Regular maintenance is the best way to protect your home - and investment - from deterioration, but even vigilant homeowners can overlook some common defects that are found in many homes.
The following list contains the most common home defects that are discovered during home inspections:
Poor drainage - it's normal to get a little moisture in your basement after a heavy rainstorm, but if you notice standing water, a musty smell that won't go away, or mildew you may have a problem. Make sure that your gutters and downspouts remain clear of debris and that your yard slopes away from your foundation. If you continue to have water in your basement, call a plumber. A dehumidifier or sump pump can also help to keep your basement dry.
Old heating and cooling systems - by replacing outdated heating and cooling systems with newer, energy-efficient models you can save on your monthly utility bills and lower the risk of carbon monoxide fumes being emitted into your home.
Environmental hazards - like lead-based paint, asbestos and mold can often be found in older properties. If you suspect any of these harmful substances may be present in your home, contact a certified inspector promptly. You can also install carbon monoxide and radon detectors, in addition to smoke detectors, to help protect your family.
Roof problems - inspect your roof annually. Look for any loose, missing or broken shingles. Also check that all caulking and sealants are in good condition, and that the bricks and mortar of your chimney are not crumbly or damaged.
In addition to watching for these problems, you should also perform regular checks and maintenance on your home's ventilation, plumbing and electrical systems; and check any wooden decks or structures and the exterior siding on your home for signs of rot or damage.
If you care for your home, it can be a place where you and your family can make many happy memories for years to come.
Whether you are replacing existing windows or building a new home, high-quality, energy efficient windows are worth considering.
High performance windows with state-of-the-art glazing technologies not only reduce energy costs but make homes more comfortable by eliminating cold winter drafts and decreasing solar heat gain in warmer months. They are also resistant to frost and condensation, while still providing a clear view.
Once installed in your home, your new windows can dramatically increase your home's beauty and comfort, and save you money on monthly energy bills - which means that your replacement windows will pay for themselves through time.
Choosing the right lighting fixtures can enhance the beauty of your home, but there are other ways to brighten rooms and make the most of interior light.
For example: Glossy surfaces tend to reflect light, while matte surfaces absorb light. Replace dark furniture and carpeting with lighter versions that will reflect more light. For a less expensive solution, opt for pale slipcovers and area rugs. Selecting white or neutral shades of paint in a glossy finish for your walls and ceilings will also make your rooms brighter.
Adding mirrors to your home décor also adds light, especially if you hang them directly across from windows.
Keeping your windows sparkling clean will allow more sunlight into your home and help to open a dark room. You should also remove from windowsills any knickknacks that block your view and replace heavy draperies with sheers to take advantage of natural light.
If your home still seems dark, you may want to consider adding more windows or installing a skylight.
I recently purchased a new home and would like to infuse it with my own sense of style, but I don't have the time to decorate it myself. How do I find someone to do this for me?
If you would like someone with an unbiased opinion to liven up your home's interior, you may want to consider consulting a design professional. Before you sign a contract, however, be sure that you are clear on a couple of specifics. Two of the most important details when hiring a designer are choosing one who has a design style similar to yours and affordability. The following information should help you to select a design professional who will accommodate your needs.
Designers may have more experience and training than you, but that's no guarantee that their tastes will match yours. Visit the designer's showroom or ask to see photos of past projects.
As you interview interior designers, keep in mind that each may have a different fee arrangement. It is important to get all fees in writing. Many independent designers set their fees depending on the type of services you use, such as an hourly or a flat rate for a specific project. One popular fee arrangement for a store-based consultant is a cost-plus arrangement, which means you are charged a percentage, usually 30 percent to 40 percent, above the designer's cost for each purchase in the store.
Brass has always been a popular choice for exterior hardware on doors and windows, but these days, homeowners are choosing to accessorize their homes with everything from stainless steel to antique nickel. And hardware designs are as varied as the materials from which they are made, so you should have no trouble finding the right piece.
When shopping for new hardware, visit a few stores to see what you can find to fit within your budget. Outside of price, you should also be looking for items that will match the style of your home. For instance, brushed stainless steel will suit a contemporary home, while oil-rubbed bronze will add to the beauty of a traditional home. Here are some more tips that may help you select the best exterior hardware for your residence:
Stainless steel. These accessories are low-maintenance and resist moisture. In addition to door handles, stainless-steel pieces are a good choice for locks, bolts, knockers and other hardware. Since it can't be forged, you'll find the designs to be simpler than items made from other materials.
Bronze. These pieces usually develop an attractive green patina or a grayish-black cast through time. Bronze accessories are sturdy, classic and easy to maintain; they are, however, relatively expensive.
Pewter or nickel. These gray shades are an interesting departure from what is typically used. They resist corrosion and develop a patina similar to that of bronze. Although not as durable as other metals, these are an excellent choice if you are looking for a hand-forged style.
Looking into my crystal ball this year (okay – local economic data), I see that buyers and sellers are going to be coming from all areas of the buying spectrum. For years, Baby Boomers were the age group to watch – now, as Millennials and Gen-Xers get into the game (these are the children and grandkids of the Boomers), it's going to be interesting to see how 2015 heats up. George Mason University's Center for Regional Analysis (CRA) put together some information on how they will affect the market this year.
Economists from CRA point out the first time buyers are now coming from kids of the Millennial generation (born between the early 1980s and 2000). In 2015, adults born in 1980 are turning 25 – a good ripe age to purchase a first home. Time is the key point for Millennial purchasers as they approach their first home purchase. During the next few years, time will provide them income growth and marriage, which usually pushes them into the first-home market (sometimes with a baby carriage). Watch them to take advantage of first-time buyer programs (3% down payment) now being offered from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
These buyers and sellers born between 1969 and 1980 (depending on who you talk to), will be moving based on contingencies – contingent on interest rates (which today stand below 4%) and equity growth in their home they bought in the last decade. They are also more likely to purchase new construction, according to the CRA report.
We'll be seeing a larger wave of retirees coming out of the Baby Boomer group and while many of them are in the suburbs, believe it or not, they're intending on staying in the D.C. area and some will continue to stay in their current homes. Meanwhile others will look to scaling down to condos and over-55 housing.
Key Market Takeaways
Look for a continued tight market. Even though inventory will increase seasonally, there's still a shortage of homes on the market. First-time buyers will be a key driver.
Growing demand for single-family homes, but we'll see smaller homes, lower price points
The suburbs are not dead and, in fact, are poised for a rebirth.
While demand will be there in 2015, supply won't catch up until 2016.
Looking to buy, sell or invest? Give me a call today to get started.
6257 Old Dominion Drive
McLean, VA 22101
Be Careful with Candles
Few things can make you feel quite as cozy as the warm glow and pleasant aroma of scented candles. While soft candlelight and a welcoming fragrance can enhance your home, you should be aware that burning candles could also be damaging it.
Insurance claims for soot damage have increased in the past several years, in direct relation to an increase in candle sales. In fact, the cleaning and replacement of household furnishings damaged by soot has been reported to cost some homeowners tens of thousands of dollars.
It's not just furnishings that can be damaged by candle use though. Soot from burning candles can collect in heating and air-conditioning systems as well. Damage can develop over a couple of days or several years, depending on the home's airflow, the number of candles burned, and how long the candles are left burning.
In the past, some homeowners' insurers paid for the damage because they weren't aware of its cause. Many companies are now, however, denying such claims because the damage isn't accidental or sudden.
If you burn candles regularly, never leave one unattended or placed in an unsteady location where it could possibly fall. In addition to fire safety, keep candle wicks trimmed to ¼-inch and avoid drafty locations to reduce soot emissions.
Noise can raise your stress level, whether it's barking dogs or loud music. You can make your home into an oasis of peace and quiet by following these sound-reducing tips:
Noise enters your home in the same locations where air seeps in, so use weather stripping or caulk to seal around your doors and windows. You may also want to consider installing energy efficient windows and solid wood doors.
Have your heating and air conditioning ducts wrapped with high-quality, fiberglass insulation.
Install acoustical tile to ceilings in noisy areas of your home, like the kitchen or children's rooms.
Hard surfaces can amplify sound, so soften your home by adding pillows, carpets or area rugs.
Hang curtains rather than window blinds.
Place pads underneath your washing machine, stereo and television to help absorb sound.
Line the bottom of cabinet drawers with rubber mats.
Indulge yourself and enhance the look and feel of your home by employing some of the same techniques used by luxury hotels.
Focus on your entryway. It can be both the first and last impression people will have of your home. Add a fresh coat of paint to the front door, accessorize by updating the knocker and welcome mat, and decorate with planters filled with colorful flowers.
Add distinguished touches by using crisp linen sheets for the beds and soft, thick towels in the bathrooms.
Create a comfortable space to read and write in every bedroom. Also keep guestrooms stocked with such tools as a reading lamp, pens, pencils and stationery.
Increase the natural light in your home by keeping windows sparkling clean and hanging sheer curtains rather than heavy drapes.
For a fragrant treat, add sachets of cedar or lavender to dresser drawers and closets.
I have an opportunity to work from home but I'm not sure if I should take this step. How can I determine if I will enjoy it?
Many people yearn to work from home. This desire can become especially strong after a particularly hard day at the office or a miserable commute. But as dreamy as it may sound, not everyone is cut out to be their own boss.
Consider whether or not you have the type of personality to stay motivated without someone checking on your progress throughout the day. Will you be tempted to sneak off to the golf course or watch a couple hours of television?
People who tend to excel at working from home are highly independent and self-motivated individuals. If you enjoy being part of a team and getting constant feedback, you may miss the office environment.
If you decide to try working from home, draw both a mental and physical line between your work life and your home life. Have a spare room or at least a separate area that is devoted to work. Then, make sure you set and stick to office hours. If you don't define clear working hours, you may find yourself taking small breaks during the day and having to make up your work later in the evening. This can make you feel as though you are always working and never have enough time to relax.
With busy schedules and expensive health club memberships, working out at home may save time and money. Here are some tips to make your home gym attractive, so you may be motivated to use it:
Make your home gym inviting by painting the walls an appealing color and hanging photos or other artwork.
Buy the best fitness equipment you can afford. Not only will this look nice, it will likely last longer and function better than less expensive equipment.
Arrange equipment with larger machines along the walls and smaller pieces more toward the center of the room. Maintain a clear path so you can move safely from one exercise to the next.
If you enjoy a little entertainment while you exercise, consider adding a television or stereo to your home gym.
I just had to let you know that know that mortgage interest rates dropped to 3.75% today! These are rates we thought we would not see for years, but because of several economic factors, they've dropped again. Call me if you're looking to refinance, buy, sell or invest. I can help you with the real estate and I have mortgage contacts for a good loan officer if you're looking to refinance at these low rates.