Wednesday, July 17, 2013

7 Ways to Make a Smaller Bedroom Look Bigger

Kitchen ideas, bathroom ideas, and more ∨

Browse living room ideas, from sectional couches to a unique chandelier and floor lamp, for your next interior design project.
Find home remodeling professionals, local residential architects, top home builders in your area and decorating and interior design ideas.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Movin' Up... What to Consider When Adding A Second Story Addition

Architects, interior designers, and more ∨

Browse bedroom ideas, from loft beds to luxury beadspreads, and dream in style.
Collect and share photos of bathroom tile, bathroom vanities, shower curtains and bathroom mirrors to create your perfect home decorating style.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

What A Home Inspection Is Not

What A Home Inspection Is Not

Every home inspection conducted should begin with an explanation to the client describing the scope of the inspection. It's very common to run into misconceptions about expectations. 

It is also important to understand what a home inspection is not. Generally speaking, the home inspection is general in nature. That's why it's referred to as a General Home Inspection as opposed to a Technical Home Inspection. 

It's not technically exhaustive, nor is it intrusive or invasive, in that components are not disassembled or wall coverings removed to diagnose problems. The inspection is visual in nature with all systems or components operated using operator/homeowner controls only. The inspector may be likened to the general practitioner in medicine—he performs general exams but refers you to a specialist when repairs are indicated.

The general home inspection is not an inspection of code compliance or violation.  It is an inspection of commonly accepted building standards and safety compliance.  Code inspections are performed by officials of the local city/county governmental inspection office. The local jurisdiction building inspection departments, in fact, only enforce and conduct code inspections on new construction or renovation/addition projects that must meet current codes. Housing that is older or being renovated only need to conform to the codes that were in effect when the residence was constructed.  There is no requirement to update or upgrade existing housing to meet the current codes until a point in time when major renovation is undertaken. Many code violations, however, can be related to safety considerations, which the processional inspector will point out.

A home inspector is not expected (and is not permitted in most, if not all jurisdictions) to offer opinions relating to areas of expertise that are reserved by law to licensed professionals in specific trades.  For example, a home inspector is not expected to perform methods of design, load calculations or offer opinions relating to the suitability, strength or effectiveness of alternate materials and systems; this is an area of expertise reserved by law for a professional engineer, and the licensing of professional engineers is strictly controlled by state boards of professional engineers.  

As another example, a home inspector is not expected to disclose the presence of wood destroying organisms such as termites, fungus, carpenter bees, wood boring beetles, etc.  This is an area of expertise reserved by law for a licensed pest control operator, and the licensing of pest control operators is strictly controlled by state Structural Pest Control Boards.  Anyone not duly licensed as a professional in a designated field of expertise cannot legally render opinions related to that field of expertise.  A home inspector may alert an individual of conditions (structural and otherwise) that appear peculiar and recommend a further evaluation by a professional in the designated field of expertise.  A home inspector may likewise alert an individual to the possible presence of wood destroying organisms with the recommendation of a further evaluation by a licensed pest control operator.

Home inspections are not appraisals.  A professional home inspector will always refer a potential buyer back to the professional handling the real estate transaction when asked about the perceived value of a home.

General home inspections do not offer warranties or guarantees.  A professional home inspector performs a 'point in time' inspection.  The inspector will confirm the system or component is performing satisfactorily during the inspection.  He/she may even determine the current age of the major appliances and their expected manufacturer's life span to help you budget for replacements.  However, the general home inspection is not able to accurately determine how much longer an appliance will live, nor should he/she be required to.

And, lastly, home inspectors do not validate the repairs called out during the general home inspection.  Home inspection contracts will specify that all defects be attended to by licensed or certified trade technicians.  Their receipt or invoice presented when the repair is completed is the validation necessary to properly convey the repair was does correctly and in compliance with locally acceptable building practices.  For this reason, it is not necessary to ask your home inspector to return to the property at a later date.

Understanding what is and what is not provided with a general home inspection is a very important part of the process of choosing the right home inspector.

Article courtesy of U.S. Inspect.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

April 2012 Northern Virginia Real Estate Market Statistics

Northern Virginia Association of Realtors and RBI have released sales numbers for April 2012.  In summary (for that time period), there were fewer active listings (homes on the market) than in April 2011.  At the same time the number of sold homes and homes under contract rose.  As a result, home prices are increasing and sellers are seeing less time on market.  Buyers need to act quickly to make offers on homes that they like.  Visit RBI to see complete statistics...
Real Estate Market Statistics for Northern Virginia Association of REALTORS® (NVAR) | RBI

Monday, March 19, 2012

What to Ask When Shopping for Homeowners Insurance

What to Ask When Shopping for Homeowners Insurance

Being an informed consumer means not only reading your homeowners insurance policy closely, but also asking experts what constitutes the right type, and amount, of coverage you need for your home, according to the Insurance Information Institute (I.I.I.).

A qualified insurance agent or insurance company representative can guide you in your choices. Here are six basic questions the I.I.I. advises everyone to ask before buying or renewing a homeowners insurance policy:

How much would it cost to rebuild my home in its current location in the event of a total loss? Your homeowners insurance policy should cover the cost of building a new home from scratch. Your insurance agent or insurance company representative will have knowledge of your neighborhood, and familiarity with the construction materials used when your home was originally built and can accurately calculate this cost. In general, homeowners policies cover partial or total damages caused by fire, hurricane, hail, lightning or any other disaster listed in your policy. Flood and earthquake-related losses must be insured separately because both perils are excluded in standard homeowners insurance policies.

How much is the personal property in my home worth in the event of a total loss? Your homeowners insurance policy should cover the cost of replacing all personal property (furniture, appliances, clothing) should it be stolen or destroyed by fire, hurricane or another insured disaster. Most companies provide personal property coverage equal to about 50 to 70 percent of the amount of insurance you have on the structure of your dwelling. So if you have $100,000 worth of dwelling protection, most insurers would recommend $50,000 to $70,000 worth of personal property coverage. The best way to determine if this recommendation is appropriate for your specific situation is to conduct a home inventory. Consider using the I.I.I.’s Know Your Stuff® - Home Inventory app in the iTunes App Store.

How much liability protection do I need? Liability covers you against lawsuits for bodily injury or property damage that you, or your family members, cause to other people. It also pays for damage caused by your pets. The liability portion of your policy pays for both the cost of defending you in court and any court awards—up to the limit of your policy. You are also covered not just in your home, but anywhere in the world. Liability limits generally start at about $100,000. Most insurance agents and company representatives recommend that you purchase at least $300,000 worth of liability protection. If you have significant assets and need more liability protection than is offered under the standard homeowners policy limits, ask your agent about umbrella liability.

What level of additional living expense coverage do I need? The Additional Living Expenses (ALE) provision is found in standard homeowners insurance policies. It pays for the costs of living away from home if you cannot reside there due to damage from an insured disaster. ALE covers hotel bills, meals and other expenses over and above your customary living expenses. ALE coverage differs from company to company. Many policies provide coverage equal to about 20 percent of your dwelling protection. For example, if the structure of your home is insured for $100,000, you would have $20,000 of ALE coverage. Some companies impose a time limitation, such as 12 to 24 months.
Should I buy a separate flood and/or earthquake insurance policy? There were numerous flooding events and earthquakes in the U.S. in 2011, but relatively few Americans had coverage for either type of natural disaster because these perils are excluded from standard homeowners insurance policies. Check with your insurance agent or insurance company representative to see whether you might need specialized coverage beyond your standard homeowners insurance policy.

Do I qualify for any discounts? If you have smoke detectors, burglar alarms and/or dead-bolt locks in your home, you can often get a premium rate discount. Sophisticated sprinkler systems and alarms that ring at monitoring stations often reduce your homeowners insurance premium, too. Ask your agent or company representative about discounts available to you. If you are at least 55 years old and retired, for instance, you may qualify for a discount of up to 10 percent at some companies. If you have completely modernized your plumbing or electrical system recently, a few companies may provide a price break.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Fairfax County Recycling Events

Free Recycling Events in March
Fairfax County will host three free recycling events for county residents to recycle old and unwanted materials in March:

Household Hazardous Waste Clean-up Event
Saturday, March 24, 2012; 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
South County Center, 8350 Richmond Highway, Alexandria

This event is for disposing of hazardous materials generated within Fairfax County households. They will not accept business or commercial waste, lead acid batteries, automobile batteries or propane tanks. Electronics will not be collected at this event, please bring your electronic devices to specified "Electric Sunday" recycling events. For a complete list of household items qualifying as hazardous waste, please visit

Electric Sunday
Sunday, March 25, 2012; 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
I-95 Landfill Complex, 9850 Furnace Road, Lorton

Residents may recycle old televisions, computers and peripheral electronics such as speakers, printers, scanners, etc. Also, residents can recycle unbroken fluorescent tubes and light bulbs.

Secure Document Shredding Event
Saturday, March 31, 2012; 8 a.m. to noon
South County Center, 8350 Richmond, Alexandria

Residents may shred up to 5 boxes of personal documents per household at no charge. Please remove all paper from binders and remove binder clips, plastic page covers and binding. Information stored on film or computer disks will not be accepted – paper documents only. All documents will be securely shredded on-site by a private contractor and the shredded material will be taken to a local recycling facility for processing. This event is not for medical service providers – it does not fulfill Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, requirements for document destruction.
Complete details for these events and other recycling opportunities planned for 2012 can be found on the Fairfax County Solid Waste Management Program's web site at, or by calling the Recycling InfoLine at 703-324-5052, TTY 711.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How To Spot A Mortgage Scam

How to Spot a Mortgage Scam

While the landmark $25 billion National Mortgage Settlement was just announced last month, scammers have wasted no time capitalizing on the vulnerability of desperate homeowners.

The settlement with the nation’s five largest mortgage servicers was signed by federal and state officials Feb. 9, and will provide assistance for homeowners in order to compensate for the faulty foreclosure practices offered by mortgage servicers following the housing market crash. According to the nonprofit credit-counseling agency Money Management International (MMI), although real compensation is still months away, there have already been numerous reports of scam operations popping up across the country.

“While the government has been cracking down on foreclosure scams, it is important for you to remain diligent in keeping your personal information safe,” advises Jo Kerstetter, vice president of education and community relations for MMI.

Kerstetter offers the following tips to help avoid a scam:

Don’t panic. Mortgage scams are effective because the scammer is able to exploit the fear of a person who is in a desperate, vulnerable state. Don’t let fear cause you to make irrational decisions.
Never act under pressure. Don’t sign a contract or disclose information before doing your research. You can always request to receive any information in writing.
Trust your gut. If someone is offering you something that sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Stay informed. Make sure you obtain detailed information about your foreclosure deadlines. If you want to know if you qualify under the Settlement, contact your bank or loan servicer directly.
Don’t release any personal financial information. If you are contacted by someone who claims to be from your financial institution and wants you to “confirm” or help them identify your personal account information, it is likely a scam. Rather than releasing information, ask for their contact information and tell them you’re going to call them back.
There is no fee involved in the National Mortgage Settlement. If you are contacted in any way from someone asking for money in return for a speedy settlement payment, they are scamming you.
For more information about mortgage assistance relief scams, visit If you have questions or concerns about your mortgage loan, consider meeting with a HUD-certified housing counselor to discuss your options.