Archive for Plumbing

Selling Your Home? Consider an Inspection First.

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, New Homes, Sell your Home, Worth Repeating with tags , , , , , , on February 5, 2014 by Pat Hansen

If you plan to sell your home soon, it may be wise to get a home inspection before you list your home. You can speed things along by getting a home inspection and analyzing the condition of your home and making necessary repairs before the house is under contract.

Whole home inspections cover numerous systems within the house, but there are some hot spots that seem to worry buyers the most:

Roofs and Chimneys

  • Decaying ShinglesDeteriorated shingles or other roof coverings are one of the first things home buyers and inspectors notice. If the elements underneath the shingles are moist or rotted, you can bet repairs will be requested.
  • Make sure flashing around the base of the chimney is watertight, and that mortar and bricks are in good condition.

Radon

  • Radon may or may not be part of a home inspection, but it is a good idea to ask for a radon test since radon has been linked to lung cancer. If an unacceptable level is found, then a radon mitigation system will be required. There are recommended companies that do radon mitigation and they can be found by contacting the MDEQ (Michigan Department of Environmental Quality).

Mold and Mildew

  • Mildew stains and odors scare buyers, especially since toxic black mold is such a hot topic. Chances are you won’t even get an acceptable offer if mold and mildew are present. Even if the mold is the normal variety, get rid of it and fix the source of the problem.

Plumbing ProblemsShower Inspection

  • Fix leaks long before the home inspection takes place. The inspector will check water pressure by turning on multiple faucets and flushing toilets at the same time. The inspector will also run the dishwasher.

Damp Basements and Crawlspaces

  • Mildew odors signal that a basement is too moist. Buyers and home inspectors will look closely at the walls and floors for patches of mildew and signs of dampness. The inspector might use a meter to determine how much moisture is present in these spaces because moisture deteriorates building materials and attracts insects.
  • Cover exposed earth in basements and crawl spaces with plastic to help keep moisture levels down.
  • Most foundation leaks are a result of poor drainage that funnels water towards the foundation.
  • Make sure gutters are clean so that rainwater flows toward downspouts instead of spilling over gutter sides along the foundation.
  • Point drainage downspouts away from the house.
  • Check water flow through buried drainage lines by flooding them with water from a hose. If water comes back towards you, the line is plugged and should be cleared.
  • If foundation problems do exist and you cannot make repairs, you might need to lower the price of the house upfront, with the understanding that the price reflects the problem. Another option is to give the buyers an allowance to make the repairs after closing.

Inadequate Interior Electrical Systems

  • Electrical PanelThe electrical panel and circuit breaker configuration should be adequate for the needs of the house.
  • The inspector will look for receptacles with ground fault interrupters (GFI) in bathrooms and kitchens. These receptacles contain mini circuit breakers that click off during a short circuit or overload. The inspector will make sure the receptacles are what they appear to be, and not “dummies” that are not wired correctly.
  • The inspector will test a portion of the remaining receptacles in the house.

Other Important Home Inspection Checks

Furnace inspectionHeating and cooling

  • The home inspector will check the heating and cooling systems, making sure they work and will comment on their efficiency.

Structure and Foundation

  • The inspector will take a close look at the structure and foundation.

Appliances and Smoke Detectors

  • The inspector will check the appliances that will remain with the house, including running the dishwasher and testing smoke detectors.

Before the Home Inspection

  • Sample Inspection ReportDo everything you can to get the house in good condition before you attempt to sell it, but don’t be discouraged if the inspection report contains a few negative comments. Home inspectors make a note of everything they see. They can identify problems in the making and suggest preventative measures that might help avoid costly repairs in the future.
  • Home inspections usually take 2-3 hours, or more in some instances. Costs vary from $250 to as much as $500. Home inspectors are not required to be licensed in most states; however, many are certified by ASHI (American Society of Home Inspectors).

Selling Your Home? Consider an Inspection First

Posted in I Wish I'd Thought About That with tags , , , , on February 2, 2012 by Pat Hansen

If you plan to sell your home soon, it may be wise to get a Home Inspection before you list your home. You can speed things along by getting a home inspection and analyzing the condition of your home and making necessary repairs before the house is under contract.

Whole home inspections cover numerous systems within the house, but there are some hot spots that seem to worry buyers the most:

Radon

  • Radon may or may not be part of a home inspection, but it is a good idea to ask for a radon test since radon has been linked to lung cancer. If an unacceptable level is found, then a radon mitigation system will be required. There are recommended companies that do radon mitigation and they can be found by contacting the MDEQ, Michigan Department of Environmental Quality.

Mold & Mildew

  • Mildew stains and odors scare buyers, especially since toxic black mold is such a hot topic. Chances are you won’t even get an acceptable offer if mold and mildew are present. Even if the mold is the normal variety, get rid of it and fix the source of the problem.

Damp Basements and Crawlspaces

  • Mildew odors signal that a basement is too moist. Buyers and home inspectors will look closely at the walls and floors for patches of mildew and signs of dampness. The inspector might use a meter to determine how much moisture is present in these spaces, because moisture deteriorates building materials and attracts insects.
  • Cover exposed earth in basements and crawl spaces with plastic to help keep moisture levels down.
  • Most foundation leaks are a result of poor drainage that funnels water towards the foundation.
  • Make sure gutters are clean so that rainwater flows toward downspouts instead of spilling over gutter sides along the foundation.
  • Point drainage downspouts away from the house.
  • Check water flow through buried drainage lines by flooding them with water from a hose.  If water comes back towards you, the line is plugged and should be cleared.
  • If foundation problems do exist, and you cannot make repairs, you might need to lower the price of the house upfront, with the understanding that the price reflects the problem. Another option is to give the buyers an allowance to make the repairs after closing.

Roofs and Chimneys

  • Deteriorated shingles or other roof coverings are one of the first things home buyers and inspectors notice. If the elements underneath the shingles are moist or rotted, you can bet repairs will be requested.
  • Make sure flashing around the base of the chimney is watertight, and that mortar and bricks are in good condition.

Plumbing Problems

  • Fix leaks long before the home inspection takes place. The inspector will check water pressure by turning on multiple faucets and flushing toilets at the same time. The inspector will also run the dishwasher.

Inadequate Interior Electrical Systems

  • The electrical panel and circuit breaker configuration should be adequate for the needs of the house.
  • The inspector will look for receptacles with ground fault interrupters (GFI) in bathrooms and kitchens. These receptacles contain mini circuit breakers that click off during a short circuit or overload. The inspector will make sure the receptacles are what they appear to be, and not “dummies” that are not wired correctly.
  • The inspector will test a portion of the remaining receptacles in the house.

Other Important Home Inspection Checks

Heating and cooling

  • The home inspector will check the heating and cooling systems, making sure they work and will comment on their efficiency.

Structure and Foundation

  • The inspector will take a close look at the structure and foundation.

Appliances and Smoke Detectors

  • The inspector will check the appliances that will remain with the house, including running the dishwasher and testing smoke detectors.

 Before the Home Inspection

  • Do everything you can to get the house in good condition before you attempt to sell it, but don’t be discouraged if the inspection report contains a few negative comments.  Home inspectors make a note of everything they see. They can identify problems in the making and suggest preventative measures that might help avoid costly repairs in the future.
  • Home inspections usually take 2-3 hours, or more in some instances. Costs vary from $250.00 to as much as $500.00. Home Inspectors are not required to be licensed in most states; however, many are certified by ASHI, American Society of Home Inspectors.

Master Bath – Top 8 Ideas

Posted in Around Your Home, Renovation, The Drawing Board with tags , , , , , on May 11, 2011 by Kevin Fox

When it comes to Master Baths, luxury trumps square footage every time.  So here are our top 8 ideas for Luxury Master Baths:

8. Dual Vanities

  • Today this is almost a given, but the concept still makes the list in a cost conscious housing market

7. Whirlpool Tub

  • 2-person whirlpools have fallen off everybody’s list
  • Given the choice between a shower and a tub, today’s homeowner prefers the shower
  • The 1-person whirlpool remains on the list for those who have the necessary space

6. Linen/Towel Closet

  • Nothing like locating storage close to the point of use

5. Accent Tiles

  • A few words can hardly due justice to the renaissance in ceramic tile today.  Do not start a new home or remodeling project without a visit to a ceramic tile showroom to see everything that is available
  • Here are a few of the special tiles you can include in your project: Chair rail cap tiles, contrasting tiles, mosaics, decorative tiles, accent borders. Combine them to give your Master Bath the touch of elegance that built-up crown moldings  have done for the living areas of the home

4. Walk-in Closet

  • Concern about damage to clothing from tub/shower generated humidity has proven to be unfounded
  • Direct closet access from the Master Bath allows a person to get dressed and ready for work without having to disturb a spouse who may still be sleeping.

3. Separate Toilet Compartment

  • In a word, its all about privacy
  • If you don’t have room for a completely separate compartment a partial enclosure can still provide a measure of privacy

2. Heated Tile Floor

  • Programmable thermostats allow the pre-heating cycle to be completed so your bathroom is toasty warm for you in the morning
  • A true luxury if your bathroom floors are wall-to-wall tile or marble

1. Large Shower

Today’s dream showers have most of the following

  • Size – in small, tight areas nothing works like a few extra square feet. Make the floor of your new shower at least 4’ x 4’
  • Built-in Seat
  • Frame-less Euro-style glass enclosures
  • Multiple shower heads including a hand shower
  • Multiple shelves
  • Steam generator – this really belongs on the option list, but if you’ve found a way to include all of the above features in your project and still have room in your budget …

Incorporating these items into your new home or remodeling project doesn’t have to cost a fortune.  The wise consumer consults with a design profession for guidance before starting the project.

Selling Your Home? – Top 8 Returns on D.I.Y. Fix-up Dollars

Posted in Around Your Home, I Wish I'd Thought About That, Renovation, The Drawing Board, Worth Repeating with tags , , , , , on April 27, 2011 by Kevin Fox

Foreclosures continue to negatively impact the housing market.  Homeowners wishing to sell their home today must do everything possible to differentiate their home from other homes on the market.  Spending a few dollars before putting your home on the market can pay big dividends if you know how to spend those dollars wisely.

HomeGain recently surveyed nearly 600 real estate agents nationwide to determine the top 10 low-cost (less than $5,000), do-it-yourself  home improvements for people getting their home ready to sell. The following are the top 8 do-it-yourself projects for under $1,300.  Note: Costs and returns are national averages.

8. Paint Interior Walls. Repair any damaged interior walls by patching all chips, holes and cracks; then touch up or repaint interior walls with neutral color. All woodwork like stairwell railings and doors should be repainted and or stained.

  • Average Cost – $1,012
  • Increase in Selling Price – $2,112
  • Average Return on Investment – 109%

7. Replace or Shampoo Carpets. If carpets are only lightly soiled, shampooing and/or spot removal should suffice. If your home has hardwood floors with room-size rugs, get the hardwood into its best condition with fresh non-slip floor polish or other coating to make it shimmer.

  • Average Cost – $647
  • Increase in Selling Price – $1,739
  • Average Return on Investment – 169%

6. Update Kitchen and Bathrooms. Update kitchen and baths by resurfacing cabinets or painting with neutral color. Replace toilet seats, dated fixtures and drawer/cabinet handles. If the appliances are included with the sale of your home, make sure they are operating and have proper documentation such as warranties and repair information.

Average Cost – $1,265

  • Increase in Selling Price – $3,435
  • Average Return on Investment – 172%

5. Repair Plumbing and Electrical. Consider repairing or replacing any defective plumbing or electrical items in your home. Make sure that all smoke and burglar alarms are functional.

  • Average Cost – $535
  • Increase in Selling Price – $1,505
  • Average Return on Investment – 181%

4. Landscaping. Hire gardener or landscaper to trim back the overgrowth and maintain yard. Add colorful plants or flowers near front door and porch area.

  • Average Cost – $540
  • Increase in Selling Price – $1,932
  • Average Return on Investment – 258%

3. Home Staging. Buy some fresh flowers, live plants and other decorations to liven up the home. Consider hiring a staging consultant. Set the dining room table for a dinner party.

  • Average Cost – $550
  • Increase in Selling Price – $2,194
  • Average Return on Investment – 299%

2. Lighten and Brighten. Replace any burnt-out bulbs and use higher wattage bulbs, if possible. Keep drapes open during the day. Turn on enough lights so home is well lit during showing.

  • Average Cost – $375
  • Increase in Selling Price – $1,550
  • Average Return on Investment – 313%

1. Clean and De-clutter. Rent a storage space or sell excess items, if needed. Keep every room very clean during open homes. Appliances should be cleaned – inside and out

  • Average Cost – $290
  • Increase in Selling Price – $1,999
  • Average Return on Investment – 586%

The article above is excerpted from HomeGain’s 2011 Home Sale Maximizer Survey, initially posted by: Louis Cammarosano on January 18th, 2011.  Read the entire article HERE

Green Your Home During ‘May is Remodeling Month’

Posted in Around Your Home, Green Building, Lifestyle, Renovation, The Drawing Board with tags , , , on April 18, 2011 by Kevin Fox

It’s nearly impossible these days to open the newspaper and not see a story about the rapid growth of green building, where new homes are built using materials that conserve energy and environmental resources. In fact, nearly 20 percent of new homes built in 2009 were certified by the federal Energy Star program. This means the homes include insulation, windows and doors, and appliances so they’re built to achieve energy efficiency savings of at least 15 percent over a traditionally built home.

Home owners of green homes said in another survey that they were happier 85 percent of the time with their new green home than with their previous, more traditionally built ones, due in part to the lower operating and maintenance costs that come with energy- and resource-efficient homes.

But for the 120 million existing homes in the United States, remodeling is the only way for home owners to incorporate green. NAHB Remodelers offers the following suggestions to home owners who want to increase their home’s efficiency, decrease costs, and take advantage of the other benefits that green offers.

1. Install maximum insulation in the area to be remodeled.

Forty percent of the energy consumed in a typical house goes to heating and cooling. Adding insulation is an easy way to increase efficiency. Insulation is rated by its ability to resist heat flow, commonly known as “R-value.” The higher the R-value, the better its ability to resist heat flow. Adding insulation will help save energy costs, increase comfort by better controlling temperature, and improve indoor air quality by eliminating many gaps through which dirt, dust, and other impurities can enter.

2. Install high-efficiency windows instead of those that just meet the energy code.

Ordinary window glass transmits ultraviolet heat rays from the sun, which can increase your air conditioning bill dramatically. ENERGY STAR windows can help control this effect. These windows may have two or more panes of glass, warm-edge spacers between the panes, improved framing materials, and microscopically thin metal or metallic oxide layers deposited on windows to reduce radiative heat flow.

3. Seal all exterior penetrations in the area being remodeled.

You can reduce cold air drafts and heat loss by inspecting your home from the inside and outside and plugging cracks or openings. Be sure to check the areas where window frames meet the structure or siding of the house. Use caulking to seal all small cracks on non-moving surfaces and weatherstripping on windows, doors and other movable parts of the home.

4. Purchase only ENERGY STAR-rated appliances.

ENERGY STAR -rated appliances, ranging from dishwashers and refrigerators to computers and televisions, meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the EPA and U.S. Department of Energy. Qualified refrigerators, dishwashers and vent fans incorporate advanced technologies that use 10-50 percent less energy and water than standard models, more than making up for the slightly higher costs of these products.

5. Install low-flow water plumbing fixtures.

In the average home, flushing toilets accounts for some 30 percent of water usage. By using low-flow plumbing fixtures such as toilets, faucet aerators and showerheads, you can save up to 25 percent of that water compared to conventional fixtures while providing the same utility.

6. Upgrade to an ENERGY STAR-rated or tankless water heater.

Tankless water heaters provide hot water on demand at a preset temperature rather than storing it. Replacing an electric water heater with a solar model can reduce costs by up to 80 percent a year. Over its 20-year lifespan a solar heater will prevent more than 50 tons of carbon dioxide emissions. A low-cost option is to wrap insulation around your heater, which can reduce standby heat losses 25 to 45 percent.

7. Purchase the highest efficiency HVAC system you can afford.

Over a ten year period, the average home owner spends more than $10,000 for heating and cooling. Installing high efficiency ENERGY STAR HVAC equipment can reduce utilities costs on average by ten to 30 percent over minimum efficiency equipment. It also can improve home comfort with more heating and cooling and a quieter operation, and often features higher quality components that result in longer equipment life.

For more information on Remodeling, call Pat Hansen @ 248-895-1115 or visit her at our Sales Office/Model: 6363 Deer Cross Dr, Clarkston, MI 48348

Pet-Friendly Home Design

Posted in Around Your Home, Lifestyle with tags , , on December 28, 2010 by Pat Hansen

Pets have a significant role in American family life.  The American Pet Products Manufacturers Association estimates six out of every 10 homes have a pet and owners spend more than $40 billion a year on their furry family members.

You don’t have to sacrifice style to accommodate the pets in your home, however.  Here are ways you can incorporate design features in your home that are easy on your pets, but also on the eyes!

  • Unless you have successfully trained your pets to stay off the furniture, incorporate fabrics and styles which lend themselves to your pet’s favorite sleeping spot.  To help disguise pet fur on your sofa and chairs, match the fabric to your pet’s fur color or choose patterns over solids.  Select fabrics that are durable and easy to clean; good choices are leather, Ultrasuede® or Crypton® — a synthetic fabric resistant to stains, odor and moisture.
  • When selecting paint finishes for your home, go for satin or semi-gloss finishes over flat-finish.  They are easier to clean and scratches, streaks and dirt aren’t as noticeable.
  • If you are putting in hardwood flooring, choose a wood that has a light or medium finish over darker woods which emphasize scratch marks more.   If you have older dogs or young puppies, install carpeting on the stairs to keep them from slipping.
  • To keep the legs of your furniture from being used as a chew toy or scratching post, choose furniture that has metal frames rather than wood.
  • Keep your kitchen tidy by installing a feeding drawer in your cabinetry that pulls out during meal time then closes to hide the bowls and food when guests visit.  Also, consider adding an alcove with a comfortable and stylish dog bed to keep Fido out from under your feet when you cook.
  • Replace your standard showerhead with a detachable hand-held showerhead in your bathroom to make it easier to bathe your pet.  If there’s space, install a small dog shower in your mudroom or storage area so you won’t have a dirty bathroom after you’ve cleaned up your dog from a muddy day out in the yard.

This article is courtesy of the National Association of Home Builders

Top 10 – Greener on the Cheap

Posted in Around Your Home, Green Building with tags , , , , on November 23, 2010 by Kevin Fox

10.  Install new furnace filters.  Your furnace filters are designed to remove dust and dirt that would    damage your furnace’s blower.  They should be changed every month.  The Greener solution is to buy permanent, washable filters which often have a life-time warranty.  The concept is the same, however, so wash monthly.  A clean furnace will last longer and cost less to operate

9.  Unplug appliances when not in use – figures range from 5 to 10% of the nation’s electrical demand is wasted on idle electrical devices and appliances

8.  Install an insulation blanket around your hot water heater.  For about $20 you can reduce your monthly water heating bill by up to 25%

7.  Replace burned out standard light bulbs with compact florescent (CF) bulbs – paybacks range from 4 months to 2 years depending on your lifestyle

6.  Install faucet aerators throughout your home.  Aerators restrict the flow of water through your faucet by means of a metal or plastic screen.  This restriction reduces the flow rate which in turn saves water and dollars

5.  Dial back your thermostat a couple more degrees – up or down depending on the season.  Hopefully you have already installed a setback thermostat.

4.  Only operate your dishwasher and clothes washer when you can do full loads

3.  Recycle if your waste disposal company offers it.  If they don’t find a local drop-off, but only go when you can combine trips

2.  Buy and use re-useable grocery bags. Avoid those, recently in the news, from China that may contain lead.  If you can find bags made from re-cycled material – even better

1.  Stop buying bottled water.  Buy a reusable bottle made out of stainless steel or aluminum and fill it with tap water

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