Tuesday, June 21, 2011

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

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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.