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Category Archives: Home Maintenance and Renovation

Information on home maintenance and renovation that will inform Frederick Home owners

Kitchen Remodeling Trends for Frederick Homeowners

Kitchen Remodeling Trends for Frederick Homeowners

Considering a kitchen remodel but want to keep costs low? Here are some of today’s kitchen remodeling trends for Frederick homeowners that emphasize options and high-tech features at affordable prices.

Trend #1: Remodeling scales back

A new focus on moderation and value has entered the remodeling mind-set. Trends that are showing up in kitchens lately include:

Repairing existing appliances instead of replacing them. More homeowners are extending their life with good maintenance and care. When replacing cabinets, they’re more likely to build around current appliances rather than choosing new models.

Scaling back cabinetry purchases, with an increased emphasis on kitchen storage and functionality over elaborate decoration. For example, rather than stacked crown moldings throughout the kitchen, more homeowners are putting their money into practical roll-out trays and drawer organizers. Function trumps appearance in today’s kitchens, but that doesn’t mean it has to look inferior.

Small-scale kitchen projects are big news. Changing out cabinet hardware, replacing a faucet, and refacing your cabinets upgrades your kitchen without major expense. As more homes today have some form of open floor plan, kitchens are outfitted to flow with the other living areas nearby. This includes light fixtures and window treatments, as well as the small details like oven mitts and tea towels.

Trend #2: Simpler, warmer styles are popular

Fussiness and excess have faded away in favor of pared-back looks that present a more timeless, value-conscious style.

Cabinet decoration continues to streamline. For example, massive corbels, once fashionable as undercounter supports, are giving way to sleeker countertop supports and cantelivered countertop edges. Stacked moldings have pared back or disappeared entirely. Elaborately glazed finishes have yielded to simpler paints and stains. Bottom cabinets or islands are often a different color that upper cabinets, but in a toned down matte finish.

Kitchen finishes have gotten warmer and darker, and feature natural and stained woods. Walnut especially is growing in popularity. Although stainless-steel appliances are still popular, various other metals with toned down finishes are becoming popular. 

Related: 12 Hot Kitchen Appliance Trends

Laminate countertops are making a comeback, especially in contemporary design. The latest European-inspired laminates don’t look at all like your grandmother’s laminate, and offer more textured and naturalistic finishes than ever before. While exotic wood kitchen cabinets are out of reach for most home owners, look-alike laminate versions can be had for about one-third the price.

Trend #3: Technology expands its kitchen presenceFrederick Md Real Estate

Many of the techno products and trends that relate to your smartphones and tablets are not only making their way into your local showrooms and home centers, they are an everyday occurrence in homes we show.

Appliances are equipped with USB ports and digital screens so you can display your family photographs and kids’ artwork.

Smart, induction built-in cooktops ($500-$3,000) remember your temperature settings as you move your pans across their entire surface.

One light finger touch is all it takes to open the electronically controlled sliding doors of your kitchen cabinets — a boon to people with limited mobility. You’ll pay 40% to 70% more for cabinets with electronically controlled doors than standard models.

Use your smart phones and tablets to control lights and appliance settings from anywhere you have a wi-fi connection. Shop for appliances from major manufacturers right from your device.

Many are opting for LEDs for recessed lights, under-cabinet task lighting and color-changing accent lighting. We see more LED-powered pendants and chandeliers from major manufacturers as inefficient incandescent bulbs continue their march toward extinction.

A wide selection of affordable microwave ovens with convection and even steam features gives owners of smaller kitchen spaces more high-end cooking power.


Kitchen Remodeling Trends for Frederick Homeowners, re-published with permission from RIS Media.

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The Highland Group
eXp Realty
Frederick, Md 21701
301-401-5119

 

Increase Your Home Value – Maintain and Repair

Increase Your Home Value – Maintain and Repair

There are several things you can do as a homeowner to spruce up your home to help maintain value or even increase your home value.  Sometimes in the busy-ness of life we forget about home maintenance.  When we decide to sell our home, the mile-long list of things we need to do to get it market-ready can be daunting.  If you find yourself in that position, consider doing the less costly fixes first.

Increase Your Home Value – Maintain and Repair

1. Consider First Impressions. Cleaning up the yard and entrance to your home takes little more than muscle and energy. Cut back overgrown shrubs and plantings.  Spray or sprinkle some kind of weed-and-feed product (Scotts has always been my fave.)  Power-wash sidewalks, walkways, decks, and the outside of house, if needed. You can rent a power-washer for a day and it will make a huge difference.  There are also power-washing companies that will take the work off your hands.

If you don’t do anything else, paint the front door and replace an old, worn door handle, and the kickplate if it’s dingy. Plant some inexpensive flowers, in pots if you don’t have a suitable garden area. These curb appeal items can be an easy part of yearly maintenance. Keeping your front entry in good shape can be an easy task throughout the time you own your home, so it can be checked off the list before you even decide to sell.

2. Consider flooring. Look down. If your carpet is not too worn, a simple cleaning will do wonders.  If you need to replace carpets, find a mid-grade, neutral color.  We’ve always recommended “Tea Stain”, but with today’s decor trends, a light gray is also a good choice.  It will appeal to the most people.  If your hardwoods are dingy, first try buffing to renew their gleam.  If there are too many scratches and dings, you might need to refinish them.

Increase Your Home Value - Maintain and RepairAs with all home maintenance, keeping your carpets and floors in good shape will help you get more longevity out of them. The expense of new flooring can be saved if the floors are already in good shape when it’s time to sell. Covering high traffic areas with throw rugs can help with longevity of your floors. One of the best ways to increase your home value is to take care of, and update the large areas, like flooring.

3. Consider lighting. Look up. If your light fixtures are dated, get some new ones at Home Depot or Lowes, or any other big box store.  You can find some very nice fixtures for a reasonable cost.  Make sure you use the brightest bulbs possible.

Keeping your lighting updated throughout the time you own your home will not only save you a chunk of money when it’s time to sell…you get to enjoy greater energy savings and more stylish fixtures while you live in the home.

Clean and Neutral

4. Paint covers a multitude of sins. And it’s not expensive. Again, select neutral colors, as they have the broadest appeal. Remember, neutrals don’t have to be white and beige. Grey is a very popular neutral shade today. Most buyers need to be able to envision their furniture in your home, and if your colors and style are too much out of their comfort zone, they will usually not stretch their imagination too far. Even if a potential buyer likes bold colors, its still easy for them to “imagine” their favorite colors in your home if you have a palate of neutrals for them to start with.neutral colors

Most homes take wear and tear with daily living. Decorators recommend painting every 5 to 6 years, just to keep the walls fresh and clean.

5.  Get rid of the stuff!  Its amazing how much stuff we collect, without even trying.  Pare down, thin out, pack away, de-clutter, whatever.  Consider renting a storage unit if need-be, people need to see themselves living there, with all of Their Stuff, so give them room to do so.

6.  Give your house a good cleaning, even if it means hiring maid service for a single clean.  A dirty house is a turn-off to prospective buyers.  When you have it all clean, start making the small repairs that you’ve been avoiding.  Replace window seals, fix the leaks, grout, etc.

7.  Consider Staging.  A professional stager will make a big difference.  The psychology of space is an important factor, and the stager will help you present your space in the best possible light. [We know a couple of good local Stagers]

 

Kitchens and Baths Sell Homes

Increase Your Home Value - Maintain and Repair

8.  Pay attention to Bathrooms and Kitchens.  Now we’re talking about more expensive fixes, but you can start small and work your way up over time.  Start with small tasks, like cleaning or redoing grout, or caulk.

Replace fixtures one at a time. If you need a new appliance, make sure you replace it with an energy star appliance.  Check out Lowes or Best Buy for their “Open Box” sales, the demos that they sell for 30 to 40% off.  [We got a great dishwasher that way.]

They are the most expensive to update, so if they require little to no work, buyers tend to be more interested. Cosmetic updates can go a long way, but keep in mind the comparable homes that are on the market. If the norm for your home is granite counters and stainless-steel appliances, (although there are alternatives to stainless-steel appliances), then you will want to be competitive when your home goes on the market.

Keeping up with repairs and maintenance throughout the time you own your home is the best way to increase your home value and be prepared to sell without a lot of last minute, expensive work.

Related Articles:

Kitchen Trends

Bathroom Trends

Quick and Easy Bathroom Updates

                           _________________________________________________________

Contact us for recommendations for Stagers, Home Repair, Roofing, Handyman services, HVAC… we have a list of trusted services.

 

Are Solar Panels Worth the Investment in My Maryland Home?

Are Solar Panels Worth the Investment in My Maryland Home?

Residential Solar Panels in Maryland

What You Need to Know

Many studies have shown that solar panels can generate half the energy needed in a typical home. Even though their efficiency is not in question, there are many issues surrounding residential solar panels that should cause Maryland homeowners to pause and ask, are solar panels worth the investment?

Eight Points to Understand About Solar Panels

1. Buyers are willing to pay more

Buyers are willing to pay more for a home with solar generated energy. Several surveys and studies over the last decade have shown the increasing interest in green home technologies, including solar panels, or photovoltaic (PV) systems. One of the largest studies was done by Berkeley Labs, an electricity markets and policy group, sponsored by the Department of Energy. The 9th edition of the Tracking the Sun report concludes, among many things, that buyers are willing to pay on average 4% more.solar panels

Keep in mind that buyer sentiments differ in various parts of the country. In areas where energy costs are significantly high, buyers are eager to purchase a home with energy efficient systems and features. Also, in areas of the country where the climate is ideal, like the West and Mid-west, and the Southeastern states, solar panels are much more efficient and more in demand.

2. Among other things, the Cost of Installation Effects Demand

The cost of installation has decreased since 2008, according to the above-mentioned Tracking the Sun report. This is partly due to the decrease in costs which happens over time, and also due to the increase in incentives like tax credits and rebates, as well as the rise of third-party owned systems that lease panels to homeowners. Leasing has brought the cost of installation down significantly over the last decade.

Over the last 20 years, solar panels have become more efficient as new technologies have come to the industry. Understandably, the cost of solar panel installation is lower on new home construction than it is in a retrofit for an older home. In the last few years, PV systems for new construction have become smaller and more efficient. At this point in the solar industry, purchasing solar technology on a new home makes good sense.

solar panelsGovernment initiatives have brought the cost of PV systems down. The Maryland Energy Administration backs the state government’s “EmPOWER Maryland” initiative, working to reduce energy consumption by 15%. As part of the initiative, Maryland’s five utilities offer many programs to help homeowners save on energy costs, including Renewable Energy Credits (REC) and a Residential Clean Energy Grant Program. Check to see if your state has incentives.

There may also be Federal incentives for solar energy systems. One of the most well-known incentives is the the Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), a federal 30 percent renewable energy tax credit, which has been extended by Congress through 2019.

3. Appraisers and Lenders Enter the Picture

Buying and selling real estate complicates what seems like a simple issue…buyers want them, homeowners want them, people who love the planet want them, and we all like the effect solar panels have on our energy costs. But the tricky part comes when the appraiser needs to determine if they add value or not, and the lender needs to agree with the value-add.

Appraisers and lenders have been trying to catch up with solar technology, along with other energy-saving features, in terms of calculating the effect, or lack of, on home values in any given market. Any time new items or features enter the picture, appraisers need time to see their effect on the market. Lenders need even more time to make sure the value is really there.

Fannie Mae Weighs In on Solar Panels

As of mid-2014, according to the Berkeley Labs report, more than a half-million homes had solar systems. Fannie Mae has used the findings of the report to begin to work on guidelines for appraisers, and by extension lenders, to consider solar systems. If a house has an owned solar system the appraiser should analyze the system and the market to see if it adds value. So, at least the ball is rolling on the process of determining value.

In the end, the only thing that matters is if the lender sees value….

“Remember the Golden Rule – He who has the gold makes the rules.”

4. Do Solar Panels Add Value?

The answer depends. If PV systems are purchased by the homeowner, they certainly may add value, depending on several things: the area of the country and their efficiency, depending on demand, depending on lenders and loan products, and depending on whether they save significantly on energy.

Green home improvements are on the rise, and in general, do get a higher sales price, according to many studies, as this Realtor Magazine article points out: Do Green Homes Fetch Higher Sales Prices? Green features include many things, like dual-paned windows, energy-efficient appliances, geo-thermal heated floors, low-flow faucets and toilets, and certifications from programs such as Energy Star or LEED. But among the many green items, most are more affordable and not as extensive as solar panels.

Don’t Forget Appearance

solar shingles
Solar Roof Tiles

One point that often gets overlooked is the simple aspect of aesthetics. Some solar panels, particularly the blue panels, which happen to be the least expensive, well…they’re just plain ugly. Depending on where your home is located concerning direct sunlight, solar panels can be an eyesore. There goes your curb appeal.

If the solar panels are leased, as is increasingly popular due to cost, they do not add value to the home. The PV system belongs to the third-party company in this case, not to the homeowner.

They may even end up decreasing your net return. Let me explain.

5. Lease Vs. Purchase of Solar Panels in Real Estate

The cost of installing a PV system can run between $15,000 and $20,000 in most places in the country. That is a lot of money upfront. Sometimes it can be financed, but that is often cost prohibitive. Many companies offer a lease contract which usually lasts 15 years or more.

Leasing solar panels has made them much more affordable for the average homeowner, which has contributed to the recent growth in the industry.

6. Buyers May Balk

The problem comes when a homeowner tries to sell their home with a leased solar panel system. Many home buyers are wary of buying a home with a solar panel lease. They either aren’t keen on having to take over the lease payments, or they aren’t keen on going through the credit requirements of the solar company.

As solar technology gets better all the time, sometimes the solar panels a homeowner leased 5 or 10 years ago have been eclipsed by the latest technology in the industry. Some buyers don’t want to be saddled with outdated PV systems.

7. Sellers May Pay More

We’re hearing more and more lately about sellers not being able to get their home sold because of problems with leased PV systems. Transactions fall apart over disputes about a leased system. Some sellers end up buying out the remainder of the lease just to get their home sold.

8. If You’re Considering Solar Panels – Do Your Research

  • Do the math. If you might end up moving before you finish out the lease, or before you recoup the expense of the purchase, it doesn’t make financial sense. Here’s a solar savings calculator.
  • How old is your roof? If you get a solar system and need to replace your roof in five or ten years, the cost will be much greater to remove the panels and then replace them on the new roof.
  • Get a complete financial analysis from several solar companies. Make sure to research municipal, state and Federal incentives.
  • Read the paperwork. Make sure you understand the lease or purchase contract with the solar company. If you need to transfer the lease, make sure it can be accomplished without a lot of hassle.

Solar companies will gladly tell you in their sales presentation that solar panels certainly add value to your home. And they will usually come up with an option to make them affordable. But when it comes to buying and selling the home, there are many more complications. So do your homework!

Additional Reading:

Home Improvement ROI

Home Improvement ROI

Home improvement ROI is an important subject for homeowners to research. Frederick homeowners are renovating their homes for several reasons in today’s real estate market. Many owners who purchased since the early to mid- 2000’s have been resigned to stay in their homes because they owe more than the house is presently worth. They realize that since they will be staying in their home for a while, they might as well make improvements that they will enjoy.

Others are improving their homes to make them more market ready when they decide to sell. Either way, it’s always a good idea to maintain and repair your home at all times during the years that you own it. When upgrading a home, it is always wise to keep with the standard of the neighborhood, or of comparable homes in your market, if you are concerned about return on investment.

Whatever the reason, making careful and thoughtful decisions about home improvement ROI is very important if you want to get the highest return. Generally, home improvements do not bring the full return of the cost at the sale of the home, but some improvements bring a better return than others. Some improvements are simply necessary to make the home more attractive to today’s buyers.appraisal changes

Cost Vs. Value in Remodeling Projects

Remodeling Website has published the 2017 Cost Vs. Value Study results, comparing the average cost for 29 popular remodeling projects with the value those projects retain at resale in 99 U.S. markets. The cost-value ratio was 64.3%. This ratio shows the resale value as a percentage of construction cost. The average remodel regained 64.3% of the cost in the sale of the home.  (The highest ratio was 86.7% in 2005.)

See the Remodeling Website for the full list of projects and the ROI of each. You’ll also find how-to articles, products and  lots of other resources. There are good articles about aging in place and renovations that might be necessary, as well as simple solutions that might not require a full renovation. Universal Design is a newer topic in the Cost Vs. Value Study, as more boomers are choosing to age in place.

Minor renovations usually net a higher ROI than major renovations. The improvements that got close to 100% return on investment were:

  • Attic Insulation (fiberglass) 85% – 123%
  • Garage Door Replacement 89% – 102%
  • Minor Kitchen Remodel 80%
  • Manufactured Stone Veneer 81 – 92%
  • Steel Entry Door Replacement 84%
  • Siding Replacement 82%

The improvements that got the lowest ROI:

  • Bathroom Addition: 42% – 44%
  • Master Bedroom Addition: 52% – 54%
  • Backyard Patio: 53%
  • Backup Power Generator: 46.5%
  • Major Kitchen Remodel: 54%

Remodeling Projects For the Home – Return on Investment

As you can easily see by this report not all home improvement ROI is equal. In most, but not all cases higher end improvements got a lower return on investment than improvements in the mid-range cost.

Some remodeling projects get a better ROI than others, and some projects help sell a home more than others, regardless of the ROI. Some home improvements are absolutely necessary to get the highest sale price for a home. How does a homeowner navigate the home improvement waters?

Considerations When Renovating

While the cost vs. payback factor is important in planning renovation projects, it shouldn’t be the only consideration. For homeowners who are renovating to be able to age in place or who need to care for an elderly family member, or remodel for a home office so they don’t have to commute, other issues may be more important than return on investment. For some projects, the satisfaction and quality of life while living in a house that you love is the main priority.

Homeowners should always consider the trends in their market, in their neighborhood and in their comparative price range. Renovating far above the standard of homes in your area may produce features in your that you absolutely love, but you should understand that you won’t likely get the return on investment that would make the renovations the best financial decision. In that case, make sure that you are doing renovations only for your own enjoyment.

Avoid Over Improvement

After 25 years of working with home sellers in the central Maryland area, it is always a challenge to interact with homeowners  who have spent too much money on the wrong renovations and home improvements, expecting to get their money back on those expenditures when they sell their home.

If you are planning a renovation, do yourself a favor and consult your local real estate professional before you take the plunge. Find out what today’s buyers are looking for, as well as what home improvements are trending in your market. You’ll save yourself some money and you’ll be confident that you are investing wisely. Getting the highest home improvement ROI is a wise move.


Find Out What Your Maryland Home is Worth


 

Taking Care of Basement Moisture Problems – Leaky Pipes

Taking Care of Basement Moisture Problems – Leaky Pipes

Basement Moisture Problems

When is it a leaking pipe and when is it condensation? Generally speaking, if a pipe leaks constantly, there is probably a small fissure or defect in the pipe itself, causing moisture to escape.

If a pipe leaks intermittently or stops leaking during dry weather, it is probably a condensation problem. Ground moisture can force its way through almost any basement floor or wall, and into the air. Once the moisture is circulating in the air, it will eventually reform as water droplets, clinging to exposed pipes.

One of the easiest ways to prevent condensation on pipes is to prevent moist air from reaching them in the first place. This can be done by wrapping pipes in plastic foam pipe wrap. This foam can come in sheets or as ready-to-use aerosol spray that dries to a hard, white coating that can be painted or primed. Insulating hot water pipes is also a good idea to help prevent heat loss and save on energy.

Once the plastic foam has been installed, seams need to be wrapped with duct tape. It is usually best to wrap all exposed pipes to eliminate this source of moisture collection. If wrapping all pipes is too extensive a project, the best advice is to wrap as much surface area as possible. The less piping that is exposed to the ari,he less condensation that will occur.

In the past, homeowners used fiberglass pipe wrap to deal with dampness. Unfortunately, fiberglass material is not waterproof, and actually absorbs water. Over time it can harbor mold and mildew. Adding a plastic vapor barrier to fiberglass wrap is a cumbersome and time-consuming process, it is most effective to use the plastic foam products.

While moisture may be greatly reduced, it is almost impossible to eliminate it entirely from the basement. To lessen humidity, and decrease damage to furniture, stored items and air quality, a dehumidifier can help. Basement moisture problems don’t have to be significant to require action, so staying on top of issues will keep a homeowner from facing larger problems down the road.

Thanks for the guest post from:

David Goldberg –  Home Inspector


phone: 
301-913-9213 
fax:  301-774-4554 
Reliable Home Services, Inc.

PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD 20882
ASHI Member #101584
MD License #29322

*          *          *          *          *
If You have a remodeling project in mind, contact us for a list of professionals we’re proud to recommend.

 

Lawn Care Tips for Home Owners

Lawn Care Tips for Home Owners

Frederick MD Home Owners – Keeping A Healthy Lawn

It’s that time of year again. With lots of rain in the last few weeks, the lawn needs some attention. Our guest blogger David Goldberg from Reliable Home Inspections shares some timely tips for lawn care:

Your lawn mover is one of the most expensive investments in terms of yard maintenance equipment. Storing and operating it correctly will prolong its life as well as ensure a well-manicured lawn.

For the machine: Washing the underside of the deck is an important habit to maintain. Depending on the types of lawn treatment used, including fertilizers or pesticides, the various substances can have an effect on the underside of the lawn mower. When these elements build-up and aren’t removed they can quickly corrode the deck, shorten the life of the bearings in the spindles and also contribute to lawn disease. Regular cleaning can add life to your lawn mower, saving you money over the years.

Removing the clippings that stick to the deck is also a good reason to clean that area regularly. This will reduce metal corrosion. It is easiest to do before the clippings dry and harden.

Organic-based lubricants are now available to spray on the deck of the machine to keep clippings from sticking to the deck.  (Fluid Film is an example of a lubricant that can be used to protect lawn equipment in use, in storage and in transit).

Keeping blades sharp is also another important maintenance activity. This action will ensure a healthier lawn and better gas mileage and longer life for the mower and its parts. lawn care tips Lawn care experts are often asked what insect or weather conditions cause brown-tipped grass. Simply put, this condition is solely caused by operator error. In other words, the homeowner is using dull blades to cut grass. Lawn mower blades can be sharpened manually with a whetstone or sharpening tool or removed and taken to a hardware or garden supply store.

As with other vehicles, checking the oil and tires are also crucial to increase a mower’s life span and operating condition. Checking the oil each time (and adding oil when the level drops below the halfway point) will keep the mower in optimal operating condition.   Overfilling the oil is not recommended, because this practice will actually shorten engine life. Tire pressure is also important because lower tires can make the machine harder to steer and can affect traction.

For Healthy Grass:  To keep grass healthy, the rule of thumb is mow high (three inches or more) when weather is warm. When lawns are allowed to grow higher, they develop deeper roots and are able to endure dryer conditions.

For Operator Safety: Remember that even when a mower is turned off, the blades are still turning and there is still a risk for injury. The blades must have stopped rotating before it is safe to begin maintenance activities. Pulling out a mower’s spark plug is the best way to ensure the lawn mower will not turn on accidently.

Watering and Feeding the Grass. Grass needs to be fed and watered to stay healthy, but in many areas of the country, homeowners are growing concerned about water conservation. A smart water conservation plan for any lawn starts with feeding. Feeding not only improves a lawn’s appearance, it also strengthens and thickens the grass to help the lawn protect itself. A well-fed lawn grows deeper roots to better absorb water and nutrients. Compared to an unfed lawn, a lawn that is fed uses water more efficiently. Feeding your lawn two to 4 times a year will keep it healthy.

lawn care tipsThere are many tips for homeowners to use less water on their yard and garden.  Make sure to rely on the rain whenever you can to save on water consumption. Also, if you mow often, you can leave the grass clippings on the lawn. Grass clippings break down quickly and return beneficial nutrients to the soil, especially if you mow often enough so too much of the grass blade isn’t removed at once. Removing too much of the grass blade shocks the grass and leaves clipping piles on the lawn that also can smother grass.

A big thanks to David Goldberg, our preferred home inspector, for these great lawn care for homeowners to have a healthier and happier lawn. Beautiful green grass makes your outdoor living spaces much more enjoyable. Additionally, it makes for great curb appeal when you are ready to put your home on the market!

David Goldberg   –   Home Inspector                                                                         

phone: 301-913-9213 fax: 301-774-4554

Reliable Home Services, Inc.

ASHI Member #101584  MD License #29322

Facts Homeowners Should Know About Radon

Facts Homeowners Should Know About Radon

Living Healthy and Green Starts by Kicking Radon Out

Do you want to help your community step out on the green side of living and building healthier? EPA has developed a new media campaign, Living Healthy & Green, to educate Americans about the ease of testing for radon and building new homes radon-resistant. These unique public service announcements (PSAs) help remind Americans that a big part of “living green” starts in their home with breathing cleaner, healthier indoor air.  Learn More about Radon Public Service Media Campaigns

Every Living Healthy & Green campaign element can be viewed, heard and ordered free on line at www.epapsa.com

Radon:   The Health Hazard with a Simple Solution

Radon is a cancer-causing natural radioactive gas that you can’t see, smell or taste. Its presence in your home can pose a danger to your family’s health. Radon is the leading cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Radon is the second leading cause of lung cancer in America and claims about 20,000 lives annually.

Test Your Home for Radon – It’s Easy and Inexpensive   Fix your home if you have a radon level of 4 pCi/L or more.

The U.S. Surgeon General and EPA recommend that all homes be tested. You can test your home yourself or hire a professional. Fix your home if you have a radon level of 4 pCi/L or more. Radon test kits are available from the National Safety Council (or call 1-800-SOS-RADON). Some home improvement stores sell test kits. (Lowes and Home Depot both do) To find a qualified testing or mitigation contractor, contact your state radon office (see our list of state contacts) or either of the national private radon programs.

Exposure to Radon Causes Lung Cancer In Non-smokers and Smokers Alike

Lung cancer kills thousands of Americans every year. The increase in deaths due to lung cancer has raised public awareness about lung cancer, especially among people who have never smoked. Smoking, radon, and secondhand smoke are the leading causes of lung cancer. Although lung cancer can be treated, the survival rate is one of the lowest for those with cancer. From the time of diagnosis, between 11 and 15 percent of those afflicted will live beyond five years, depending upon demographic factors. In many cases lung cancer can be prevented; this is especially true for radon.

Sources of Radon

Radon escapes from the soil, into the air and into buildings and homes. The majority (69%) of radon that effects humans comes from the soil.18.5% comes from well water, 2.5% comes from building supplies, and 9.2% comes from outdoor air.

Normal levels found in outside air are 0.4 pCi per liter, which is considered safe by the EPA. The average indoor radon level in the U.S. is 1.3 pCi/L, also considered safe. When levels rise to 2.7 pCi/L, a person’s risk of lunch cancer rises 16%, according to the World Health Organization. The EPA recommends corrective action when the indoor level of radon reaches 4Ci/L.

Radon in Maryland

There are three zones in Maryland, each showing a level of average radon density. in Zone 1, the Red Zone, the following counties have a predicted average indoor radon screening level greater than 4 pCi/L: Washington, Frederick, Carroll, Baltimore, Harford, Howard, Montgomery, and Calvert.

In Zone 2, Orange Zone, counties have levels between 2 and 4 pCi/L: Garrett, Allegheny, Cecil, Ann Arundel, Prince Georges, Charles and St. Marys Counties.

In Zone 3, Yellow Zone, there is low potential of high radon levels, less than 2 pCi/L: Kent, Queen Anne’s, Talbot, Caroline, Dorchester, Wicomico, Worcester, and Somerset Counties.

Legal Requirements in Maryland

Montgomery County recently passed a law requiring home sellers to conduct a radon test. The wording of the law is such that sellers can conduct the test themselves, or hire a professional. The test must be from a list of approved radon tests. (which you can find on the NRPP Website) Many on the list are low-priced kits you can get at Home Depot or Lowes. The Pro-Lab test is $20.

As of today, other counties do not require testing, but we expect that it won’t be long before the counties in the red zone follow Montgomery County in this requirement. Even though it isn’t mandatory, we encourage buyers to have a radon test with their home inspection, using a qualified radon tester. Even if the homeowner has carried out a radon test within 12 months of listing the home, it’s still a good idea to have your own test. With radon tests, you can’t know if there was human error involved. Better safe with your own test.

What if the Radon tests high?

If you find that the Radon levels are 4 pCi/L or higher, Radon mitigation will be required. There are three common radon remediation systems used in residential construction:

Active Subslab Depressurization (ASD) is a system designed to lower sub-slab air pressure relative to indoor air pressure by using a fan-powered vent. By drawing the air from beneath the basement slab through a pipe and out of the roof, radon is prevented from entering your home. Often only a single suction is needed. The cost is between $800 to $1500.

Passive Subslab Depressurization (PSD) uses natural pressure differentials and convection to draw air up a vent pipe. New construction homes in Montgomery, Howard, Frederick, Calvert, Washington, Carroll, and Baltimore Counties have PSD systems installed. These systems are ready to install a fan, if needed, to convert to an Active System, ASD.

Block-wall Suction can be used in basement homes with hollow block foundation walls. This method removes radon and depressurizes the block wall, similar to sub-slab suction.

As always, use a licensed, qualified inspector.

 

Thanks for an informative guest post:

David Goldberg   –   Home Inspector                                                                         phone: 301-913-9213 fax: 301-774-4554

Reliable Home Services, Inc.

ASHI Member #101584  MD License #29322

Reliable Home Services is a qualified Radon Tester

Are Stainless Steel Appliances Still Popular in 2017?

Are Stainless Steel Appliances Still Popular in 2017?

Is Stainless Steel Still Popular?

Stainless Steel appliances have been a long-lasting trend in home appliance choices. For more than 2 decades homeowners have loved appliances and fixtures in stainless. But will the trend continue? Are stainless steel appliances still popular, and more importantly, will they be popular in the future? We’re seeing a wave of new finishes that rival stainless in their appeal. Here are a few that are trending in 2017. But first, there are two housing design trends that are setting the stage, Integrated kitchens in open floor plans, and Personalization

A. Integrated Kitchens

House plans have increasingly opened up over the recent years, allowing the kitchen to be integrated into the other living spaces. Modern cooks prefer to be part of the party, rather than be shut away behind the walls of a separated kitchen.

What this has done for the decor of the kitchen is integrate it with the rest of the home. Now we see many different choices in appliances, from colored refrigerators and stoves, to a variety of metals and finishes.

According to a recent study from Houzz, nearly two-thirds of homeowners in the survey spent more than three hours in their kitchens. Kitchens are now places to watch TV, entertain and read, as well as cook and bake. Today’s kitchens are styled and furnished with the rest of the living spaces of the house in mind.

B. Personalization

As kitchens keep shifting to look more like the living rooms, they are more posh, less utilitarian. Homeowners are personalizing kitchens with bold appliances, cozy seating, stone surfaces and cool fixtures — from sculptural faucets to interesting pendant lights.

As kitchens become more and more our living spaces, homeowners are making them more comfortable. Personalizing the kitchen adds to the comfort of the room. Comfortable upholstered chairs, cozy reading nooks and even a small couch are right at home in today’s kitchen.

Are stainless steel appliances still popular? Yes.

Are stainless steel appliances still popular

The Houzz study reported that 3/4 of the respondents still planned to have stainless steel appliances. Their popularity continues, even though more homeowners are opening up to other styles and finishes. People like stainless steel. It matches every wood tone and finish. Dark wood, light wood and white cabinets all look good with stainless steel.

Other Metals

Most major manufacturers have been trying out many different metals over the last 5 years, trying to be the first to find that “next big thing”. Think of Jen-air “oiled bronze”, Whirlpool’s “sunset bronze”, Miele’s “truffle brown”, or Viking’s “graphite”. In the right kitchen, all of these finishes will look great. But none have really taken off like stainless steel…not yet.

Mixed Metals

As the kitchen becomes more integrated, many homeowners are personalizing with greater boldness. As brass and gold have made a comeback, as well as bronze and other metals, there is less reason to stick with just one finish. Mixing metals, although it must be done carefully, is a growing option in design. In high-end homes, look for designers to play with metals more than in the past. “It’s all good” is the motto.

Satin and Matte Finishes

Appliances that have a satin or matte finish, whether in steel or other metals, are appearing in showrooms. Matte is used to describe something that lacks shine, so it looks more dull and flat. The appeal is two-fold, they are easier to keep clean, and they easily blend in with other finishes.

Black Stainless Steel

Black is an exciting new color and finish that we’re seeing more often. After using the KitchenAid black stainless appliances in the 2015 House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year, their popularity has increased. Now other manufacturers are making them, including LG and Samsung.

Matching Panels

Are stainless steel appliances still popular

Since the kitchen is more integrated into the rest of the home in modern floor plans, adding panels to the appliances that match the cabinets is becoming popular.

This uniform look creates a less fussy style, which blends into the living spaces well. In the right home, this is the perfect solution to a more “livable” kitchen.

Colored Appliances

Smeg is one of the manufacturers who have come out with a lot of colors, from pastels, to bright shades to black and white.

Are stainless steel appliances still popular

Colored appliances in an open kitchen add design and style that help it match the rest of the house. Viking has had a line of colored appliances for several years. They look great in a mid-century modern home, or an eclectic, ultra niche home. They are perfect for the homeowner who loves to have fun with their decor.

Slate Appliances

Like black stainless appliances in 2015, slate appliances are on trend this year.Are stainless steel appliances still popular  GE is the first to make them. Slate is easy to keep clean and resists the dreaded fingerprints that make stainless steel difficult. Like stainless, slate matches any cabinet or countertop finish, and is style-neutral. The brushed stainless handles add a pop of shine, complimenting other appliances. [Kitchen by Southington Appliances Kathy from Connecticut Appliance]

What Appliances Should I Choose?

If you’re asking are stainless steel appliances still popular…My opinion as a homeowner…choose what you like. You live with it. As with most things concerning the home, do your research and read all the pros and cons of each style and finish. Then choose what you will love to see and work with and clean every day.

Personal Story: We just bought a slate appliance package for our kitchen...I love them! We have an open floor plan (you can see from the front  door all the way to the back of the house where the kitchen is...they look beautiful.)

My opinion as a REALTOR®…it depends on your home. If you have a traditional home, choose something that goes with your traditional home’s style. If you have a modern, contemporary, or mid-century modern home, choose what compliments it.

Of course, all this depends on whether you’re considering selling soon, or if you plan to stay put for a while. The average life expectancy of appliances should be taken into consideration. If you’re going to sell before your appliances wear out, then you’ll want to keep resale in mind.

If your home has a broad appeal, and if you want to appeal to the broadest group of buyers, the studies are still showing that stainless steel has the most popularity. Stainless appliances will be a safe choice for at least another 5 or 10 years. If you want to play it safe, choose stainless.

If you like to live bold…choose whatever your heart desires!

Related Articles:

Stainless-Steel Still Shines

Kitchen Trends

Increase Your Home’s Value – Maintain and Repair


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Thinking about selling your home in Central Maryland? Use our free online valuation to instantly

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Contact the Highland Group for a personalized CMA – Comparative Market Analysis. 301-401-5119  chris@chrishighland.com

How to Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste in Frederick Md

How to Dispose of Household Hazardous Waste in Frederick Md

Q.   What items are considered household hazardous waste (HHW)?

A.   Leftover household  products that contain corrosive, ignitable, toxic or reactive ingredients are considered to be HHW. Items including paints, pesticides, batteries, cleaners and oils contain potentially hazardous ingredients and require special care in their disposal.

hazardous waste Frederick Md

Americans produce 1.6 million tons of household hazardous waste a year.   This translates to as much as 100 pounds per household, stored in garages as well as in and  around homes.

The Water Environment Federation has published the Household Hazardous Waste Chart  to help you find the most effective method of disposal.

Q.   What are some improper methods of household waste disposal?

Pouring them down the drain, on the ground, into storm sewers, or in some cases putting them out with the trash can lead to environmental contamination and pose a threat to human health.

It may seem obvious, but hazardous products should be kept in their original containers with labels intact. Household hazardous waste should never  be mixed with any other products. In some situations, incompatible products can  react, ignite or even explode.

When in doubt, it is best to refer to local environmental, health, solid waste or other appropriate government agency for instructions on proper disposal of HHW. Many communities now offer HHW drop-off programs and collection days.


For information regarding Frederick County’s Household Hazardous Waste Drop-off Events call: Solid Waste Management at 301-600-2890. Or visit the solid waste management webpage.


The following are some tips for recycling specific materials:

Batteries

Americans purchase nearly 3 billion dry-cell batteries every year to power radios, toys, cellular phones, watches, laptop computers, and portable power tools. Then there are wet-cell batteries, used to power automobiles, boats and motorcycles.

Batteries contain heavy metals such as mercury, lead, cadmium, and nickel, all of which are environmental contaminants.

One way to reduce the number of batteries in the waste stream is by purchasing rechargeable batteries. Each rechargeable battery may substitute for hundreds of single-use batteries. Rechargeable batteries are also easy to recycle.

Cleaning products

Most antibacterial cleaners, air fresheners, dishwasher detergents, oven cleaners, carpet cleaners and toilet/sink/tub/tile cleaners contain toxic ingredients that can seep into groundwater. Not only are most cleaning products bad for the environment, they can be bad for your respiratory health, too. To minimize their negative effects, it is best to dispose of any unused products at a local HHW site.

A better solution may be to buy or make your own greener cleaners. Regular soap is negligibly less effective than antibiotic soap in killing germs and not nearly as bad for the environment. Scrubbing toilets, sinks and tubs with vinegar or lemon juice and baking soda works well. Baking soda and water is also a safe and effective way to clean your oven or carpet.

Check out our Pinterest Board on Green Cleaning:

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Prescription Drugs

Recent press reports have shown that trace amounts of prescription and over-the-counter drugs are showing up in our drinking water. The cause is the expired contents of our medicine cabinets being thrown away or flushed down the drain. An alternate disposal method is checking to see what local pharmacy will take back unused or expired drugs.

Fluorescent Bulbs

Compact fluorescent lamps (CFL) have become popular because of their energy efficiency. While newer CFLs contain lower mercury levels than older lamps, the amount is still too high to simply place bulbs in the trash. Home Depot has a CFL recycling program that allows the return of any unbroken bulbs for free recycling. The recycling of old electronics, also known as e-waste, can be disposed of any many Target, RadioShack, Best Buy, the Home Depot and Lowe’s stores. eCycling is important because most components contain lead, which can contaminate groundwater and become a health hazard.

Paint

Because it is illegal to throw away paint or paint thinner in many states, this material should be taken to an HHW site. It may also be possible to donate useable paint to a local paint store to be remixed or sent to a Habitat for Humanity Restore location.

The Common Market on Rt. 85 has drop-off days during the year for chemical products. Call the store to find out when these events are held: 301-663-3416

Thanks to Dave Golberg, our favorite home inspector for this information packed post on how to dispose of household hazardous waste.

David Goldberg   –   Home Inspector                                                        
phone:   301-913-9213

fax:   301-774-4554
   

Reliable Home Services, Inc.

     
PO Box 5159
Laytonsville, MD  20882
ASHI Member #101584
  MD License #29322