Tuesday, December 20, 2011

LED Holiday Lights - 6 Need to Know Tips

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.


Monday, December 5, 2011

Northern Virginia's 50 Best Restaurants!

Here are 2011's 50 Best Restaurants as published by Northern Virginia Magazine:
50 Best Restaurants... including Trummer's on Main (in Arlington), 2941, and La Bergerie

Plus, here is Northern Virginia Magazine's 20 Best New Restaurants of 2011:
Best New Restaurants ... including Ozzie's, Cock and Bowl, and BGR


Thursday, November 10, 2011

Thanks to our community!! Candy Collection Results


Acquire Real Estate & Dr. Lanzaro's office
gives our thanks and gratitude to our community and your families
for your generous donations for our OPERATION GRATITUDE project!!
Your Donations resulted in:
341 pounds of Halloween Candy
164 Letters and Pictures 
Take a look at the photos below!
All candy has been sorted, packaged and shipped!
(being shipped to OPERATION GRATITUDE)
OPERATION GRATITUDE uses collections from all over the country to create individual care packages for our Soldiers.  They have been running a Halloween candy collection for several years and last year collected over 21 tons of candy for our Troops. You can find out more about OPERATION GRATITUDE at their website at http://www.operationgratitude.com/ and see a video about the candy collection at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxIHgabfxKA&feature=channel_page

Monday, October 17, 2011

Halloween Candy Collection for Deployed U.S. Soldiers

Check out our flyer and press release for our Operation Gratitude candy collection!  You can see a larger pdf version at our website - www.AcquireRE.com

October 17, 2011
Lorton, Virginia

Tracy Jones and Dee Dee Phillips, Realtors with Acquire Real Estate, LLC, and the Dental Office of Peter J. Lanzaro, D.D.S. are working with OPERATION GRATITUDE on a service project to collect unopened Halloween candy and thank-you cards, letters, and drawings for our deployed U.S. Troops.  The drive will take place from October 24 through November 4.  Donations should be dropped off at Dr. Lanzaro's office, 8918 Village Shops Dr, Fairfax Station, during business hours.

OPERATION GRATITUDE uses collections from all over the country to create individual care packages for our Soldiers.  They have been running a Halloween candy collection for several years and last year collected over 21 tons of candy for our Troops. You can find out more about OPERATION GRATITUDE at their website at http://www.operationgratitude.com/ and see a video about the candy collection at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WxIHgabfxKA&feature=channel_page

We chose this project because we wanted to recognize and thank our military families.  We also wanted a project that would allow local families to participate without requiring much of a monetary investment.  This collection lets kids participate by donating some (or all) of their collected candy, and/or by drawing pictures or writing letters.  We encourage your family to participate.  Our goal is to collect 200-300 pounds of candy and 50 or more letters and drawings, and –of course -- to get all that extra sugar away from the kids!!

You can get additional information about the drive at www.AcquireRE.com, just click on the button in the middle of the page that says “Click here for info on our Halloween candy collection project.”  For more information please contact Tracy Jones at 703-690-1174 or info@AcquireRE.com, or Dee Dee Phillips at 703-635-0188.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

October Virginia Wine Month Celebrates a Love of Local Wines

Press Room - October Virginia Wine Month Celebrates a Love of Local Wines

Here is a link to events all over the state: http://www.virginia.org/winemonth/

Here is the Full Press Release from the Virginia Tourism Office:

October Virginia Wine Month Celebrates a Love of Local Wines

-Discover Your Local Crush theme invites travelers to Virginia for wine harvest season-
RICHMOND, Va. (September 20, 2011) - The Virginia Tourism Corporation invites wine lovers to start planning a trip for October Virginia Wine Month, one of the best times of the year to visit the state's numerous wine regions. "Discover Your Local Crush" is the Wine Month theme, tempting travelers to visit and taste the best of Virginia wines at wineries and festivals statewide.
Since October Virginia Wine Month began in 1988, the Virginia wine industry has grown tremendously, encompassing nearly 200 wineries and 16 wine trails. Now ranking fifth in the nation for the number of wineries and sixth nationally for wine grape production, Virginia serves as a perfect destination for oenophiles and travel enthusiasts.
October Virginia Wine Month is an ideal time to visit Virginia. The state's 15 million acres of foliage are bursting with color and wineries are celebrating the harvest. From the coastal serenity of the Eastern Shore to the majestic splendor of the Blue Ridge Mountains, each wine region provides travelers with a one-of-a-kind wine experience. Visitors are encouraged to start planning a wine month getaway today and discover their local Virginia crush. Visitwww.Virginia.org/wine for information on celebrations taking place throughout the state in October including events such as:
11th Annual Norton Wine & Bluegrass Festival
Chrysalis Vineyards - Middleburg, VA (October 1-2, 2011)
Wine travelers can visit Chrysalis Vineyards, home to the world's largest grower of Norton, The Real American Grape!®, and experience one of Northern Virginia's top wineries during the harvest season. The area's best bluegrass, food from the local "BBQ King," cheese, chocolates and chutneys from Virginia's premier producers, jewelry and art from top-notch artisans and designers, hayrides and vineyard tours and a special nine-wine tasting, are just some of the weekend's highlights. Admission is $15 in advance and day-of is $20.

Wine, Moon & Stars at Virginia Mountain Vineyards

Virginia Mountain Vineyards - Fincastle, VA (October 7, 2011)
Set in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia Mountain Vineyards will offer clear skies and an unobstructed view of the constellations, weather permitting, on the evening of October 7 from 6 to 9 p.m. A member of the Roanoke Astronomy Club will be on hand for a brief astronomical presentation, and telescopes will be set up in the vineyard for stargazing. Participants will also enjoy a bowl of chili and bottle of Virginia Mountain Vineyards wine as music plays under the tent. Admission is $5; children under 12 are free.

Blackdog Wine & Classic Rock Festival

Chateau Morrisette - Floyd, VA (October 8, 2011)
Located just off the scenic Blue Ridge Parkway, Chateau Morrisette Winery will host the 2011 Black Dog Wine & Music festival this October. The rock event will feature amazing bands, great food, the winery's famous sangria and the best of their wines. Travelers can dance the day away or sit back and take in the show from one of the private gazebos. A variety of local food, arts and crafts and wine sales areas are located in the courtyard and festival field. General admission is $20 in advance and $25 at the gates.
Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival
Rebec Vineyards, Inc. - Amherst, VA (October 9-10, 2011)
The Virginia Wine and Garlic Festival embrace food, wine, live entertainment, arts, crafts and most importantly, garlic. The festival offers something for everyone, old and young alike, including live entertainment, contests, wine tastings from six different wineries, and a kid's area with a petting zoo and bounce area. Five stages are filled with music and entertainment, including garlic cooking as well as Garlic King, Queen and Jr. Queen Contests. Wine Tasting tickets are $18 in advance and $25 at the gates. General admission is $14 in advance and $25 at the gates, and children under 12 are free. For more information, call 434-946-5168.
Millwood, VA (October 14-16, 2011)
A fun-filled, three-day family celebration unfolds with the 15th anniversary of the Shenandoah Valley Hot Air Balloon, Wine & Music Festival. Held on the spacious lawns and rolling fields of Historic Long Branch in Clarke County, the festival brings balloonist and their colorful airborne craft from far and wide to delight spectators of all ages. In addition to the balloons, more than a dozen Virginia wines will be featured for tasting.
Town Point Virginia Wine Festival
Town Point Park - Norfolk, VA (October 15-16, 2011)
One of Virginia's largest outdoor wine festivals, the Town Point Virginia Wine Festival features more than 30 Virginia wineries along the Downtown Norfolk waterfront. Wine lovers can enjoy the crisp fall air and background music as they sample a variety of wines and gourmet local Virginia cuisine, as well as shop onsite retailers for specialty crafts and wine accessories. All wines offered during the event are available for purchase by glass, bottle or case. Ticket required for entry. For more information, call 757-441-2345.
Devault Family Vineyards Fall Family Fun
Devault Family Vineyards - Concord, VA (October 21-22, 2011)
The annual Fall Family Fun event at Campbell County's newest winery, extended to two evenings this year, will offer activities and fun for people of all ages. Situated on 32 beautiful rolling acres, Devault Family Vineyards will provide travelers with a selection of live music from a Beatles Tribute Band and Out of Spite, as well as a Haunted Woods and a variety of other family-friendly happenings. For more information, call 434-993-0561.
Dugspur, VA (October 22, 2011)
Fall in an apple orchard couldn't be better. Sample Foggy Ridge cider along with mead from neighboringBlacksnake Meadery, each paired with tasty seasonal treats. $5 fee covers tastings and food pairings at both locations.
MARTIN'S presents Richmond International Wine Excursion
Historic Tredegar Iron Works- Richmond, VA (October 28-29, 2011)
The first ever MARTIN'S presents Richmond International Wine Excursion will feature a weekend of premier wine events including grand tastings, a "locavore" luncheon and wine-tasting seminar. The event will also feature global cuisine from some of the Region's finest chefs and restaurateurs. Notable presenters include world-renown importer Bartholomew Broadbent and Georg Riedel, the 10th generation scion of the world-class Riedel Glass Company. It will be held on the grounds of the American Civil War Center at Tredegar.
Autumn Barrel Tasting at Barboursville Vineyards
Barboursville, VA (October 29 - 30, 2011)

One of Virginia's oldest and finest wineries invites visitors to a special barrel tasting. This enhanced tasting will focus on valuable older vintages, along with a traditional sampling of new Octagon from the barrel. Caromont Farm will present award-winning artisan cheeses and fresh breads from Palladio Restaurant will refresh the palate. Admission Fee: $25.
Find these great events and more details on October Virginia Wine Month at www.Virginia.org/wine.
Love is at the heart of every Virginia vacation. Visit www.Virginia.org for more trip ideas or call 1-800-VISITVA for a free Virginia is for Lovers travel guide.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Capital Home and Garden Show at Chantilly Expo Center 9/23 - 9/25

Find out more info here:  http://www.capitalhomeshow.com/ME2/Sites/

It’s that Time Again – The Capital Home Show is Back!
Learn the Latest and Greatest in Home Design

The Capital Home Show returns to the Dulles Expo Center Friday, September 23 through Sunday, September 25 with new and exciting ideas on how to finish up lingering projects and get any home ready for winter. Meet area experts in home design and renovation, discover the latest developments in green home products and snag cutting-edge creative ideas! There will be dynamic stage demonstrations focused on both home design and fresh cooking trends, as well as guest appearances by celebrity headliners.

“This year the show is focused on using easy techniques with affordable products to get the best results. We have an amazing group of local industry experts all under one roof, all of whom are eager to share tips and tricks,” show manager Alyson Caplan said.

Highlights of the fall Show include:

Sand Castle Creations – The Sand Sculpting Company will create a unique masterpiece through the duration of the Show;

Kitchen & Home Design Stage – Enjoy demonstrations by renowned local chefs and experts on home design and remodeling who will be offering tips for the holidays, and every day;

The Repurposing Rooms by Habitat for Humanity – The renovation team at Habitat for Humanity of Northern Virginia will show how to repurpose household furniture to create new items that look like a million bucks, but actually cost very little to make;

Celebrity Pastry Chef Yigit Pura – The season one winner of Bravo’s “Top Chef: Just Desserts” will be on site Saturday and Sunday showcasing fun and easy baking tips using the latest modern cookware;

HGTV’s Sasha Andreev – The host of “Curb Appeal” and “Decorating Cents” will make an appearance to give advice on do-it-yourself home remodeling; and

Local legend Mike McGrath – The nationally syndicated writer and radio personality, WTOP’s Gardening Editor and host of “Garden Sense,” will be at the show to discuss home design, both indoors & outdoors.

 “There will be over 200 exhibitors and incredible expect presenters at the Show this fall making it a wonderful resource for anyone living in the region,” Caplan said. “I encourage everyone to come with questions, because the Capital Home Show has answers!”

The Capital Home Show is open Friday, Sept. 23 and Saturday, Sept. 24 from 10:00am to 9:00pm and Sunday, Sept. 25 from 10:00am to 6:00pm. Click here to purchase $7.00 discounted tickets online.

Tickets are also available at the door – Adults: $10.00; Children 6-12: $3.00; 5 and under: FREE.
Tickets are valid for one day. Visit  www.capitalhomeshow.com for full details.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Hiring a Home Improvement Contractor in Fairfax County

The following information is from the "Informed Consumer" Summer 2011 Newsletter, Consumer Affairs Branch of the Fairfax County Department of Consumer Services.  This newsletter comes out quarterly, you can sign up for at the Consumer Services website: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/consumer/
The Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch offers a variety of educational seminars to consumers of Fairfax County.  One of the more popular seminars is the Home Improvement Seminar.  The Home Improvement Seminar discusses the steps to take before hiring a home improvement contractor, work that requires a Fairfax County building permit, information that should be included within
the contract, tips on how to manage the project, and items to review before making the final payment. 

The presentation reviews the Home Solicitation Sales Act and the ―Buyer’s Right to Cancel clause that must be included in all contracts that are signed in your home.  It also discusses your rights under the Contractor Fraud law. 

Our office is available to conduct a presentation for your community, please feel free to contact us at 703-222-8435.  Once you’ve become educated about the contractor laws and selection process, try to coordinate a meeting with your common interest community association’s board or architectural committee to review your proposed project.  Are you required to submit a request for approval of the project?  Are there certain restrictions on material choice or color that you must communicate to your contractor?  

One final step in the process, is to contact the Fairfax County Permit Application Center to confirm whether or not your contractor is required to obtain any permits.  It’s important to have that confirmed prior to beginning work on your home.

The Fairfax County Consumer Affairs Branch does offer mediation services regarding consumer-contractor disputes that may arise.  If you find yourself in such a situation, please feel free to contact our office at 703-222-8435 or file an online complaint.  You can also contact our office Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to speak with an Investigator of the Day regarding any general inquiries related to home improvement contractors.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Virginia is For Lovers :: Follow Your Heart Sweepstakes

Virginia is For Lovers :: Follow Your Heart Sweepstakes

Hurry!!  Sweepstakes ends August 25, 2011.  Click on the above link to enter.

Follow Your Heart to Virginia and Win One of Ten Free Vacations
Grand Prize Winner Will Build a Dream Trip to Virginia

Enter the Follow Your Heart to Virginia Sweepstakes – a statewide vacation giveaway featuring nine first-prize trips and one grand prize that allows the winner to build his or her dream vacation. Each trip puts love front and center with amusement parks, wineries, museums and special experiences to ensure loved ones feel completely connected on a Virginia vacation.

One grand prize winner will create a dream vacation by choosing components of any of the first-place prizes for a vacation. The grand prize trip is good for two to four people and for two to five nights, based on winner’s choice.

See the official rules and prize descriptions.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

What You Must Know About Home Appraisals

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

What You Must Know About Home Appraisals

Article From BuyAndSell.HouseLogic.com
By: G. M. Filisko
Published: March 12, 2010

Understanding how appraisals work will help you achieve a quick and profitable refinance or sale.

1. An appraisal isn’t an exact science

When appraisers evaluate a home’s value, they’re giving their best opinion based on how the home’s features stack up against those of similar homes recently sold nearby. One appraiser may factor in a recent sale, but another may consider that sale too long ago, or the home too different, or too far away to be a fair comparison. The result can be differences in the values two separate appraisers set for your home.

2. Appraisals have different purposes

If the appraisal is being used by a lender giving a loan on the home, the appraised value will be the lower of market value (what it would sell for on the open market today) and the price you paid for the house if you recently bought it.

An appraisal being used to figure out how much to insure your home for or to determine your property taxes may rely on other factors and arrive at different values. For example, though an appraisal for a home loan evaluates today’s market value, an appraisal for insurance purposes calculates what it would cost to rebuild your home at today’s building material and labor rates, which can result in two different numbers.

Appraisals are also different from CMAs, or competitive market analyses. In a CMA, a real estate agent relies on market expertise to estimate how much your home will sell for in a specific time period. The price your home will sell for in 30 days may be different than the price your home will sell for in 120 days. Because real estate agents don’t follow the rules appraisers do, there can be variations between CMAs and appraisals on the same home.

3. An appraisal is a snapshot

Home prices shift, and appraised values will shift with those market changes. Your home may be appraised at $150,000 today, but in two months when you refinance or list it for sale, the appraised value could be lower or higher depending on how your market has performed.

4. Appraisals don’t factor in your personal issues

You may have a reason you must sell immediately, such as a job loss or transfer, which can affect the amount of money you’ll accept to complete the transaction in your time frame. An appraisal doesn’t consider those personal factors.

5. You can ask for a second opinion

If your home appraisal comes back at a value you believe is too low, you can request that a second appraisal be performed by a different appraiser. You, or potential buyers, if they’ve requested the appraisal, will have to pay for the second appraisal. But it may be worth it to keep the sale from collapsing from a faulty appraisal. On the other hand, the appraisal may be accurate, and it may be a sign that you need to adjust your pricing or the size of the loan you’re refinancing.

More from HouseLogic

Other web resources

More information on appraisals 

How to improve the appraised value of your home 

G.M. Filisko is an attorney and award-winning writer who’s had more than 10 appraisals performed on her properties in the past 20 years. A frequent contributor to many national publications including Bankrate.com, REALTOR® Magazine, and the American Bar Association Journal, she specializes in real estate, business, personal finance, and legal topics.

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Copyright 2011.  All rights reserved.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Tips for Backyard Playground Safety

Let's Play! -- 7 Tips for Backyard Playground Safety

1. Plan Ahead

One of the best ways to stay safe is to start with some careful planning. Think about the space where you'll place the play equipment, your child's age, even where the sun will be shining. An article on the naturalhandyman.com suggests, "Make sure toddler swing sets are at least 2 feet above ground (so kids can't use it on their own), at least 6 feet away from any building or fences, and in a shaded area, so that surfaces won't get too hot to the touch."

2. Avoid Pressure Treated Wood

Never construct or buy playground equipment made with pressure-treated wood containing chromated copper arsenate, also known as CCA. You'll know pressure treated wood by its greenish tint. There are other chemicals that can be used to treat wood, but they are still rare and more expensive, so CCA has been the principal chemical used to pressure treat wood. Good alternatives include untreated woods like cedar or redwood, and non-wood alternatives such as plastics, metal, and composite materials (like Trex).

3. Inspect Your Equipment

Always check the play equipment for any sharp points or edges (screws that stick out, splinters, rough wood, etc.). Check the equipment often as its condition can change. Make sure equipment is firmly anchored in the ground.

4. Bigger Is Not Always Better

While we may be dreaming of a large play-scape to really wow our kids, remember the higher the equipment the harder the fall. Research shows equipment taller than 6 feet doubles the possibility of injury. 

5. Avoid Dangerous Sand

Not all play sand is safe. In fact, the soft, fine sand that is marketed as "play sand," is one some say we should avoid. According to safemama.com play sand is sometimes made of crushed rock instead of beach or river sand. This crushed rock or crystalline silica is a known carcinogen according to the EPA and OSHA. Some brands of sand even contain asbestos tremloite which can put you and kids at risk of lung cancer. Avoid play sand that creates airborne dust that can be easily breathed by kids. Read up on Sandtasktic or SafeSand as possible alternatives, as those brands are silica and quartz-free.

6. Create a Cushion

Falls account for nearly 80 percent of playground injuries. Be sure to use proper ground cover for under play equipment to prevent this. Ground cover includes sand, pea gravel, rubber, or wood chips. Donna Thompson, Ph.D., and Director of the National Program for Playground Safety, recommends that the cushion be a minimum of 12 inches deep in order to be effective. ÒMany people use the right materials, but not enough to truly cushion a fall,Ó she says.

7. Practice Basic Safety

Children under 3 should be in toddler swings with support on all sides and safety straps and children under 6 should never play unattended. Those older than 6 should be checked on frequently.

Playground Rules To Teach Your Children

- Never stand or kneel in the swing, and hold tightly with both hands.
- Always stop swinging before getting off the swing.
- Only one person should be in one swing at a time.
- Do not push anyone else in the swing or let others push you (that's a job for grown-ups).
- Don't swing empty swings, and never twist swing chains.

Courtesy of: www.usinspect.com

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

7 Hot Home Improvement Trends That Make Your Home Work For You

Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Getting The Most Out of Your Home Inspection

A home inspection is a buyer’s chance to get fully acquainted with their prospective home. It’s a priceless opportunity to get answers and information to make informed decisions. So how exactly can buyers get the MOST out of that experience? Here are some tips about how:

Be There
The absolute number one way to get the most out of your inspection, is to be there and be an active participant. In addition to inspecting the home, the inspector will educate you about the house, encourage your questions, and show you the locations of major systems and components (i.e. water meter location and important shut off valves, etc.) This is an important opportunity for you to receive a wealth of information and a detailed orientation to the home.

Dress for Success
Remember to dress for the occasion. Attend your inspection in comfortable clothes and accompany your home inspector throughout the inspection. Closed-toed shoes and long pants are recommended. Dress appropriately for rain or cold as well. Expect a few cobwebs and dusty shoes and don't shy away from the opportunity to see basements or attics first-hand with your inspector. Whenever you safely can, tag along.

Make the Time
Expect your inspection to take some time, between 2 and 3 hours. Don’t schedule the inspection when you have to rush to another appointment or when you are otherwise distracted.

Assure Accessibility
If the property is vacant or a foreclosure, etc. be sure to meet with your real estate agent and do whatever it takes to make sure all areas of the home will be accessible to your inspector and all utilities will be on.

Take Notes & Ask Questions
It’s a great idea to take notes during your inspection. Prepare a loose leaf binder ahead of time with a blank sheet of paper for each system or area of the home. Write your questions down in the appropriate sections ahead of time so that they can be answered at the appropriate time during the inspection. This way, all your notes, questions and answers will stay organized.

Limit Extra Guests
There are many occasions when you may wish to bring others along on your inspection—for an extra set of eyes, or someone whom you trust to help you ask questions or understand the inspection information. But limit any guests that might distract you from the inspection or tempt you to discuss aesthetic topics that are better left for later.

Schedule A Babysitter
Speaking of “guests,” if at all possible, leave your children with a sitter or arrange for another adult to come along to watch them so that you can give the inspection your full attention. 

Leave the Pictures to the Inspector
It’s not a great idea to bring  camera/ video camera along to the inspection. Though this may sound counter-intuitive, when you are stuck behind a lens, your attention is not fully on the inspection. You can also become easily tempted to begin taking pictures of items for other purposes, like decorating or space planning. Leave the pictures to the inspector who will snap shots of various areas during the inspection.

Consider Optional Inspections or Testing
Getting the most out of your inspection may mean getting some additional inspections or tests performed that same day. Consider radon testing or pest inspections and get them done all at the same time.

Know the Questions 
Your Inspection Should Answer

• Is the house structurally sound, safe, and a healthy place to live?
• What is the age and current general condition of the roof?
• Do I know pertinent info about the attic and crawlspace? (Insulation coverage and thickness, or water penetration issues).
• Are the heating and cooling systems operating as designed?
• Are all plumbing fixtures working and free of leaks?
• Do I know the location of the main water shutoff?
• What is the location and condition of the electrical service and associated panels, including breaker status?
• Does the seller have maintenance records they are willing to release?
• Are the kitchen appliances performing as expected, including operating lights?
• Should I be concerned about environmental issues, i.e. asbestos, mold, radon, or termites?

Courtesy Of: www.usinspect.com

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Fence Etiquette: Tips to Avoid Neighbor Disputes

Fence Etiquette: Tips to Avoid Neighbor Disputes
Article From HouseLogic.com By: Ann Cochran
Published: March 23, 2011

If you practice fence etiquette and bone up on local zoning regs, you can avoid neighbor disputes.

Avoid fence disputes by practicing fence etiquette--a good neighbor policy. If you follow zoning regulations and share basics with neighbors before construction, you can install a new fence (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/fencing-guide-options/) AND stay on good terms with the folks next door.

Observe boundaries: Don't risk having to tear down that fence by going even one inch over your property line. Study your house line drawing or plat (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/property-lines-101-speak-same-language-during-dispute/) or order a new survey ($500 to $1,000) from a land surveyor to be sure of boundaries. Fence companies usually install a foot inside the line, to be on the safe side.

Respect limits: Fencing companies obtain permits and must know local zoning regulations for height, setbacks, and other restrictions. Height limits typically are 6 feet for side and back yards; 4 feet for front yards. More restrictive rules often apply to corner lots, where blind curves can limit driving visibility. To avoid disputes, review restrictions with your fence company before choosing a fence.

Follow HOA rules: Fencing companies are not responsible for knowing home owners association dos and don'ts; that's your job. Unless you want to suffer committee wrath, and engage in a dispute, follow HOA guidelines (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/hoas-what-you-need-to-know-about-rules/). HOAs can dictate style, height, and maintenance. If your HOA wants all structures to match, you won't have much wiggle room.

Share your plans: No one likes surprises. Before installing, save yourself a fence dispute and have a conversation with neighbors. If property line issues (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/property-line-disputes-peaceful-ways-settle-boundary-issues/) exist, resolve them before installation. No need to show neighbors the design--that's just inviting trouble. They have to live with your choice unless it lowers property values or is dangerous.

Put the best face outward: It's common practice to put the more finished side of your fence facing the street and your neighbor's yard.

Maintain and improve: It's your responsibility to clean and maintain both sides. If an aging section starts to lean, shore it or replace it.

          The term "fence" includes trees or hedges that create barriers (http://www.houselogic.com/articles/add-living-privacy-screen-your-small-home/).

          If you have a valid reason for wanting an extra high structure, to block a nasty view or noisy street, apply to your zoning board for a variance. Neighbors can comment on your request during the variance hearing.

          If your neighbors are damaging your fence, take photos and try to work it out with them first. If they don't agree to repair it, take your fence dispute to small claims court. Award limits vary by state: $1,500 in Kentucky to $15,000 in Tennessee.

Ann Cochran has written about home improvement and design trends for Washingtonian, Home Improvement and Bethesda Magazine.
Visit houselogic.com for more articles like this. Reprinted from HouseLogic with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®
Copyright 2011.  All rights reserved.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Defense.gov News Article: Family Matters Blog: Show Seeks Families for Home Makeover

Defense.gov News Article: Family Matters Blog: Show Seeks Families for Home Makeover

From the American Forces Press Service:

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2011 – I’m excited to share new information about an amazing opportunity for deserving military families.

The producers of ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” are seeking people involved in the military whose home deserves an extreme makeover.

The producers are looking for people with “amazing strength of character and who put their own needs aside to help others,” a press release said. “Whether it’s a soldier, a mom, a teacher or a fireman, we think deserving families are families who inspire those around them.”

Additionally, the show’s producers are seeking families whose houses need major alterations or repair – “homes that present serious problems for the family and affect the family’s quality of life.”

To be eligible, families must own their single family home and be able to demonstrate how a makeover will make a difference in their lives.

Interested military families or people who wish to nominate a military family should e-mail a short description of the family’s story to emheusa@gmail.com. The e-mail should include the names and ages of household members, a description of the family’s challenges, an explanation of why the family is deserving of a makeover or is a positive role model in the community, photos of the family and their home, and contact numbers.

The deadline for nominations is May 30, but people should send submissions early, the release said. Only up to 25 families are selected each season.

For more information on the application process, visit

Please pass this information on to deserving military families. I hope to see a few on “Home Edition” next season.

For more on Family Matters, visit the blog or check out Family Matters on Facebook or Twitter.

Monday, May 2, 2011

May Is National Home Improvement Month!

Smart remodeling adds value to your home
Start planning for your summer remodel during Home Improvement Month
Des Plaines, Illinois, May 2, 2011—Spring is in the air, and homeowners are starting to plan their dream home remodeling projects. To commemorate May as National Home Improvement Month, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) offers homeowners a few words of advice for getting the most value out of your remodeling investment.
More Americans are staying in their homes rather than moving. According to Fannie Mae’s National Housing Survey released in November 2010, 85 percent of the general population believed it was a bad time to sell their home. There’s a lot more to be gained through remodeling besides increased functionality, new appliances, efficient systems, updated décor, additional space or the pure enjoyment of making your home your own. There’s also the increased value your home receives when you make improvements.
With so many options available today, NARI offers a few considerations for homeowners who want to get the most out of their remodels.
  • Curb appeal goes a long way. Exterior home improvements such as roofing, siding, windows and doors are subject to the elements and usually need to be replaced after a number of years. In terms of re-sale value, updated exteriors give sellers an edge over buyers who are attracted to your home before entering.
  • According to Energy Star, half of a home’s energy use is dedicated to heating and cooling. If a system is more than 10 years old, it may be time to replace it. New, energy-efficient systems are not only more cost-effective but are also better quality.
  • All homes benefit from increased insulation and sealing, regardless of climate. Older homes are traditionally under-insulated compared to new homes. And recent insulation innovations like spray foam or cellulose increase the ability to trap air inside. Proper insulation evens temperature flows, reduces energy use and has long-term benefits.
  • Kitchen and bath renovations are still popular—and for good reason. Homeowners continue to see the value in updating areas of the home that are used frequently and are high functioning. Universal design concepts are commonly incorporated into kitchen and bath areas to accommodate people of all sizes and abilities and conveniences for long-term residents.
Most homeowners can handle routine maintenance projects and cosmetic touch-ups, but it’s recommended they consult with qualified professionals for larger remodeling jobs and major changes to the home’s structure.
Homeowners that need to make several updates to their homes but cannot afford a complete overhaul may be interested in phased remodeling. In this instance, remodeling projects are broken into phases over time, for a long-term project plan. This also lessens the burden of remodeling to the homeowner as they remain in the home as work is being done.
As of April 22, 2010, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) passed new regulations for contractors working in homes built before 1978. The Lead Renovation, Repair and Painting rule mandates that remodelers who intend to work in pre-1978 homes to register their company and complete an 8-hour training and certification course with an accredited trainer. The course teaches remodelers how to safely contain lead in a home as it is being disturbed and reduce exposure to residents and workers. Homeowners should be aware that this new rule is enforced and should be skeptical of any contractors who choose not to follow the law. Visit www.nari.org to find a Certified Lead Renovator in your area.
NARI members represent a select group from the approximately 800,000 companies and individuals in the U.S. identifying themselves as professional remodelers.
The NARI Wall of Fame is a collection before and after photos of all of the 2011 CotY award recipients. To see winners from this year’s awards program, visit http://bit.ly/walloffame2011.
NARI is a professional association whose members voluntarily subscribe to a strict code of ethics. Consumers may wish to search www.nariremodelers.com to find a qualified professional who is a member of NARI. For the latest information on green remodeling, visit www.GreenRemodeling.org.
# # #
About NARI: The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) is the only trade association dedicated solely to the remodeling industry. The Association, which represents more 63,000 remodeling industry professionals — is “The Voice of the Remodeling Industry.”™ To locate a local NARI chapter or a remodeling professional, visit NARI’s Web site at www.NARIremodelers.com, or contact the national headquarters, based in Des Plaines, Illinois, at 800-611-NARI.