DESCRIPTION OF ADDITIONAL HOMEOWNER’S MAINTAINENCE ITEMS
The following is an overview of the features and materials that may exist in your new home. Please study each section carefully so that you become familiar with the routine maintenance that your home requires.
Aluminum Window and Sliding Glass Door Frames – Aluminum is made to last for years, but it does require routine maintenance.
- Perhaps the most important step is to keep the window and door tracks free of dirt and debris. The aluminum tracks are soft and can become damaged if they are not kept clean. Use a broom or a brush to loosen collected debris.
- Vacuum tracks thoroughly as a part of your regular cleaning routine. Avoid using abrasive cleaners as they may scratch the aluminum.
- After cleaning, apply paraffin (wax) to the locks and rollers to prevent corrosion.
- If windows and doors do not slide freely, an oil-free silicone lubricant can be used on the tracks. Do not use an oil-based lubricant. Oil attracts dust and dirt, which can become embedded in the lubricant and may damage the aluminum.
Aluminum window and doorframes have small weep holes at the bottom to permit water to drain from the track.
- Keep the weep holes open and free of debris. While cleaning, avoid flooding window and doorframe tracks. Excessive water can overflow the track and back up into your home.
Please note that your sliding glass doors are more difficult to slide during the last six to eight inches of movement. This is normal and is due to requirements for a tight seal when the door is closed. We cannot make adjustments to make the doors easier to close.
During high winds, air will penetrate your windows, especially around the sashes. This is normal. The small amount of infiltration is desirable for proper ventilation.
Appliances – The appliances in your new home were selected for their durability, ease of use and appearance. Information about each appliance can be found in the literature that is supplied by the manufacturer. This literature is provided during the Pre-Closing Orientation (PCO).
- Fill out and mail the warranty cards provided with each appliance. Please read the manufacturer’s instructions on usage and care before you use your appliances. Your appliances are covered by warranties from the manufacturers. Contact the appropriate manufacturer or distributor for service or questions about the use and care of the appliances.
Wood Cabinets – If cabinet fronts are made of finished hardwoods, with proper care the beauty and utility of your cabinets will last for many years.
- Remove splashes and splatters promptly to avoid permanent stains.
- We recommend that you do not place a coffeepot under the cabinets. The steam from the coffeepot will deteriorate the finish. This damage is not covered by the Limited Warranty.
- Using Homer Formby product or lemon oil every one to two (1-2) months can preserve the beauty of the wood.
The wood in your cabinets is a natural product that can warp as it dries. This can cause drawers to stick and prevent doors from closing properly.
- If you notice sticking drawers and cabinet doors that do not close properly during the first sixty (60) days, please notify our Warranty Service Department in email. A cabinet technician will make one trip to adjust doors and drawers. After that, maintenance of cabinet drawers and doors is the responsibility of the homeowner.
- Minor scratches can be covered with a putty stick that matches the finish of your cabinets. Putty sticks can be purchased at paint or hardware stores.
- If needed, the hinges on your cabinet doors can be lubricated with oil based lubricant. Apply a very small drop of oil to the top of the hinge and work the door back and forth several times so the oil will penetrate into the hinge. Wipe away the excess oil with a dry paper towel.
Mirrors and Beveled Glass Strips – Never use cleaners containing ammonia on mirrors or mirror bevel strips. Ammonia damages mirrors’ silvering. Use glass cleaners without ammonia.
Caulking – Over time and particularly during hot weather, caulking will dry and shrink. When this happens, it no longer provides a good seal against moisture.
- As part of your routine maintenance, you should inspect the caulking around your sinks, tubs, windows, doors, door thresholds, casing, baseboards and ceramic tile and re-caulk annually or as needed. Caulking compounds are available at hardware stores and home centers.
Ceilings – The ceilings in your home are easy to maintain. They do not require special attention other than an occasional cleaning and periodic painting.
- Remove dust or cobwebs as part of your routine cleaning.
Concrete – Concrete is a major structural material in your new home. It provides strength and durability for the foundation, driveway and walkways. While concrete requires minimal care, it should be kept free of accumulated dirt and debris.
- Oil, grease stains and standing water should be removed promptly. Concrete cleaners are available at hardware stores and home centers.
In the extreme variations of temperature in this area, minor cracks and surface color variations in concrete are normal and unavoidable. Small cracks, which are the result of contraction and expansion, are characteristic of concrete and do not affect its performance or durability.
The driveways and walkways in your new home are designed for residential use.
- Do not permit large trucks and delivery vans to use your driveway.
- Do not install outdoor carpeting or tile on your concrete walks as it can inhibit drainage and void part of your warranty.
- Remove plant growth from the expansion joints when it appears. Plants/weeds left to grow in the expansion joints of your walk and drive could crack or otherwise damage the concrete.
- If this happens, obtain patching cement from a hardware store or home center and follow the directions on the package for proper repair. Patches in concrete will vary in color from the original material. This is normal and cannot be avoided.
The white, powdery substance that sometimes accumulates on stucco and concrete surfaces is called efflorescence. This is a naturally occurring process and cannot be prevented.
- Efflorescence can be removed by scrubbing with a stiff brush and strong vinegar. Consult your hardware store or home center for commercial products that remove efflorescence.
Countertops – The countertops in your home may be constructed of solid surface, cultured marble, laminate or granite. Any flaws or damage to your countertops must be noted during your Pre-Closing Orientation (PCO) to be covered by the Limited Warranty. After you have closed, the care of your countertops is your responsibility. We offer the following to assist you in keeping them beautiful and functional for years.
- Never use paper towels to wipe down cultured marble counter tops. Paper towels will scratch and dull the surface. Use only soft cotton cloths.
- Always use a cutting board to protect your countertops when you prepare food. While minor scratches that can result from cutting food may not be noticeable at first, in time they will dull and mar the luster of the finish.
- Never place hot objects (e.g., pots/pans from stove) directly on a countertop.
- Wipe up spills immediately. Some liquids, particularly hot ones, can cause almost imperceptible stains on laminate and cultured marble. In time, the stains can accumulate and become unsightly.
- Avoid dropping pots and pans and other kitchen items on your countertops. This can break or chip the counter’s surface.
- Keep the joint between backsplashes and countertops caulked.
SPECIFIC MAINTENANCE FOR DIFFERING COUNTERTOP MATERIALS
Solid Surface (Corian, Silestone, Granite) – A durable, man-made product designed especially for use in countertops. However, it can be stained and damaged and requires regular cleaning to maintain its beauty. Solid Surface is susceptible to burns. Do not place hot pans or other items directly on the counter. Like any surface, it is best to clean up spills immediately. Use only non-abrasive cleaners and dry with a soft cloth to enhance the luster.
Cultured Marble – Cultured marble is a modern product that adds style and luxury to your bathrooms. Proper maintenance of cultured marble is similar to the maintenance needs of fine wood. Remove spills immediately to avoid stains and use a denatured alcohol for hard-to-remove spots and a Gel-Gloss wax for luster. Do not use abrasive cleansers on your cultured marble countertops. Most food and drinks are acidic and can etch the finish on the marble. Do not place anything that can scratch the surface directly on the countertop. Use warm water and a soft cloth or sponge for routine cleaning. Never use paper towels to clean cultured marble. Paper towels will scratch the surface.
Laminate – Laminate (commonly known as FormicaÔ) is a durable material if cared for properly. It comes in many colors and can enhance the beauty of your kitchen. The manufacturers recommended that you use either 409, Fantastic or Countertop Magic to clean laminate tops. Do not place hot objects directly on the countertop surface. Heat can and will damage the laminate. Always make sure seams are caulked and wipe up water immediately to keep the Formica from bubbling.
Granite – Clean granite surfaces with a few drops of neutral cleaner, stone soap (available in hardware stores or from a stone dealer) or mild dishwashing liquid and warm water. Use a soft, clean cloth to clean the granite. Rinse after washing with the soap solution and dry with a soft, clean cloth.
DOORS & Trim
Exterior Doors – Inspect the finish on your exterior doors several times a year. Doors exposed to direct sunlight should be checked more often. Caulk and repaint as needed. SSH uses insulated fiberglass doors in all of our homes. Many have glass inserts that have plastic frames. These doors, when exposed to the varying temperatures in Florida, will expand and contract, but at a different rate as the plastic on the glass insert. This action will result in a slight drop in the insert level and some cracking of caulk and paint around the insert will occur. This is normal and any re-caulking and touch-up is considered Homeowner Maintenance.
Inspect the weather-stripping on your exterior doors frequently. Weather-stripping should form a reasonably tight seal. Always keep a duplicate set of keys for any exterior or locking doors.
Close your garage doors during rain. If the garage door is left open during rain, water will collect on the door, track, transmitter and receiver and may cause damage to the door and the door hardware or electronics. Lubricate the hardware on your garage doors every three (3) months using light lubricating oil. Wipe away any excess oil.
If you have a garage door that is used infrequently, you should open it periodically to inspect for needed maintenance and to make sure it is operating properly.
Interior Doors – Remove finger smudges from painted interior doors by washing with warm water and a soft cloth or sponge. Dry the surface thoroughly with a soft cloth or towel. Check your interior doors frequently and use touchup paint when necessary. These simple steps will keep your interior doors beautiful and in top condition.
If your closets feature sliding bypass doors, the roller and tracks should be lubricated with a dry silicone lubricant.
NEVER DRILL HOLES IN OR NAIL ANYTHING TO YOUR DOORS!
Interior Trim Work – Molding and trim can shrink and warp in some cases. Routine maintenance of molding, trim and baseboards are minimal and is the responsibility of the homeowner. Replace warped molding and trim. Reset nails that have popped out of position. Use touchup paint and, if necessary, the appropriate caulking material to complete the repairs.
The electrical system in your new home was designed by professionals to comply with stringent local and regional building codes. It is intended for normal residential use. Any changes or additions to your electrical system can result in damage to your home by fire and will void that part of your Limited Warranty.
We highly recommend that you consult a licensed electrician to make such changes and additions to your system. Please note that a permit is required for changes and additions to your electrical system.
Circuit Breaker Panel – During the Pre-Closing Orientation, we will show the location of and demonstrate the operation of the circuit breaker panel. There is one MAIN (or master) circuit breaker and several individual circuit breakers. Circuit breakers regulate the power going to each individual circuit. They will trip under excessive electrical load. Reset tripped circuit breakers by moving them to the OFF position, pausing for a moment then moving them to the ON position. In the event of a loss of electrical power to any part of your home, please consult the Troubleshooting section of this Handbook for details on how to perform a step-by-step analysis of the problem.
Ground Fault Interrupt Devices – During your Pre-Closing Orientation we will show the location and demonstrate the operation of ground fault interrupt devices (GFI outlets). Usually, GFI outlets are located near tubs and bathroom sinks and in the kitchen, garage and on the exterior of your home. These are special outlets that are designed to break the flow of electricity in the event of a short circuit. This will prevent electrical shock. When this occurs, the GFI outlets must be reset according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Do not plug appliances such as freezers and refrigerators into GFI outlets. The electrical surge that occurs when these appliances cycle will trip the GFI outlets and break the circuit resulting in a temporary loss of power to the appliance.
The following are general statements regarding power losses:
- If the power loss is in one area of your home and power is available in other areas of your home, it is likely that an individual circuit breaker has tripped. Follow the instructions in the Troubleshooting section to isolate the cause and to take corrective action.
- If electrical power is lost throughout your home, check the MAIN circuit breaker. If the MAIN circuit breaker has tripped, reset it. If power is lost due to an area outage, turn off all of your circuit breakers so no damage occurs as a result of a power surge when service is resumed.
If the MAIN circuit breaker trips repeatedly, refer the problem to a licensed electrician. If the MAIN circuit breaker has not tripped, take a look around your neighborhood to see if the cause is a general power failure. Call the electric utility company to report the problem if necessary.
Lighting – The lighting fixtures in your new home are designed for standard wattage bulbs.
- To avoid excessive heat, you do not exceed the recommended bulb wattage labeled on the fixture. In most cases, the bulbs should not exceed 60 watts.
Outlets and Switches – Do not exceed the capacity for which the outlets were designed. Devices, which increase the capacity of electrical outlets and multiple extension cords, can cause a fire. If an electrical outlet does not have power, there are three possible explanations:
- A wall switch controls an outlet. Plug a lamp into the outlet and turn on nearby wall switches. If you find that a wall switch controls the outlet, tell others living in your home.
- Check the circuit breaker. If the circuit breaker has been tripped, reset it and try the outlet again. If the circuit breaker trips repeatedly, have it checked by a licensed electrician.
- The outlet is on a circuit controlled by a GFI outlet. Check all GFI outlets to see if one of them needs to be reset.
PLACING METAL OBJECTS INTO WALL OUTLETS CAN INJURE SMALL CHILDREN. YOU CAN PREVENT THIS BY INSTALLING CHILDPROOF DEVICES ON ALL FLOOR LEVEL ELECTRICAL OUTLETS. THESE DEVICES ARE AVAILABLE IN GROCERY STORES, DRUGSTORES, HARDWARE STORES AND HOME CENTERS.
The primary exterior finish on your new home is stucco. This finish was chosen for its beauty and durability. Because it is exposed to constantly changing weather conditions, the exterior finish on your new home requires routine maintenance and care. We recommend that you inspect the exterior surfaces of your home every three (3) months or as needed. Stucco is a brittle cement product that will expand and contract. This process may cause hairline cracks to develop in the outer layer. This is normal and requires regular maintenance to avoid water intrusion. SSH will not be responsible for normal hairline cracks in stucco.
The white, powdery substance that sometimes accumulates on stucco surfaces is called efflorescence. This is a natural occurrence and cannot be prevented. In some cases, it can be removed by scrubbing with a stiff brush and strong vinegar. Consult your hardware store or home center for commercial products you can use to remove efflorescence.
Avoid spraying water from the irrigation system on stucco surfaces. Check the spray frequently to make certain that water is not accumulating on stucco surfaces.
Wood – A limited amount of wood is found on the exterior of your home. Because wood is a natural, porous material, it requires protection with paint if it is exposed to the elements.
- Inspect your exposed wood surfaces frequently. If you find cracking or peeling of the paint, sand the area and repaint it promptly. If your home has any exterior wood, it will require repainting every 2-4 years.
- Surfaces that receive direct sun in the morning and mid-afternoon will require more frequent repainting. Inspect these surfaces every six (6) months. Repaint every year or as needed.
- Split or damaged wood should be repaired or repainted to avoid further damage. The natural drying of wood can result in gaps and splits in interior or exterior wood molding and trim parts. Nails can work loose. Reset all popped nails and reposition trim parts that have been moved by the natural drying of the wood. In case of severe warping, replace the trim parts.
- Fill any cracks with commercial wood filler or use caulk and touchup paint.
SSH’s fireplaces add an alternative, visually pleasing heating source for a particular room. Please note that fireplaces are not designed nor intended to heat the entire home. We suggest you burn low flames lending a sense of warmth to a room while supplementing the heat from your heating system.
BEFORE LIGHTING YOUR GAS FIREPLACE;
- Check all around the fireplace area for a gas odor. Be sure to check for the odor next to the floor because some gas is heavier than air and will settle at the floor.
- Consult your owner’s manual for specific lighting and use instructions for your new fireplace.
- Use only your hand to push in or turn the gas control knob. NEVER USE TOOLS. If the knob will not push in or turn by hand, do not attempt a repair. Call a qualified service technician. Use of force or an attempted repair may result in a fire or explosion.
- Do not use this fireplace if any part has been exposed to water. Immediately call a qualified service technician to inspect the fireplace before using.
- Always extinguish the fire when you leave the room for any duration longer than a few minutes. The pilot light makes re-lighting as easy as pushing a button whenever it is needed.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU SMELL GAS:
- Do not try to light the fireplace.
- Do not touch any electric switch. Static electricity could ignite escaped gas.
- Do not use any phone in your building.
- Immediately call your gas supplier from a cell phone outside of your home.
- Follow the gas supplier’s instructions.
If you cannot reach your gas supplier, call the Fire Department!
TIPS FOR SAFE OPERATION OF YOUR WOOD-BURNING FIREPLACE
- Never use manufactured logs in a wood-burning fireplace. These logs are made of wood chips soaked in creosote (a product distilled from wood or coal tar) that will leave a chemical residue on the inside of your flue, your spark screen and chimney cap. Creosote doesn’t burn cleanly and the residue is toxic and flammable.
- Close the fireplace screens when the fire is burning.
- Make sure the dampers are open before lighting a fire.
- Never leave an active fire unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or when leaving your home.
- We suggest that you have your chimney and flue inspected annually. Cleaning by a professional chimney cleaner is recommended.
The dampers are permanently open in gas fireplaces to prevent a build-up of gas fumes! Dampers must be operated manually in wood burning fireplaces
MAINTAINENCE FOR TYPICAL FLOOR COVERINGS
The floor coverings in your new home will last longer if you provide routine maintenance and care. The Limited Warranty covers only flooring materials that were provided and installed by SSH.
Wooden sub-floors (upstairs in two story houses) may squeak from time to time. Squeaky floors are usually caused by a change in the weather, shrinkage of the wood materials or minor settlement.
Carpeting – Visible carpet seams are to be expected and are not an indication of a fault in the carpet. Most rolls of carpet are produced in 12-foot widths. This dictates that most of your rooms will have at least one seam. Professionals will install your carpet with a minimum of seams and without excessive waste. Seams are most visible in a new home before it has been furnished and occupied. As your carpet wears, the fibers will meld together eliminating many of the seams. Visible seams are not a defect unless they have been improperly made or the material is defective. Vacuuming in heavy use areas and controlling static electricity (increase humidity) will contribute to relaxing carpet fibers and making seams less visible.
- Vacuum carpeting frequently (recommend 2 – 3 times weekly, more if possible) to avoid the buildup of dirt and grime. Use a fixed brush attachment on your vacuum cleaner. If your vacuum cleaner has a beater type attachment, the beater should barely touch the tops of the carpet fibers. Eliminate carpet-shedding fibers as they appear. Loose carpet fibers will work their way to the surface for about 2 – 3 months. This is known as fluffing or shedding. Vacuum these fibers as part of your routine cleaning. If a tuft of carpet appears which is longer than the surrounding carpet, do not try to pull it out. It is probably attached to the backing and simply needs to be trimmed to the height of the surrounding tufts.
- Remove spills immediately. Stain removal is easier if it is done promptly. Consult a home center or a carpet professional for stubborn stains. Cleaning products should be tested on a section of carpeting that is not obvious. Do not use cleaners that have not been tested and certified for the carpeting materials in your home.
- Thoroughly clean your carpets at least once each year. While do-it-yourself carpet shampoo devices can be effective, consider employing a professional carpet cleaner.
- Familiarize yourself thoroughly with the stain protection warranty (if applicable) that relates to your carpeting.
Ceramic & Porcelain Tile
- Wash tile with warm water and a mild cleaner to eliminate spotting and hard water buildup or use a commercially prepared product.
- Clean your hardwood floors as often as you vacuum your carpets.
- Sweep the floors and mop with a soft dry mop or cloth.
- Do not use water, water-based detergents, bleach or one step cleaners on hardwood floors.
- Do not permit water to stand on hardwood floors. Moisture from indoor flower or plant containers, rain, spills, etc. will cause stains, warping and destroy the wood.
- Do not drag heavy appliances or furniture across hardwood flooring. Permanent scratches in the finish can result. High-heels can dent hardwood flooring.
- Waxing and buffing hardwood floors should be done according to the manufacturer’s specifications for materials and procedures.
Vinyl Flooring – Modern resilient vinyl flooring needs just basic common sense maintenance.
Due to its relatively soft texture, vinyl flooring can be damaged by chairs, heavy appliances, sharp items and rough use. This damage is permanent and cannot be repaired. Ladies’ high-heeled shoes can also cause permanent marks.
- It is best to use a mild soap and water to clean your vinyl floors. Do not use abrasive cleansers or full strength bleach. Abrasives will dull the finish and cause permanent damage. Full strength bleach can etch and destroy the surface of the flooring.
- Clean vinyl flooring with a solution of warm water and a commercial vinyl flooring cleaner.
- Remove spills immediately to avoid staining. Use a sponge or soft cloth. You must immediately dry the floor after cleaning or removing a spill.
Garbage Disposal – Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper disposal operation.
- Do not load the disposal with food items before turning it on. For proper operation, turn on the cold water and start the disposal. Then drop the food items slowly into the unit. When the unit sounds clear, turn the disposal off and leave the water running for several seconds. This allows the food waste to be carried into your sewer lines.
- Do not look down into the disposal when it is running. If inappropriate items (bones, silverware, etc.) are placed into the disposal, they may be forced up and out at high velocity.
- Only foods that are non-fibrous and easily pulverized should be placed into the disposal. Examples of foods not to place in the disposal are cornhusks, celery, onionskins, potato skins, olive pits, bones and solid or liquid grease. These items may cause your unit to overload or jam.
- You may be able to free up the jam by using the wrench supplied with the unit to loosen the jam and pressing the red reset button usually located on the bottom side of the unit.
- If you are on a septic system, minimal use of your disposal is recommended.
If your unit still does not operate after following the directions detailed above, refer to the manufacturer’s instructions or seek the services of a licensed plumbing contractor.
Your new home is equipped with a high quality heating and cooling system that complies with local and state energy codes. The rated capacity of your system has been designed to accommodate the heating and cooling loads of your new home. Please read the instructions provided by the manufacturer and become familiar with the use of both the heating and cooling operations.
Maintaining an even temperature will minimize the expansion and contraction of the materials in your home. Additionally, the following suggestions will assist you in getting the most efficient use from your heating and cooling system.
- Change filters every 30 days. Fresh filters can significantly reduce operating costs and will prolong the life of your system.
- Check the operation of your system well in advance of peak operating seasons. Have your system professionally checked yearly.
- Keep all vents and registers clean and free of dust, cobwebs and debris.
- Keep the condensation line clean by pouring a two-cup mixture of white vinegar and water (50% solution) into it twice a year. Location of the port in the condensate line will be shown to you at your PCO.
- Keep plants and grass trimmed well away from the outdoor unit.
Heat Pump – In this hot climate where the winter temperatures never get much below freezing, the Heat Pump is one of the most efficient and cost effective systems available to help meet both your heating needs in winter and your cooling requirements in the summer.
It is comprised of a single unit and will have part of its components located outside and part probably in a closet on the inside. The one distinguishing feature of the Heat Pump is its flow-reversing valve, which allows the cooling system’s refrigerant to flow in one direction for cooling and the opposite direction for heating. During the cooling season, it operates exactly like a conventional refrigeration system using what the industry calls a “vapor compression cycle.” During the heating months, the flow of the refrigerant is reversed so the warm refrigerant sent to the outside during the cooling operation can now be used to heat your home.
Gas Systems – If you choose a community with natural gas and have any questions on its role in your home, please contact your SSH Sales Associate.
Some walls in your new home are built with wood studs that are subject to normal expansion and contraction. As a result, these walls may not be perfectly flat. This in no way compromises the function of the walls and is not warrantable.
Use care when you hang pictures and other decorative items. The drywall will be damaged if it is hit with a hammer, but costly repairs can be avoided. Most interior walls are built with metal studs which require special hangers.
- Use picture hooks and other supplies from a hardware store or home center to hang pictures. They are available in sizes that can support almost anything you want to put on your wall.
- Always repair nail holes with a dab of spackle or putty and touch up paint.
The walls in your home are textured to add depth. The texturing material is relatively soft and can be damaged by scrubbing with abrasive cleansers and rough brushes or cloths.
- Small finger smudges may be removed from walls with a solution of warm water and a mild soap. Wash gently, especially on areas covered with flat wall paint, with a soft clean sponge or cloth. Rinse and dry the excess water carefully. Do not permit the wallboard to become soaked with water. Larger spots will require paint touch up if they cannot be removed.
LANDSCAPING, DRAINAGE & GRADING
Your lot or the area adjacent to it may have certain items that support the infrastructure of your community. These items include electric transformer boxes, water valve boxes, hydrants and telephone and cable TV pedestals. These items must remain accessible at all times.
Florida Statue 556.101 requires “sunshine state one call” be notified before any digging is done on your property. Their number is 800-432-4770, or website is www.callsunshine.com .
Your lot has been graded to drain water away from the home toward greenbelt areas and in most cases, into the storm drains that are located in the curbs on the streets. The grading plan for your lot has been engineered to standards established by local governmental agencies to insure proper drainage. SSH cannot deviate from the Approved Drainage Plan.
Professional engineers have designed the contours and features of your lot. These plans were designed to provide an ideal setting for your home and to give the maximum protection from water intrusion. Small hills and valleys called berms and swales are designed to hold and direct water away from your home and adjacent properties. The swales are designed to hold water for 48 hours under normal conditions and longer under extreme weather conditions. These contours must be maintained to avoid severe water damage during heavy rains. Failure to maintain drainage can result in damage to your home, your lot and to neighboring property. Any alteration of your lot’s drainage plan voids the landscaping and drainage sections of your Limited Warranty.
Part of an underground drainage network may be present on some lots. Berms and swales will direct water to these dedicated inlets during periods of heavy rain. The grate on the inlet must be kept free of debris so the flow of water is not impeded. Check any storm sewer inlet on the property monthly.
Landscaping can change the grade of your lot. We suggest that you consult a professional landscape contractor should you decide to later re-landscape your lot. Provide ample room for growth between plants and your home. The ground next to your home should always slope away to prevent standing water.
If your landscaping projects require that additional soil be added to your lot, be careful the lot’s drainage is not altered. Keep the surface of the soil at least 8 inches below the finished floor level. Any repairs after closing are the homeowner’s responsibility.
Other changes and additions can alter the drainage of your lot and cause water damage. These changes include new walkways, patios, spas, and pools, fences, walls, planters and play structures. Before you make any changes or additions to your lot or the structures on your lot, give careful consideration to the effect the changes will have on drainage.
Flowerbeds can significantly change drainage patterns. We suggest that you consult a professional landscape contractor before you dig flowerbeds. In any case, keep plantings in flowerbeds a minimum of 2-3 feet from the foundation. This will prevent excessive water from collecting at the base of the foundation.
Please consider that any changes you make in the grading and drainage of your lot could affect neighboring properties. Damages to your property and to neighboring property will be your responsibility. Also, refer to the CC&Rs (Covenants, Conditions & Restrictions) for your subdivision prior to any changes. If you have any questions, consult a professional before you begin the project or contact your Homeowner’s Association.
Paint – The latex paints on some exterior and interior wood surfaces were chosen for their excellent durability, appearance and resistance to moisture and chemical penetration. The paint must be maintained at all times. Chips, scratches and other surface breaks in the paint must be repainted or serious damage to the underlying surfaces could result. Be advised that all exterior and interior paints used by SSH’s Trade Contractors are non-leaded.
Patio – Patios and other structures that you add to your home after your closing will not be the responsibility of SSH. We suggest that before you begin any addition to your home, you check with your Homeowner’s Association and local building officials. This is to make certain that your plans are in compliance with state and local building codes. It is likely that building permits and Homeowner’s Association approval will be required. A licensed contractor is best qualified to perform this work.
Pests – Our hot, humid climate makes this an ideal home for many unwanted pests. Ants, chinch bugs, mole crickets and sod webworms are only a few of the common pests that are found in lawns in Florida. It is the homeowner’s responsibility to maintain his/her own yard. Please refer to the “Lawn Maintenance Schedule” enclosed among the documents you will receive at the PCO.
Learn the locations of the main and individual shutoffs in all bathrooms and the kitchen. In the event of a plumbing emergency, you must close the appropriate water shutoff at once. An excess amount of water can cause severe damage to your home and its contents.
You will be shown the location of the main water shutoff and other system shutoffs during your Pre-Closing Orientation. The main shutoff valve is usually located on the same side of the house as the water meter. Other water shutoffs are normally located under the sinks in the bathrooms and the kitchen. Each toilet has a shutoff valve behind the toilet bowl. Another water shutoff is located on top of the water heater. It controls the flow of water to the water heater and should be closed in the event of a leak in the water heater. You and others in your home should know where these water shutoffs are and how they work.
Each plumbing fixture in your home has a drainpipe especially designed to provide a water barrier between your home and the sewer. The drainpipe, or trap, is the U-shaped area of pipe visible directly under sinks. The trap holds water, which prevents the airborne bacteria and odor of sewer gas from entering your home.
- If any of your faucets are used infrequently, we suggest that they be turned on occasionally to replace the water in the trap lost to evaporation.
- Because of their shape, the traps are the most likely areas to become clogged. Traps are easily removed and cleaned out. Just remember to put a bucket under the trap before you remove it from the drain. Water from the trap could damage the floor of the cabinet or vanity.
- If you detect the odor of sewer gas from a sink, contact a plumbing specialist immediately.
Acrylic Tubs – Some homes may be equipped with acrylic tubs. Acrylic is a lightweight durable material that requires minimal care. Wash with a mild liquid soap and a clean soft cloth or sponge. Never use abrasive cleansers on acrylic. Occasional applications of automotive type wax will help to protect the finish.
Cultured Marble Bathtubs – Tubs made of cultured marble require cleaning with mild soap and soft cotton cloth. A non-abrasive automotive wax can be lightly hand-applied to cultured marble occasionally only after the tub has been thoroughly cleaned. Paper towels will scratch the finish of cultured marble.
Toilets – Toilets are made of vitreous china, a glasslike material that is almost impervious to staining. Clean your toilets with a toilet bowl cleaner and a brush or cloth.
- You can use a Pumice stone for those hard water rings. However, toilets are brittle and will easily break or shatter if hit with a hard object.
The only toilets legally available for sale and installation in the US are water saver toilets. They will use only 6 liters or about 1.6 gallons of water per flush. Flush only waste and toilet paper down your toilets. Large amounts of toilet paper can stop up the toilet.
Always keep a plunger on hand to use in the event of a toilet stoppage (NOTE: Low-water-usage toilets may require an extra flush).
- If a stoppage occurs, close the shutoff valve on the wall behind the toilet. A few vigorous pumps with the plunger will usually free the obstruction.
If you are unable to clear the obstruction yourself, we suggest that you call a plumber. Stoppages can be construction related for 30 days from closing. After this period, they are considered the homeowner’s responsibility.
Do not use chlorine or bleach-based products in toilet bowls. Harsh chemicals can damage the rubber and plastic components and cause leaks.
The flush valve in your toilet tank should last for many years. If it fails or begins to leak, you can purchase a new flush valve at a hardware store or home center. If you are not entirely comfortable with this do-it-yourself project, a plumber can perform this task. The use of any common toilet bowl cleansers in the tank portion of your toilet is not recommended. These cleansers may damage rubber parts in the tank.
- Never let water accumulate at the base any plumbing fixtures. Corrosion and tarnishing will result. Always dry the floors after cleaning, showers, etc.
- Use non-abrasive cleaners on stainless steel sinks. Always wipe the area dry, especially behind the sink where the countertop and backsplash meet.
- Avoid excessive force when you turn your faucets on and off. The seals in the faucets can be damaged and will require repair or replacement in a short time if abused.
Faucets are equipped with aerators, which mix air with the stream of water to reduce splashing. They need to be cleaned occasionally to remove a buildup of mineral deposits.
- If the stream of water has lessened, unscrew the aerator from the mouth of the faucet. Remove the debris and rinse the washers and screens. Replace the parts in their original order and screw the aerator back onto the faucet. Perform this homeowner maintenance as needed, usually every several months.
Plumbing Valves – Most of the valves or fixtures are plated with polished brass, bright chrome or a combination of the two. These materials are resistant to water corrosion. The brass and chromium plating materials are relatively soft and can be damaged with abrasive cleansers, scouring pads and tools. Hard water can spot and damage bright chromed plumbing fixtures. While this is not entirely preventable, you can minimize the staining by drying the fixtures after each use. Never use ammonia or products containing ammonia on plumbing valves. Ammonia will discolor chrome and brass fixtures.
- Clean the fixtures with a DRY cloth. If moisture is needed, use water only and wipe dry and promptly to prevent spotting.
Water Heater – Your water heater is covered by a warranty from the manufacturer. Please read the operating instructions that the manufacturer provides.
- In the event of a leak in your water heater, close the shutoff valve on top of the water heater and, if it is a gas heater, be sure to turn off gas to the heater. Turn off the circuit breaker if it is an electrical heater.
- Prior to re-igniting the pilot light after turning off the gas to your heater, have the plumber verify that it is in proper working order. Call the manufacturer listed on the front of the water heater or a registered plumber to request service. Only a qualified person should reset the water heater temperature selections.
- Your water heater should be drained and flushed according to the manufacturer’s suggestions. This simple procedure will remove accumulated silt and debris so that the water heater operates efficiently.
Swimming Pool Interior Finish – The interior finish that you have selected is hand applied by skilled craftsmen. Slight variations in texture and color are to be expected and should not be considered as defects in either materials or workmanship. The plaster is applied with 12” long trowels. When you turn on the pool light at night you see slight variations in the surface of your pool’s walls and floor. These are magnified by the angled light. This condition is not warrantable.
Stains in pool surfaces are usually caused by improper chemical balance and/or debris or dirt left on the floor or walls. It is important that new pool owners check the chemical content of their pool on a weekly basis by using either the self-testing kit provided by our pool builder at your Pool Orientation or by taking a sample of water to a pool store to be analyzed. Most pool stores provide this service free of charge and, more importantly, they keep a record of the water condition. This record is vital whether you check your water’s chemical balance or a pool store does it. As soon as you close on your home you should call your pool company and set up your pool indoctrination. Also, in order to help the pool plaster cure properly and without stains it should be brushed once a day for the first thirty days after your closing.
Spas – A standard spa package includes manual controls located at the pool equipment. Also included in the package is a gas heater. If you have propane or natural gas, the Gas Company will make the hook-up to the heater. If a propane tank is necessary to fuel the heater, it is the responsibility of the homeowner to arrange for tank rental and the gas supply. The gas or propane company will make the connection from heater to tank. This may vary per community. Please refer to your Purchase Agreement.
Pool Deck – See paver care below
SSH does not warranty swimming pools. The warranty is provided by the Swimming Pool Contractor
Roof – The most common roofing material installed by SSH in Florida is the asphalt/fiberglass shingles. The Three-Tab shingle has a twenty-year rating and the dimensional shingle has a thirty-year rating. Both shingles are “fungus resistant”. To obtain long life from your shingles there are a few things to remember.
- First, keep leaves and other debris from collecting anywhere on the roof.
- Tree branches that have grown into and are touching the roof must be cut away far enough so that even in high winds they will not touch the roof.
- It is also smart to keep gutters clean and free flowing.
Smoke Detector – The installation procedure and location of smoke detectors are in accordance with local and state building codes. Please do not move or disable the smoke detectors. They are wired directly into the house electrical system and have a battery backup. To ensure your family’s safety, please remember to check your smoke detectors often for fully charged batteries. Change all of your smoke detector batteries at the same time using the same brand and type of battery. The purpose of your smoke detector is to detect the possible presence of fire by sensing smoke early enough so that you will have time to call for help and evacuate the house. At the first indication of fire, evacuate your family and call the Fire Department from a neighbor’s home or cell phone.
If you have chosen interlocking concrete pavers to replace concrete in one or more areas of your new home, you have probably chosen them for their aesthetic qualities, but concrete pavers are actually stronger than concrete. They are also more flexible and, with just a little care, will look much better than concrete after several years of use.
Installation – Pavers are made in batches of about 500 square feet of material. Just as you are able to find in tile, carpet, wallpaper and many other man-made materials, there are shading variances. It is the same with concrete pavers. If noticeable, you will see this in paved areas that are made up of a single color. Our installers will determine if there are shade variances in the delivered materials before they begin their installation. If a variance exists, we will randomly mix the pavers as they are installed for a uniform look. These shade variances are common and mixing the pavers is the standard practice of installation. SSH will not replace pavers due to a slight shade variation if the standard random placement of the differing shade is done correctly.
Efflorescence – Efflorescence is the result of any concrete product when it is curing. It appears as a light powder-like deposit on the surface and may appear randomly. Concrete pavers will go through this process. There is no reason to be alarmed. It is a natural process and will disappear on its own.
Skid Resistance – Pavers should be smooth looking, but have a measure of skid resistance. This is to ensure your car has traction and pedestrians have sure footing in the rain. The Interlocking Concrete Paver Institute tests the static coefficient of friction to ensure this quality.
Aggregate and Surface Voids – Concrete pavers are made with fine and coarse aggregates and Portland cement. During the curing and shipping of the product, some small pieces of this aggregate on the surface of the paver will become dislodged. In no way will this affect the performance or quality of the paver. SSH will replace pavers with surface voids if the void is over 3/8” in diameter and/or if the condition affects over 50% of the surface of the unit. SSH will not replace any pavers simply due to exposed aggregate on the surface of the paver. Check cracks and hairline cracks in the surface of the pavers are a natural occurrence of concrete products and in no way detract from the performance of the product. SSH will not replace any pavers due to surface check cracks.
The aggregate used to manufacture the pavers will migrate to the surface during production. This aggregate is necessary to maintain the pavers’ strength. SSH will not replace any pavers due to exposed aggregate.
Low Spots – Low spots shall be inspected by SSH to determine the cause of this condition. Repairs of low spots may or may not be deemed necessary.
Sanding – Paver joints will be filled with clean sand one time during installation. If the sand is filled to a point halfway up the side of the pavers, it will do the job of holding the units tightly together. Heavy rain or direct pressure will cause the joint sand to dissipate. This can be remedied by using a broom to sweep clean dry sand into the joints. Re-sanding is a common maintenance item that should be done every six months. Seeds will work their way into the paver joints, root and grow into weeds. This is a common occurrence. Pull the weeds or spray with a solution of weed killer.
Maintenance – Mold, mildew, dirt or tire tracks may be cleaned with water and a non-metallic brush. General household cleaners such as scouring powder or diluted bleach may be used if applied carefully. A small test area should be cleaned first to determine if cleaning products would not damage the pavers. In the case of oil or tough stains, commercial cleaners may be needed or the paver(s) may need replacement. It is a good idea to seek professional advice prior to application of any kind of cleaner(s). Tire care products such as Armour-All will cause stains and/or discoloration. These products should never be used while your vehicle is parked on the paver driveway.
Using the proper sealer offers many functional and aesthetic advantages:
- It will intensify the colors giving the pavers the “wet look”
- It protects against penetration by oil or other staining agents
- It protects against unwanted insects and vegetation growth
- It stabilizes the joint sand
Sealer, however, is not a cure all. Replacement of stained or otherwise damaged pavers must be done prior to any sealer application. The proper sealer must be used and applied per the paver manufacturer’s instructions. SSH shall not be responsible for resealing any repairs performed on your pavers during the warranty period.
The ground under your home and around the immediate perimeter of the foundation has been treated with a chemical to establish a barrier against termites. This barrier can be broken which could result in a termite infestation. Please be aware that termites are a common occurrence in Florida. Your home will require professional termite treatments on a regular basis for the best protection. A termite bond is available through the licensed professional who applied the initial pre-treat to your home. At closing, you will receive the information needed to pursue this course of action in the Subterranean Termite Bond.
In order to maintain the integrity of the termite protection around your home, please be aware of the following situations that can either break or bypass this chemical barrier
- Construction – any new construction activity such as a swimming pool, room addition or sidewalk/deck, which involves placing concrete against the original foundation.
- Digging – any digging within one foot of the foundation, such as for sprinkler lines, planting of shrubs, etc.
- Planters – a planter built against the side of a house can also bypass the existing chemical barrier.
- Moisture – any alteration of the grade that allows a consistent moisture source near the foundation can attract termites and may cause the chemical to break down. Anything which does not allow water to flow away from the house will also contribute to this problem.
- Hoses with spray handles must be shut off at the hose bib when not in use.
- Renew your Termite and Pest Bond annually.
Any termite treatment must be done in accordance with applicable Federal and State requirements by a licensed pest control company
Call SSH to determine the proper exterminating company to contact. You will be responsible for the cost of the re-spraying if due to any of the causes cited above.
- Do not apply window-tinting materials made of film to double-glazed windows and doors. The use of these materials can cause a buildup of heat between the panes of glass. This excessive heat will destroy the seals and permit water condensation to form between the panes.
- Aluminum foil also causes a heat buildup between windowpanes and should not be used on double pane windows.
- Check with your Homeowner’s Association or CC&Rs before you install window awnings or coverings that are visible from the street or other areas of your neighborhood.
- Inspect the caulking and seals of your windows annually. Repair or replace missing caulk promptly. This will protect your windows, prevent moisture intrusion and enhance the service life of your windows.
- Lubricate your balancers and guides with a graphite spray annually.