Category Archives: home inspection

Practice Fireplace Safety!

Gathering the family around a crackling fire can be one of the joys of the coldest months… or it can be a nightmare. fireplace  It’s one thing to be seated cozily on the couch while the firewood glows, and quite another to be standing on the curb in the cold watching the fire department trying to save your home.

 More than 14,000 fires begin each year in fireplaces, and fires are the cause of nearly $900 million dollars in property damage. Don’t be a victim because of shoddy maintenance or careless usage of your fireplace. This goes for both wood-burning and gas fireplaces.

 Here are some tips to maintain your fireplace and protect your life:

 1. Before the coldest months set in, get your fireplace inspected. Remember, most inspection companies will be very busy during the winter, so try and secure an inspection at least a month or so before you anticipate using your fireplace heavily.

 2. Inspect your fireplace before you use it. Take a flashlight and look in the flue. Look for obstructions. Check for cracked bricks, missing mortar, or other signs of damage. Be sure to clean out any ashes and dispose of them in a metal-lid trash can.

 3.      10121-f5f9c001-768f-4c7d-9114-3f7bdbb9e259Burn properly.  This means using seasoned hardwood (which avoids creosote accumulation), and burning logs on an approved rack or elevated grate. Also, don’t burn trash, cardboard, or other debris in your home fireplace.

 4. Keep the area around the fireplace clear. Don’t put your Christmas tree near the fireplace, or anything else which is liable to combust. If it’s flammable, keep it safely distant from those flames. 

 5. Guard against sparks. Sparks may periodically leap from your fireplace, so use a screen to prevent them from landing on rugs or nearby furniture. A screen will also prevent family pets from exploring the fireplace when not in use.

 6. Don’t leave the house with a fire burning. Extinguishing a fire before you leave is common sense, so don’t leave those burning logs unattended!

Would you like a home with a fireplace? Let us help you find just the right one: Barbara & Gregg, The Nicholas Team of RE/MAX Village Square  realestate@thenicholasteam.com  973-509-2222

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Ameriprise Auto & Home Insurance recently published this infographic about fireplace safety -you might want to print it out and share with your friends and family!

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Dodging Deal Breakers for Buyers

When you finally find your dream home, the worst thing that can happen is the deal falling through at the last minute. It’s more common than you might think, and the reasons are often surprisingly small. Fortunately, a little attention to detail and thorough planning can save you from the heartbreak of a buy gone bad. Here are some pitfalls for buyers:

 

  1. Last-minute shopping sprees. Until your home loan has been funded, big purchases are flat out dangerous to closing the deal. Your credit matters and so does your bank balance. Every time they take a hit (say for new furniture, appliances, or even a big pickup truck for moving day), you risk skewing your financial picture in a foul direction. Lay off the buying until you’re in the clear.  storage
    Last winter, we had a buyer who bought three rooms of new furniture two weeks before closing- Bob’s Store was running a sale with 18 months interest free new credit… this purchase delayed the closing by two weeks and  required her to put the new furniture she bought for a house she didn’t own yet and had delivered into storage…good thing she had interested free payments!

 

  1. Not drilling down deep on seller disclosures. Nobody likes surprises, so ask all the questions you have about condition issues in the home or on the lot. Sellers must disclose, so you’re well within your rights to ask after anything which seems unreasonably unexplained. Finding out late can sour the deal or stick you with costly repairs post-closing. Ask your agent to perform an OPRA Request on the property-its a written request done at town hall asking for a history of permits pulled for any  rehab or renovations done to a home. This will also give you reassurance  that any work was done correctly, inspected and approved.

 

  1. chandelierFailing to clarify which “fixtures” are included with the house. Fixture can be one of those words open to interpretation. Get clarity on what is an appliance, what is a part of the home, and what remains the seller’s personal property. An early understanding of what’s excluded will prevent sour feelings later on.  If you fall in  love with the house based the purple chandelier in the dining room because it reminds you of the one Grandma used to have- make sure its staying.  Seller can be asked to replace lighting fixtures but they aren’t always replaced with exact replicas.

 

  1. Not securing a preliminary title report ASAP. Great surprises lurk in the title search, so you’ll want to know in advance if there’s anything which might complicate the deal. You never know when someone might have an interest in the property (like an ex-husband), and you can’t be 100% sure about the property boundaries until you’ve defined them, can you? A misplaced fence or disputed driveway can foul things up in a hurry.

 

  1. Insurance surprises. Is the home in a flood plain? Will your rates be through the roof for hurricane or earthquake risks? It’s worth investigating early on in the process. You may still decide to buy the home, but you’ll at least be able to budget accordingly. Again, your agent should be able to do a little research to find out about flood plains, but your best bet may be to ask your insurance agent for the most accurate information.

 

I like to help buyers navigate the home buying process smoothly, armed with all of the knowledge they need in order to find the right home at the right price. Let me guide you to a smooth closing this year!

 

Barbara & Gregg , THE NICHOLAS TEAM of RE/MAX VILLAGE SQUARE   973-509-2222 ext.1126   RealEstate@TheNicholasTeam.com

 

 

Don’t Hesitate to Inspect a Home Yourself- Follow Your Inspector, Ask Questions…

Home inspection professionals are trained to spot problems and evaluate a home’s overall condition. While they have a reputation for being ethical and thorough, they are also still human. Sometimes details escape their attention. Its always a good idea to follow the inspector, take notes, ask questions – its a LOT of information to take in…

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If you’re making a major investment in a home, there’s no reason you have to leave 100% of the inspection up to someone else. There are definitely areas you can review for yourself visually; it is best to hire a professional- make sure they are licensed and ask for references. 

 

Before you sign off on a house, don’t neglect to review these commonly overlooked areas:

 

  1. roof8Roof: Yes, inspectors will consider the roof condition, but they probably won’t be on top of the roof when they do it. This is one area where hiring a roofing contractor to take a look can be a major benefit during negotiations.
  1. Fences: You might not think there’s much to inspect here, but replacing a fence is expensive. What looks sturdy on a sunny day can turn into a giant repair after the first storm of the season. This is especially true of wooden fences.
  1. Drains: Fill up tubs and sinks and see how long it takes them to drain. If they’re slow, you’ll want to know why. It could be something as simple as a clog, but what if it’s more?
  1. masonry_inspection_serviceFireplaces: Home inspectors will often give these the once-over, but they sure aren’t going to light a fire. If you can, make sure these operate as expected. It’s also a good idea to find out when the chimney was last cleaned and who the owner uses to maintain it.
  1. Heating/Cooling: The time of year might impact how thorough an inspector is with the heating and cooling system. After all, who’s likely to really run the A/C in the winter or the heat in the summer? With such a big ticket item, you want to be certain it performs as expected.

Pricing is directly tied to a home’s condition, so don’t overlook the opportunity to protect yourself from repair bills. Problems present you with leverage in negotiations.

Ready to hunt for a home in great shape? Let us help you with your search. There are all kinds of properties available right now: Barbara & Gregg, THE NICHOLAS TEAM   realestate@thenicholasteam.com   973-509-2222 ext.1126