Blog :: 2016

Welcome to our blog! Here you will find posts about can't miss properties, local events, and more! Here at Maple and Main Realty we pride ourselves on our knowledge of the Northampton area. Feel free to leave a comment, we would love to hear from you! If you have any questions, don't hesitate to contact us

Shaw's Motel Demolished to Make Way for New Condominiums in Downtown Northampton

The historic Shaw's Motel was demolished on Monday, December 20th, to make way for 12 new condominiums in downtown Northampton, MA. It's exciting to contemplate how this will change the landscape of our fair city!

Though the Shaw's Motel had become an eyesore along Bridge Street leading into downtown Northampton, MA due to many years of neglect - some Northampton locals in the proceeding article wax nostalgic about the hotel and the era it represented to them - most notably, the great compassion of Josephine Shaw, former owner of the hotel.

Former Shaw’s Motel demolished 

By AMANDA DRANE

Tuesday, December 20, 2016 - Daily Hampshire Gazette

Shaw's Motel

PHOTO CREDIT: GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING​

NORTHAMPTON — On Monday Shaw’s Motel went the way of one of many words spray-painted on the dilapidated building’s front side — to “dust.”

Condos will soon replace the iconic former motel, which long served as a sanctuary to the city’s mentally ill under the compassionate reign of Josephine Shaw before it was condemned in 2012.

Charlie Arment Trucking Inc. demolished the former motel and began dismantling a garage behind it on Monday. Work continues Tuesday, said Building Commissioner Louis Hasbrouck, as the company takes down the large, white multifamily Pomeroy Terrace home adjacent to the property at 87 Bridge St.

Hampden County businessman Matthew Campagnari, who bought the properties in July 2015, said he’ll construct three duplexes on the former motel site and the adjacent lot. For a total of 12 condos, he said he’s also renovating the yellow building at the corner of Pomeroy Terrace and Bridge Street.

As for the famous Shaw’s sign, Campagnari said he certainly won’t throw it away.

The Monday demolition stopped traffic as passers-by stopped to gawk and take pictures from car windows. Sounds of breaking glass echoed through the city’s Ward 3 as an excavator’s toothed arm reached past the structure, reducing ever more of it to a pile of jagged edges. Dust billowed.

A bird of prey circled overhead as Shaw’s made its last stand. The old motel may have taken years to build, but it only took about 45 minutes to take down.

For Charlie Arment employees, the destruction was business as usual.

“They all fall the same,” supervisor Otis Porter said as he helped guide the excavator.

While many hailed the demolition as a positive move for the city, longtime neighborhood residents reflected on what they call the “end of an era.”

Hasbrouck said the rotting building was erected during the 1800s, and Donald and Josephine Shaw opened it as Shaw’s Motel in 1951.

Jerry Budgar, a Bridge Street resident who grew up in the neighborhood, said the building coming down Tuesday used to be his grandparents’ house.

“Frankly, I have never spent a day on this Earth that that motel wasn’t there,” said Budgar, 70. “It certainly is the end of an era.”

Budgar said Josephine Shaw, who provided low-cost housing to dozens of mentally ill tenants from the 1960s through the ’90s, showed kindness when the state turned a cold shoulder to the city’s institutionalized patients.

The state hospital on Village Hill closed in the early ’90s, but the gradual process of emptying its wards began long before.

“She became mother, confessor and mentor and everything else,” he said, adding she’d stroll around the property, always with tenants in tow. “She looked like mother duck and her goslings.”

He said for many people who had nowhere else to go, the motel was home and Shaw was family.

“She was a great lady — she had a heart the size of Wyoming,” he said. “You don’t have people like that around too much these days.”

Shaw died at 95 in 2013.

Budgar said the motel did what the state failed to do — house and help those in need of nurturing.

“Why did the state just basically open the door, throw them onto the street and leave them there?” he asked. “To me it was almost criminal what happened. They were wandering the street. They didn’t know what to do — they just weren’t prepared for life.”

Neighborhood resident Julianna Tymoczko, 41, said watching the city’s more eccentric personalities from the vantage point of her childhood home on Pomeroy Terrace shaped her understanding of the mentally ill. On Monday she recalled the “suntan man,” a former resident of the Shaw’s who she said would sunbathe shirtless on Main Street in all seasons.

“It certainly colors my whole perspective on mental health care and treatment in this country,” she said of growing up near Shaw’s.

The memories are bittersweet, but Ward 3 City Councilor Jim Nash called new developments at the old Shaw’s property a force for good.

“I think neighbors by and large are happy to see development move forward,” he said. “This is a step forward.”

Hasbrouck said there’s no arguing the motel, whose last tenant left six years ago, was in ghastly condition, but still, watching it come down, he couldn’t help but feel somber.

“I’m always sad to see buildings come down,” he said. “They’d outlived their usefulness, but it’s still sad. Part of what’s sad is to see the memories associated with it go away.”

Amanda Drane can be contacted at adrane@gazettenet.com.

Arctic Temps Expected to Hit Northampton Area!

Well, it looks as if winter has finally arrived to the Pioneer Valley, and she means business! It seems we can expect possible power outages due to the high winds. Make sure to have your flashlights powered up, and back up power and heat sources ready to go, should we lose power. It's also extremely important to dress appropriately for the weather if you need to be outside for any period of time.

Real Estate Reminder: Remember to keep your heat on low if you have to be out of town during the cold snap. Burst pipes can lead to very expensive plumbing and cosmetic fixes!

Here's the report from the Daily Hampshire Gazette today:

 

Cold snap expected to arrive in Pioneer Valley

By EMILY CUTTS
@ecutts_HG

Thursday, December 15, 2016

 

Snowy Trail

Photo credit: Allegro Photography

An Arctic front is expected to hit the region bringing with it cold temperatures, high winds and snow, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton.

Thursday morning’s high temperature in the 20s is forecast to drop throughout the day to the mid-teens, according to Bill Simpson, a spokesperson with the weather service.

Winds will gradually increase with wind gusts reaching up to 40 mph in the afternoon bringing with it wind chills dropping near zero, Simpson said.

“One good thing – it’s a relatively short period,” he said.

The highest winds and lowest wind chills are expected in the evening and could hit 10 to 20 below zero in Western Massachusetts with some locations even colder, according to Simpson.

Moving into Friday, winds are expected to die down and temperatures are forecast in the mid-teens.

Snow is expected to arrive following the evening commute and could drop four to five inches in the Connecticut River Valley.

“Dress appropriately. We have a wind chill advisory out once you get below zero to minus 20,” Simpson said. “Hopefully people are dressing appropriately.”

Simpson also said people should prepare for possible power outages because of the high winds.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.

Artic Temps Expected to Hit Northampton Area

Well, it looks as if winter has finally arrived to the Pioneer Valley, and she means business! It looks as if we can expect possible power outages because of the high winds. Make sure to have your flashlights powered up, and back up power and heat sources ready to go, should we lose power. It's also extremely important to dress appropriately for the weather if you need to be outside for any period of time.

Real Estate Reminder: Remember to keep your heat on low if you have to be out of town during the cold snap. Burst pipes can lead to very expensive plumbing and cosmetic fixes!

Here's the report from the Daily Hampshire Gazette today:

 

Cold snap expected to arrive in Pioneer Valley

By EMILY CUTTS
@ecutts_HG

Thursday, December 15, 2016

 

snowy trail

Photo credit: Allegro Photography

An Arctic front is expected to hit the region bringing with it cold temperatures, high winds and snow, according to the National Weather Service in Taunton.

Thursday morning’s high temperature in the 20s is forecast to drop throughout the day to the mid-teens, according to Bill Simpson, a spokesperson with the weather service.

Winds will gradually increase with wind gusts reaching up to 40 mph in the afternoon bringing with it wind chills dropping near zero, Simpson said.

“One good thing – it’s a relatively short period,” he said.

The highest winds and lowest wind chills are expected in the evening and could hit 10 to 20 below zero in Western Massachusetts with some locations even colder, according to Simpson.

Moving into Friday, winds are expected to die down and temperatures are forecast in the mid-teens.

Snow is expected to arrive following the evening commute and could drop four to five inches in the Connecticut River Valley.

“Dress appropriately. We have a wind chill advisory out once you get below zero to minus 20,” Simpson said. “Hopefully people are dressing appropriately.”

Simpson also said people should prepare for possible power outages because of the high winds.

Emily Cutts can be reached at ecutts@gazettenet.com.

Two More Local Events for Your Calendar! Northampton and Easthampton.

Tonight, December 9th, from 6:30 until late in the Ballroom at Eastworks in Easthampton - STRUT, "a flamboyant fashion spectacle" and a reboot of Easthampton's annual "Light Up the Arts" Holiday Party, and includes a fashion show, live performances, art installations, a dance party and silent auction. It sounds like it will be a fantastic way to ring in the holiday season! This event is an ECA (Easthampton City Arts) fundraiser.

 

East Works Sign

 

Tomorrow, December 8th from 4-9 pm. The Northampton 2016 Holiday Stroll hosted by the Downtown Northampton Association looks as if it's shaping up to be an exciting event. There will be performances, shopping, artwork to view and make, and food. Main Street will be CLOSED to cars and trucks during the event. So get your parking spot ahead of time and plan to dress warmly and be on foot. All municipal lots will be open and accessible. Check out the hot link above for full details. 


Northampton Holiday Stroll Lights

 

Holidays Sales in Northampton, MA

LOCAL HOLIDAY SALES 

holiday banner

Well, it's that time of year again. If you haven't broken the bank on Black Friday through Cyber Monday (or #GivingTuesday) sales, here is a list of some Northampton area sales where local vendors sell their beautiful wares! Click on the links below for full details.

Cottage Street Studio Sale in Easthampton, MA this Friday (TODAY!), December 2nd

Pastiche @ Click Workspace  at Click Workspace in Northampton, MA on December 9th and 10th

Northampton Winter Craft Fair December 3rd and 4th at NHS - $4 admission supports Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Hampshire County

Holiday Flea Market at the American Legion Hall in Florence, MA on December 3rd, 9-2 pm 

Rebecca Rose STUDIO SALE - 112 Beacon Street, Florence MA

Dec.9th- 6:00 - 9:00; Dec. 10th - 10:00 - 1:00; Dec. 11th - 10:00 - 1:00


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

72-74 Masonic Street in Downtown Northampton. Fantastic Investor Opportunity!

72-74 Masonic Street in Northampton, MA has two bathrooms, one on each level, 4 separate entrances and 7 dedicated parking spaces. It is 2,614 s.f. and sits on a 0.06 acre lot.

Fantastic investor opportunity in downtown Northampton, with parking, just behind Mosaic Cafe! This two story building is currently used as an attorney's office with 23 employees. It could be used in a similar capacity by the new owner, or it could be broken up into 7 smaller offices for rent to individual professionals or artists. Another option is that it could be divided into 2-4 individual residential rental units, or perhaps a mixture of offices and residential rentals? Potential for an Air B+B unit, etc. The possibilities are endless!

Included below are the seller's designs for expansion, with architect's renderings. Own a little piece of vibrant downtown Northampton, in the heart of everything that the city has to offer! Offered at $700,000. Contact Lisa Darragh or Winnie Gorman to set up a showing or ask questions.

Photos of current building, followed by architect's renderings:

72-74 Masonic Street North Hampton current exterior   72-74 Masonic St North Hampton current interior
     
72-74 Masonic St interior   72-74 masonic st dining room
 
72-74 masonic st north hampton architect rendering
     
72-74 masonic street north hampton architect rendering exterior   72-74 masonic street architect rendering exterior 2
 

 

 

Time to Check Your Fire and CO Alarms

Another handy-dandy safety-related blog post from Maple and Main Realty! Fire safety is no joking matter. Many of us New Englanders have back up heating systems such as wood-burning stoves, pellet stoves, fireplaces, and the like - all of which come with the need for proper maintenance. As we hunker down for the winter, it's imperative that your house be as fire-safe as possible. Proper disposal of live ashes from fires, making sure your chimney has been swept recently, making sure your furnace and/or boiler have been recently serviced, checking on batteries in your fire and CO alarms, etc. All of these measures should be on your pre-winter to-do list. The following article is a repost from a recent piece in the Daily Hampshire Gazette about fire safety concerns.

Home fire safety concerns increase with cold weather

  • A Greenfield Fire Department engine at a fire. File photo/Shelby Ashline

By TOM RELIHAN
For the Gazette
Thursday, October 06, 2016

It’s getting colder, and that means we’re looking for ways to keep warm.

So, it’s a good time to think about protecting the home from fires, which increase in Massachusetts during the winter months.

The state Department of Fire Services has some tips.

Next week is Fire Prevention Week, according to DFS spokeswoman Jennifer Mieth, and this year’s theme is “Don’t Wait, Check the Date.”

She’s talking about smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors. They’re the two devices that homeowners rely on to warn them when a fire has broken out, or when colorless, odorless carbon monoxide is building up. “You should replace smoke alarms every 10 years — the sensing technology degrades over time, and you may not be able to rely on it when you need it the most,” Mieth said. “Even if you put new batteries in and hear that beep, it still might not detect smoke.”

Recently, a grant program in Lynn to install new detectors saw officials finding one more than four decades old in a home. Lack of smoke detectors in general led to numerous fatal fires last year, Mieth said.

The Department of Fire Safety is also running its “Keep Warm, Keep Safe” campaign this time of year, as residents begin turning on the heat. 

Mieth said it’s important to regularly have your furnace inspected by a licensed professional.

“A clean, efficient furnace is cheaper to run and less likely to cause problems,” she said.

Heating systems are also the leading source of carbon monoxide in the home. Mieth said its important to have working CO detectors, and they need to be replaced even more frequently than smoke alarms — most only last five to seven years, unless it’s a newer model rated for up to 10 years.

If heating by wood, regular cleaning of your chimney by professional is crucial. Accumulated material in the chimney is the leading source of chimney fires, and cracks along the shaft could let fire contact the building’s main structure.

When disposing of the fire’s ashes, Mieth said, a metal container with a lid, stored outside, is the only safe way to do it.

“Do not put them in plastic recycling containers. Do not put them in paper or plastic bags,” she said. “Don’t store them under on the breezeway. Put them outside in a metal, lidded container. You touch the ashes and they may seem cold, but single embers can stay hot for a long time.”

When the winter chill really sets in and furnaces have a hard time keeping up, many people turn to space heaters to keep toasty. But Mieth said it’s important to know how to operate them safely.

They should always have a three-foot “circle of safety” around them, free of anything that can catch fire. Also, don’t use extension cords –— Mieth said extension cord failure is the most common cause of space heater-related fires.

“Any heat-generating device draws a lot of electricity, and if you’re not using the right kind of cord that can be really dangerous,” she said.

Tom Relihan can be reached at trelihan@recorder.com.

 

Time For an Energy Assessment for Your Home!

As winter approaches, heating costs may be on your mind. Perhaps you have put off winterizing strategies in past years. Or maybe you've been curious about how to make your home more energy-efficient, but you weren't sure how to get started. The Mass Save program makes it easy for homeowners to start the ball rolling towards creating a more energy-efficient home. Better for the environment, and easier on the wallet!


Buyers often want to gain as clear a picture as they can about the degree of energy efficiency in a house they are considering, especially in many of the older homes for sale in the Northampton area. Sellers often want or need advice about what they can do to improve household energy efficiency, when preparing to put their homes on the market. We realtors often suggest contacting Mass Saves for an energy audit as a starting off point. 

Yesterday's article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette, below, describes the process in detail!

Dirty or graying insulation above this basement wall is an indication of an air leak to the outside. GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

Mass Save’s energy assessment is cheapest route to weatherizing your home

For the Gazette 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

By LINDA ENERSON 

Any time of the year is a great time to think about how to save energy, but the crisp night air of autumn is an especially good reminder to get the house ready for winter.

But before going to the hardware store to buy all the products needed to fill in all those drafty areas around windows and doors, you might want to consider bringing an energy-saving expert to your house to do that and more — for free.

One of the most informative and economical ways to make your home more energy-efficient is through the Mass Save program, a private/public partnership between the state and all the utility companies.

Homeowners can call and schedule a free energy assessment for their home. During the assessment, which takes several hours, a trained energy specialist walks through the house and creates a report, or “road map,” detailing what aspects of the home can benefit from upgrades, weatherization or additional insulation.

In addition to energy assessments, the program offers: 

  • rebates for upgrading to more energy-efficient appliances; 
  • substantial discounts on insulation; 
  • no-cost weatherization of drafty areas around doors, windows, sills, etc.; 
  • no-cost replacement of standard light bulbs with energy efficient LEDs; 
  • no-cost replacement of shower and faucet heads with more energy efficient models; 
  • no-cost replacement of heating system filters.

To get a better sense of the program, we tagged along on an assessment of a one-story contemporary home in Hatfield belonging to Eversource spokeswoman Patricia Ress. Brian Tierney was the energy assessor, and Eversource spokesman Bill Stack was also present to answer questions about the Mass Save program.

Stack encourages all residents, whether renters or homeowners, to take advantage of the program and schedule an assessment. Every month, Eversource customers pay a couple cents for every dollar they pay for electricity to fund the Mass Save program.

“Everybody is paying into it,” he said, “It’s like putting money into a savings account. If you don’t do an assessment, it’s like putting money into the account and never using it.” 

Down in the basement 

Tierney started the assessment in the basement, where he tested the heating/cooling system to determine how efficiently it was working. Ress’ home has a geothermal heating and cooling system, which exchanges heat through pipes that run into the ground to heat the home in cool months and cool it in the summer.

Tierney checked the system’s filter. Whether geothermal, oil or gas, if HVAC system filters are not replaced regularly, then the system will not function efficiently. He recommends a filter rated at Merv 8 or higher. Lower-end filters will protect the system from damage by large particles, but will not improve home air quality the way higher-end filters do.

He checked the hot water heater to ensure efficient combustion, and adequate venting, then checked the dehumidifier.

While dehumidifiers use a fair amount of electricity in the summer, keeping a basement below 60 percent humidity is important to prevent the growth of mold. Colder air, such as that in a basement doesn’t hold humidity well. That’s why homeowners will see sometimes see their basement walls sweating in summer.

“People sometimes tell me that they opened up the bulkhead to air out the basement, but that’s the worst thing you can do,” Tierney said, “It’s just a recipe for mold growth.” 

A better strategy is to seal any cracks or air holes around the sill and dehumidify the basement when necessary. Peeling back a piece of insulation near the sill, Tierney said that in some older homes, “you can actually see daylight along this line.” 

A gray or yellow discoloration of the insulation in attics or basements is a clear sign that air is somehow flowing in there. Air sealing in basements and attics is free of charge through the Mass Save program.

Air sealing is important not only to keep humid air from leaking in through the basement during summer but also to keep warm air inside the home during winter. Later in the assessment, Tierney will check the sill plate and inject an expandable foam into any holes to make this seal tight.

Spotting a chest freezer in the corner, Tierney mentioned that older chest freezers and refrigerators can be real energy hogs. Mass Save will pay residents $50 to haul these units away, and will then recycle 97 percent of the parts of these older appliances. Depending on the model, chest freezers are more efficient than those attached with a stand-up refrigerator as the cold air stays in the box when it is opened.

He also noted that it takes less energy to keep a full freezer at the set temperature. If there isn’t enough frozen food to fill the freezer, old milk jugs can be filled with water and set around the food packages to ensure efficient cooling.

Main floor 

Tierney asked Ress about her energy usage. Ress said her electric bill went up substantially when she moved into the house earlier this year.

Ress’ home was built in 2000, and so far, Tierney found little to indicate that it was inefficient. During his spot check of the basement sill line, the insulation and sealing seemed sufficient.

Ress said that the mix of generations living in her home may increase the demand for energy, as her elderly parents need to be in a comfortable temperature and her teenager uses a fair amount of hot water and electronics. 

“We have the TV on just about all the time,” she said, adding, “the geothermal system is great and keeps us comfortable, cool in the summer and warm in the winter, but the pumps are running all the time.” 

Then Tierney started replacing dozens of small light bulbs with LEDs in several chandeliers on the main floor. He noted that Ress may start seeing substantial savings right away, because the cost of running a lot of incandescent bulbs, even if they’re small, can really add up. 

Stack added that homeowners may see savings up to over $500 with these lighting upgrades alone, as the bulbs use so much less energy and cost at least $4-5 each in stores.

Mass Save uses LEDs rather than compact fluorescent bulbs because they do not contain mercury, and last much longer. 

“One thing we tell customers is that if they put in an LED bulb when they have a new baby in the house, they may not have to replace that LED until their child is off to college,” Stack said.

Tierney also pointed to a few different power strips on the main floor where different appliances and lights were plugged in and, in many cases, still using electricity, even though they were turned off. He replaced power strips in Ress’ home with “smart sticks,” which cut power to several appliances on the strip when they are not in use.

The Mass Save program provides programmable thermostats during energy assessments, which can improve efficiency. Stack said the program can also provide Wi-Fi thermostats, some of which allow homeowners to adjust temperatures from afar, lowering or increasing them automatically when they are within a specific radius. A second visit is required to install Wi-Fi thermostats.

Tierney advised against temperature shifts of more than 8 degrees between day and night. 

“Temperature swings greater than that will require more energy to heat the house back up than if you had left the thermostat alone,” he said.

He also checked Ress’ appliances to see if they were running efficiently. Mass Save offers a tiered rebate program based on income to encourage upgrades to more energy-efficient models. Rebates on refrigerators, for example, start at $150 but are higher if a resident is low- or moderate-income. Rebates for clothes washers start at $350.

In the attic 

Tierney climbed into the attic and found that Ress’ home was well insulated. With 14 inches of cellulose insulation in addition to a layer of hard insulation, her home was well protected from heat loss. But Mass Save offers large discounts on insulation for homes that need it. Homeowners may qualify for discounts of 75 percent of the cost of approved insulation improvements, up to $2,000, Ress said. Discounts are even higher if residents are low- or moderate-income. 

In addition, the program offers no-cost targeted sealing of air leaks. She added that qualifying residents may also be eligible for zero percent financing for eligible measures through the HEAT loan program http://www.masssave.com/en/residential/expanded-heat-loan.

Stack said Mass Save also works with contractors building and remodeling homes, offering discounts on energy-saving measures. He said homeowners who are in the process of construction can encourage their contractor to call the program to take advantage of these savings. 

In addition, the program is reaching out to real estate agents to do energy assessments before new owners move in. 

“When the house is empty, that’s the best time to look around and see what can be put in place to make sure it’s energy efficient,” he said.

37 Village Hill Road - Midcentury Oasis!

Perched on a 7.8 acre open lot, surrounded by woods, yet close to Williamsburg Center, sits this unique and charming property. The handbuilt stone fireplace, built-in cabinets, beds and seating give this home a cozy and modern feel. There is so much potential in this home and lot. Built in 1947, it does need some TLC, but with a home of this character and charm, sited on a spacious and beautiful lot, the possibilities are endless!

Currently a 4 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath home, 37 Village Hill Road in Williamsburg, MA is listed by our very own Winnie Gorman. Showings begin at the open house this Sunday, October 9th from 2-4 p.m. Bring your ideas for expansion and updates! Offered at $299,000. It won't last long!

Side Yard

View from the other side of the house

Living room with built in seating and stone fireplace

Living room

Master Bedroom

What a special property!! This charming custom built ranch, in the Frank Lloyd Wright style, is in a prime Williamsburg location. Sitting atop a knoll this handsome home is surrounded by both spacious lush lawn & breathtaking woods on three sides. Only moments from downtown Williamsburg, the best of both worlds awaits you here with the quiet, peaceful, woods offering a buffer from the outside world. A unique interior, containing a lovely stone fireplace & large picture windows that truly bring the beauty of the outdoors directly into the home. Many closets as well as generous storage offer ample space to keep things neat and tidy. A rare opportunity, indeed. Come take a look!!

Choosing the Right Siding for your Home

We lived in a 100 year old house with clapboard siding for 8 years. We loved the look of painted clapboards, but we quickly tired of the upkeep and expense of the exterior paint job. 2 years ago we bought a new home, with Hardie Plank siding. The exterior paint has shown no signs of wear and tear since it was painted. In fact, the paint job looks new! 

Here in the Northampton area, we realtors sell a mix of +/- 100 year old homes with clapboard siding (or clapboards covered over with vinyl siding, aluminum siding and, sometimes, asbestos shingles), as well as mid-century homes with aluminum or vinyl siding, and, lastly, some new construction which usually has vinyl or Hardie plank siding. The Daily Hampshire Gazette recently ran a special section on homes, including this interesting article about choosing the right siding for your home. If you are a homeowner who is thinking about residing your current home, or you are building a home and wondering what siding might be best for you, this article should come in handy.

Here is an example of Hardie Plank siding.

Vintage Farmhouse, www.jameshardie.com

Deciding on siding

GAZETTE STAFF / KEVIN GUTTING

Tim Uhlig, pictured in photo at left, from Wilcox Builders in Hatfield, primes a new edge on a fiber cement soffit

board being installed on a home in the Village Hill development at Northampton. At right, and below, Michael

Cendrowski, works on the soffits while Uhlig cuts the siding, shown above right.

4 HOME MAGAZINE, Wednesday, September 14, 2016

 By LINDA ENERSON

For the Gazette

Siding is just one element of a home, but it’s an important one, as siding is often the first thing people notice when

they walk up to or drive by a home —and there’s a lot of it. If, for some reason, you don’t like the siding you’ve picked

out for your new or renovated home, it’s pretty hard to overlook it. Siding is made from a variety of materials,

some of them time-tested, like vinyl and wood, but there are also some newer products on the market, such as

fiber cement and OSB. With so many options to choose from, it can be a confusing task for homeowners to pick the siding

option that will serve their needs best.

Wright Builders constructs new homes and commercial buildings around the Valley using all kinds of siding. Roger Cooney, vice president

of design, sales and estimating, helps customers make decisions about what siding they want based on price, environmental impact,

aesthetics, durabilityand maintenance. According to Cooney, the key to picking

the right siding is for homeowners to understand their own priorities. For example, how critical is it for their home’s

siding to be eco-friendly, and what price point will their budget allow?

Vinyl

Vinyl is the least expensive siding option. When it comes to the environmental impact, “it’s pretty nasty,” Cooney said. Vinyl siding is largely

composed of PVC (polyvinyl chloride). During the manufacturingprocess of PVC, dioxin (a carcinogen) and other toxic gases are

produced, which are harmful to the  health of workers, as well as people and animals in the surrounding area. Dioxin and other toxins are 

also released when vinyl begins to  break down through the natural weathering process or when the siding materials finally make their way 

to a landfill. And Cooney said that in the unfortunate circumstance of a house fire, vinyl can actually melt, releasing more toxic chemicals.

Fiber cement

Fiber cement siding is a composite material made from cement, cellulose and sand. It is produced in a variety of styles, including shingles,

lap siding, vertical siding, and panels, and like wood, can be easily painted or stained, though unlike wood, it is impervious

to water and termite damage. Cooney said his company is installing fiber cement on many of the homes and commercials they build

because it is very durable, reasonably priced (about $3 per square foot at R.K. Miles), and more aesthetically pleasing than vinyl, as well

as fireproof. Fiber cement siding is used on all of the homes that Wright Builders recently constructed at the Village Hill developmenton the

old State Hospital grounds in Northampton. In terms of the environmental impact of fiber cement, Cooney said that while it is inert once

produced, fiber cement siding does require a fair amount of energy to manufacture. During installation, workers must wear a respirator to

prevent inhalation of silica dust when they cut the product.

OSB (Oriented strand board)

(OSB) is a siding product made of many glued layers or strands of wood. The price point of OSBproducts is similar to fiber cement siding

materials. According to Cooney, when it comes to durability and environmental impact, OSB scores less favorably than fiber cement. “It’s

has a lot of formaldehyde and glue in it,” he said.

Wood

The old standard, wood clapboard siding is still among the most environmentally friendly siding available, as long as it is sourced from

companies that practice sustainable forestry. Cooney said consumers should look for The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo, which

certifies that responsible forestry standards have been maintained in the production of wood products bearing that label. Consumers

should also be aware that FSC certification adds cost. While not FSC certified, most locally harvested wood products are managed 

suitably and sustainably, according to Cooney. Pine and cedar are the two types of wood siding. Both can be sourced locally, as Eastern 

cedar and Eastern white pine grow in the Northeast. Pine is relatively inexpensive. Clogston says pine clapboards run between $1.50 and 

$2 a square foot at R. K. Miles. Cedar, which Cooney said holds up to the elements better than pine, showing less discoloration from

weathering, is the most expensive of all siding. Clogston said cedar runs in the range of $5 to $7 per square foot. The problem with wood

is that it requires a new coat of stain or paint about everydecade. According to Cooney, the best way to preserve wood siding is to paint or

stain all sides of it including any cuts made during installation, and install it over a drain plane to allow rain and other “bulk water ” to exit. 

But maintaining wood is only a problem if you don’t like to paint. Cooney recentlypainted his own house over Labor Day weekend. 

“Personally, I find it meditativeand satisfying … I’m sure I’m unusual in enjoying that type of work!” he said.