Comparing the Maintenance Requirements of Northern Virginia Siding

Filed Under: Siding    by: Steve Kayhill

northern_virginia_siding1There are a variety of factors to keep in mind when choosing your Northern Virginia siding. The different types of siding have distinct appearances, varying costs and assorted levels of maintenance. Once you have decided which look you want, the maintenance is likely a major factor as it also affects the overall cost and durability of the product. Compare each type to get a better feel for which is best for your home.

Wood Siding

This traditional choice adds warmth and charm to your home, but those traits come with a high level of maintenance. In Northern Virginia the wind, sun and temperatures will do a number on a wood finish, resulting in the need to stain or paint your siding every few years.

Even the highest quality paints cannot stand up indefinitely. And a refinishing job is extensive and, in some cases, expensive. Factor in the cost and time involved when you are considering this style of siding for your home.

Fiber Cement Siding

Touted as a low maintenance and highly durable alternative to wood siding, fiber cement does come prefinished from the factory. This cuts down on the need to paint initially, but many of the brands currently being installed will fade with time. You may need to repaint this style of Northern Virginia siding on a five to seven year rotation, depending on the brand installed and property conditions.

Fiber cement siding also needs to be caulked in order to provide a high level of energy efficiency. Your caulking job may wear out due to damage, climate or age. It helps to use the highest quality caulking possible.

Vinyl Siding

Hailed as the siding option with the lowest maintenance requirements, vinyl is often an install-it-and-forget-it product. Besides a regular wash down with your hose to get that initial shine back, good quality vinyl siding shouldn’t need any other attention.

The color retention is high and fading, cracking and splitting are rare. Be sure that you are installing a brand with excellent ratings and a solid warranty. And always have a professional siding installer do the work in order to ensure the corners and seams are well done, providing a tight fit that will last.

Brick Siding

The most expensive siding option available, many people assume brick is maintenance-free. But even stone doesn’t last forever and the brick products on the market today do require regular maintenance. Every ten years or so your bricks (or more specifically, the mortar) will need to be repointed, an expensive job that must be done by a professional.

Brick siding is energy efficient and long lasting, but a repointing job often sneaks up on homeowners. They are surprised by the need as well as the cost, both factors that may have influenced their original decision to opt for brick.

Stucco Siding

This is another popular option that needs to be repainted or refinished on a regular basis. Much like fiber cement siding, the stucco will not retain its original color for long and repainting is required around every ten years or so.

Stucco also needs to be sealed. Resealing requirements are dependent on the climate and the exposure of your home.

It helps to understand the maintenance requirements of all the various types of Northern Virginia siding. Consider what you are willing to spend up front and how much money and effort you are willing to put into the maintenance. Time, appearance and durability are all major elements that factor in as well. Choose wisely and your siding will suit your home perfectly.

Understanding the Tax Implications of Washington DC Real Estate Transactions

Filed Under: Washington DC Real Estate    by: Steve Kayhill

washington_dc_real_estate_taxesBuying or selling Washington DC real estate is a financial transaction. And many financial transactions have tax implications that those involved need to be aware of in order to make informed and wise decisions.

Remember that real estate agents are not tax specialists. Although they may have plenty of experience with this type of deal, the tax laws change regularly and real estate agents cannot be expected to keep up with those changes. These alterations to the existing tax law are to be expected, especially in the current economic and governing climate.

What Are the Most Common Tax Implications of a Real Estate Deal?

Selling your home may allow you to turn a profit. It is the cash in pocket that captures the attention of the IRS – and needs to be reported on your tax return. There are, however, certain allowances currently in place that may allow you to exclude some or even all of those profits.

Gathered from information posted on the IRS website, keep in mind the following considerations when selling your Washington DC real estate:

  • If you have lived in the house as your main or principle residence for at least two years of the five years prior to sale, you may be entitled to an exclusion.
  • If you own two or more properties, only the main residence can be excluded.
  • If the exclusions eliminate or cover the profit made you do not need to report it on your income tax.
  • If a profit is realized above the exclusions limits you will need to fill out a Form 1040, Schedule D covering Capital Gains and Losses.

Likelihoods In the Current Market

Today’s market conditions are not exactly conducive to gains. Most people are simply happy to sell, although there are certainly circumstances where a gain is made and the above tax implications apply. Property investors are still making gains on real estate and those who have hung onto homes or land over a long period of time may turn a profit, even in the toughest economic times.

For those real estate transactions that do not realize a profit (meaning you sell the property for less than the original purchase price), there is little to affect your taxes. Inform your tax professional while filing your return and have the figures and paperwork ready to back up the claims. More often than not it will be a non-issue.

Buyers should make sure to keep their paperwork in order, if only for the purpose of claiming the exclusion when it comes time to sell. Ask your real estate agent what types of bills and contracts are needed for future tax returns and be sure to keep their contact information handy should that day come.

Profits are a reality in the world of real estate – they may even be the goal for many buyers and sellers. There could be tax implications when selling your Washington DC real estate, but the various IRS exclusions can lower your final tax bill and allow you to keep the profits in your own wallet.

Maximizing Northern Virginia Deck Designs For Small Yards

Filed Under: Deck    by: Steve Kayhill

small_northern_virginia_deck_designsEvery family and every yard deserves to have a comfortable and well designed outdoor living space. No matter how small or large your lawn is, designing a deck to maximize the area will provide better relaxation. Compact yards present unique issues, but certain Northern Virginia deck designs will work within those parameters to create a luxurious and restful space.

Use Your Home’s Features

The very best deck designs are built to connect seamlessly with the house. Most homes have a rear patio door – often a sliding glass door or a French door. Traffic will flow from this entrance onto the deck, so be sure that the immediate area is open and safe. If you must install stairs, such as on lookout elevations, design them to be wide and incorporate railings for safety.

Are there any walls or other architectural features that can be included in the design? Existing corners and alcoves can serve as natural storage locations. With a professional deck contractor on the job your deck can be built around any feature, including chimneys, trees and basement windows. Be creative and think outside of the box, working with exactly what you have.

Stick to One Level

Multilevel Northern Virginia deck designs are excellent for entertainers. But in a smaller yard it’s best to stick with one level. You can still create the multiple room look using accessories and furniture. Limiting the decking to one level provides more space and eliminates the need for stairs and extra railing, which reduce the liveable area.

Decks in small yards need to find their place right away. If you have a walkout elevation (more than 5 feet off of the ground), install your deck level with the patio door. Stairs can be constructed from the upper level deck, if space permits. Lookout elevations (between 2 and 5 feet off of the ground) can go either way. Decking may be installed at the patio door level with stairs to the grass. Or wide stairs extending from the patio door can lead to a ground level deck. This will depend on your preference and grade, but both work well.

Teach the Deck Features to Multitask

Designing for small spaces means including features that have multiple uses. Wide stairs with deep treads (10″ or more) can be used for impromptu seating. Benches with backs double as a railing and can include planters at one end (or both). You can also build storage boxes into benches or use skirting to incorporate a small shed into the space underneath your deck.

It helps to be creative and spend some time thinking about all of the ways you will use this space. Try to design for every eventuality while preserving neatness and a smooth finish. Hide storage behind deck features and create planter boxes and decorative elements that mesh with the frame of this structure. Built in features make the best use of space and provide more living area.

Building a usable and comfortable outdoor living area is possible, even in the smallest yard. Northern Virginia deck designs maximize the area using built in features on a single level and incorporating the shape of the house. Talk to an industry professional about designing a deck that suits your small yard perfectly.

How to Move Ahead With Virginia Window Replacement For Better Efficiency

Filed Under: Windows    by: Steve Kayhill

virginia_window_replacementThe cooling season is still in full swing, but the heating season is only months away. It seems our wallets will never get a break. But you can consider Virginia window replacement for better efficiency and look forward to lower utility bills this year – and well into the future.

How Do New Windows Help With Your Heating and Cooling Bills?

Windows make up only 10 percent of your home. But that small, minor area is responsible for between 40 and 50 percent of the heat gained or lost throughout your living space. Replacing those aging, poorly designed windows with newer, built for efficiency windows is a wise move and will reduce that heat lost immensely.

Replacement windows reduce heat loss in a variety of ways. First of all, they are better insulated, which allows for a thicker barrier that is more difficult for heat to pass through. This works both ways – in the winter the heat will stay inside and in the summer the heat will stay outside. Both situations are positive for you.

A Virginia window replacement also means that the latest energy saving features will be put in place. Gases inserted between the double or triple glass panes act as added insulation. Typically argon or krypton is used. Ask the manufacturer about what type of gases have been inserted and what properties they bring to the product.

Coating Covers You

Low E (or low emissivity) coatings are also available in the latest replacement windows. This soft coat process is done at the end of the manufacturing cycle and is designed to keep the hot and potentially damaging rays of the sun out of your house.

This type of coating is not the same as traditional reflective coatings. They could be applied after installation and worked well against radiant heat or direct sunlight. Low E coatings take that protection to another level. You won’t notice the Low E coating and it will not wear off over time. It’s generally applied to the inside of the pane, which is exposed to the gap, not to the elements or scratches and damage from the inside.

What About Shutters?

Many homeowners wonder whether installing shutters on your home is a better way to improve the efficiency levels and maintain a higher level of safety against storm damage. While shutters are highly functional and will help to keep damaging winds and rain out, they do little for the efficiency levels in fair weather. Experts say you are better to have the latest windows installed in order to cut back on heat loss and then install shutters for safety, if that is a major concern.

It’s important that your Virginia window replacement project be handled by professional installers. Be sure that the window is well insulated and sealed all the way around, to maximize the value of this product and create an efficient home. It doesn’t help to have new windows installed poorly, so think carefully and weigh the value professional installation delivers. This may not be the ideal DIY home improvement project for you.