Protect your home from extreme cold

extreme cold
Prepare for winter (Infographic from fema.gov)

Seasonal weather can test the integrity of any home; yet winter can present some of the harshest weather of the year. Even with regular maintenance, extreme cold can take a toll on your home’s pipes.  Take measures to prepare your home for the the winter.

Burst pipes can not only flood your home’s basement, but it can be a major repair expense.  Nationwide Insurance states that among the 30,000 claims they received in the last three years for burst pipes, the average claim was $10,000 (nationwide.com).

A common misconception about cold weather’s effects on pipes is that a rupture is caused from frozen water inside the pipe.  However, it’s not ice, per se, that makes a pipe burst; but rather the pressure that builds inside the pipe that makes it rupture. Increasing pressure can build up in a pipe between an ice blockage and a closed faucet; when the pressure is excessive, the pipe can burst.

Experts describe ice buildup in pipes as being more common than people know.  Besides temperature, wind chill is sometimes the culprit of freezing pipes; cracks in walls or foundations can allow chilled air to come into contact water pipes.  Although pipes can freeze any time the temperature dips below freezing – extra precautions should be taken when the weather becomes extreme.

Common measures that many take to protect their home’s pipes during cold winter months include, “the dripping faucet,” and “winterizing.” A dripping faucet, which is connected to vulnerable plumbing, helps mitigate air pressure that can build up in a pipe.  Additionally, many experts recommend sealing areas where air leaks into the home; especially where pipes are located.  Some experts also suggest insulating pipes.  The materials in the pipe insulation sleeves and jackets is thought to insulate pipes from cold air much like the insulation in your home’s walls and attic insulates the interior from cold air.  There is no guarantee that your home’s pipes won’t burst; however, taking precautions may lessen the potential for damage.

Winterizing” is a term that describes the draining of water and pressure from the plumbing system. Experts recommend winterizing your home if you plan an extended winter trip, leaving your home vacant.  Winterizing a vacant home that you are selling is especially important; ruptured pipes are not a surprise you want the day before your scheduled settlement.

Pipes can still freeze or rupture even when you take precautions. If you have a frozen pipe – call your plumber.  Opening faucets can reduce air pressure in the system to help prevent a rupture.  And although it is tempting to thaw frozen pipes on your own, it is recommended to have your plumber guide you; attempting to thaw frozen pipes without professional assistance can have hazardous results.  Additionally, finding a frozen pipe can be tricky because they are often hidden inside walls and between floors.  If a pipe does burst, close the main water valve immediately and call your plumber.

Taking cold weather precautions is not just for your home; experts recommend ensuring your car is winter ready, as well as having an emergency kit available in case of a power outage.  Additional extreme weather precautions can be obtained from your insurance agent, FEMA (ready.gov), and the Red Cross (redcrossorg).

Original located at https://dankrell.com/blog/protect-your-home-from-extreme-cold

by Dan Krell ©
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Disclaimer. This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. Readers should not rely solely on the information contained herein, as it does not purport to be comprehensive or render specific advice. Readers should consult with an attorney regarding local real estate laws and customs as they vary by state and jurisdiction. This article was originally published the week of January 6, 2014 (Montgomery County Sentinel). Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © Dan Krell.

Home staging for a home sale

by Dan Krell © 2013
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stage your home to sell itAs the real estate market is emerging and more homes are listed for sale, staging a home is once again becoming a popular topic of conversation. Home staging is often thought of as a fancy name for decorating or cleaning a home prior to it being sold.  In fact, “home staging” is a term that is used to describe the process of preparing your home for sale that goes beyond normal maintenance.  The purpose of “staging” is to make your home as appealing as possible to potential home buyers so your home can sell quickly.  Surveys conducted by the Accredited Staging Professionals a (StagedHomes.com) and Homegain (Homegain.com) indicate that staged homes sell faster than non-staged homes.

Although home staging has been around for over thirty years, it only gained wide acceptance this last decade. Many home staging techniques are derived from interior design; home stagers often sketch rooms to analyze the best use of space.

Staging your home’s exterior is just as important as staging the interior because a home buyer’s mood is set by their first impressions. You should consider the condition of your home’s landscape, façade, roof and gutters. Unkempt flower beds and cracked walkways can quickly give the impression that the home is in disarray. Additionally, missing shingles and misaligned gutters give the impression that the home has been poorly maintained.

The basics of home staging include de-cluttering, rearranging, and sometimes redecorating. Home sellers often have tunnel vision about their homes. Removing the clutter of your daily life from your home is the cornerstone to home staging. De-cluttering goes beyond cleaning and storing unused items. Because home buyers can get distracted by the home seller’s lifestyle when viewing a home, home stagers talk about “depersonalizing” a home.

You may have spent years making your home personal to your lifestyle, however now that you are selling it you need to depersonalize it. Depersonalization means to neutralize your home by removing as much of your lifestyle as possible from the home so anyone can feel as if this could be their home. Personal items, such as family photos, can focus the home buyer’s attention on your lifestyle and away from the home.

Additionally, the layout of each room needs to be considered so it feels bright and roomy. Properly placed furniture can assist home buyers to feel at ease and “at home.” Too much furniture in any room tends to make a large room look small and feel cramped. Additionally, misplaced furniture can make a room feel awkward and unsettling.

Let’s face it, sometimes a room needs a makeover. However, redecorating does not have to be an expensive affair. Sometimes having an extra lamp or even painting a wall can make the difference between shabby and chic. If your furniture is out of date or in poor condition, inexpensive furniture rentals can be a short term solution.

If your home vacant, staging each room tastefully can possibly facilitate a sale. An Appraisal Institute study indicated that a decorated home sells faster than an empty home.

Although many real estate agents have been certified in home staging, professional home stagers usually have a background in interior design. The International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP.com) is a source of information about home staging, including tips on staging your home as well as finding a home staging professional.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published the week of July 1, 2013 (Montgomery County Sentinel). Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.

The decline of today’s housing stock

by Dan Krell © 2013
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Is the decline of today’s housing stock a concern or an opportunity?

new homeWhile taking part in a recent home inspection, the home inspector unexpectedly began to talk about the concern for today’s housing stock. After listening intently for a short time, I realized that his dissertation about the quality of existing homes was not just his opinion or home inspectors as a group, but rather a consensus of growing concern among housing experts of the condition of many older homes.

The issue that the home inspector pointed out is that much of the existing housing stock is aging without significant necessary maintenance or repair. Because the lifespan of many of home systems (including roofs and HVAC) range from 15 years to 30 years, as well as structural materials can have an average lifespan of 40 years; he surmised that homes that exceed thirty years of age are at significant risk.

As a home inspector, this gentleman has a unique perspective about how people take care of their homes; and unfortunately, many home owners have put off important and necessary maintenance and/or system replacements such that the home’s condition is considerably affected. And although he didn’t attribute the deteriorating housing stock with the recent recession, it is assumed that the recession contributed to the housing stock’s declining quality – if not accelerated it.

A February 2013 article by Kermit Baker for the Harvard Joint Center of Housing Studies entitled “The Return of Substandard Housing” highlighted the relative considerable reduction in maintenance spending by home owners during the Great Recession. He stated that “improvement spending” decreased 28% between 2007 and 2011, which essentially “erased” such spending during the housing boom (housingperspectives.blogspot.com).

Mr. Baker concluded that this crisis needs attention, stating; “The longer-term fate of the current slightly larger number of inadequate homes is unknown. Many of these homes likely will be renovated to provide affordable housing opportunities. However, many may not recover without extra help. Given the extraordinary circumstances that many homes have gone through in recent years, particularly foreclosed homes that often were vacant and undermaintained for extended periods of time as they worked their way through the foreclosure process, they may be more at risk than their inadequate predecessors…

Considering the number of re-sale contracts that are falling out because of home inspections, this all makes sense. New home sales aside, many home buyers want “turn-key” homes that are updated with relatively new systems. It seems as if that home buyers don’t want to be burdened with major maintenance costs for the first five years of ownership. Some of the costly considerations that can put off home buyers are replacing a roof, windows, siding, and/or HVAC. Additionally, hazardous materials that can be commonly found in older homes (such as asbestos and lead paint) are becoming an increasing concern with first time home buyers.

The reason is uncertain, but during the “go-go” market of 2004-2006, a home’s condition didn’t seem to be as much of a concern for home buyers as it is today. However, one reason may be that during that period home equity loans were relatively easier to obtain to finance renovation projects.

The result of the deteriorating quality of the existing home stock may be that we may see declining values in homes requiring the most attention; such homes may either be renovated by home buyers, or might be razed to make way for a new home.

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This article is not intended to provide nor should it be relied upon for legal and financial advice. This article was originally published the week of June 10, 2013 (Montgomery County Sentinel). Using this article without permission is a violation of copyright laws. Copyright © 2013 Dan Krell.