipulated with the pull of the lever. As I rotate up or down (it doesn’t matter which way) I am able to adjust the air flow. If I turn to a quick 90 degree angle I can actually shut it completely off.

So, in the summer months, the upstairs is warmer than the main floor. So, you will want to turn the bottom lever about 45 degrees to push more air up. The same in the winter months, except you will want to adjust the top lever.

Other seasonal adjustments include the register vents in your home. The vents above the furnace tend to get more air so to create more air flow in the rest of your home you will want to close those a bit.

If you have any questions, give us a call at 402.934.2212!

Lot Availability in the Omaha Metro

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It’s no secret that the real estate market has been on the rise. Financial barriers that prevented people from buying and building are far behind.  

Walt Slobotski, of NP Dodge Real Estate, reported in 2008 there was a total of only 28 lots sold during the entire year. It’s almost the middle of 2013 and they have already closed 147 lots and have 120 pending.  

What does this mean for future buyers?

Lots are being bought up quickly, which is great; however, not much new land has been developed. A shortage of desirable lots is inevitable in the near future.  

To make sure our clients have desirable lots to choose from in 2014, Charleston Homes has bought 350 lots and put them in inventory.  

If you are thinking about building, our suggestion is to do so sooner rather than later.  Land developments can take anywhere from 18 to 24 months to complete.  Now is the time to buy: there is lot availability, interest rates are low and the market is great. Take advantage of the opportunity before things change.  

Please feel free to visit our models at Saddlebrook or Pebblebrooke if you are interested in building a new home and you can always get more information from our website at

Why Now Makes Sense to Build

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The message is simple. If you can’t find what you’re looking for, let’s build it. There are only 3,800 homes on the market—the lowest number we’ve seen in years—so we’re getting calls daily from agents and consumers asking what inventory homes we have available, but we sold out of them a month ago. This type of market makes it the perfect time to build.

With the supply of homes so low, it’s especially challenging to find everything you want in an existing home. Don’t end up settling! It makes sense now more than ever to build. At Charleston Homes we offer seven floor plans at a variety of price points whether it’s a ranch, two story or 1½ story. To date, we’ve built in more than 60 neighborhoods and can find the perfect lot in the perfect neighborhood for you.

Best of all, you can personalize your home, rather than settle for what an existing home has to offer. Your home will reflect your personality because you can customize it to meet your tastes and needs. There are so many options from three-car garages, brick or stone fronts, a media room, finished loft, and more. Once you move in, we’ll ensure you’re satisfied by checking in with you 60 days later to see if you have concerns and then again 11 months later. We stand behind every home we build.  

If you’re out looking for a home, visit one of our model complexes. We’d love to talk with you at our new models in Pebblebrooke at 174th and Highway 370 or our models in Saddlebrook at 150th and Fort. Our model hours are Monday through Thursday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. You can also reach us at Pebblebrooke at (402) 502-5600 and at Saddlebrook at (402) 934-2212. We look forward to seeing you!

What Makes the Huntington Stand Out

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Our 1½ story—the Huntington—has an updated design. You can see it at our model complex in Pebblebrooke at 174th and Highway 370. There are not many 1½ stories in Omaha, but we can build the Huntington anywhere in Omaha and the surrounding areas. You won’t be disappointed.

So what’s new in the plan? The heart of the home, the kitchen features more cabinets and a new setup that makes it more spacious. Tying the kitchen into the family room makes it a very open floor plan. The front room, could be a formal dining room or living room while the rest of the first floor features an owner’s retreat, with a more spacious bedroom and bathroom than in the previous layout. With two bedrooms and a spacious loft upstairs, the Huntington is one of the most functional plans we have. Top off all this space with an unfinished basement that offers multiple configurations such as a bedroom or a big open space with lots of storage and you can have the home of your dreams.

To give it your own personality, you can customize the exterior and interior to meet your needs and tastes. The Huntington, which has a total of 2,631 square feet of finished space above grade, typically sells in the $220,000 to $270,000 range.

We’d love to visit with you at our new models in Pebblebrooke at 174th and Highway 370 or our models in Saddlebrook at 150th and Fort. Our model hours are Monday through Thursday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. You can also reach us at Pebblebrooke at (402) 502-5600 and at Saddlebrook at (402) 934-2212. We look forward to seeing you!

Easy Do-It-Yourself Project Takes Care of Concrete Cracks and Joints

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Over time, winter weather can take a toll on your driveway.  Spring is a great time to tackle any damage and prevent problems in the future.  All you need is a hose, caulk, caulk gun, spray bottle, soap and water, and a rag.  Here’s a quick look at what causes the cracks, why you should caulk the joints, and the steps you can take.

To get started, wash out your garage and your driveway when the nice weather arrives.  You can use a power washer or a garden hose with a sprayer attached.  Start at the back of the garage and work forward.  Do the same with the driveway by starting at the top of the driveway.  Be sure to remove any debris and dirt, paying extra attention to the joints.  Wait a day or two for the concrete to thoroughly dry before applying any caulking, to ensure proper adhesion.

Beyond cracks, your driveway may have also experienced heaving where the concrete at the joints gets pushed up.  The entire driveway is sectioned off into joints that need to be caulked.  Last year, Omaha experienced a heavy frost in mid-December.  At that point there was a lot of moisture, rain and snow.  What happened was the ground got saturated and then froze, which then could have caused heaving.  So by caulking joints you’ll prevent extra moisture, whether it’s rain or snow melt, from getting under the concrete, freezing and pushing it up.

Keep in mind that if you’re not handy or too busy there are companies that can do this for you.  Otherwise, it’s a do-it-yourself project.  Here’s how.  To fill the cracks, cut the caulk tip about 1/8 to /14” in width and place it in the caulk gun.  The brand Vulkem works well.  To seal the cracks, apply the caulking based on how wide the crack is.  To fill the joints, apply a bead the width of the joint and about two feet in length.  Use a spray bottle with a soap and water mixture to spray on the caulk and your finger.  Spray the applied caulk and then smooth it out with your finger.  If there is excessive caulk, wipe it down with a rag. Continue in two feet areas until all the driveway control joints have been filled.  Remember to go slow and apply evenly. If you need to stop and take a break, do so.  The important part is to give the joints uniform coverage.

We hope you find these tips helpful.  Don’t hesitate to call us if you need anything and please come out to see our new models in Pebblebrooke at 174th and Highway 370 and our models in Saddlebrook at 150th and Fort.  You can reach us at Pebblebrooke at (402) 502-5600 and at Saddlebrook at (402) 934-2212.  We look forward to seeing you!

Getting a Lawn that’s a Cut Above

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You know a well-cared for lawn when you see it. Perfect for playing catch and soccer, summersaults and barbecuing. So how do you get the lawn you want? Give it the basics:  fertilizer, water and proper mowing.  
If your lawn is a couple of years old or was just recently put in, it will look brown during the winter because the grass is dormant. If the lawn was put in last year, it will still be benefiting from the nutrients in the sod and will green up more quickly than your neighbors.  To continue to feed your lawn, fertilize in the spring, summer and fall. Then top it off with a winterizer in late fall. If you’re consistently fertilizing your yard, it will stay green.
Going into the spring months, water the sod when it’s 60 degrees or warmer during the day. If you have a sprinkler system, wait until the days and nights stay above 60 degrees because the potential low temperatures could cause the system to freeze up.  Instead, water with a hose or stand-alone sprinkler.

Once it’s time to mow the lush green grass you’ve been fertilizing, keep in mind that there’s a right and wrong way to mow. By always mowing in the same direction, you will create ruts in your lawn because the wheels will pass over the same grass every time. You don’t want your lawn to gut in a rut! By alternating the direction you mow, such as mowing in a diagonal one week then horizontal another keeps your grass from becoming beat down in ruts.  

Another tip is to mow the top 1/3 of the grass. There are a few good reasons for this approach.  Taller grass keeps the sun from getting to seeds of weeds so they can’t germinate. It also helps with root development because the taller blades keeps the soil from drying out. Don’t worry!  You won’t be mowing more often.  

If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us. We’d also like to invite you to come out to see our new models in Pebblebrooke at 174th and Highway 370 and our models at Saddlebrook at 150th and Fort. You can reach us at Pebblebrooke at (402) 502-5600 and at Saddlebrook at (402) 934-2212. We hope to see you soon!

Tips for Keeping Your Home’s Exterior Functioning Smoothly

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We spend so much time thinking about what we should do to improve the look of the inside of our house—paint, window treatments, placement of furniture—that we often neglect the outside of the home.  Taking a few minutes to walk around your house will make a big difference in keeping your home running smoothly.

Start with the hose bibs.  Don’t leave the hoses connected to them unless the temperature is staying 60 degrees or above during the day and night.  You should also turn them on to make sure they’re still working.

Check the exhaust vent and fresh air intakes for debris and make sure they are open.  They need to be free of any obstructions so that they function properly and so that they can help to facilitate proper airflow into and out of the home.

There’s not much to do for the air conditioner because you should have cleaned it last summer. Just take a look at it to make sure the brackets are still attached.

Check the siding to make sure the panels are connected and that there are no loose pieces or boards that need to be touched up.  Now look down to check for settling.  If there is a low spot, take the sod, peel it back and fill it up to get the dirt level back up to natural grade.  Do this if there is less than three inches of settling, otherwise let us know.

Now onto a favorite spot—the deck.  To prolong the life of the deck, make sure you use sealer and stain on it.

We hope you found these tips helpful.  If you have questions, do not hesitate to contact us.  We’d also like to invite you to come out to see our new models in Pebblebrooke at 174th and Highway 370 and our models at Saddlebrook at 150th and Fort.  You can reach us at Pebblebrooke at (402) 502-5600 and at Saddlebrook at (402) 934-2212.

How Things Have Changed

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The real estate market is changing quickly. We’re committed to keeping you up to date on all of these changes—and what they mean to you.  Here’s what’s happening in our market.

A few years ago, there was a plethora of lots available in the city, but that’s no longer the case. We’re just not seeing the bulldozers out preparing land for new neighborhoods, so lots have become scarce. In fact, we’ve seen lot prices increase in the past couple months by as much as $10,000. Home prices were at an all-time low for both existing and new construction, but now that we’ve moved into 2013, the market has suddenly exploded—and everything is going up.

Top off lot prices increasing with new construction costs going up, and it’s smart to buy sooner rather than later. The U.S. Census Bureau tracks the cost of construction, which has been going up by 2.8% annually over the past 20 years.  If you wait just one year to build a new home, you could easily pay an extra $5,000 to $6,000 on a $200,000 home. Ouch!    

Remember that mortgage loan rates are still fantastic, which makes buying a home more affordable than ever.  A 30-year fixed-rate mortgage hovered at record-low rates during 2012, but the rates won’t last forever, so there’s not a better time to buy than now.

Prices of existing homes are also increasing. This is great news for our customers because most of them usually have a home to sell. What we’re seeing now is that people are selling their homes for full price in a week or two, but you have to have a great strategy to make that occur. Inventory is also at an all-time low.

Remember now is the time. If you get off the fence, you can sell your existing home quickly, get a great deal on a new house and lot, nail down a fantastic interest rate and, ultimately, save a lot of money.

Come out to see our new models in Pebblebrooke at 174th and Highway 370 and our models in Saddlebrook at 150th and Fort.  You can also contact us  by calling Pebblebrooke at (402) 502-5600 and Saddlebrook at (402) 934-2212.

New Models Now Open At Pebblebrooke

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Charleston Homes is building in Pebblebrooke, a fantastic neighborhood that has a lot to offer. Our three models, which feature our current upgrades in amenities, are now open at the corner of 174th and Highway 370. There’s definitely something for everyone:  the Durham, a ranch-style home with  1,793 square feet on the first floor; the Huntington, a one-and-a-half story with 2,631 square feet of finished space, and the Savannah, Charleston’s newest two-story with more than 2,200 square feet of finished space.

Now’s the time to get in on great lot prices.  In Pebblebrooke, you’ll find some of the lowest prices on lots in all of southwest Omaha and Gretna.  Charleston purchased the land in Pebblebrooke, which has approximately 130 lots for sale.

Beyond excellent lots to choose from, this community offers many perks. While it’s close to the interstate, it’s far enough away that it’s quiet.  If you like hiking, biking, fishing, Chalco Hills Recreation Area is down the street. And for families with young children, the neighborhood is near Palisades Elementary, which is part of the Gretna school district. Top off these perks with a golf course nearby and it’s tough to beat this location.

Come out and visit us soon. Our model hours are Monday through Thursday 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday to Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. You can also reach us at (402) 502-5600. We look forward to helping you land your dream home.

Mid Winter Care for Your Home

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Right around now is when we suggest homeowners take a moment to evaluate the systems in their homes to make sure everything is operating properly. Here is a list of important areas of your home that, with just a few minutes, can be easily maintained, saving you hundreds – even thousands of dollars each year.

Keep the Furnace Clean and Serviced
Just by changing the filters, you will save about $300 a year keeping the filter clean. Check your filter once a month to make sure it’s free of any dust and debris. Turn your furnace off, pull out the existing filter to check it and then make sure to follow the arrows that help guide you which direction to slide the cartridge in.

Another thing you can do starting the third year of living in your home, is to have a professional Lennox dealer or licensed contractor inspect your furnace for any broken seals or bearings that need lubrication. They should also clean burners and deal with other issues that may be going on. The typical cost of a furnace maintenance and service check is about $150 to $200.

Thermostat Should Be Working Well
Every Charleston Homes home comes standard with a programmable thermostat that will help you to save money throughout the year. It is important to check batteries and make sure they are in good operating condition. Make sure the temperature is programmed according to your lifestyle to save money every month and adjust it according to the season if necessary.

Manage Heating Vents and Air Flow
A lot of people keep some doors closed in their homes but it ends up changing the heating configuration for the home since the room is then cut off from the rest of the house. Try not to keep doors closed because you will experience cooler parts of your home despite having return air and heating vents in each room.

All of the air vents in our homes are adjustable, making it possible to fine-tune your living areas and help maximize airflow efficiency. Rooms that are located directly under the furnace will be naturally a lot warmer than rooms further away from the furnace. A great way to help warm up the rest of the house is to strategically close those air vents in rooms that are closer to the furnace, while opening up the vents in opposite areas of the house to help warm air flow. Be sure vents are kept clear of any obstructions so that maximum airflow can be achieved.

Keep Exhaust and Fresh Air Intakes Clear
The lower the temperatures outside, the more risk you have of exhaust and fresh air intakes to be clogged with snow or ice. In the winter, they need to be free of any obstructions so that they function properly and so that they can help to facilitate proper airflow into and out of the home. Be sure to check them and do so each time you are clearing your driveway.

Avoid the Use of Ice Melting Products
We do not recommend the use of any salt or rapid ice melting products since they work to expand and contract your driveway and hard surfaces on the exterior of your home. These products will serve to rapidly freeze and thaw the water molecules, often resulting in pitting of your driveway with slow erosion inevitable. To gain traction, the ideal thing to do is to spread some play sand or gravel on the driveway.
We hope you find our tips useful as you get through the rest of the winter months. As always, if you need anything at all – don’t hesitate to call us or visit one of our model locations at Saddlebrook or a newest location, Pebblebrooke. We look forward to it!