Month: September 2013

Golden Advice for All Homeowners and Owners-To-Be

Check out this Yahoo Finance article for some great advice for new, soon-to-be, and maybe even some seasoned homeowners. Homeownership can become unnecessarily stressful  if you find yourself constantly blindsided by your new home’s needs. But if you’re prepared and know what to expect, it’s totally reasonable and manageable!

Repairs Every New Homebuyer Should Make

Getty Images/Thinkstock 

You’ve unpacked, painted the walls, and taken care of other small home repair projects. Now it’s time to relax, open a bottle of wine and enjoy being a homeowner. Right? Think again.

“I tell my new homeowner customers that you’re going to find problems every season for a few years,” says Rich Escallier, a handyman in Chicago. “If you can go six months without finding something that raises your blood pressure, you’re lucky.”

Contractors and remodeling experts agree that new owners shouldn’t rest easy after their home purchase.

Starting from the moment they move in, new owners should look ahead to routine maintenance and take care of small home repairs right away to head off potentially costly mistakes. Here’s a quick timeline of things to look for.

Move-In Week

Make it a point to turn on all of your major appliances and let them run for a complete cycle, especially if your home is newly built. Believe it or not, contractors and home inspectors don’t always test out these devices after installing them. It’s easy to improperly connect appliances dishwashers and microwave ovens, says Daniel Cipriani of Kade Homes & Renovations outside Atlanta, Ga.

“If you have a minor leak under the dishwasher, that water leaks into the subfloor and you can’t see it,” Cipriani says. “But you’ll start to notice the hardwood floor buckling.”

Repairing the floor after a minor leak goes unnoticed can cost as much as $5,000.

If you’re in a new house, be sure to read your warranty — don’t wait until an emergency to start familiarizing yourself with your legal rights and responsibilities.

45 Days

Change the filter on your HVAC system, and vacuum out the air intake vents. Capturing dirt and dust with the right filter can go a long way toward preserving the new home appeal for a few years.

Six Months

During summer months, keep an eye out for invasive animals like squirrels, birds and wasps. These pests look for loose soffits and buckled siding as a way to get into your home. Once there, they can make a nest, raise young and wreak havoc on hard-to-reach areas of your home.

Twice a year in the summer and fall, inspect the exterior of your house to make sure rainwater is draining properly. Clean out clogged gutters and downspouts. Construction professionals recommend six-inch gutters and proper landscaping so that rainwater is directed away from your foundation.

“Landscaping should be negatively graded away from the house,” Cipriani says. “People don’t think it’s a big problem, but otherwise water pools against the foundation and doesn’t have anywhere to go.”

Fixing up your foundation could cost upwards of $10,000. Even one crack in a poured concrete wall could cost $800 to $1,500 per crack, according to the Foundation Repair Network.

“If you can fit a nickel into it, you’ll know that it might be an issue,” Cipriani says.

Each winter, check to make sure that your pipes are properly insulated against freezing. Consider installing an inexpensive insulating hood over exterior water spigots.

Every Year

Inspect your roof or have a professional roofer conduct an inspection. Look for missing shingles, gaps in the flashing around chimneys and other hazards. Indoors, check your ceiling for water spots. If you see a spot, don’t panic — just trace the spot with a pencil so you can monitor its progress to see if it’s still growing. Some minor leaks will clear up without your help, but most don’t, so you have to stay vigilant.

Every Two Years

If you have a sewer line or a catch basin, expect to have it cleaned out and inspected by qualified plumbers. They’ll check for broken pipes, roots growing through the line and other potential flooding hazards.

Have a professional HVAC contractor inspect your furnace, air conditioner and hot water heater. Often hot water heaters are located close to other major appliances — and a ruptured reservoir could spill 40 gallons of water in a few hours. Escallier recommends installing an inexpensive water alarm with sensors in the collection pan beneath the hot water heater. A $25 water alarm can head off a potentially disastrous basement spill.

Above all, don’t put off little repairs — that just compounds the problem. The most common thing customers say to Escallier after a big repair job is, “We wish we would have done this sooner.”

“You want to enjoy living in your house,” he says. “Don’t put your head in the sand.”

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Shocker: DC Cabbies Want *Another* Extension to the Credit Card Reader Deadline

Cabs in NYC and Philly have all had credit card readers for *years* now. Why is it taking DC so long to get its act together?!

DC’s cabbies were told in June that they had 120 days to get credit card readers installed in their cabs. Instead of hopping to it, they rallied for and received a deadline extension for an additional month. Now that the new October 1 deadline approaches, they are rallying for yet another deadline extension, this time citing a backlog at the installation sites. Hey guess what guys – if you hadn’t all waited until the absolute last minute to get this done, maybe there wouldn’t be a backlog! Just a thought. Also, according to Neville Waters, spokesperson for the D.C. Taxi Commission, while some [installation sites] are experiencing backlogs, others have excess capacity. Sooo…what’s up guys?

Cabbies who have already had them installed came to the rally to complain that they weren’t functioning properly and they’ve lost fares as a result. Admittedly, that really does suck, and the DC Taxi Commission definitely dropped the ball there in that they have not provided cabbies with a viable back up plan in that instance. BUT – that has nothing to do with the other cabbies’ ability to get the devices installed in the first place, which is actual issue at hand here.

Over 100 Cab Drivers Rally For Extended Credit Card Reader

Installation Deadline

 

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Photo by Sarah Anne Hughes.

 

As hundreds of federally contracted workers gathered at Freedom Plaza this morning to protest for a living wage, a smaller group of D.C. cab drivers assembled to rally against the fast-approaching credit card reader installation deadline.

The group, which as noon approached swelled to over 100 drivers, made it clear that they want to have credit card readers in their cabs. At one point a speaker yelled, “We’re ready, right?” “Right!” the group yelled back. What was in dispute was the feasibility that they will be able to meet the October 1 credit card reader deadline set by the D.C. Taxi Commission: “Fix the backlog! Extend the deadline.” Cabs that do not have readers installed by the beginning of October will be towed, the D.C. Taxi Commission has said.

A payment service provider installation report released last week for the week ending September 13 showed that five of the eight PSPs were experiencing a backlog. The report for the week ending September 20 did not include this information, but did say that five PSPs are reporting “excess capacity for more installs.”

Wednesday’s rally was organized by cab driver organization DC Drivers United for Equal Rights and the Excluded Worker Project, which released a report yesterday outlining the issues with the installation process…

Progress on the Height Restriction Debate

This week, DC’s office of planning released their recommendations regarding lifting DC’s building height restriction, and boy do they mean business. Within the “L’enfant City” area, the restriction will be raised to 200 feet from the current 160. This is the area of town bordered on the north by FL Ave, and the on the south by the Potomac and Anacostia rivers. As for the rest of the city? They propose doing away with the restriction altogether. For more, read on below.

 

D.C. Recommends Major Changes to Height Act

A rendering of Pennsylvania Avenue with 200-foot buildings.

A rendering of Pennsylvania Avenue with 200-foot buildings.

Two weeks after the National Capital Planning Commission recommended only very minor changes to the Height Act, the District has come out with its own proposals. And they’re considerably more dramatic.

The proposals, conveyed in a letter today from Mayor Vince Gray to Rep. Darrell Issa, the Republican who requested the D.C.-NCPC joint study of the Height Act, suggest two main changes to the 1910 law governing the maximum height of buildings in D.C…

Hassle-Free Design: Magnetic Rods

Hanging rods can be super useful when it comes to storage and decor. But fussing with drills, hammers, screws, etc. to get them mounted can be more than some of us are willing to deal with. The only hitch is that you need a magnetic surface to attach them to. But think metal windows, doors, etc. – these could really come in handy! Check out this awesome collection of magnetic rods from Apartment Therapy.

 

#NewRestoAlert: Azur Closing to Make way for Menu

Chef Frederik de Pue has just announced that he is closing Azur, his seafood concept in Penn Quarter, at the end of the week. He will be reopening it as Menu, a market, restaurant, and bar concept that he says is, “more warm and welcoming – something that reflects my passion for clean, uncomplicated comfort food.” Menu is slated to open in January.

Martha Does DC

The illustrious Martha Stewart has done our little town the honor of compiling her list of favorite spots in DC. The list includes restaurants, bars, and shops, and is impressively hip to some of the newest and most interesting joints in town. Check it out here.

PHOTO: SCOTT SUCHMAN

  • The Red Hen

    A wood-fired grill takes crostini with smoked ricotta and honey to a new level.

    In the blossoming Bloomingdale neighborhood, the Red Hen serves up modern versions of Italian- American classics, such as clams casino and rigatoni with fennel-sausage ragu.

    1822 First Street NW, theredhendc.com

Monday Morning Stats

UrbanTurf, with the assistance of RBI (Real Estate Biz Intelligence), has provided a list of the 10 zipcodes in DC where homes are selling the fastest. Big surprise <insert sarcasm font>, the Hill is still at the top of the list.

The 10 DC Zip Codes Where Home Are Selling the Quickest

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Home for sale in 20005.

For most of 2013, low rates, low inventory and high demand has resulted in homes selling very quickly in many DC neighborhoods.

RealEstate Business Intelligence recently provided UrbanTurf with a rundown of the ten DC zip codes where homes are selling the fastest, year-to-date. As the chart below reveals, homes in the zip codes that include neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Mount Pleasant and Columbia Heights are near the top, selling (on median) in just over a week. But, selling just as fast, are homes in quieter, more suburban-feeling places like Shepherd Park and Chevy Chase.

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By and large, the same zip codes are represented as when we looked at the quickest selling zip codes back in May.

More here…