Chris Werme and Mike Boland - ERA Key Realty Services - Westborough

Posted by Chris Werme and Mike Boland on 3/10/2020

Photo by LesPalenik via Shutterstock

Many first time home buyers simply don’t think too much about home maintenance during the purchasing process. The challenge is that once you’re in the home, regardless of whether you’ve thought about it or not, your home’s maintenance needs only increase. And if there’s a hidden problem lurking somewhere, the result of ignoring it means it only gets bigger, more difficult to repair and could potentially cause other issues.

Invite an Inspection

During the purchase process, you should have had a home inspection. On it, a certified inspector lists any areas with potential maintenance needs in the foreseeable future. Read through the inspection list to see what’s upcoming. Will you need a new roof in a few years? Does the exterior paint need some TLC? How old is the water heater and how long is the warranty on it? Did the inspector notice any weaknesses in the foundation or cracks in the supports? Minor issues likely weren’t enough to stop a sale since every home has some blemishes. But knowing the potential issues means you can keep your eye on them and stop something from developing into an expensive issue needing major repairs.

Do an Annual Review

Make a list and check it twice. Each season walk through your home, crawl in the attic space and under the floor joists to check things out. Look for evidence of water leaks, mold, or build-up of condensation. Check for dripping faucets, hissing or running toilets or loose fixtures. Tighten water valves and check for moisture inside sink cabinets and bathroom vanities.

If your house has a fireplace, have the chimney swept before you use it in the fall or winter. During the summer, birds and small animals often build nests in the chimney that can catch embers and cause house fires. If your chimney does not have a screen or cap, talk to your fireplace professional about installing them. Your fireplace isn’t the only thing that needs screens. If your gutters continually clog with leaves and debris, they can back up and cause significant water damage to your home. In areas with snow or ice, clogged gutters can overflow during a melt and damage the gutters, soffit and even the foundation. A gutter contractor can install screens that let the water in but keep the debris out.

Energy Review

Other areas that need consideration are windows and doors. If your dual-paned window steams or frosts on the inside, the seal has broken, so you won’t reap the benefit of energy savings. Drafty door jams and frames allow frigid air in and cause your furnace to run longer. Ask your public utility company to do an energy survey of your home and caulk, repair or replace when necessary.

Your professional real estate agent is the best resource for a home inspector, referrals for a handy contractor and how to contact your public utilities for a review. Reach out today for information. 

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Posted by Chris Werme and Mike Boland on 4/11/2017

Buying a new home is an exciting prospect. Touring a house can feel like walking around your favorite store, picking out all of the things you love. It's easy to get distracted by things like fresh paint or nice furniture and forget to look for important structural aspects of the home that can make or break a deal. Most sellers will be honest and straightforward with you about the state of the home. In some cases, they are required by law to inform you about costly issues with the home (lead paint or sewage issues, for example). Other times, a seller is under no legal obligation to inform you about potential problems with the home. In these instances, you'll need to rely on your own senses. To help you out, we've compiled a list of the top ten red flags to beware of when buying a home.

  1. Fresh paint  It's common practice when selling a house to put a fresh coat of paint on the walls. It's an inexpensive way to spruce up the home for potential buyers. Sometimes, however, the paint is used as a quick fix for hiding more serious issues. Water damage, mold, and mildew can all be covered up, momentarily, by a coat of paint.
  2. Strong odors We say "strong" rather than "bad" odors because sometimes someone selling a home will try to mask bad smells with air fresheners or candles. Bad smells in a house can be the result of plumbing issues, humidity, indoor smokers, water damage, pet urine, uncleanliness, and any number of undesirable things.
  3. Bad roofing Missing, broken or stacked shingles are all signs that the roof is in need of repair--a costly fix you probably want to avoid if buying a new home.
  4. Cracked foundation A damaged foundation could be a sign of serious structural problems with the house. Especially in sloped areas, cracked foundations can lead to water damage in the basement.
  5. Poor wiring  Don't be afraid to ask to test out the lights and outlets in a home or take a look at breaker boxes. Flickering lighting and faulty outlets are signs that a home is in need of electric work.
  6. Pest issues  Many people underestimate the power of insects when it comes to damaging a home. Wood-eating termites and carpenter ants can both devastate the structure of a home and usually results in an expensive repair. Noticing ants is a huge red flag, but if you suspect a home could have an infestation for any reason try to get it inspected by a pest control firm before you make the deal.
  7. Locked doors and off-limit rooms  When touring a home there should be no areas that you aren't allowed to see. A locked door or "do not enter" sign are all red flags that the seller may be hiding something in that room.
  8. Leaking faucets Small plumbing issues like leaky faucets or toilets that run excessively are signs that there could be even larger issues with the plumbing in the house.
  9. Deserted neighborhood Multiple homes for sale in the neighborhood, deteriorating buildings and closed businesses are all signs of a problem neighborhood. It could be due to economic issues or a decaying community, but either way these are things you'll want to consider before moving into a new neighborhood.
  10. Defective windows  Windows that are sealed shut, fogged up, or won't open or close are all signs of costly repairs. You're going to depend on windows for the security of your home, lighting and aesthetic, and to a minor degree for retaining heat. They should all function properly.

Posted by Chris Werme and Mike Boland on 11/7/2016

Avoid A Frozen Pipe Disaster Before winter winds start to blow is the time to protect pipes to prevent loss and water damage when the temperature plummets. Every winter household pipes are at risk of breaking from freezing conditions. Frozen pipes can cut off your home’s water supply and cause pipes to freeze, crack or burst. Did you know that a crack less than an eighth of an inch in width in you home’s plumbing can allow 250 gallons or more of water a day to damage carpets, wood flooring, furniture and personal property? While keeping water running, even set at a tiny trickle, can help keep pipes from freezing, it puts a great strain on water systems already under use restrictions. Don’t be part of the problem. By doing a bit of preventive maintenance you can help safeguard our home before the mercury drops. Call a family meeting to make sure that every member of the household knows where the main water valve is located and how to shut it off in the event of an emergency. It is also a good idea to locate and know how to shutoff the valve on your hot water heater. Keep the number of your plumber on your speed dial. Outdoors, drain fountains and birdbaths and disconnect and drain all garden hoses and drip irrigation systems. Install insulated covers over all outdoor faucets. Clean out gutters to avoid ice build up and so melting ice and snow can readily flow away from the structure. Make sure all household drains are clean of debris and running freely of obstruction. Repair all leaks and drafts that allow cold air to enter the home. Identify the location of drafts around pipes and seal out cold air with caulking. Look for leaks coming in from electrical wires and vents. Install weather stripping around doors and windows. Consider installing energy saving insulated windows. Install foam insulation behind every electrical outlet and light switch to reduce cold drafts. Everything that you do to make your home more energy efficient will not only help keep cold air out, but it will also save on utility bills all year around. Install thermostatically controlled heat tape around the pipes connecting to your water meter, near exterior walls, in crawl spaces, the attic, or any unheated area with pipes that could be vulnerable to freezing temperatures. Install additional blanket insulation around hot water heaters and pipes on exterior walls. If your home has a basement, maintain a consistent cellar temperature. To save energy and reduce heating costs, add additional insulation to attics, basements or crawl spaces. During the cold months of winter, maintain an indoor temperature throughout the house of 65 degrees or warmer, even when you are away from home for a lengthy period. Be sure to open cabinet doors under the sink and around bathtub fixtures to let heat circulate around water pipes. If you plan to vacate the property for more than a week, shut off the water supply valves to your dishwasher and washing machine.

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