Home Buyers

Renovating an Older Home

I came across this article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette today and thought it worth a repost. If you are looking for real estate in the Northampton area, you will quickly learn the most of the inventory is comprised of older homes. Housing stock might easily include homes that date 80 to 125 years old, or better. As the saying goes, they don't make 'em like they used to. Houses of that age were built to last. In looking more deeply into an older home, you might find hand hewn beams, wide plank floors, original clapboards, fieldstone foundations, handmade nails, beautiful moldings, etc. However, you may also come across damaged plaster walls, limited-to-no insulation (or horsehair!), lead paint, asbestos wrapped pipes and the like. Depending on the age, a home may have very shallow or limited closet space. Back in the day, people may have used wardrobes vs closets, and they had fewer clothes as well. If a house is very old, you may notice uneven floors due to settling over time. So, if you love the look and charm of an older home, you'll have to do some research and prioritize which elements to keep and/or preserve, and which elements to update.

When we took on the renovation of a 125+ year-old farmhouse, we decided to consult with (and ultimately hire) a local design/build firm to complete our renovations. There are local businesses that specialize in older homes, and there are local professionals who can assist with retrofitting older homes to make them more energy efficient. I can say from experience, that the more energy efficient you decide to make your older home, the less of the original charm it will retain. Luckily - you can choose elements that mimic the era during which the house was built. From moldings, to hardware, to tile, to fixtures, to paint colors -- everything old is new again. Read on for the article in the Gazette.

How to renovate an older home without compromising its charm

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HomeAdvisor 
Published: 1/18/2019 9:05:38 AM

There’s a lot of talk these days about the many ways to bring historic homes into the modern era. But if you’ve purchased an older home — or watched enough of the TV shows featuring their renovations — you know that the original features can lend the most charm. Here are some things to consider as you work to maintain the integrity of a vintage home through updates, upgrades and renovations.

KNOW WHAT YOU’RE GETTING INTO 

Historic homes are popular for a reason. They exude charisma and character, and they typically have a lot to offer homeowners looking to personalize a home to make it their own. Of course, there are also other things to consider. Be aware of common issues like lead paint and asbestos in older homes, both of which will need to be addressed before you can safely move in. And also be sure to check the structural integrity of the home’s foundation. Hiring an inspector experienced in older homes will help to ensure that you find and address any non-cosmetic issues at the outset.

BECOME A HISTORIAN 

It’s important to figure out as much as you can about your home right off the bat. Knowing things like when it was built or how the crown molding was done can assist you when it comes time to renovate. Being aware of your home’s history can help you preserve the most important parts of the design, like transom windows, boot scrapers or Dutch doors. Not to mention, all of that historical knowledge will help you appreciate your space that much more. (Who knows? Maybe you’ll even find out about a resident ghost.) 

BE PATIENT AND GENTLE 

Don’t treat a vintage home like a new home — it was built differently; the materials are older and it requires more attention. A good rule of thumb is to be patient and gentle in all things when working on your older home. Take your time with upgrades or remodels — it’s always better to get the job done right than to throw something together in haste. And by using mild cleaners, protecting fragile design elements and touching up dings and scratches as they come, you’ll be giving your older home the care it needs and deserves.

MIX AND MATCH 

Despite superior craftsmanship in older homes, there will always be wear and tear. Paint chips and fades, mortar crumbles and appliances go out of style. When one of the home’s original features starts to deteriorate, it can seem like the end of the world. But you do have a few options. One is to match colors and styles as closely as possible during upgrades. Many people are able to pull this off with little trouble. But if you truly cannot replicate part of your vintage home, it’s OK to mix it up with modern styles. Many contemporary fixtures work surprisingly well in older homes, and it’s easy to make an old tile pattern new again with some creativity

 

FEELING OVERWHELMED? 

There is a lot to consider when it comes to taking care of a historic home. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to reach out to the experts at your local historical society. They’ll be more than happy to equip you with tools and information you need to make this transition a breeze. Plus, they should also know of some local contractors who specialize in renovating and preserving older homes. 

 
 

Questions for your Home Inspector

It's the beautiful fall season here in the Northampton area - and the real estate market is on an upswing! As Thanksgiving and the December holidays approach, there are buyers and sellers out there still looking, buying and selling before the quiet of winter descends. So, for buyers out there, even if the home you are considering is in tip top condition, the home inspection process is an important learning tool. Your realtor can help you to prioritize issues, and come up with a list of reasonable requests for the seller, once you have your inspection report in hand. Having personally attended home inspections with clients in recent weeks, I thought this article was timely.

Home Inspection's Complete? Here's What You Must Ask Afterward

By  | Oct 9, 2018
 
home-inspector-questions
fstop123/iStock

What are some questions to ask a home inspector after he's finished the inspection? Because, let's face it, just staring at that hefty report highlighting every flaw in your future dream home can send many buyers into a full-blown panic!

Know the right questions to ask a home inspector afterward, though, and this can help put that report into perspective. Here are the big ones to hit.
 

'I don't understand [such and such], what does it mean?'

Just so you know what to expect, here's how it will go down: A day or two after the inspection, you should receive the inspector's report. It will be a detailed list of every flaw in the house, often along with pictures of some of the problem areas and more elaboration.

Hopefully you also attended the actual inspection and could ask questions then; if so, the report should contain no surprises. It should contain what you talked about at the inspection, with pictures and perhaps a bit more detail. If there's anything major you don't remember from the inspection in the report, don't be afraid to ask about it.

'Is this a major or a minor problem?'

Keep in mind, most problems in the house will likely be minor and not outright deal breakers. Still, you'll want your home inspector to help you separate the wheat from the chaff and point out any doozies. So ask him if there are any problems serious enough to keep you from moving forward with the house.

Keep in mind that ultimately it's up to you and your real estate agent to determine how to address any issues.

"The inspector can't tell you, 'Make sure the seller pays for this,' so be sure you understand what needs to be done," says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

'Should I call in another expert for a follow-up inspection?'

Expect to have to call in other experts at this point to look over major issues and assign a dollar figure to fixing them. If your inspector flags your electrical box as looking iffy, for example, you may need to have an electrician come take a look and tell you what exactly is wrong and what the cost would be to fix it. The same goes for any apparent problems with the heating or air conditioning, roof, or foundation. An HVAC repair person, roofer, or engineer will need to examine your house and provide a bid to repair the problem.

Why is this so important? This bid is what your real estate agent will take to the seller if you decide to ask for a concession instead of having the seller do the fix for you. Your inspector can't give you these figures, but he can probably give you a sense of whether it's necessary to call somebody in.

'Is there anything I'll need to do once I move in?'

Wait, you're still not done! It's easy to forget the inspector's report in the whirlwind of closing and moving, but there are almost always suggestions for things that need doing in the first two to three months of occupancy.

Lesh says he sometimes gets panicked calls from homeowners whose houses he inspected three months after they've moved in. Although he'd noted certain issues in his report, the buyers neglected the report entirely—and paid for it later.

"I had a couple call and tell me they had seepage in the basement," Lesh says. "I pulled up their report and asked if they'd reconnected the downspout extension like I recommended. Nope. Well, there's your problem!"

Everything you didn't ask the seller to fix? That's your to-do list. Isn't owning a home fun?

 
Audrey Ference has written for The Billfold, The Hairpin, The Toast, Slate, Salon, and others. She lives in Austin, TX.
 

Great New Florence Listing, Abuts Fitzgerald Lake Conservation Area

Wonderful new Maple and Main Realty listing! 65 Morningside Drive in Florence, MA, off of Country Way is a little slice of heaven! This immaculate 4 bedroom, 4 bath contemporary home sits on a lush half acre lot with mature gardens, Ipe deck with built-in seating area, bar height table and a Goshen stone patio. Meticulously maintained and beautifully updated! There is a spacious eat-in kitchen with cherry cabinets, kitchen island and stainless appliances. A master suite with a large walk-in closet and whirlpool tub in bathroom, mini splits added throughout house for cooling, upgraded closets with built-in shelving in all bedrooms, retractable screens in living room and family room, tiled-floor mudroom with skylight and built-in seating and storage. Cozy family room with working fireplace. 2 car garage and full basement for with built-in storage and workbench. This beautiful and peaceful oasis is minutes from Florence and Northampton centers, and a short walk to the paths of Fitzgerald Lake, just across North Farms Road. All of the amenities one could ask for!

Contact Julie Starr for a private showing, or come to the Open House this Sunday, June 24th from 12-2 pm! Offered at $529,900.

 
     
 
     
 
     
 
   
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
 
   
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
 
 
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
     
 

 

 
   

DIY Repair Your Deck This Summer!

Now that the sun in shining, the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming - the spring real estate market is upon us! I so enjoy seeing all the new "inventory" in the Northampton area with my buyer clients. Houses seem to double in size when you include the yard, and any outdoor living spaces, such as decks, patios, pools and the like. The flip side of this increased sense of space, is that outdoor areas actually require upkeep, and this can be time consuming and expensive. It's a good idea to take stock of all that needs doing, and decide which items/projects you are willing and able to pay for (yard clean up? gutter cleaning?), and which projects you prefer to do on your own (planting new perennials?, mulching your garden beds?).

In the past week, I've happened upon a number of houses with decks in need of TLC. My first impulse as a homeowner, would be to hire a professional to deal with a weathered deck. But, in reading this piece from todays' Daily Hampshire Gazette, it seems as if freshening up ones' deck is actually a manageable DIY project!

How to repair a splintering deck

By HomeAdvisor

Thursday, May 31, 201
 
Splintering decks are usually the result of neglect — occurring after a deck remains untreated and unsealed for a number of years. The lack of protection allows water to soak into the boards, eventually causing them to splinter and crack.

Fortunately, all is not lost. It may be hard to get that brand new look back completely, but following a few simple steps can help you bring your neglected decking back to life.

Your first order of business is the easiest. Mix up a solution of half bleach, half water and spray down your entire decking. If you see areas of deck mold (not unlikely if it's been a while since your deck's been treated), hit those especially hard and work at them with a scrub brush until the mold has been removed.

Finally, wait for the deck to dry before moving on to the next step.

The bleach does two things: It kills deck mold and mildew, and it bleaches the wood to a uniform color, preparing it for treatment. If you treat a deck that's at the point of splintering without applying bleach, you'll end up with dark, unattractive decking. Using bleach will bring out the natural wood look you're trying to recover.

Once the bleach solution has dried off the deck (it's a good idea to give it about 24 hours, just to be sure), you can move on to sanding. Since splintering decks mean lots of painful slivers for bare feet, it's important that you sand down your deck so that you're once again working with a smooth surface. Renting a large floor sander will certainly speed up the job, though the railings, banisters, steps and other hard-to-reach places will probably need to be done with a hand sander or sandpaper. Finally, rent a power washer and clean off the deck. It's going to be covered in a fine layer of dust from the sanding, and you'll need to get rid of that if you want your sealer to take properly.

Once the deck has dried out a second time, you're ready to treat the deck. Using a power sprayer drastically reduces the time it takes to treat a deck, though it can be done with paint rollers and brushes if you've got the patience. Just be sure to watch out for drips and runs, and to brush them up quickly. Waiting until after the deck is dry to try to get rid of them is almost impossible. Finally, remember to treat your deck on a regular basis (at least every few years). It's the only sure-fire way to prevent problems like splintering, cracking, rot and mold.

While it's possible to repair decking yourself, it's a time-consuming and laborious job — especially if you don't have the right tools. A decking contractor is experienced enough to repair decking of all sorts, and they will also have the supplies and know-how to get it done right in a fraction of the time. For this reason, many homeowners find hiring a decking pro to be worth the extra cost.

 

Visit HomeAdvisor.com.

New Listing - Light-filled Contemporary home in Florence, MA

201 Park Hill Road in Florence, MA

Set high above Park Hill Road is this exquisite contemporary 3 bedroom, 3.5 bath home. Commanding views of the Mt. Holyoke range married with multiple decks and individual balconies off each bedroom, bring the beauty of the outdoors right inside your living space. The living room is highlighted with cathedral ceilings and a towering brick fireplace. There are gleaming hardwood floors throughout the main floor, leading you into the master bedroom with en-suite bath, & walk in closet. Expansive concrete countertops and high end stainless steel appliances including a 6 burner Wolf stove, make this kitchen a chef's delight. Upstairs are 2 more impressive bedrooms, both with private balconies. The fully finished, walkout lower level, with a 2nd fireplace and full bath is a great space for relaxing, home office, in-law or whatever you imagine. A must see!

Offered at $688,000. Schedule your private showing with Winnie Gorman, Lisa Darragh or Scott Rebmann. Or come to the Open House this Saturday, May 12, from 12-2 pm

 

 

 


 

New Listing in Chesterfield MA - 206 Bryant Street!

Contemporary home on 17.22 bucolic acres in the heart of beautiful Chesterfield MA. This 3 bedroom, 2.5 bath has all the bells and whistles! Open concept floor plan on first floor with large cook's kitchen, wood stove, dining room, family room and TV room, shaded porch and sunny deck, tiled mudroom and office/guest room across from first floor powder room. Second floor is comprised of a gracious master suite, with a large walk-in closet, 2 additional bedrooms and addtional full bath/laundry room. Walk out basement is ready to be finished, or can be used as-is. There is also a large walk up attic with ample storage space. In the spacious yard, you will find a large storage shed, fire pit, stone walls and plenty of wildlife. 12 minutes to Williamsburg, 20 to Florence, 26 to Northampton center.

Enjoy camping, hiking, skiing, fishing, horseback riding, berry-picking, bird watching and all that Chesterfield and the hill towns have to offer - as well as an abundance of cultural events and natural beauty in the nearby Berkshires. This property is approved for horses, and would be great for gardening. With an abundance of sunlight, it would likely be a great candidate for solar power too!

206 Bryant Road in Chesterfield. Offered at $399,000. Call Julie Starr to set up your private showing, or attend the open house this Saturday, May 5th from 11-1 pm.

View from the top of the driveway

Side of the house

Cook's kitchen

Wood-burning stove in living room

TV room

Master bedroom

Second bedroom

Third bedroom

 

 

 

41 Pine Island Lake in Westhampton is Back on the Market!

Back on the market with a significant price reduction -  41 Pine Island Lake in Westhampton, MA is a sweet house with a private beach. A wonderful getaway bungalow on a 1/4 acre lot on the peaceful Pine Island Lake.  This cozy home features 2 bedrooms, a newly constructed 245 square foot insulated sleeping loft with skylights, a separate office on the first floor which could be used as a third bedroom, an open concept living/dining room off of the well-equipped kitchen, a Jotul propane stove for heating and ambience. Step outside onto the spacious patio to enjoy beautiful sunsets, the private beach with great freshwater swimming, fishing and kayaking or canoeing, or just a chance to sit back and unwind and take in the views. Pine Island Lake does not allow motor boats which adds to the tranquility of the setting. The property has a large storage shed and private outdoor shower. Tight tank septic installed in 2005. 60 Gallon hot water heater installed in 2011. This home is the perfect spring/summer and early fall getaway - just 20 minutes to downtown Northampton! Offered now at $320,000. Contact Julie Starr for a private showing.

 
 
     
 
     
 
     
 
   
 

 

 

 

New Listing! 51 Pomeroy Meadow Road in Southampton, MA

 

51 Pomeroy Meadow Road in Southampton, MA, is a lovely new 3143 square foot Maple and Main Realty listing. This 3 bedroom, 2.5 updated farmhouse sits on a 0.86 acre pastoral lot. Complete with wildlife, lovely plantings, and a seasonal brook with foot bridges from the porch, deck and picture windows - this house oozes charm and character. The original part of the house was built in the 1880’s with a striking addition of kitchen and family room. The house offers many original and charming features including hardwood floors and custom built-ins as well as modern conveniences. An airy and bright kitchen with breakfast island and stone counters opens to a dramatic vaulted living and dining space with fireplace and spiral staircase. The front parlor is ideal for a home office or den and a small, cozy room upstairs is perfect for a computer room.  The separate in-law apartment for extended family or an au pair feels like its own residence - with a full kitchen, living room and bedroom above. Well maintained mechanicals with newer Viessman state-of-the art boiler. Three bay barn with workshop and a one car garage! Offered at $425,000. Contact Julie Held or Kate Iles for your private showing.

 

 

 

 

Fantastic, Flexible Listing for Sale in Downtown Northampton!

Ready to think outside the box? 72-74 Masonic Street in Northampton, MA is a wonderful downtown Northampton listing! With a recent price drop to $529,000, this flexible property could either be used as a single family, multi-family, commercial or any combination of the aforementioned property types! Most recently used as an office space, this house includes 3400 s.f. of live/work space, plus 4 deeded parking spaces. There are 5 offices and one half bath at present, as well as two separate heating and electrical systems. Bring your ideas, the sky is the limit! Contact Scott Rebmann or Lisa Darragh for a private showing.

Great New Listing in Florence Center!

We have a new listing at 8 Middle Street, Florence MA. This immaculate and cozy 2-family home, reads like a single family home with an attached apartment. The main unit is comprised of a beautifully appointed living/dining room - complete with recessed lighting and beautiful built-ins, made by the owner (a renowned local furniture maker) . The downstairs also includes a spacious kitchen, butler's pantry and large, renovated full bath with laundry. The basement has a finished media room/play space. The upstairs includes 2 sweet bedrooms, a large full bath and gracious master bedroom, with cathedral ceilings and a lofted studio/office. The attached apartment is a well lit, one bedroom with off-street parking, a spacious entry hall, large eat-in kitchen and full bath with laundry. Sliders lead out to a private, fenced deck. The house sits on a lovely, large, flat, fenced lot, complete with beautiful landscaping and artistic touches such as the custom welded doorway into the yard. This special property could easily be converted back to a single family home, but it also works well as an owner-occupied 2 family. There are lovely artistic touches throughout. This downtown Florence location can't be beat!

The current owners have taken meticulous care of the property - inside and out. Contact Julie Starr to set up a private showing, or come to the open house this Saturday, March 3rd from 11-1 pm.

Offered at $449,000

Main Entrance, Dining Room

Dining Room

Living Room

Kitchen

Living Room 

Kitchen

Bathroom, custom built ins

Kid Bedroom #1

Kid bedroom #2

Upstairs Hallway

Master Bedroom

Master Bedroom from Loft

Lofted office/studio

Finished basement

Finished basement, built ins

Custom welded gateway to backyard

Apartment entrance hall/mudroom

Apartment living room, sliders to private deck

Apartment bath/laundry room