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Spring Property

WHAT'S NEW IN PROPERTY MANAGEMENT AND MAINTENANCE

Article by Andrew C. Hopkinson

Photography by Andrew C. Hopkinson

Who maintains your home? Is it you, or one of the hundreds of local service providers and home improvement contractors? Chances are it's a mix of both. We have maintained and managed dozens of fine homes and estates in Fairfield and Litchfield Counties for the last 40 years. We take care of everything from landscaping to window washing and all points in between. Just like the car insurance company "we know a thing or two because we've seen a thing or two" experience is the best teacher. I embraced technology a long time ago whether it was the latest tools and equipment to get a job done better, faster and more efficiently or today's Artificial Intelligence. The old proverb states "Necessity is the mother of all inventions" Well heck that's obvious someone invented the wheel because they didn't like to walk anymore or couldn't. When it comes to maintaining and managing luxury real estate technology is not an option these days it's a necessity. From home automation to monitoring indoor air quality to letting us know when we need heating oil or propane. The refrigerator can let you know when you need milk…! We use technology for detecting gas leaks, we use moisture meters to check the level of moisture throughout the home, hygrometers to manage the humidity and sensors to monitor the temperature. Savant, Crestron, Control4 are some of the most widely used home automation companies. As a property manager tasked with maintaining a 25,000-square-foot home, this automation provides vital information and insight into the health of the home if you know how to use it!

Spring is when we get our HVAC systems prepped for the cooling season who hasn't had issues with cooling? Always on the hottest day of the year! Let me give you an example of a common condition we find in 95% of the homes we maintain. Let us say I come to your house with an empty 5-gallon bucket then fill it three times and I take the 5-gallon buckets of water and I dump one in the kitchen, then one in the living room and one in the master bedroom. Then I am going to refill the buckets and dump them in the other bedrooms and the bathrooms. I do not think you are going to be incredibly happy with me am I correct? I mean seriously nobody in their right mind would do that right? The cold hard facts are that may very well be going on in your house, and you do not even realize it. Let me explain.

We are beginning with a basic air conditioning lesson. For every ton of air conditioning, you have in your home that machine produces around 400 CFM’s (cubic feet per minute) of air. So, if you live in a 2,000 sq. ft. home you have a four-ton air conditioner that is producing 1,600 CFM’s and sending it into your duct system. As a point of reference to understand a CFM think of it as enough air to fill up (1) basketball. Stay with me I am going to tie this all together, I promise.

100 Cubic CFM (Cubic Feet Per Minute) Of Air Leakage in Your Home's Ductwork Adds 12 Gallons of Water to The Atmosphere of Your Home Every 24 Hours!

So, we are sending 1,600 basketballs of air into the duct system. The next question is how many of those basketballs are making it into the interior of the home? Where would they go you ask? Amazingly simple answer… it is highly likely the duct connection points in your attic are leaking. This is of course based on the age of the duct system, how well it was put together to begin with and has any maintenance been done to the ductwork? I find the typical duct system to be leaking around 200- 400 CFMs of air when we evaluate them. Next thing to think about is where are most of our ductwork systems located?

Most of our duct systems are in our attics and basements. The typical Florida attic on July 17th at 3:42 pm is going to be around 150 degrees with a humidity level somewhere around 85%. Not a very pleasant space to say the least. So back to our leaky ducts for a second, when the air is on and running it is moving through the duct system at about ten (10) miles an hour. Any openings in the ducts allow air from the attic to be pulled into them so we are pulling hot humid air into the duct work from the attic. Ready?

FOR EVERY 100 CFM OF AIR LEAKAGE IN YOUR DUCTWORK YOU ARE ADDING 12 GALLONS OF WATER TO THE ATMOSPHERE OF YOUR HOME EVERY 24 HOURS

The importance of regular preventive maintenance on your luxury home cannot be understated. While it’s important in the spring to get your home ready for the summer and all the lovely weather to come it is even more important to get your luxury home prepared for the winter as the consequences of not doing so can be very costly. Here at Fox Hill Luxury Real Estate Services for the last 40 years, we have been maintaining and managing some of Fairfield County and Westchester County’s finest homes. We believe an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and pride ourselves on managing our clients’ expectations and providing solutions to maintenance challenges that provide value and keep the home operating properly. If we can prevent damage to the home, a costly repair or replacement of an expensive system then the nominal monthly fee for our service to be on call 24/7 is worth it. We have been successful over the years by responding to emergencies at all hours of the day, on holidays, etc. When no one wants to go out that’s when we do! With a background in Emergency Response and Emergency Preparedness, we know the importance of rapid deployment to an emergency in the home a water leak, flood, etc. That can mean the difference between a few thousand dollars of repairs and tens of thousands of dollars of repairs and the loss of personal items, keepsakes, photos, etc. Our extensive Maritime background gives us the knowledge skills and abilities to properly maintain and manage Luxury Homes along the coastal Long Island Sound Shoreline. Waterfront homes have a different set of challenges, and we are keenly aware of those having prepared and repaired numerous waterfront homes after Mother Nature’s wrath. We have men working on large properties 5 days a week cleaning interior and exterior glass light fixtures, knocking down cobwebs, washing bird droppings from pool and patio furniture you name it we do it. We are experts at fixing things and keeping the property pristine and guest ready. We hang art and pictures, assemble furniture, move, and dispose of unwanted items. We have other properties we are onsite performing maintenance M-W-F and other properties we provide a handyman/cleaner one day a week. Each luxury home/estate we work on is unique and different and each client is different. We make it simple we provide a spring and fall list and do only what the clients want. Of course, we make recommendations but it’s the client who makes the final decision on how and what to spend their money on. We are concerned about the environment and the health of our clients, their children, and our workers. We use non-toxic environmentally friendly products when and wherever we can. We are big on indoor air quality and now have an entire division dedicated to cleaning, ductwork and sealing leaky ducts that bring unhealthy air from unconditioned spaces into the living spaces. Allergens like mold, mildew and excessive humidity lurk in attics and basements and get into the home through leaky ducts. We are an authorized Aeroseal Dealer and now seal your home's duct work from the inside. According to a study conducted by the EPA 95% of homes in America have leaky ductwork and lose between 25% and 40% of the home's total heating and cooling capacity! So not are we only making our clients homes healthier and saving them thousands a year in wasted energy costs, but we are protecting the environment at the same time! So, you see there is a lot that goes into maintaining and managing complex Luxury Real Estate properly. Sure, anyone can do it we see cleaning ladies acting as the property manager, the handyman or GC are usually in charge of the maintenance but really the trick, the secret sauce is knowing how to do it effectively, efficiently, and continuously! That only takes 40 years of experience and hundreds of real-world baptisms by fire! Have a great day and call, write or email with any questions!

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