Licensed Real Estate Associate Broker
GRI, ABR, ASP®, e-Pro
WNY Historic homes carry tons of charm, but here’s the thing: They’re old. And that means they often come with truckloads of hidden or weirdly unexpected issues—and may require exorbitant upgrades.
But fear not! With smart planning and a few expert tips, you can renovate the historic home of your fantasies. And, hey, why not create some new history while you’re at it?
Shaunna and Matt West, the restoration team behind the HGTV show “Sweet House Alabama,” have some ideas to get you started. The Wests have been involved with countless remodeling and design projects through their successful shop, Perfectly Imperfect in Troy, AL, so they know a thing or two about polishing up historic gems. (Above is a Southern Colonial-style home they worked on for the show.)
Before you get your heart set on updating a sprawling Georgian manse (like the “Home Alone” house in Chicago), don’t! Instead, read this list of things to avoid:
1. Don’t fall in love before you really know the deal
Before you make an offer, know what you’re getting into, Matt West says. Sure, you (presumably) already know about getting a standard inspection, but a historic home requires something more.
“Have a team of top-notch professionals—an agent who specializes in historic neighborhoods, a good home inspector, and a general contractor with experience renovating older properties—walk through and identify all critical issues,” West says. Topping the list: lousy wiring and plumbing, drafty or otherwise inefficient windows, badly sloping foundations. “Get estimates from at least three contractors for repairs,” West says. “You might find that the extra costs and time involved are just beyond your reach.”
Also, West recommends tapping your city’s code enforcement office as a resource for determining whether a historic property is up to code. If you’re obtaining an FHA loan and don’t have the extra cash for renovations, ask your lender if you qualify for the203(k) loan program. The program allows borrowers to wrap renovation costs into their home loan if the property meets FHA standards.
2. Don’t create a budget with no wiggle room
As with any older-home renovation, expect the unexpected when you open up walls and floors, West cautions. Chances are, something’s lurking behind them.
“When you undertake a reno project, you always need to leave some space in the budget for those unforeseen hiccups, like a lead pipe in a wall you were going to tear down, or water damage in a ceiling,” he says. “Factor in an extra 10% into the budget to tackle those problems, as well as some extra time to get unplanned work completed.”
If the renovation goes sideways, remind yourself it’s more important to get the work done right the first time.
3. Don’t lose sight of the place’s character
What makes older homes so enticing? They have personality, uniqueness—and most important—history. Preserving all those characteristics while refreshing the look and floor plans is an important piece of the renovation puzzle.
“Some of these homes have design elements that can’t be replicated easily such as detailed crown moldings or ornate fireplaces in nearly every room,” West says. “Design around those details instead of removing them.”
Keep in mind, too, that there might be limitations on what you can change if the surrounding area is designated as a historic neighborhood by your city or state, or if it’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which contains more than 90,000 listings across the United States. Make sure you run your renovation plans by code enforcement and your local historic preservation board before any work gets underway.
4. Don’t try to save money by doing it all yourself
Sure, you might be an arena-level rock star when it comes to painting walls and installing light fixtures, but leave the major projects to the pros. Electrical rewiring, foundation and structural repairs, and reconfiguring plumbing aren’t tasks suited for the casual DIYer. Bring in experienced contractors who have worked on older homes before (ask for references!)—unless you want bigger, more expensive headaches down the road. Trust us on this one.
5. Don’t ignore the things you can’t see
Asbestos, lead, radon, wood rot, and mold are common environmental issues that crop up frequently in historic home renovations, especially if a property has been vacant for a long time. Hire a licensed home inspector who can catch these issues early on and recommend companies to address them. If significant mitigation work is required, you’ll be in a good position to negotiate those items (or the price) with the seller.
Now, go forth and get historic WNY.
BNHV’s 31st Annual Buffalo Niagara Scottish Festival Highland Games and Gathering of the Clans Saturday, August 15th, 2015 from 11AM-6PM $10 for adults, Children 12 and under are FREE!
The 31st Annual Buffalo Niagara Scottish Festival will feature Scottish fare and beer, bag piping, clan row, dancing, celtic vendors and the ever-popular Highland Games presented by the Buffalo Heavies! Some of this year’s musical entertainment includes the local favorite: Penny Whiskey and new this year, nationally performing act: The American Rogues! Come out to BNHV and experience what Scottish culture is all about this August. Like our official event facebook page at www.facebook.com/scottishfestival. Takes place at the Buffalo Niagara Heritage Village! Details on the schedule here!
Friday, August 14th, 2015 from 5PM-10PM. The Ceilidh will be held at Stockman’s Tavern 9870 Transit Road in Swormville and feature live music, Celtic-themed fare and raffles. There is no cost to attend the Ceilidh!
2015 Musical Headliner: The American Rogues
For more information please visit: http://bnhv.org/scottish/
Cringe at the thought of major repairs to your WNY home? It’s the little preventative maintenance things you do throughout the year that’ll keep big repair bills at bay. In fact, you can keep your entire house fit and healthy for a mere $300 per year. Here’s how.
1. Get Up Close and Personal with Your House
Annual cost: $0-$10
Trust us — you want to be on intimate terms with your house. The more familiar you are, the easier it is to spot potential trouble spots before they get out-of-hand — and expensive to fix.
You don’t have to be a pro inspector; just take the time to stroll around. A DIY inspection costs nothing — and could save you thousands. Look for:
Cracks in the foundation. Hairline cracks are fairly normal, but keep an eye on them and note if they’re getting larger. If so, your foundation may be settling unevenly. You can make a small mark with an indelible pen across the crack; over the next few months, if you notice the mark is moving apart, call in a foundation expert.
Proper soil grading. Foundation soil should slope away from foundation walls at least 6 inches in 10 feet. More is better.
Downspout extensions. They should reach at least 5 feet away from your house. A flexible extension is about $10.
Roof damage. Use a pair of binoculars to look for shingles that are curled, torn, or missing, and rust spots on flashing.
Shaggy bushes and tree limbs. Keep plants at least 3 feet away from your house. Branches can channel water right to your siding; during a windstorm, they may bang against your house and cause damage.
Branches near your roof are squirrel highways; trim them back to prevent critters from reaching your roof. You don’t want pests in your attic.
2. Make Caulk Your BFF
Annual cost: $24
Your home’s No. 1 enemy is water; your home’s best friend is caulk.
Cheap and easy to use, caulk seals openings and prevents water from getting inside your home, where lingering moisture causes rot and mold. Caulk seals air leaks that can rob you of precious heating and cooling energy.
As caulking ages, it may come loose as your house settles slightly. Every year, inspect window and door frames for cracked and missing caulk. Check around exterior dryer vents, hose bibs, and electrical wiring to make sure openings in your siding are sealed tight.
You won’t be caulking the whole enchilada — but bet on using 3-4 tubes of top-quality exterior acrylic latex caulk ($4-$6 per 12-oz. tube) every year.
3. Give Your House a Facial
Annual cost: $0-$32
As you make your inspection rounds, look for blemishes — chipped or peeling paint, small chips in stucco, and missing mortar between masonry. A little spot repair prevents moisture from doing more damage.
Keep paint in good repair and help your exterior paint job last longer by touching up chipped or peeling areas so water can’t penetrate. Keep a close eye on trim, porch columns, and stair railings. Annual cost: $16 for 1 qt. of color-matched exterior latex paint.
Plug holes in stucco with pre-mixed latex stucco patching compound ($7 for a 1 qt. tub).
Repair missing mortar using textured, masonry mortar repair compound ($3.50 for a 5-oz. tube).
Clean your exterior. All types of siding benefit from an annual cleaning to remove dirt and grime. Use buckets of warm, soapy water (½ cup of trisodium phosphate — $4.95 for a 1 lb. box — dissolved in 1 gallon of water) and a soft-bristled brush attached to a long handle. Or, use a homemade green cleaner from ½ cup baking soda dissolved in 1 gallon warm water.
4. Coddle Your HVAC
Annual cost: $50-$164
Change furnace filters. Have you looked at them lately? They’re filthy! They’re cutting down on your heating and cooling efficiency and making your furnace fan work overtime trying to push air through stuffed-up filters. Keep allergy-causing dust to a minimum and give your furnace a break with regular HVAC maintenance that includes changing your high-quality filters every 3-4 months.
Get an HVAC tune-up. For this annual HVAC maintenance chore, bring in a pro to clean out furnace parts and recharge your refrigerant levels. Signing a contract for an annual inspection lowers cost per visit.
5. Show Your Water Heater a Little TLC
Annual cost: $0
Remove sediment and gunk in the bottom of the tank by hooking a garden hose to the drain valve and draining the tank until the water runs clear. That helps your water heater warm up quickly and more cheaply.
Test the pressure relief valve by quickly opening it two or three times (catch the spillage in a small bucket). After testing, watch for any leaks from the valve.
6. Clean Your Gutters
Annual cost: $0
Clogged rain gutters cause overflows that damage siding and soak the soils around your foundation. That mean foundation problems that lead to expensive repairs. Clean your gutters at least twice each year to remove clogs and debris. Like you didn’t know that!
The Buffalo New York “Infringement” Festival is a non-profit-driven, non-hierarchical grassroots endeavor bringing together …a broad range of eclectic, independent, experimental, and controversial art of all forms. Visual, performing, musical, and media arts are all welcome here. Taking place in multiple venues in and around Buffalo’s Allentown District, the festival is an annual eleven-day event running from the last weekend of July through the first weekend of August.Every summer, the streets of Buffalo come alive with scores of events by local and visiting theatre and dance companies, puppeteers, media artists, poets, comics, musicians, cabaret acts, digital designers, and miscellaneous insurrectionists. The annual Buffalo Infringement Festival provides artists and audiences of all backgrounds the chance to come together, take chances, push boundaries, and explore uncharted territory because exciting art can happen anywhere, anytime, without a blockbuster budget. (Or any budget at all, for that matter.)
For more information about this event please visit: http://www.infringebuffalo.org/
Although installing hardwood flooring is usually more expensive than rolling out new carpet, it’s an investment worth considering, according to data from the National Association of Realtors. Surveys show that 54 percent of home buyers are willing to pay more for a house with hardwood floors. The question now: What’s the best way to clean and care for that popular flooring and keep that natural beauty (and value) shining through? Here’s how.
It’s not the wood — oak, maple, mesquite, bamboo, engineered hardwood or something more exotic — that determines how the floors should be cleaned, but rather the finish.
Surface finishes, often referred to as urethanes or polyurethanes, are among the most popular treatments today and are usually applied to hardwood floors after installation to protect them and make them more durable and water resistant. These finishes create a protective barrier. There are four types of surface finishes, according to the American Hardwood Information Center: water based, oil based, acid cured and moisture cured.
Homes built before 1970, including historic residences, may have original wood floors that were sealed with varnish, wax or shellac. These require a different approach to cleaning. The American Hardwood Information Center says these types of finishes work by penetrating the wood to color the planks and form a protective shield. Using a wax coating after staining provides a barrier against wear and tear and gives the floor a beautiful low-gloss satin sheen. The classic look requires a little extra TLC, however, since water-based products and mopping can damage the finish.
How to Determine Your Wood Floor Finish
To figure out whether or not your wood floors are finished with a polyurethane, shellac, wax or varnish, or have a finish that has worn away and is no longer providing coverage, the American Hardwood Information Center suggests these tests:
Run your hand over the wood. If you can feel the texture of the grain, the floor has a “penetrating” finish (usually a combination of a natural oil, such as linseed or tung oil, mixed with additives for drying) topped with wax.
In an out-of-the-way spot, dab on a little paint remover. If the finish bubbles up, it is a surface finish, like polyurethane, which coats the floor in a protective layer.
In an out-of-the-way area, place a few drops of water. If the water beads up and does not soak into the wood, the finish on the floor is intact. If the water is absorbed into the floor or leaves a dark spot, the wood is unfinished or the protective layer has worn away.
If you sprinkle on a few drops of water and white spots form beneath the droplets after about 10 to 15 minutes, the floors are sealed with wax. To remove the white spots, use a piece of fine steel wool lightly dampened with wax and rub gently.
If you suspect a varnish or shellac, take a coin and scratch the surface of the floor in an inconspicuous corner. If the floor has been sealed with one of the older finishing methods, it will flake off.
Click to finish reading article… topics include Preventing Dirty Wood Floor, Regular Wood Floor Cleaning, Vacuuming,Sweeping, Damp Mopping, Unfinished or Waxed Floors, Engineered Wood Floors, Painted Wood Floors.
Now that the kids are finally out of school, the 4th of July Holiday is behind; get your kids outside and spark their creativity with fun, simple home improvement projects. Plus, you’ll boost your curb appeal.
If you’re looking for ways to unplug your children and get them some fresh air, try these engaging outdoor projects. You’ll introduce them to a little pride of home ownership while adding some finishing touches that’ll ramp up your home’s curb appeal.
When making stuff with kids, remember the Keep-It rules:
1. Making stepping stones
This classic kids’ project never gets old — it’s gooey, messy, and arty. You’ll make the stones using ready-mix concrete or mortar; a 40-lb. bag makes 3-5 stones. Make your own forms with wood, or use old pans, aluminum cake pans, or anything that’ll create a 2-inch-thick stone.
While the concrete is still wet, decorate with beads, tiles, marbles, and polished pebbles. Wait 48 hours until the concrete is dry to remove it from the form.
Cost: A 40-lb. bag of ready-mix mortar is $6.
2. Painting your mailbox
Put a little sizzle in your snail mail when you let your kids paint the mailbox.
Un-mount the box and clean it first. When dry, give it a coat of metal primer, then let your kids’ muse take over. Inexpensive craft store stencils help keep designs on track. Take the kids to the store and let them pick out designs. Don’t forget to include house numbers.
Visit: https://youtu.be/BQUVWHE4MKw for steps to paint your mailbox.
Cost: Primer, $5; acrylic craft paints, $20-$40 set of 10 colors; plastic stencils, $1-$2 each
3. Planting a shrub that attracts hummingbirds and butterflies
There’s some delayed gratification with this project — the payoff doesn’t happen until the critters find the shrub — but the fun factor is high when they do.
Keep the digging to a minimum — one or two plants are plenty. Make a generous hole and have the kids fill it with outdoor potting soil, and put them in charge of watering as the plant roots in. Hold a contest to see who spots the first wildlife visitor.
Nectar-producing shrubs that attract hummingbirds include Hibiscus, flowering quince (Chaenomeles), and Lantana. Butterflies like butterfly bush (Buddleja) and Potentilla.
Cost: $10-$30 per shrub; a bag of potting soil is $9.
4. Building a garden gate arbor
It’s easier than it sounds. You’ll find simple DIY kits at home improvement centers that you and your team can put together in 1 to 2 hours. If that challenges younger kids’ attention span limit, let them wander away for a bit, then call them back when it’s done. They’ll love carrying the finished arbor to the garden and setting it in the ground.
Cost: $150-$250 for a wooden kit.
5. Adding solar lights
This is one of the easiest projects. Gather up some solar walkway lights — the kind mounted on a stake — and have your kids put them along your sidewalk, paths, and at the edge of garden beds. When the sun goes down, they’ll get a kick out of seeing the lights switch on.
Cost: Outdoor lighting comes in all styles and prices, but you’ll find an 8-pack of solar stake lights under $50 at your home improvement center.
6. Stacking a tipsy-pot plant tower
Here’s a great optical illusion that kids will really dig. Stick a ½-inch diameter wooden dowel or piece of copper pipe firmly into the ground or a big pot. Put clay pots of various sizes onto the pipe, threading the pipe through the drain holes. Fill the pots with soil and tilt them at crazy angles — the rod holds all the pots upright. Plant easy-care impatiens or petunias. Visit https://youtu.be/kQmm6bp9FCo for video instructions.
Cost: Copper pipe is about $3 per foot; an 8-inch-high clay pot is $4.
Come on out and enjoy all the festivities in Williamsville and Amherst!
The Barbeque and Chicken Dinner Has been Cancelled for Wednesday July 8th
Please support Williamsville East Cheerleading BBQ Dinner from 4:30-7:30
Pre-sale tickets in front of the Amherst Bee from 5-6:30 on Tuesday before the parade
BBQ Dinner is a 4 oz. Roast Beef Sandwich, 1/4 BBQ Chicken, Spuds, Cole Slaw, Roll & Butter pre-sale are $10 at the door $12. Thursday the 9th from 4:30-7:30.
The YMCA Fun run normally held on Thursday has been cancelled
Old Falls Special Event
Featuring live music by the Kokomo Time Band, White Chocolate, and Whiskey Reverb on Middle Block
LOCATION: Old Falls Street Niagara Falls
101 Old Falls Street
Niagara Falls, NY, 14303
Call Sue Swiatowski at 716-278-2121
Red, White and Blue Day at Martin’s Fantasy Island
Celebrate the day – come wearing Red, White & Blue. Free rides for kids in the restored Princess Carriage. Everyone gets in for the special price of $17.76! The park stays open late (water park closes at 8:30). Stick around to watch the fireworks!
TIME: All Day
LOCATION: Martin’s Fantasy Island
2400 Grand Island Blvd.
Grand Island, NY, 14072-3198
Patriots Day Parade at Olcott’s Beach
Dress up in red, white and blue and decorate your bikes and wagons! Meet at the Krull Park overlook by 12 p.m. to line up. Free ice cream compliments of Carousel Concessions and ride ticket for participating children
LOCATION: Olcott Beach Carousel Park
5979 Main Street
Olcott, NY, 14126
For other events please visit: http://buffalo.kidsoutandabout.com/event-list/2015-07-04
Admission to these movies during the Summer Movie Express is only $1. Tickets must be purchased at the theater and all movies start at 10:00 am. A portion of the proceeds goes to the Will Rogers Institute. Search for a theater in your area to see where the Summer Movie Express is playing
2015 Movie Schedule Includes:
Keep checking back for the list of 2015 participating theatres
(Williamsville and Orchard Park locations are participating start date June 30!)
• Week 1 (June 30/July 1)
• Week 2 (July 7/8)
Earth to Echo
• Week 3 (July 14/15)
• Week 4 (July 21/22)
How To Train Your Dragon 2
• Week 5 (July 28/29)
Book of Life
• Week 6 (August 4/5)
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb
Penguins of Madagascar
• Week 7 (August 11/12)
The Lego Movie
Dolphin Tale 2
• Week 8 (August 18/19)
Muppets, Most Wanted
Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible,
No Good, Very Bad Day
• Week 9 (August 25/26)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles & Spongebob
- See more at: http://fun4kidsinbuffalo.com/category/williamsville/#sthash.1XCYiX2R.dpuf