Mark Galante's Blog
Did you know that the terraced retaining walls that were built by the Incas at Machu Picchu date all the way back to the 15th century? There’s a reason that classic landscape design elements like the dry-stacked wall have endured for centuries. Not only do they look great, but they are designed to stand the test of time against harsh weather, earthquakes and centuries of use. Dry-stacked walls are a good choice for any property and are versatile enough to perfectly fit in with any style. Keep reading to learn more about why we love dry-stacked walls and how you can utilize them in your landscape design.
How Do Dry-Stacked Walls Work?
Essentially, a dry-stacked wall is any outdoor stone wall that has been built without mortar to bind the stones together. This technique is ideal for retaining walls and freestanding accent walls. Not only are these walls incredibly strong thanks to interlocking construction, but they also can stretch and bend with the landscape because they are made without the use of mortar. This flexibility helps the walls to easily go along with the natural movement of the land during changes in temperature—particularly during the warmer months and times of continued frost. Because of this adaptability, dry-stacked walls don’t require a conventional foundation that must be set deep below the frost line.
Additional benefits of investing in a dry-stacked stone wall include:
- Natural Permeability — Water is able to freely pass through the mortar-less joints of a dry-stacked stone wall. This natural permeability helps to alleviate the need to invest in an additional drainage system, saving homeowners from having to divert water away from the wall to relieve pressure.
- Longevity — Freely stacked stone walls are designed to allow for natural expansion and contraction. Therefore, this type of wall is much less susceptible to normal shifting and cracking that you might find with a traditional retaining wall. Ideally, your dry-stacked stone wall should look attractive and maintain its structural integrity for many years to come once construction is completed.
- Variety — You can be creative as you’d like when building a dry-stacked wall. Whether you prefer round stones, river rocks or flat stones—there’s a stone material available to suit any design aesthetic. However, keep in mind that different stone materials are known for being easier to work with than others. For example, flat stone is typically the fastest and easiest option, while stones with rounded edges require more careful planning.
In addition to being attractive and versatile, dry-stacked walls can be created from a variety of materials. Typically, building a dry-stacked wall will cost homeowners anywhere from $65 to $100 per square foot, including all materials and labor. However, for those interested in an especially deep dry-stacked wall, the costs can climb. Working with an experienced landscape construction team can help to prevent costs from going outside your budget and allow you to enjoy peace of mind with a durable and long-lasting retaining wall.
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So, you're buying a home remotely. Because you probably don't want to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in a house that smells like cats or that features weekly invasions by the SWAT team of the building next door, it's important to find a long-distance realtor you can trust. You need someone who excels at the remote-home-buying experience and who will represent you faithfully. Agents like these are out there, but it may take a bit of work to find them. Here's what we recommend.
Choose a Certified Residential Specialist
A certified residential specialist is a real estate agent who has undergone additional training and who has more experience than other agents. Only about 3 percent of all realtors in the United States have attained CRS status. You can find a CRS locally by using the online search function available at the Residential Real Estate Council.
To become a certified residential specialist, an agent must meet strict minimum requirements, including:
- Completion of between 25 and 150 successful real estate transactions.
- Completion of between 16 and 80 additional hours of training and education in realty.
- Adherence to a higher code of ethics than the average realtor.
While millions of hard-working real estate agents exist, only a small number have gone that extra mile to earn CRS certification. These are the agents you should trust to handle your transaction when you can't be there in person.
Choose an Expert Communicator
Choose a realtor who's an expert in your desired area and with whom you feel comfortable from the first conversation. The relationship between you and your remote-home-buying partner should feature excellent communication. He or she needs to understand your needs precisely, including your must-haves, your budget, your time frame, and what you're hoping to find in a neighborhood. If you're bringing along three small dogs, your mother-in-law, or two moody teenagers, your long-distance realtor needs to make sure there's sufficient space for everyone included.
Find a REALTOR® Who Cares
The REALTOR®you choose should be an expert on local schools. He should be able to get back to you with crime rates and economics. Additionally, he should be present at home inspections to ensure your future home doesn't have a termite infestation or a sketchy, outdated septic system. Everything from water pressure to the condition of outdoor fencing matters. These are all things you would investigate when viewing a home in person. If it's important to you, it should be important to the realtor you choose.
Seventy-eight percent of all home buyers value the quality of a neighborhood over the size of a home, and 57 percent would rather have a shorter work commute than a sprawling yard. It's statistics like these that can make or break your remote-home-buying experience. It's vital to partner with the best agent for the job.
The home selling process should be fast and profitable. Yet problems may arise that make it tough for a seller to optimize the value of his or her house and enjoy a seamless property selling experience. Lucky for you, we're here to help you plan ahead for the home selling journey and avoid potential pitfalls.
Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you identify and overcome home selling hurdles before you list your residence.
1. Conduct a Home Inspection
You might believe that your house is in great shape and requires no repairs. However, if problems ultimately are discovered when buyers check out your residence, you may struggle to quickly and effortlessly navigate the home selling journey.
For a home seller, it may be beneficial to employ a home inspector. With a home inspector at your side, you can gain expert insights into your house's condition and perform assorted home repairs as needed. As a result, you can eliminate the risk that home problems may prevent you from maximizing the value of your house.
2. Get a Home Appraisal
What you originally paid for your house is unlikely to match your residence's current value. Fortunately, a home appraisal can help you gain a better idea about the present value of your house based on its condition, age and various real estate market factors.
Typically, a home appraisal report can be prepared in just days, and this report's benefits can be significant. A home appraisal report provides you with a property valuation that you can use to establish an aggressive initial asking price for your house. As such, a home appraisal may help you price your residence competitively and boost the likelihood of stirring up plenty of interest in your house as soon as it becomes available.
3. Hire a Real Estate Agent
The home selling journey can be long, complex and challenging, regardless of whether you're an experienced or first-time property seller. But if you hire a real estate agent, you can receive comprehensive support as you navigate the home selling journey.
A real estate agent will work with you to help you achieve your desired results. Thus, if you want to get the best price for your residence, you and your real estate agent can brainstorm ways to upgrade your residence and bolster its value. Or, if you want to sell your residence as quickly as possible, a real estate agent can help you do just that.
Of course, a real estate agent is happy to respond to your home selling concerns and questions too. And if you are unsure about how to address home selling issues, a real estate agent is ready to assist you in any way possible.
Want to add your house to the real estate market? Use the aforementioned tips, and you should have no trouble identifying and resolving a wide range of home selling hurdles faster than ever before.
Multigenerational properties have seen a demand spike recently, giving sellers a reason to sit up and take notice. As family dynamics shift and the economy rises and falls, property owners need to pay attention to who's buying what. We'll look at what constitutes a multigenerational property and which ones are seeing the most attention.
Accessibility & Space
The very word multigenerational may confuse some home sellers. After all, any home can be a multigenerational home depending on who lives there. But these homes are usually defined as being accessible to people of all ages with enough space to accommodate different lifestyles.
For example, the home may include a separate entrance and living room where a grandmother can maintain her independence without being far away from her family. Or it may include a wheelchair-accessible ramp to an in-law unit (complete with kitchenette). New multigenerational homes are built so each level can accommodate a different generation (similar to a duplex).
Why the Spike in Demand
The way we live is determined by everything from the average yearly salary to our daily demands. While families may have primarily stuck together a century ago, nuclear families took center stage in the latter half of the 1900s. It seems as though many Americans are seeing the pendulum swing back the other way. Today, up to 41% of all home buyers are looking for a home that can house either an elderly parent or an adult child.
While the exact reasons are still a little hazy, the trend seems influenced by the desire to save money. However, there are other benefits to multigenerational homes that lie just underneath the surface. These homes encourage togetherness while still giving everyone a sense of space. This can lead to better health outcomes — both mentally and physically. Young parents can ask their parents to watch their children while they're gone and adult children can help elderly parents as they age.
What Sellers Can Do
Most sellers are unlikely to revamp their homes entirely before putting it on the market just to make it an official multigenerational home. However, they can give their homes a quick refresher with an eye towards the universal design. This may mean installing grab bars in the bathroom or carpeting the bedrooms to provide more traction.
There's no reason for home sellers to go overboard when it comes to putting their property on the market. However, they can keep in mind who the buyers are in the area. It may help you decide whether to stage your third bedroom as a nursery or a study.