Upgrading The Flooring In Your New Home

Flooring plays an important role in the look, feel and livability of your new home. If you are considering buying a new home and are wondering about upgrading the flooring in your new home, there are many options available. Whether you choose carpet, vinyl, tile, laminate or engineered hardwood you must keep your budget as well as your lifestyle in mind.

upgraded laminate flooring

Laminate flooring has come a long way over the years with some choices having the same look and feel as engineered or prefinished hardwood flooring while offering more durability at a lower cost. With the growing popularity of laminate flooring, many homebuilders are being asked about upgrading carpet and/or vinyl to laminate flooring. Since laminates can be installed on both crawl space and slab foundations, this is an available upgrade to new homebuyers. Identifying which type of flooring you want to use at the earliest opportunity in the build process will save time and money.

So what happens when you find a new home that’s still under construction or even complete? You may think you have to settle for the installed flooring or look at buying another home to get what you want. When you buy a home from McKee Homes upgrading the flooring is still an option even at the latter stages of home construction. The only concerns would be the cost of the change and the time frame in which you want to move into the home.

McKee Homes offers our new homebuyers the benefit of consulting with our Selections Coordinator at our Design Center prior to construction to personalize their new home and make interior design choices with the help of a professional. The design center has a variety of selections available to touch, see and experience, including flooring samples, kitchen and bath tile, exterior finishes, lighting and plumbing fixtures, and kitchen cabinet options. Even if a homebuyer decides on a prebuilt home, there are still many selections options that can be changed in the home before closing including upgrading floor coverings.

Laminate flooring is a great option or upgrade for your new home and will add years of beauty and enjoyment for your family.

How to Naturally Remove Fleas

A flea-free home is important for the happiness and health of your family and pets. Not only are fleas a nuisance that can cause painful itching and irritation, but they can also transmit various diseases to you and your pets. Read the rest of this article to learn how to naturally remove fleas.

prevent and naturally remove fleas from your home

A female flea can lay 5000 or more eggs throughout her life. Once they hatch, the flea larvae will move away from light and search for food. They tend to gravitate to dark places like cracks, crevices, carpeting, upholstery, air ducts and bedding. They feed on a wide variety of warm-blooded vertebrates, including dogs, cats and humans.

The adult flea’s primary goal is to find blood and then reproduce. An adult flea generally lives for two to three months, but without food or a host it may only live for a few days. With ideal conditions, however, which include the right temperature, good food supply, and humidity, an adult flea can live up to 100 days. Optimal temperatures for the flea’s life cycle are 70°F to 85°F, and optimal humidity is 70%.

The peak flea season in North Carolina is typically September and October. Since most fleas can survive our winters (unless we get a hard freeze) as well as live indoors year-round, unfortunately there really is no end to flea season here.

Many flea treatments are toxic and hazardous to humans and pets, but there are several remedies to naturally remove fleas without using harmful chemicals and insecticides.


  • Keep your grass cut and weeds trimmed. Since fleas love shady areas and damp spots, try to expose those areas to sunlight or keep your pet away from those spots.
  • Lay banana peels face up throughout your yard. Generally one peel per five to 10 square feet is enough, but more is better than less. Once the peels turn black you can determine if you need to place more. (You can put banana peels on a plate inside your house, too, but look out for fruit flies and remove all banana peels if you see any.)
  • Use cedar chips for bedding in an outdoor doghouse.


  • Vacuum your house thoroughly and frequently, including all corners and baseboards and areas that don’t get much exposure to the sun. Also vacuum seat cushions and under furniture.
    • Empty the vacuum bag or contents into a sealed plastic bag or airtight container and put it in a covered trashcan outside.
  • Before vacuuming, sprinkle salt or baking soda on the carpets and work it in the base of the carpet with a broom or scrub brush and let sit for a few hours to help dry out flea eggs.
  • Vinegar/lemon/witch hazel spray. After vacuuming, combine one gallon vinegar, ½ gallon water, 16 oz. lemon juice, and 8 oz. witch hazel into a large sprayer and spray your carpets, furniture, pet bedding, window sills, floors and every nook and cranny. Repeat this every three to four days, and once the fleas are gone, spray weekly.
  • Citrus spray. Add a thinly sliced lemon to a pint of water and boil. Let it sit overnight and spray it onto areas where you think fleas may be. Rub it on your pet’s fur till damp. You can also add two to three drops of this mixture under your pet’s collar to help repel fleas. Do this once a month, but make sure your pet doesn’t show any signs of digestive discomfort.
  • Vinegar spray. In a spray bottle, use a ratio of ¼ distilled white vinegar to ¾ water. You can also add one tablespoon of dish soap. Spray weekly on your fabrics. (This is also good for cleaning countertops and other surfaces.)
  • Place a shallow bowl of soapy water beneath furniture. Add enough dish soap (many people swear by Dawn) to color the water, approximately one teaspoon for two cups of water. The fleas will jump in and drown. You can do this outside, too, but make sure to empty daily to prevent mosquitoes.
    • You can also set the soapy water under a night light or lamp, as the fleas will be attracted to the warm light.
  • Wash your pet bedding and blankets weekly in hot, soapy water, in addition to washing anything else your pet likes to lay or sleep on. If it can go in the dryer, 15 to 20 minutes on high will kill adult fleas, larvae and eggs.
  • Get a dehumidifier. Since fleas like humidity, keep the humidity in your room under 50% for a couple days to kill adult fleas and larva and stop the eggs from hatching. Afterward vacuum the flea debris and their eggs.
  • Apply diatomaceous earth throughout your home. DE is an all-natural, non-toxic product that looks and feels like talcum powder, but it will cut the fleas’ protective outer coating, killing them. A little goes a long way, though, so be careful not to use too much as inhaling large amounts can irritate the windpipe and lungs.


  • Bathe your pet with a gentle shampoo. You can also wash your cat in Head and Shoulders shampoo. Wash the neck area first so you get any fleas before they jump to your pet’s head.
    • You can also soak grapefruit peels in the bathwater before you bathe your pet. Be sure to do this outside, though, since fleas don’t like the smell and may jump off.
  • Make an herbal flea dip. Add two cups of fresh rosemary leaves to two pints of water. Boil for 30 minutes, strain, discard the leaves, and mix it with a gallon of warm water. Pour it over your pet until saturated and allow your pet to air dry (do this on a hot day only).
  • Use a fine-toothed flea comb on your pet, especially over the lower back near the tail base. To determine if any black, pepper-like material is flea feces, place it on a white paper towel and add a drop of water. If it is flea feces, it will make a reddish-brown stain since it is actually digested blood.
  • Make a flea collar. Put drops of eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, citronella, lavender or geranium on your pet’s collar or kerchief and repeat weekly. (NOTE: If you use tea tree oil, make sure it is 1% or less strength. Do NOT use essential oils on cats.)

Once you have eliminated the fleas, you will still need to watch for them regularly and repeat your cleaning regimen as often as possible so they don’t have another chance to infest your pet or your home.

Additional sources of natural, non-toxic flea remedies to naturally remove fleas from your home:



Best Location for Wall Jack Outlets in Home

One of the great things about building a new home, whether it’s a custom or production home, is that you get to make personal decisions about aspects of your home that you wouldn’t get to make with a resale home unless you want to bring in the remodeling contractors.

Where you have the contractor install the utility jacks such as phone, cable, USB and Ethernet will depend on personal preference and how you intend to set up your home. McKee Homes adds USB charging ports to some of the power outlets in our homes, so you get to decide the best location for charging your mobile devices if you desire.

cable, phone, USB and ethernet jack location in home

The most important areas of the home to set these locations are the living room, family room, office, kitchen and bedrooms. The most important are the location of the cable jacks, so they will be close to where you want your DVR and TV. Phone jacks and internet connections such as Ethernet jacks aren’t as big of a deal as they used to be as most people use mobile phones and wireless internet devices in their homes these days. However if you are going to have an office in your house with a landline phone and a desktop computer, you should decide where you will put your desk and computer in order to get the cable and phone jacks in the correct locations. You want them close to where you need them so you don’t end up with cables running all over the place which can be an eyesore or even a hazard if they have to cross a doorway.

One way to determine the location of phone and cable jacks is to look at the floor plan of the home, or walk a similar floor plan in the case of production homes, to decide where you will put your furniture. It’s important to locate where you might want a television or want to charge mobile devices in your master bedroom in order to locate the cable jack and USB ports close by. Otherwise you will end up running a long cable to connect your TV or DVR to the cable jack.

Most builders will meet with their homebuyers during the build process around the time the framing is complete before the drywall is installed to determine the location for cable, phone and internet connections. This is your chance to get these jacks where you want them and get your home set up exactly the way you want it.

A Dry Home Is A Healthy Home

Keeping a home dry is a prerequisite for keeping the environment within a home healthy. Allowing water to intrude into a home fosters the growth of mildew and mold. Water also speeds the process by which building materials rot. This rot eventually weakens the structural soundness of the home. Both mold and rot to building materials are expensive to mitigate and costly when making necessary repairs.

water damage to home

One of the keys to keeping a home dry is positive drainage. This means that water is directed away from the home in such a manner that it can’t puddle next to the foundation. The method for achieving positive drainage is to grade away from the home at a steep enough slope so that the water is draining away from the structure. In some cases drainage swales and ditches are used to move the water further away from the structure. Water then travels to holding ponds and/or natural holding areas where evaporation and absorption take place.

A second key to keeping homes dry is regular maintenance of your home’s exterior. Homeowners should visually inspect all accessible areas of the roof, from the inside, looking for wet and/or stained areas. If any leaks are noted a roofing professional should be contacted for consultation. The siding and windows of a home should be visually inspected also especially after heavy rain and wind events. Again, if any deficiencies are noted a professional should be consulted. Lastly, check for plumbing leaks and condensation leaks.

Following these simple suggestions will keep your home dry and healthy.

Three-tab Shingles vs. Architectural Shingles

At McKee Homes, two different types of shingles are offered: three-tab shingles and architectural shingles. Shingles can be frequently overlooked when picking a home, however it is one of the most important features offered.

It is important to know the difference between the two shingles before picking which one to cover your roof. These two types vary in price, style, effectiveness and appearance.

types of roof shingles

Three-tab shingles are the more traditional of the two. The three-tab style has been around for decades longer than architectural. It is made of asphalt and has a single shape and size for every piece that lays flat over one another, creating a brick-like appearance. Since they are all the same shape and size, it provides a very clean, neat and consistent look on the roof.

Three-tab shingles are lighter and thinner than architectural shingles, so while they are less expensive, their warranty is typically 20-25 years, which is less than that of architectural shingles.

Architectural shingles are the latest up-and-coming style for roofing. They vary in shape, size, and color, highlighting the different sections of the roof with a great three-dimensional appearance. This type of shingle is heavier than three-tab shingles, making them more structurally durable. The heavy fiberglass mat base and ceramic-coated mineral granules allow this type of shingle to last longer and therefore carry a longer warranty (typically 30-35 years). Upgrades to architectural shingles are offered by McKee Homes in communities with three-tab shingles.

Architectural shingles are more expensive, however. This is because of the material and the durability of the shingles. This type of shingle is great for houses in areas with extreme weather since they are more resistant to wind and rain than three-tab shingles.

Shingles are a very important feature on your home. It is important to like the appearance of the roof as well as be secure with the sustainability the shingles will provide. At McKee Homes, we offer both types of shingles to meet your financial needs and appearance wants. For more information about architectural and three-tab shingles, please feel free to contact us anytime at (910) 672-7296 or visit www.McKeeHomesNC.com/contact-us.

Why Is My Floor So Cold?

It’s a chilly winter morning and you jump out of bed to get ready for your day. But today your were unpleasantly greeted with the shock of the cold floor on your feet. You are probably asking yourself “why is my floor so cold?”

There are several causes for your fold being cold. One cause is the temperature and airflow. Going back to science class, we learned that hot air rises and cold air sinks. Meaning that the coldest air in the house is hovering around your floors. Another reason is the type of foundation you have. If you have a slab or stem wall foundation, concrete is directly under your floor covering and concrete naturally stays cooler.  If you have an unfinished basement or crawl space, there is an air-space between your first floor living space and the ground, which allows cool air to circulate under your floor system. Another cause is the type of flooring you have: tile, vinyl, laminate, carpet. Tile is typically the coldest floor covering.


Under-floor heating systems

There are several remedies for a cold floor that vary in cost. While we try to save on our electric bills, raising the temperature a degree or two at night can help get more warm air into your home. A more costly remedy is to install an in-floor heating system. There are three types of in-floor (radiant-floor) heating systems:

  1. Electric (heat via electric wires)
    • Electric systems are less expensive to install but more expensive to operate
  2. Hydronic (heat via hot water tubes)
    • Hydronic systems are less expensive to operate, but more expensive to install.
  3. INFRAFLOOR™ (ultra-thin electric film or mat)
    • INFRAFLOOR™ can be installed under wood and laminate flooring that gently warms the floor and area around it with infrared heat.

Another option could be an HVAC vent in the vanity cabinet toe-kick. This system blows across a tile floor and can really warm up the floor as the tile absorbs the warmth from the warm air and stays warm even when the heater is not on. A more cost effective remedy that doesn’t involve remodeling your home would be adding an area rug(s) or you can always wear thicker socks or slippers.

While cold floors are a quite unpleasant shock in the mornings, there are a few options you have to remedy them.

How To Maintain Your Home’s HVAC System

Your home’s HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) system is one of the most important and expensive systems in your house. Proper maintenance of the HVAC system can not only save you time and money down the road, but will help you keep your home’s environment comfortable and safe.

HVAC maintenance

Just as you change the oil and air filters in your car to keep dirt and heat from ruining your engine, you also need to change the HVAC filters regularly to keep them from getting clogged up with dust and dirt which reduces the air flow in your system and makes your air handler work harder. If your air handler is full of dust and has to constantly work harder to move air because of clogged filters, it will have to be replaced much sooner than a unit that has clean filters and is not overtaxed. The air in your home will be cleaner as well and your vents will not be full of dust which gets blown into your home when your HVAC system is running.

Most people know better than to constantly spin the wheels of their car and race the engine at high RPM’s causing unnecessary wear and tear on their vehicle which can lead to costly repairs. However, many people aren’t aware that changing the temperature setting on their home’s thermostat more than two degrees at a time does the same thing to their HVAC system’s compressor. The compressor, which is one of the most expensive parts of the HVAC system, has to run continuously for a long time to raise or lower the temperature in your home more than a couple of degrees at a time. Forcing the compressor to work really hard too often will shorten the lifespan of the unit and may result in costly repairs.

Most car owners understand the benefits of maintaining a clean car and parking in an area that is free of debris that could damage their vehicle. An HVAC system can be looked at in much the same way. Maintaining an outside unit by keeping it free from debris such as leaves and limbs from bushes and trees and not placing anything permanent around it such as fencing or walls can greatly increase the longevity of the entire HVAC system.

Maintaining your HVAC system is crucial to its longevity and making sure it doesn’t break down in the hottest or coldest times of the year. McKee Homes provides a 2-10 Home Buyer’s Warranty which covers your home’s systems for two years. Most heating and air companies offer “maintenance warranty programs,” which usually includes annual check-ups and priority service. These programs are designed to help you to keep your HVAC System running for years to come.


What is the TAEXX® Built-in Pest Control System?

The TAEXX® system is a built-in pest control system that is installed in all McKee Homes. It helps keep pests out of your home by installing tubes in wall voids. These tubes enable the Home Team Pest Defense technicians to provide a barrier of protection for the home without having to actually place chemicals inside the living area. This system also allows Home Team to service the home on a quarterly basis without having to go inside.

TAEXX® Pest Control System

By the time a homeowner notices bugs inside their home, they may already have a serious problem that is difficult to get rid of. With the TAEXX Pest Contol System, pests are targeted at the point of entry, keeping them from living and breeding inside the walls of the home.

Home Team installs the tube system in the lower level exterior and interior wall void areas. Port boxes located outside the home allow the technicians to activate the system. Each port box contains a number of tubes that are installed throughout the wall voids.

The technician charges each tube with the chemical, Tempo SC, followed with a blast of compressed nitrogen, creating a vapor that treats the wall void area. It only takes one ounce of chemical per tube because Tempo SC is a super concentrate (SC). Tempo SC has over a 70% kill ratio for up to 120+ days after treatment. Pests entering the treated area are exposed to the chemical. Home Team is the only company that uses the TAEXX Pest Contol System.

Taexx® does not protect against termites. McKee Homes sprays a product called Bora-Care® during the rough mechanical stage to ward of those types of pests. (See blog Rough Mechanicals)

McKee Homes understands how busy our home buyers are and offer this innovative technology for those that don’t want the hassle of managing pest control themselves. The TAEXX Pest Contol System makes pest control easy and convenient for homeowners, since they don’t have to be home when pest control materials are distributed inside the walls.

For more information about the TAEXX Pest Contol System, please visit https://pestdefense.com/faqs/

Can You Build a House on my Land?

Homebuilders get asked about building on land that customers own quite regularly. While we can’t answer for all homebuilders, we can answer how McKee Homes looks at and answers this question.

Can I build a house on my land

There are several factors that have to be considered when building on land that is not in a neighborhood that the builder is actively building in. We look at where the land is, if it is suitable for building on, and the time and cost.

Where is the land located?
If the land is in an existing neighborhood we will need to review the neighborhood’s covenants to determine if there are any restrictions on the size and/or style of the home. After understanding the covenants, the lot will have to be measured to make sure that it is big enough for the house to fit on

If the land is more rural, we have to make sure it’s easily accessible for our trade partners and builder to access. If necessary, a road may need to be built. We’ll also need to find out if the city/county will zone the land for a residential home (if it hasn’t been done already). We will also make sure that utilities are available.

Is the land suitable for building on?
Whether in an established neighborhood or in a rural area, a McKee Homes representative will visit the site and review a plat map to make sure there are no wetlands or other issues that may cause potential problems. Potential problems may include lack of useable water, extensive grading work, access issues and septic system suitability (if applicable).

Time and Cost
There is additional time and cost involved with building on your own land. When building on your land we do lose some efficiency because we are only building one home rather than several in a neighborhood. Additional time and expense will have to be allowed for inspections as well. However, some costs benefits you may find to you as well. For example, if you already own the land, provide construction financing, and pay for the utility extension fees this will result in a lower monthly mortgage payment.

So if you want to build a home on your own land, do your research on a builder that can meet your needs. A New Home Specialist at McKee Homes can talk to you about your options with building a McKee home on your land.

For more information please visit our Build On Your Lot webpage.

What’s Happening in My House? The Rough Mechanical Stage

There are several different stages in the new home construction process. One of those stages is the “Rough Mechanicals.” This stage comes after the framing stage and before the insulation stage. Before a home can move into the rough mechanical stage it must be fully framed with the roof dried in. Once the builder inspects the home to be sure the chases (areas meant for piping and tubing) and walls are all properly installed, he walks it with the HVAC, plumbing and electrical contractors.   During these walks the builder collaborates with each subcontractor to discuss custom options and location of: returns, air conditioning condensors, air handlers, toilets , hose bibs (the outside faucet that your hose connects to) and lighting and switches.

construction stage: mechanical rough in

Once all the prelimanary work is done the builder can begin the rough mechanical stage of construction. One of the first things that happens during rough mechanicals is the home is sprayed with Bora-Care®. Bora-Care® is a product that is used to ward off termite infestation.  After that, the “hard to reach” places are insulated, such as: fireplace chase, behind where the tub(s) are installed, and all mechanical chases that are located on exterior walls. Air barriers in places that require insulation and fireplace boxes are also installed during this stage of construction. If one looks up during the rough mechanical stage they may see sun tubes being installed. A sun tube is an option a buyer can choose that will allow for natural sunlight in interior areas of their home.

For the most part, the items mentioned above happen during the initial part of the rough mechanical stage. The builder then moves on to the “rough in” part of the rough mechanical stage. If a buyer happens to tour their home during this stage, they may see wires, PVC piping and other tubes running through their walls. Once the plumbing and HVAC vent pipes are installed through the roof sheathing, the roofing material can be installed.

Upon completion of the rough mechanical stage, a county building inspector will walk through the home to be sure that all the above mentioned items are properly installed and that the house is ready to move on to the next stage of construction, insulation.