Are you in the market for a new home? If so, you may already know that having a property inspected before finalizing a deal is generally recommended. However, standard home inspections don’t usually include an evaluation of the building’s air quality. Since air quality can have a huge impact on the health of a home’s inhabitants, forgetting to check this important aspect is a mistake.
Testing indoor air quality
When testing the air quality in a home, the inspector will focus on several elements, including:
• The building’s history, including the year it was built and the materials used to insulate it. This information will offer insight into potential air contaminants.
• The health of the current residents, including any symptoms that indicate an issue with the air in the home.
• The state of the home’s ventilation system.
The inspector will also collect samples of the air in the home to check for mold, bacteria and gases like radon and carbon monoxide.
Don’t risk your health. Before scheduling a home inspection, ask if the inspector is qualified to assess the air quality of the home and if they’re comfortable drawing conclusions about potential health risks.
Exterior siding: how long do various types last?
Siding protects your home from the elements but inevitably takes a beating in the process. Your choice of material, however, will determine how long this part of your house endures.
• Vinyl typically lasts 20 to 40 years and is easy to maintain. The grade and thickness of the panels will impact their durability. If damaged, vinyl panels are easy to repair or replace.
• Wood siding (usually cedar) can last anywhere from 15 to 40 years. It offers unrivaled beauty but also requires much more maintenance than other types of siding. The wood should be resealed every five years and inspected annually to stave off potential rot and pest infestations.
• Aluminum has a lifespan of about 30 to 50 years. However, expect the paint to peel after about 15 years. Fortunately, aluminum siding can be repainted. Though it’s possible for aluminum panels to be scratched, dented, or pitted, they can usually be fixed or replaced
• Fiber cement planks have a lifespan of about 25 to 40 years. Their color may eventually fade, but the planks can be repainted. Fiber cement can resemble wood but is resistant to termites and rot. This type of siding requires little maintenance.
Siding should always be replaced when it can no longer protect the internal structure of your home. However, it may deteriorate long before this and should be replaced once it becomes shabby, brittle, or discolored.
Should you invest in a sump pump?
A sump pump is a device that can be installed in a basement, either beneath or above the floor. It’s designed to pump out the water collected in a sump basin and discharge it to the outdoors. Consequently, your home is kept safe from the damage that can occur as a result of flooding.
If your basement is at risk of flooding, you should consider buying a sump pump, especially if you live somewhere with a high water table. If possible, select a submersible rather than a pedestal pump, as they’re less noisy when covered with a lid. You should also opt for a model with an iron core since it’s more durable than the plastic alternative. Plus, you should think about getting a pump with an alarm that alerts you if the water in the basin reaches a dangerous level.
In addition, you may want to install a secondary sump pump next to the first one, especially if you have a finished basement. This way, if your primary pump fails or becomes overtaxed, the secondary pump will automatically take over.
A battery backup pump can also be installed. In the event of a power outage, this type of pump will continue to work for up to two days.
To install a sump pump in your home, speak with a qualified plumber in your area.
Popular window styles and where to use them
Do you want to update the windows in your home? If so, here are some popular types and where they might look best.
• Double-hung windows feature two large sashes that slide up and down along vertical tracks. They perfectly complement rambler, farmhouse, bungalow, and other modern-traditional style homes. They have many customization options and look good in almost any room.
• Slider windows are available in a variety of styles, materials, and finishes. They open horizontally rather than vertically, which makes them ideal for spaces with horizontal features. For example, they look good over a counter or in a hallway. Since slider windows are easy to open and close, they’re also practical in hard-to-reach spaces.
• Casement windows open inward or outward with a mechanical crank. They’re well suited to contemporary homes and great in rooms where you want to let in a cool breeze.
• Bay and bow windows extend outward from the home and are traditionally composed of a picture window flanked by one or more pairs of double-hung or casement windows. Place them anywhere that overlooks a view or in a living room, family room, or bedroom that needs a focal point.
The best windows for your home will depend on your budget and style. In all cases, however, it’s best to make sure they’re energy-efficient (look for the Energy Star label) and installed by an experienced contractor.
Touchless design features for a germ-free home
Touchless technologies have long been featured in public spaces to limit the spread of germs. Now, these motion-activated innovations are making their way into homes. Here are a few you may want to adopt.
• Light switches. Illuminate your home by walking past conveniently placed sensors.
• Faucets and toilets. Touchless versions will help keep your bathrooms sanitary.
• Soap dispensers. Wash your hands without getting the dispenser dirty.
• Appliances. Dishwashers, refrigerators, and ovens are increasingly featuring technologies that allow you to open and close them without using a handle.
• Garbage bins. Open and close your trash can with motion-activated technology.
You can find touchless technologies at hardware and appliance stores in your area.
Virginia’s 2020 home sales top 2019 sales by nearly 11%
According to the December 2020 Home Sales Report released by Virginia REALTORS®, Virginia’s housing market surged in the second half of 2020. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and economic downturn, there were 13,603 more home sales in 2020 than there were in 2019. This is an increase of 10.8%—the Commonwealth’s fastest growth in annual sales transactions in more than five years.
Sales activity in the final quarter of 2020 was significant compared to recent years. Home sales activity gained steam throughout the fall and into the winter months when transactions typically tend to slow. In December, there was a total of 12,525 home sales in Virginia, which is 32.4% higher than a year ago.
Demand for homeownership has been strong throughout the pandemic, fueled by historically low mortgage rates. Virginia REALTORS® Chief Economist Lisa Sturtevant, PhD, says, “The foremost challenge for Virginia’s housing market has been a lack of supply. Declining inventory has limited options for would-be homebuyers and has driven up home prices across the Commonwealth.”
In Virginia, the median sales price in 2020 was $319,902, which was up from $295,000 last year, an 8.4% increase. For the past few years, home prices have risen by between 2 and 4 percent, so the gain in 2020 is notable. The biggest price gains were in the last few months of the year. In December, the median sales price statewide was $325,000, up 10.2%.
Demand for homeownership will continue to be strong in Virginia in 2021, while a lack of inventory will constrain market activity. Virginia REALTORS® forecasts that home sales will increase in 2021, though the pace of home sales transactions will slow due to insufficient supply.
The Virginia Home Sales Report is published by Virginia REALTORS®. Click here to view the full December 2020 Home Sales Report. Current and past reports are available to members, media, and real estate-related industries through the organization’s website.
4 tips for homeowners upgrading their garage door
Replacing your garage door is a home renovation project with a high return on investment. Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re making this upgrade.
1. Use manufacturer websites. Choose a door design you like by perusing your options online. Many manufacturers have software on their website that lets you upload a photo of your home and try on different garage door styles.
2. Invest in good insulation. The effectiveness of a garage door’s insulation is referred to by its R-value. The higher the number, the better the door prevents heat transfer. Garage doors insulated with polyurethane are the most efficient.
3. Opt for the best springs. Springs are what hold the weight of your garage door and allow it to effortlessly move up and down. Standard torsion springs are rated for about 10,000 cycles, but those rated for 20,000 cycles are only a bit more expensive and well worth the extra cost.
4. Buy an opener at the same time. If your opener is showing its age, or you want one with the latest features, this is the perfect time to replace it. You can save on installation costs by having your contractor put in the door and opener at the same time.
Finally, make sure you hire a professional to install your garage door as this job can be complex, time-consuming, and dangerous.