Bristow, VA Real Estate News

By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
Flexible gas tubing should not be bent like this.This is an unprofessional installation.Or, perhaps, through the years, it has been bent over and over in different ways as the range has been moved out and then back in.All of these twists and turns put stress onto the gas line.This is a flexible gas tubing.It is vulnerable to damage, splitting, and crimping can cause a lesser flow of gas to the appliance.Just because it is flexible does not mean you can do this to it.Everything has its tolerances.Gastite is a manufacturer of flexible gas tubing, which they call Corrugated Stainless Steel Tubing, or more commonly CSST.Of course Gastite has a website.  All CSST manufacturers have websites!  Each website has its installation instructions.Each manufacturer wants to make sure its product is n...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster Real Estate)
Braemar Property Values:  January-February 2017 (Courtyard Series)Cloudy days can be the best days for a busy Bristow Real Estate Agent like myself to get paperwork done... and market reports.  Today I'm working on my Braemar Property Value Reports.  This one focuses on sales activity for Courtyard Series homes.  Courtyard homes are one of three different floor plans that share a private courtyard driveway and have limited outdoor space.  Models include the Arlington, Clarendon and Ballston.There were two Braemar Courtyared home sales between January and February.  The lowest sales price was $399,900.  The highest sales price was $415,000. They were both Ballston models.  One seller gave $3,000 in closing cost help, the other gave $10,000.  Both of these sale prices are above the six mo...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster Real Estate)
Braemar Property Values:  January-February 2017 (Carriage Series)A rainy day in Bristow is a great time to sit down in front of my computer and tell you all about the Braemar real estate market.  It is Braemar Property Value Report time, after all.  And in this report, we are going to focus on sales in the first two months of the year in the Carriage Series.  Braemar Carriage homes are characterized by the lack of an attached garage. When these homes have a garage, it is detached and sits in back of the home.  The floor plans, from smallest to largest, are: Maplewood,  Norwood,  Oakdale and  Parkdale.The last report, which covered the last two months of 2016, displayed a rare occurrence where absolutely no Braemar Carriage homes sold.  This reporting period we had one sale.  It was a fi...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster Real Estate)
Braemar Property Values:  January-February 2017 (Arista Series)Spring is in the air in Bristow.  As I drive down our suburban streets of Braemar I'm seeing daffodils and hyacinths blooming and our trees are finally sprouting their buds.  While winter didn't give us much of a show this past season, I know we all get excited when warmer weather approaches and our days are gaining sunlight.  The warm weather and sunlight has been tempting me away from my Braemar Property Value Reports.  It's easy to start them on a cold dreary day.  Harder to get them done when spring awaits just out the front door.This particular report will focus on home sales in the Arista Series.  Arista Series homes are the large, single family homes built by Brookfield Homes.  The floor plans are:  Allister, Buckingh...
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By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
Do you think this energy loss all over the house doesn't add up?Perhaps 10% of the energy loss in your house happens through exterior wall penetrations like receptacles, switches and canister light fixtures.Spots this poorly insulated can be a significant loss of energy over time!Some builders will put foam around each one, but many will not.  That foam is a good insulator.And how many wall switches, receptacles and light fixtures are in a house?And while it isn't a swoosh of energy, often in cold weather you can actually feel air coming in through receptacle holes.Remember, heat seeks cold.Small holes, and gaps, and missing spots of insulation add up to significant energy losses.  And you are paying for that over time, and the problem doesn't get better.What can you do about spots like...
Comments 12
By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
What happens in a flip when the new range is deeper than the old one?And, (this is a big AND) the dishwasher door no longer opens!Surely the Flipper knew the dishwasher door cannot be opened.The dishwasher cannot be moved further to the side.And the range cannot be moved further toward the wall.No matter what the dishwasher door does not open, even when the oven door is opened to get it out of the way!Surely the Flipper knew the dishwasher door cannot be opened.If it cannot be opened the rolling shelves will not move which makes it most difficult to stock the dishwasher with dishes and such for washing.What does someone think will happen when people find out that this, and therefore probably other, poison pills have been left for them when they move into the house?And this was not the o...
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By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
What would you think at final walk through if landscaping was dead?We scheduled the walk through.  We went to the walk through.  The doors were unlocked by the builder for the walk through.It was time for the grand presentation - the great reveal - of my clients' new house.  And we were there to inspect it!Walking around the outside we were disappointed to see a 9' Holly Tree that was obviously dead.The decorative grasses and small shrubs along the sidewalk leading to the front door were obviously dead.In the back yard the lone Cherry Blossom tree had its small limbs easily break off and looked brown inside.  At the base I chipped off some loose bark to reveal what looked like a dead interior.  My pen went right inside!Two things are supposed  to happen before planting is done:1.  The s...
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By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
Look closely.  Which is the manhole and which is the manhole cover?             Take your time.Look over both photos carefully.Now, please do not think I wax chauvanistic by referring to that hole as a "manhole."While I did not see the particular hole in the top photo being dug, I have looked and every operator of every big earth mover at this development was a man.So men have dug every hole in the development.  The hole above is yet to be completed.And I inspected that manhole cover about 9 months ago and it was in pretty good shape!My recommendation:  a home inspector observes and reports.  And I call'em like I see'em.  And lest you still wonder, the manhole is the top photograph and the manhole cover the bottom.  
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By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
When guardrails are removed they should be put back!Barriers and restrictions are there to avoid consequence. Many people regard laws to be restrictive and to prevent us from "having fun."  Take the speed limit, for example.  Nobody has ever gotten a ticket for staying within the speed limit.  The speed limit is just that - a limit!  Its intention is to aid safety when driving, and avoid the consequence(s) of going too fast.The same kind of laws, called codes, govern safety in our homes and buildings.  Consider the guardrails on decks, balconies and stairs.  They are to aid safety, and to prevent the consequence(s) from falling.It's common sense.  Guardrails are there for a good reason.There are all sorts of contexts requiring guardrails.In the photo the guardrail that used to be at the...
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By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
This is a mouse highway into your house.What is?  A door?  Trees overhanging the house and a roof vent?  A hole beside a window?It's where the AC lines attach to the house!Typically these lines are near to the ground, or easily accessed by climbing mice from the unit.They merely follow the trail into the house.If they are allowed, that is!How are they allowed?When the putty, or whatever sealer, dries up and falls away.  Look at the size of that opening!  It is a magical, always-open door!  They can come and go at will.A mouse needs only a 1/4" gap or hole to get into a house!  That is not much space!  Once a group of mice find such an opening in a house they move in.And once inside they will create bedrooms, find sources of food and water, and grow in numbers.AND THEY WILL GROW IN NUMBE...
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By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
This much missing insulation can influence a whole room.It doesn't seem like a lot, but with insulation just a little that is missing goes a long way toward dramatically increasing energy bills.This subject house was advertised to have had a new roof installed just a few years ago.It was an older townhouse, and going into the attic space it was obvious that much of the sheathing had to be replaced along with the shingles.That likely was the result of the roof shingles being very old at the time of replacement.The previous roof may have leaked substantially, rotting the roof sheathing below.It may have also had the older, bad Fire Retardant Treated plywood.  I could see evidence of the older roof materials laying about.But in the corner there was an area where the insulation was missing ...
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By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
Heat pump or resistance furnace - which one do you want to turn on?A heat pump provides heat two ways:1.  The mechanism is essentially an air conditioner with the ability to work backwards.  To heat a house it literally compresses the heat from outdoors and brings it inside.  When it's too cold outdoors the heat pump becomes less efficient, and eventually unable to provide heat.  So,2.  There is a resistance furnace to help it.  The resistance furnace is a big toaster.  Electric coils heat up and air blows over them to heat the house.  The resistance heat is 100% efficient, but much more expensive than heat pump heat.To turn on the heat pump the thermostat button should be set on "HEAT."  You can see in the photo that the button here was set on "HEAT."  When in that position only the gr...
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By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
When HVAC ducts run under the house.What?  Ducts that run under a slab?  Ducts that run underground? That was very common in the 60s and 70s in Virginia.Can that be a problem?Yes.  Such duct work can break down over time and deteriorate.This house was built with a ground-level slab.  The HVAC duct work for the lower level ran entirely under the slab - entirely underground. As such, and if deterioration occurs, the duct work can fill up with water and mud, and even various sorts of animalia that can get inside.I have seen ducts fill with tree roots!When full of water, if/when the heat or AC is running the water in the duct work itself will contribute huge amounts of moisture to the house.  And that moisture can be laden with whatever microbial contribution that is amplifying inside the d...
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By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
A hole in a fire-protective door is not holy.Fire door, garage access door, fire prevention door - no matter what you call it, as Juliet would say about a certain Montague, "a rose by any other name would smell as sweet."While Juliet was not referring to fire doors, these doors do have a lot of different names.This photo shows the door between the house and the garage.It is a protective door assembly - made of materials that work together to create a barrier against fire or smoke intrusion into the house, and to hold back heat transfer. Hopefully it will also help to protect against carbon monoxide infiltration.Recent codes require an automatic closing hinge that will shut the door completely from an open position.  A recent post on such door hinges can be read by clicking here.These ga...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster Real Estate)
The Best Thing I Heard All Day:  No One Knows Braemar BetterYesterday, thanks to a dusting of snow, coupled with loads of panic, title companies in Prince William and Fairfax Counties closed.  That meant a delayed closing for my latest Braemar Carriage home at 9758 Tobmreck Court.  Nonetheless, it closed today for $5,000 more than asking price and not a single appraisal issue.  That's what hiring the agent that knows Braemar's real estate market better than any other will get you--fantastic marketing, great price and no drama.Some folks ask me how I manage to get so many listings in Braemar.  It's not simply because I live here and serve on one of the sub-association boards.  Real estate agents can go virtually unnoticed, which is why we need to actively find ways to stay in the forefro...
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By Chris Ann Cleland, Associate Broker, Bristow, VA
(Long and Foster Real Estate)
Snow Day in Bristow, VA Means Delayed SettlementWhen we were entering the fall in Bristow, I kept hearing about how a lot of the natural indicators were predicting a heavy snowfall for our area this winter.  One of those natural indicators was holly bushes with TONS more berries than normal.  To be honest, I forgot what the other natural indicator of lots of snowfall was.  Nonetheless, the predictions were made that 2016-2017's winter in Bristow, VA was going to be a snowy one.The temperatures we milder than normal.  Shoot, some days I actually had to put on my A/C.  It was odd weather.  Then, this past weekend, I heard we were going to get walloped.  A nor'easter was heading up the coast and those are the bad boys that dump tons of snow.  Did I mention we're in mid-March.March snow sto...
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By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
The HVAC register was not blowing air.  What's up?Was the duct blocked?If air was blowing, where was it going?In this house this particular room was cold.  Reaching up to the register I could not feel any moving air, but I could feel that the register was hot when I touched it.So air was at least arriving to the spot.But where was it going and how would I know?I would break out Mighty Mo!And I did!  This is the perfect thing for a thermal camera to analyze.Looking at the register this is what the thermal camera could see.There was heat arriving to register and blowing into the cavity above the drywall!  That heat was fanning out in all directions the air flow was allowed to go.Why?  There was a leak!  An air leak.  And likely because the duct had come loose from the register hood.The im...
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By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
What could cause so much moisture in a bay window?The underside of the bay window was bulging.Pushing on it the material was very soft and felt wet.  It had rained the night before.Measuring with the moisture meter the needle jumped to >30%, indicating saturation.And Mighty Mo showed how the moisture had collected inside the window.  The water was literally resting inside the space.That is a lot of moisture!So what caused it?The window material was all wrapped with an aluminum covering to protect the wood from moisture and rot.It was well done, and caulked properly.Unfortunately when the deck was built someone had improperly "attached" decking materials with nails!And the nails punctured the metal wrapping all over the bay window's wood framing.Over time, of course, each of those punctu...
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By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
Does this James Hardie siding installation look right?All over this new construction I saw things seen in these photos.  If it doesn't look right, you can bet it isn't!  And if you were the buyer what would you think?Siding members should not be fastened, or face nailed, with brads.  And gaps between siding members should not be filled with caulking, putty, or anything of the like.  Brads puncture the skin and expose the interior to moisture.  Filling gaps with cracking and bulging material, and leaving it to be painted, is utterly poor practice.  Both of these things lead to moisture migration into the material, and its ultimate deterioration.  Such deterioration can happen quickly!Leaving cracked or damaged siding members, aside from being unsightly and unprofessional, is never an app...
Comments 14
By Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia
(Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC)
How often should the HVAC filter be replaced or cleaned?The rule of thumb is once a month.Obviously there are months where temperatures are such that the unit does not get a lot of work. So during those months the filter would not need attention.But an air filter needs attention when it needs attention!If a house is vacuumed often and dusted regularly the filter might not load up so much with dust and such.But for the most part it should be checked, cleaned and replaced.This filter had not been replaced in quite a long time.  I expect a couple of years!  Showing this to my client was a real object lesson in filter care.Maybe the TV commercial could say:  "This is your heat pump filter.  This is your heat pump filter on dirt..."Not replacing or cleaning a filter is a quick way to ruin yo...
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