When it comes to home maintenance in Summit County, construction, and architecture of homes in the mountains and in rural areas can be quite different from other areas. Consider that Summit County has some of the harshest conditions due to the altitude, geography, wildlife, and weather.
For example, did you know that not many homes in the area have, or need, air conditioning? That’s right! With average summer temperatures in the 70s during the day, and 40s to 50s at night, it is a rare day to want to cool off. The basic ceiling fan and shades will suffice in many cases. Should you require a cooling system, we have them, but many times people will opt for a ‘swamp cooler’ or a whole-house fan. These are less expensive, and just as effective for what little time that we need them.
Another difference that you may notice is in the architecture. Many homes in the area will have designs that consider Southern exposure to maximize the warmth of the sunshine, slanted metal roofs to facilitate snow melt in the right direction, and basements as living areas or storage. Mountain moderns, log cabins, A-frames, and farm houses abound in the area, giving Summit County an eclectic and vacation mountain feel.
So you think you want a pool? You may be better off buying a condo and sharing the expense with fellow homeowners. Having a pool at your home in the area can be done, but it is timely and cost-consuming. Consider that the ground is frozen for approximately 8 months out of the year. The heating costs alone are worth thinking about. Many people opt instead for hot tubs. Hot tubs are a must-have after a full day on the slopes. Many vacationers who rent will only rent places with hot tubs.
Fireplaces are also a must-have in the area. Wood-burning or gas? Wood burning fireplaces and stoves can offer a great amount of heat and enjoyment of the ‘mountain feel’. With wood-burning units it’s necessary to price out buying firewood (many HOAs include this in their dues when you buy a condo). I have had a wood burning stove and loved it! The heat is profound and less expensive than running other types of heaters. What I did not like was the constant dirt and ash that it can leave in the house, always making things feel a bit dusty. If you are a ‘white glove’ kind of person and want simplicity, I recommend a gas fireplace. They are just as heat efficient, only a little more expensive to run. With a flick of the switch your fire is heating you up in no time. You can attach multiple gas stoves and fireplaces to a thermostat so that they automatically kick on when the temperature gets too low for your tastes.
Consider also that the natural disaster we are in danger of is wildfire. The southern United States has hurricanes, the Midwest tornadoes, and here in the west we are at risk of fires due to the hot summer sun, low humidity, and pine bark beetle infestation which kills trees and leaves them dry enough to start a fire. When buying a house it is necessary to consider the wildfire mitigation to diminish the risk of fire destroying your home. The more you can do to prepare, the safer you and your family will be, as well as the firefighters when they respond to an emergency.
Last but not least, precipitation in the form of snow is a daily fact of life – even sometimes in the summer. It is, after all, why people find our area to be so popular. Without the snow, we would not have all our wonderful ski resorts and other sports!
But snow can wreak havoc on a house, and maintenance costs. Primarily, if you have a car, driveway, and/or garage, you will need to budget for snow removal. The county plows the roads, but when you arrive to your dream home, how will you get into the house if there is two feet or more of snow? Which there often is from October to March – sometimes April!
There are many local companies that will plow for you and offer a seasonal contract. Alternatively, you could purchase your own snow plow vehicle. Just remember, when you arrive home after a long journey, the last thing you want to do is plow to get inside.
Another consideration is the shoveling and preventative salting to avoid slipping on the walkways, stairways, and decking. Again, this is something you can maintain while you are present, but I highly recommend having someone keep up with it while you are away. Multiple storms of three feet day-after-day can stack up quickly, and snow shoveling is something you do not want to get behind on. It is well worth the cost of maintenance.
The final consideration when owning a home in the mountains is the wildlife. Bears, moose, elk, deer, rabbits, raccoons, foxes, mice, martins, muskrats, minks, mountain lions, birds, and so much more will try to make your home theirs. Or perhaps they will eat your garbage in the middle of the night. Talk with your agent at Mountain Dream Real Estate, or your property manager, about how to manage your home and keep the wildlife safe as well.
One easy solution is bear-safe garbage containers. These will keep out the raccoons and other vermin. Another easy solution is to look for holes where mice can come inside. Plug up the holes with steel wool.
The most dangerous animal is the moose. When walking with your dogs, moose see the dogs as a natural predator. Moose are very blind and your dog looks like a wolf to them, so they will charge you and have the capability to hurt you badly or even kill you and your dogs. The best thing to do is to be aware of your surroundings and keep your dogs on a leash or in a fenced yard. The moose are known to wander freely through highly populated areas such as main street Frisco or River Run in Keystone. So it’s not just in the woods!
Consider buying a house with a fenced-in yard or getting a fence installed if you have pets.
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