Spring Cleaning & MaintenancePosted by admin on April 12th, 2013

It’s that time again! I imagine you’ll be doing some spring cleaning and yard work when the weather gets nice again. It’s a good idea to also do some basic maintenance around your house to save money, energy and possibly headaches later. If you maintain the systems in your home, you will have less of a chance of an expensive catastrophe and your appliances and house components will last longer, saving you money in the long run. Here are my recommendations for spring house maintenance:

Clean or replace your HVAC filters. This needs to be done regularly- I recommend doing it monthly when in use. A clean filter saves on energy costs and extends the life of your system. A dirty filter forces your system to work harder (reducing the life) to force air through all the built-up dirty particles and can re-distribute pollens and dirt throughout your home. Do you have allergies? This is a MUST!

Vacuum your refrigerator coils. Dirty coils (on the back of your fridge) cause your fridge to work harder to extract heat from the interior of the fridge which means more money out of your pocket! Use a vacuum cleaner hose or a brush to clean the coils.

Replace the batteries in your smoke detectors. This is probably the easiest but most often skipped home maintenance task. Having these in working order is important for safety of you and your family so don’t skip it! for added safety, get a carbon monoxide detector for each level of your home and each bedroom as well- safety first!

Clean your dryer vent. This also saves energy and money- when your vents are dirty, the exhaust air from your dryer doesn’t have a clear path to the exterior, so it has to work harder which causes inefficiency as you may have to run your dryer for longer periods of time. This means higher energy bills. Built-up lint is also a fire hazard. Be sure to also clean your lint trap inside the dryer before EVERY cycle!

Clean and inspect the gutters. I know I recommended this in the fall too, but dust, pollen, leaves and branches fall year-round and spring is the second most important time to clean them. Evaluate the overall condition of the gutters- be sure there are no leaks and that the drainage is away from the foundation. Use a gutter scoop to clear gutters and be sure the connections to downspouts is also clear. A friend of mine said he found a tennis ball in his gutter- no wonder it wasn’t draining properly!

Clear space around your AC compressor. Prepare for the warmer weather by clearing anything that can block airflow- this increases efficiency and extends the life of your unit.

Prepare your lawn mower. Sharpen the cutting blade and change the engine oil. Your mower will run like a champ and your lawn will look better too.

Happy spring!

Why I Used to Specialize in Houses Built Before 1947Posted by admin on April 5th, 2013

So many people have asked me why I have such a passion for homes built before 1947. Why 1947? What significance does that year have? In the architecture and urban planning realm, this year is pivotal. World War II ended in 1945 and veterans returning to the US were finding themselves in need of affordable housing. Because of this, President Truman approved a program called the Veterans’ Emergency Housing Act on On May 22, 1946.

Essentially, the Veterans’ Emergency Housing Program (VEHP) was to create lots of houses (one million were planned to be started in the first year) to be built very quickly and consequently sold for less money due to the volume. This essentially created a factory of mass-produced homes that ended up looking mostly the same, lacking the quality construction and detail that homes built before this time had such as Victorian, Tudor and Craftsman. This also made construction materials more affordable and created jobs. Building materials were decontrolled and channeled into these low- to mid-price houses.

The land that was used for these new houses was generally on the outskirts of established towns and city cores- the land was cheaper the further from the city center it was. This created a reliance on the automobile which was just getting popular and becoming considerably more affordable during this time. No longer did people need buses or public transportation- they now had cars and along with it- complete freedom. These developments are called the suburbs.

Now, any architect or urban planner will tell you that the suburbs are not the place where innovation happens or where communities thrive. Density and high walk scores are better for successful cities and communities. Suburbs create and nurture sprawl and sprawl is a waste of resources. I could go on and on about this, but I’ll spare you the theorizing. If you are interested in the exact source of my specialization/interest and some really good info about suburbs and how they came about, I highly recommend the film “The End of Suburbia”- it’s available at your local library for free.