Are your Home and Family Ready for a Hurricane?

Hurricane Prep
With Hurricane Irene moving up the eastern seaboard, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to preparing your home and family for whatever the storm may bring. A few simple preventative steps, outlined below, may help you to avoid costly repairs once the storms have passed.   Clear away yard debris and dead/dying branches Large branches or fallen trees can easily be tossed about by high winds during a storm. If you have trees near your home, be sure to trim any dead or dying branches, or at least ask your landscaper to do so at your next… Read More >

Tips to Consider when Selecting New Countertops

Countertop Options
Whether you’re looking to replace your old countertops as part of a full kitchen remodel or a quick facelift, you’ll find there is a wide array of options when it comes to materials and distinctive finishes. The best surface for your home often depends on your budget, style and lifestyle. Keep in mind you don’t need to pick just one! A trend we’ve seen in our recent remodeling work is that many homeowners are mixing and matching complementary surfaces in different areas of the kitchen to achieve a truly one-of-a-kind look. The following overview of available countertop options may be… Read More >

Is Solar Energy in the Future for your Home?

Solar Energy Future
As the price of electricity continues to climb, many homeowners are looking for new ways to shave down their energy costs. And, these days, more and more are considering renewable energy sources as an option. Technological advancements and an increase in manufacturing volume have significantly lowered the price of solar energy so it now costs about seven times less than it did twenty years ago. As the cleanest and most abundant renewable energy source available, solar power is definitely worth a closer look to see if it’s right for your home.   Solar Electric Power A solar electric system harnesses the… Read More >

Wouldn’t you love a great outdoor kitchen?

Outdoor Kitchen Design Ideas
The recent sunshine and warmer temperatures throughout the Washington DC area, remind us that we’ll soon be able to enjoy pool parties, picnics, and of course, backyard BBQ’s with family and friends. If you’re thinking about incorporating the convenience of an outdoor kitchen into your backyard, listed below are some helpful tips to consider. To Cover or Not to Cover When creating an outdoor kitchen, one of the first things to consider is whether or not to have the space covered. Unless covered, you should expect to experience significantly more wear and tear on your surfaces and appliances than if… Read More >

Have you Maximized your Home’s Livable Space?

Maximized Livable Space
In the greater Washington DC area, there’s no question that space comes at a premium. But, with careful planning, a number of area homeowners have found creative ways to maximize both their storage and livable space during renovations of all sizes. Following are examples of just a few creative living solutions we’ve seen in recent projects. Backsplash Appliance Garages Having an appliance garage in your kitchen is nothing new, but the twist comes in creating one or many storage areas hidden behind your backsplash. If you are in need of more counter space (and who isn’t with all the must-have… Read More >

How Much Could you be Saving on your Heating Bills?

Save on your Heating Bill
During the winter months, many homeowners are looking for ways to keep their energy bills down, while still keeping their homes nice and toasty. With 50% of the average homes' energy usage going toward heating and cooling alone, the winter months provide an opportunity for considerable savings. Listed below are some helpful tips for lowering your home heating bills while Jack Frost is in town.

Is your home safety-proofed for the holidays?

Winter Safety
For many of us, the holidays are a busy time filled with gifts to wrap, cookies to bake, family to entertain and parties to attend. Unfortunately, it’s easy for fire prevention and other safety issues to be overlooked during the hustle and bustle of the season, but they should never get put on the back burner (pun intended). According to National Fire Protection Association, more than 40% of home fires occur during the months of December, January and February. Listed below are some precautions to take to help ensure that you and your loved ones have a safe and happy… Read More >

Are you Prepared for a Power Outage?

Power Outage
Permanent standby generators are a considerable investment, but the convenience of an autostart system, along with the peace of mind of having one, are well worth the price for many homeowners. And don't forget, having a home generator will likely increase the value of your home.

Design a Favorite Space in your Home

Favorite Spaces
Many people have a favorite space in their home, be it a cozy nook for reading, a luxurious bath for escaping the hassles of a long day or a gourmet kitchen ideally suited for preparing meals the whole family can enjoy. Your favorite space may be a home bar perfect for entertaining family and friends (see last month’s issue) or an area custom designed to match your children’s interests so they can enjoy time with friends in the safety of your own home.  If you don’t already have your favorite space picked out keep in mind a well-planned home renovation … Read More >

Home Remodeling Design Ideas for Custom Bars

Home Bars
A home bar is a great place to entertain family and friends from the comfort and safety of your own home. Customized bars continue to be a welcome gathering place in luxury homes throughout Washington, DC, but now with so many options you can truly make it your own. A home remodeling expert can help you to transform an ordinary space into an inviting entertaining area that complements your home, taste and lifestyle. Where Everyone Knows Your Name A classic pub-style bar is a common design direction that is not going anywhere any time soon. Envision a “Cheers” style bar,… Read More >

Renovations with Age-in-Place Appeal

Bathroom Trends
Is your family approaching a transitional stage in the lifecycle of home ownership? Perhaps the kids have already moved out, or your “nest” is nearly empty with the youngest heading to college this fall.  Maybe you’re planning ahead for a living space that would be more accessible and comfortable should your mobility someday become limited. These are just a few of the reasons couples choose to modify their existing homes to meet their evolving needs, or ‘age in place’, rather than purchase someplace new. Where the Heart Is Many people have spent years making memories in their homes, and have… Read More >

Stay Cool With the Best Pool in Town

Cool Pool
The “dog days” of summer are starting early this year with June 2010 ranking as the hottest month of June on record in Metropolitan Washington, DC.  So, what better way to beat the heat than to spend time kicking back by the pool with family and friends? Diving boards and chicken fights are water draws of the past. Now, more families are transforming their backyards into resort-like havens, creating amped-up pools that are sure to be the talk of the neighborhood.  Not only can residential swimming pools blend in to be aesthetically seamless with a backyard’s landscape, but incorporating innovative… Read More >

There’s a Home App for That

App for That
Smart phones have transformed how people orchestrate their lives, both personally and professionally, and the ability to manage the home remotely with the swipe of a screen is no exception. Here are a few of our favorite iPhone applications (apps), sure to make life a little easier, impress your guests, and simply elevate the ‘cool’ factor of your home.  Home Control Systems Lutron: Looking to set the mood for an arriving guest or save energy when you leave a light on? The HomeWorks Light Control application makes it easy to control your Lutron whole-home lighting system with the touch of… Read More >

Wanna get Paid for Home Improvements?

Tax Incentives
Ugh, tax time! While most (if not all) of us dread doing our taxes each year, I suspect we can all agree that finding ways to save money through deductions is great! So, as a follow up to last year’s BOWA Home Advisor on available tax credits, grants and rebates for green upgrades and other home improvements, we thought it would be important to update you on several of the programs that are available in 2010. While some of them remain unchanged from 2009, there are several additions that could mean a big return from Uncle Sam. Of course, we… Read More >

Is your Home Susceptible to Ice Damming?

BOWA Exterior Maintenance
Ice damming occurs when the melting and refreezing of snow forms a ridge at the valley or eave of a roof, and prevents proper drainage. As additional melting occurs, it causes water to pool behind the dam, which can lead to serious water damage if water seeps between the shingle layers, wetting the roof deck and possibly leaking into the home below. Visible signs of damage may include dislodged roof shingles, water-stained ceilings, peeling paint, damaged plaster, etc. As other damage may not be as obvious, such as wet attic insulation, water within the wall frames or mold, any instance… Read More >

Does Your Home Need a Driveway Facelift?

Driveway
When friends and family visit, your driveway is one of the first things they see as they approach your home. So why is the driveway often an afterthought when it comes to planning for curb appeal? If your driveway is stained, worn, cracked, or simply doesn’t complement the aesthetic of your home any longer, it may be time for a driveway facelift. After reviewing the descriptions and benefits of the three most popular types of driveway materials, you may find a solution that is a perfect match to your needs and style. Asphalt An asphalt driveway contains a mix of… Read More >

How Much Heat is Your Home Losing?

Weatherstripping
Did you know that as much as 7-12 percent of your home’s heating and cooling loss occurs around windows and doors? In fact, in some homes, tiny gaps in these areas can collectively equate to a one-foot square hole punched in the wall. Outside air can leak into or out of your home through these voids, causing your energy bill to rise as your furnace or air conditioner works overtime to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home. Given these facts, even if your home is well insulated, weatherstripping should be an important part of your energy-saving curriculum. Weatherstripping is… Read More >

Does Your Home Need a Pick-Me Up?

Interior Home Maintenance
If you’re looking to give the interior of your home a fresh look, there are many things you can do even if a full renovation isn’t in the cards just yet.  For example, updating the flooring, adding a fresh coat of paint or installing decorative trim can each have great impact and be relatively inexpensive.  Following are some tips and trends for each of these projects. Wood Flooring Wood continues to be the most popular choice in flooring material, with sustainable hard woods making the largest leap in popularity.   Bamboo has been a popular choice, as it is natural, comes… Read More >

Other Approaches to Home Energy Savings

Energy Savings
We’ve all heard the basic tips for saving energy around the house – turn off lights when no one’s in the room, unplug small appliances when not in use, turn off the computer at night, and the list goes on and on. But there are numerous other things that can be done that might not be quite so familiar. In some instances, these changes can help you to significantly decrease the amount of energy used in your home, while lowering your electricity bill and increasing your home’s efficiency. Carefully monitoring your home’s energy usage, planning ahead for the replacement of… Read More >

Updating Your Plumbing Fixtures

Plumbing Update
Do you ever find yourself wishing you could transform your bathroom into a spa-like retreat reminiscent of your last luxury getaway? With upscale bathroom remodels consistently among the top of the list in terms of recoupable costs, many homeowners are doing just that. By combining the latest in plumbing innovations with careful design and execution you too can turn your bathroom into a private sanctuary. Textured Sinks It’s clear sinks are no longer just for washing hands! Today’s bathroom sinks are carefully chosen design elements that can serve to tie the entire room together or provide the perfect, unexpected pop!… Read More >

The Future of Incandescent Light Bulbs

Light Bulbs
In December 2007, a Federal law was passed that will gradually phase out inefficient incandescent light bulbs in an effort to save energy, lower electricity costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The law instead favors more efficient light from halogen, CFL’s (compact fluorescent light), or LED fixtures. Even though incandescent bulbs don’t need to be fully removed from the market until 2014, many manufacturers have already begun to halt production of several varieties, including those for commonly used floodlights. While there is still time to use up the bulbs you may have around the house, it’s important to explore how… Read More >

How Clean is Your Family’s Air?

Indoor Air
You might be surprised to learn that recent scientific evidence suggests air inside your home can be even more polluted than outdoor air. With millions of people suffering from asthma and allergies, it’s a good idea to question whether the air in your home might be negatively affecting your family’s health. Fortunately, there are things that can be done to reduce the build-up of indoor air pollutants, thus improving the overall air quality and helping to protect your family. Following are three basic strategies. Control Sources Source control is considered to be the most effective way of reducing indoor pollutants.… Read More >

Today’s Appliances – New & Improved

Home Appliances
Choosing new appliances for your home can be daunting. As manufacturers introduce new models and features on a regular basis, wading through all of the options to choose the best fit can be challenging. With the average appliance lasting 10 to 15 years, it’s important to choose ones that match both your cooking/cleaning needs and your personal sense of style. Following are some new product highlights and trends we thought you might find interesting. Colored Kitchen Appliances Over the past year, several manufacturers have added new and unexpected colors to their lines of kitchen appliances. Bertazzoni, an Italian manufacturer, now… Read More >

Keeping Springtime Pests at Bay

Springtime Pests
As spring approaches, homeowners sometimes notice a rise in insects that make their way indoors. While most of these pests are harmless, the most common threats to your home during this season are termites and carpenter ants, both of which can be difficult to eliminate. Though extermination services may be necessary no matter the type of pest, knowing the differences between these two insects may help to alleviate some concerns over the safety of your home, and help you to make an informed decision regarding the proper course of action. Termites Once termites infest a home they can quickly cause… Read More >

Added Incentive to Live a Little Greener

Green Remodeling
With all the news stories published on a near daily basis pertaining to the benefits of “going green”, you may be thinking about the changes you can make to your home to reduce energy costs, create healthier surroundings for your family or to be a little kinder to the environment. Especially in today’s economy, the good news is that local, state and federal governments, and even some builders, are offering tax credits and rebates to help offset the costs associated with green upgrades. Following are highlights of just a few of the incentives available for using environmentally-conscious materials and systems,… Read More >

Interior Home Maintenance 101

Interior Home Maintenance
Homeowners often ask, “What are some general guidelines for keeping my home safe and healthy for my family?” Our experience over the last 20 years has proven that certain interior maintenance items are critical to the long-term performance of your home (also see Exterior Home Maintenance 101). Time and again we see issues arise due to the fact that these basic items are neglected, either because they are overlooked or misunderstood. A regular schedule of interior and exterior home maintenance will likely help you to avoid serious home-related problems all together, or at least identify issues early so problems can… Read More >

Exterior Home Maintenance 101

BOWA Exterior Maintenance
Many homeowners wonder: “Am I doing enough to keep my home safe from the outdoor elements?” Our experience over the past 20 years has proven that there are certain exterior maintenance items that are critical to the long-term health of the home. All too often we find that when serious issues arise, they are directly or indirectly due to these fundamental home maintenance items being neglected, either because they are not understood or forgotten. A regular schedule of maintenance will likely help to identify issues early so problems can be addressed in a timely manner and adverse effects can be… Read More >

Some Investments can be Protected

Hardwood Floors
Whether you’ve chosen hardwood floors for your kitchen, first level or whole house, they are a significant investment worthy of your attention. With proper care and maintenance, you should find that hardwood floors add warmth and character to your home and serve you well for years to come. Consider the following tips and recommendations, gathered from our partners and industry sources, to maximize the life and appearance of your hardwood floors. General Tips Do not clean your floors for 30 days, or put down rugs/carpet for approximately 14 days, after finishing is complete. To help prevent scratching, use throw rugs… Read More >

‘Tis the Season…for Hurricanes

Hurricane Prep
With hurricane season upon us, it is important to be proactive when it comes to the safety and security of your home. A few simple preventative steps, outlined below, may help you to avoid costly repairs once the storms have passed. Clear away yard debris and dead/dying branches Large branches or fallen trees can easily be tossed about by high winds during a storm. If you have trees near your home, be sure to trim any dead or dying branches, or ask your landscaper to do so at your next service visit. Make sure gutters are kept clean and in… Read More >

A Home Energy Audit May Help

Energy Savings
Do you find that some rooms in your home are always too drafty or too warm? Are your energy bills on the rise? Or, are you looking to live a little “greener” by using less energy all together? Any of these is a good reason to consider conducting an energy audit on your home. A home energy audit may identify home improvements or behavioral modifications that could help to protect your home, your family and the environment. The following information is provided by ENERGY STAR, a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy,… Read More >

A Space of their Own

Home Theater
In your home, you may have planned a gourmet kitchen for your love of cooking, an exercise room for your favorite fitness program or a wine cellar for tastings with friends. But, did you design spaces for your children’s favorite activities? With a little planning, you can create kid-friendly spaces to keep your children busy morning to night, and hopefully put an end to the dreaded claims of, “Mom, I am soooo bored.” Play Rooms A well-designed playroom can be a haven for your children, and help to provide peace of mind for you! A dedicated playroom is about giving… Read More >

Need Help Organizing Your Family?

Family Foyers
Do you find yourself constantly running after your children, asking them to pick up their backpacks, sporting equipment, coats and shoes? Or, perhaps you’re the culprit leaving briefcases, cell phones and mail scattered around the home. If so, a well-planned family foyer may help to keep your busy family organized. For several years now, homeowners have opted for a second, less-formal entrance to the home for use by family and close friends. Typically located near the garage, yesterday’s “mudroom” spaces were often small and dark, and usually also served as the laundry room. They weren’t particularly appealing nor exceptionally organized.… Read More >

Time for a Laundry Room Makeover?

BOWA Home Advisor Laundry Room
If you find yourself spending more time doing laundry than you’d like, perhaps it’s time to consider a laundry room makeover. Especially when dealing with utilitarian rooms, like a laundry room or kitchen, it’s important for the space to be carefully planned. When a laundry room is well designed, both aesthetically and functionally, the task at hand can be more efficient and the space can be enjoyed. Following are some of the trends we’re seeing in today’s larger, more prominent laundry rooms. Location Over the years, laundry rooms have moved throughout the home from the basement to the first floor… Read More >

Ready for the Great Outdoors?

Landscaping
Given the cost of land today, it seems that increasingly homeowners are looking beyond the four walls of their homes and maximizing the usability and beauty of their entire property. With careful planning and execution, a program of landscaping and hardscaping can turn an ordinary backyard into a resort-like haven for personal getaways and entertaining. Andy Balderson of Donovan, Feola, Balderson & Associates, a landscape architecture and site planning firm, shares some of the trends he is seeing in their residential work. Use of Large-Specimen Trees: Many homeowners are opting to use specimen trees of a large caliper, ranging in… Read More >

Longing for a Cozy Fire?

Fireplaces
A well maintained fireplace is a lovely feature in a home. A gas or wood-burning fireplace can be a mood setter when entertaining, a focal point for family gatherings or a comforting backdrop when snuggled up with a good book. But, fireplaces do require that a homeowner adhere to proper servicing schedules, maintenance recommendations and safety precautions to be enjoyed to their fullest. Be Sure the Damper is Open: Whether you have a vented-gas or wood-burning fireplace, it is important to ensure that the damper is open before lighting a fire. A closed damper would cause the smoke or carbon… Read More >

Give Your Home a Second Chance

Chevy Chase Renovation
Are you considering a renovation or a tear down? If so, you might want to give your home a second chance before you start demolition. If approached carefully and strategically, up to 85% of a building’s major components can be salvaged or recycled with far-reaching benefits. Second Chance, a Baltimore-based non-profit, specializes in this practice, known as deconstruction. They bring in a team specially trained to methodically remove reusable elements, such as plumbing fixtures, ceiling tiles, doors, windows, molding, cabinets and other items from a building before it is demolished. The process creates a win-win-win-win solution. WIN: First, homeowners can… Read More >

Is your Home Susceptible to Ice Damming?

BOWA Exterior Maintenance
An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the eave or valley of a roof and prevents proper drainage. Ice damming is most often caused by insufficient attic insulation and/or attic ventilation. An attic that is too warm causes roof snow to melt and slide down to the eaves. At the eaves, where the roof surface is cooler, the melting snow is likely to refreeze and cause a dam. Subsequent melting causes water to pool behind this dam, potentially leading to serious water damage. Costly damage may occur if water seeps between the shingle layers, wetting the… Read More >

Is your home ready? Follow this Winterizing Checklist

Winter Checklist
Did you know that the average first frost for the Washington, DC area is October 17th? While this week’s 75-degree days make it hard to believe, winter’s freezing temperatures are bound to be here before we know it! To protect your home and family, now is the time to plan ahead by scheduling service people or setting aside time to follow our winterizing checklist. Interior So simple, yet invaluable…you can’t afford to neglect these tips! Replace smoke detector batteries. Replace carbon monoxide batteries. Check and clean fireplaces and chimneys. Lock windows to keep them square. Exterior These few projects can… Read More >

Bowa Home Advisor Archives

2007 December Is Your Home Susceptible to Ice Damming? October Is Your Home Ready? September Is Your Home Steamy? August Spray Foam Insulation, an Environmentally Friendly Option May Everybody in the Pool! April Today’s Take on Screen Porches March April Showers, Bring…Rain Gardens? February Drawers, Doors and More… January Is Your Garage a Show Stopper? 2006 November Are Your Valuables Properly Protected? October Feeling a Little Green? September Do You Know the Scoop on Paint? August Are Your Circuits Protected? July Does Your Concrete Know You Care? June Is Your Roof in Tip-Top Shape? May Are Your Appliances Getting Enough… Read More >

Are your pipes ready for winter?

Winter Safety
When water freezes in a copper pipe, the ice wins and the copper and your home loses. To avoid this potentially costly headache, it is essential that you take the proper steps to get water out of pipes in areas where freezing may occur. To help protect your pipes and home this winter, follow these quick steps: First, inside the house, shut off the water coming into the hose bib line. Next, outside the house, take three steps: open the hose bib disconnect the hose, and remove or open the backflow prevention device. Then, open the drain device at the… Read More >