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Home inspections—when should you run for the hills?

Home inspections can be scary. Just when you think you’ve found the perfect house, an inspector comes along and tells you everything’s that’s wrong with it. Though most things that turn up during a home inspection aren’t deal breakers, some are more serious. Here are a few items you should watch for; problems in these areas can end up costing you a lot of money:

  •  Electric panels: Some brands of electrical panels should be replaced due to safety issues, including Federal Pacific, Zinsco, and Bulldog Pushmatic. All of them have issues around not tripping properly when excess current goes through them.
  • Decks: Decks are built to last 12–15 years. Older decks may present issues with the fasteners, which can corrode and lose their hold on the house.
  • Chimneys: If a chimney is cracked and is beginning to separate from the house, it may need to be taken down and rebuilt.
  • Trusses: Broken or altered trusses are always an expensive problem because they can affect the structural integrity of a home.
  • Environmental hazards: A professional should address hazards like asbestos insulation or floor tiles, termite damage, mold, or lead paint.

Always attend your home inspection and use the time to talk with the home inspector. Knowing the problems ahead of time will allow you to make a good decision about purchasing a home.

To learn more about asking a seller to repair or replace an item found during a home inspection, read our blog post from 9/20/2018. It also talks about our latest agent tool: Repair Request Builder.

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Cheap and easy ways to winterize your home

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, heating and cooling account for about 48%
of the energy use in a typical U.S. home. When winter winds start blowing, taking time to
winterize your home can result in significant savings―and it doesn’t need to be expensive
or time consuming. Where should you start? Here are some quick and money-saving ideas:

• Install weather stripping or draft guards on exterior doors
• Seal attic and garage cracks with foam or caulking
• Add extra insulation to your attic or garage
• Install a programmable thermostat and keep it low when no one is home, or
overnight
• Replace your furnace filters
• Lower your hot water temperature to around 120 degrees
• Set your ceiling fans to move in a clockwise direction

Spending some time completing these easy tasks will keep the cold out and extra money
in your wallet this winter

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Remove toxins in your home with these six houseplants

 

Once colder weather hits, people tend to stay inside. When a house is closed up inside, airborne toxin levels actually become higher. Before you panic and run out to buy an air purifier, consider adding houseplants for a natural fix. The leaves and roots of plants digest contaminants in the air.

Benefits? People who work or live near plants tend to have lower blood pressure, recover faster from illness, and have improved mental clarity and fewer headaches. Here are six plants that do a great job of purifying the air:

  • Bedroom: Gerbera Daisy
  • Bathroom: Dracaena Janet Craig
  • Kitchen: English Ivy
  • Hallways: Peace Lily
  • Laundry Room: Boston Fern
  • Attached Garage: Golden Pothos

Think about adding a few plants to your rooms and watch the benefits blossom!

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Stucco Homes

One of the biggest benefits of stucco is that it can help make your home more energy efficient. However, if a stucco exterior is poorly installed or not maintained properly, several serious issues can arise. The most serious problem stems from water-related issues—specifically, excess moisture that becomes trapped in your home.

One thing you can consider to protect your investment is a stucco inspection. Only a professional stucco inspector will truly be able to tell if your home may have problems. Here is an overview of what this inspection may include:

  • Visual inspection: The inspector will first walk completely around your home and look for telltale signs of moisture—such as staining, cracks, and stucco running below grade.
  • Moisture probes: This method of identifying the amount of moisture in specific areas involves drilling small holes and inserting a moisture probe into an area. The probe holes are then filled with a silicone caulk that ideally matches the color of the stucco and generally blends into the system.
  • Thermal imaging: An infrared image of the home can often show areas with levels of moisture that can cause problems.

If the inspector notes areas of concern, you should call a professional stucco expert to remediate and repair those areas.

As with all home maintenance issues, stucco needs attention. Each year, conduct a visual check to look for cracks and gaps in caulked areas. Homeowners should inspect stucco homes annually for holes, significant cracks, or separations. Washing your stucco once a year with a mild cleaner and water will remove most stains.

Call our office to learn more or to schedule your appointment! 703-771-8374

 

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Request to Repair or Replace

Although it would be nice for the seller to fix every home inspection issue, there are only so many repairs most sellers are willing to do.

What should you ask a seller to repair or replace? A sound rule is to focus on the larger items that require permits. Once the repair or replacement is done, request the seller to supply building permits or receipts. This approach should make the buyer feel better by proving that the work has been inspected by an authority; it also puts the cost of the re-inspection in the seller’s lap. If a repair is so minor that it doesn’t require a building permit, then why ask for it? Chances are if a seller is going to make these types of repairs, they probably will be done with the least amount of work or money possible. Some major home inspection items worth asking a seller to fix include:

  • Infestation of termites or wildlife
  • Major drainage or ongoing water problems
  • Mold problems
  • Radon levels above EPA suggested levels
  • Major electrical defects that cause safety issues
  • Significant plumbing problems
  • Lead paint

To help you better navigate this part of a home sale transaction, Donofrio & Associates offers a new tool―Repair Request Builder. It’s an easy way to create a report for clients to create an addendum for the sellers―and the best part is that it’s FREE as a part of your home inspection. This reporting system will cut down on the amount of time spent putting together addendums following the inspection. The tool’s highlights include:

  • Email/texting capabilities
  • A menu of specific defects
  • Dollar amount credit request options
  • Requests for repairs or replacements

To learn more about Repair Request Builder, visit our website!

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Asbestos and Your Home

As a homeowner, is asbestos something you should worry about? It first became popular as insulation in the early 1940s and was used in residential properties through the mid-1970s. Builders loved it because of its fibrous strength and resistance to heat. In homes

built before 1975, asbestos was commonly used in thermal insulation and around basement boilers and pipes. It can also be found in other home materials such as:

  • Vinyl floor tiles and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring
  • Roofing and siding shingles
  • Textured paint and patching compounds
  • Walls and floors around wood-burning stoves

For you as a homeowner, asbestos is dangerous when the fibers are released into the air. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, exposure to asbestos fibers can increase your risk of developing lung disease. This risk can actually increase if you’re a smoker.

Asbestos fibers are typically disrupted and released into the air when, for example, you decide to take on a large home construction project such as renovating or remodeling. However, normal wear or damage, such as tears or water damage, may also cause asbestos fibers to be released.

If you have concerns or suspect the presence of asbestos, it’s always best to call a trained, accredited asbestos professional to assess the situation and correct it if needed. Better safe than sorry!

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Five Areas of Your Home that May Need Cleaning

Floors, furniture, bathrooms, and countertops are all standard areas of your home that grab your attention every week as part of your basic cleaning routine. Whether you have a cleaning company or do it yourself, there are probably some other areas of your home that are often forgotten. What am I talking about? Well, when was the last time you cleaned these five areas?

1. Washing machine: Typically, you can clean your washing machine in one cycle by pouring a mixture of white vinegar and baking soda into your washer, and running it on the hottest cycle.

2. Under appliances: Cleaning is a must behind appliances like your refrigerator or under the stove. These small spaces can collect loads of dust, dirt, grime, and even food.

3. Trash cans: Thoroughly scrub your kitchen or bathroom trash can, rinse it out, and spray with disinfectant.

4. Mattresses: A vacuum can easily get rid of dirt, dead skin cells, crumbs, and other things that accumulate unseen on the mattress surface.

5. Dishwasher: Even this appliance requires cleaning. Dishwashers get clogged with food debris, soap scum, and hard water deposits. Start by cleaning out the filter of the dishwasher; then toss a cup of white vinegar into the bottom when it’s empty and run the normal cycle.

Though these areas typically don’t need attention every week, you should add them to your cleaning routine if they’re not on the list already.

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Spotlight: Windows

As a homeowner, you can’t get away from maintenance projects and, just like other parts of a house, your windows are no exception. Without yearly attention and maintenance, window problems can easily occur.

Windows, screens, and sills need cleaning at least yearly. However, proper maintenance goes beyond this step. First examine your windows from the exterior. Is the trim intact? Is the caulking peeling or missing? Then move into the house. Do the windows function properly? Are there rips in your screens? Are the panes and glass intact? If you answer “no” to any of these questions, you need to do something. It may be as simple as adding caulking, or it may call for the attention of a professional.

You should also check your windows for water damage, especially after heavy precipitation. The damage you can see is only one side of the story―damage inside the walls is the other side of the story and requires evaluation by a professional. Remember, moisture is one of the key ingredients for the formation of mold and mildew.

Properly functioning windows maintain the energy efficiency of your home and keep heating and cooling costs low. They also keep allergens and critters out!

If you’re interested in learning more about windows, check out our video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v69tMKQYyuY&feature=youtu.be

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Saving energy and money this winter

Increasing energy efficiency is absolutely good for the environment but it also can be good for your wallet! Here are several tips for reducing energy consumption while maintaining comfortable temperatures in your home this winter. The end result also can lead to extra money in your pockets!

· Open the curtains of your south-facing windows to let the sunlight heat your home naturally.

· Turn your thermostat down 10 degrees before you go to bed.

· Seal air leaks around pipes.

· Keep your fireplace damper closed unless a fire is burning.

· Caulk around windows.

· Change your furnace filters regularly.

· Run your ceiling fan in reverse to bring the heat back down to floor level.

· Add insulation to your attic.

· Move furniture so it doesn’t block your vents.

· Wear extra layers of clothing.

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Fire prevention tips

According to the National Fire Protection Association, from 2012 to the present, approximately 360,000 fires occurred each year. Here are some basic tips to help you keep your family and home safe from fire.

· Check the electrical cords throughout your home for signs of fraying.

· Never leave pots or pans unattended on your stove.

· Clean out the dryer vent regularly.

· Clean out the lint filter after each load you put in the dryer.

· Don’t place a space heater near furniture, curtains, or other objects that could easily catch fire.

· Have your chimney inspected annually.

· Store containers of cooking oil away from the stove.

· Place matches and lighters out of reach of children.

· Always blow out candles when leaving home.

The following items should be installed in all homes:

· Carbon monoxide detectors—carbon monoxide is odorless, colorless, and very combustible

· Fire extinguishers

· Smoke alarms/detectors

Taking these precautions will keep you and your family safe!