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nfo, Advice & Ideas From Local Experts

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Listen live or stream our radio segment "Around the Home" on The Lucy Ann Lance Business Insider on 1290 AM every Friday between 8:00am and 11:00am. Each week at 8:40 am a BRAG Ann Arbor Member offers an insightful discussion on home-related topics, focusing on the Washtenaw County area.

Getting Ready to Paint Your Home's Exterior
Expert: John Rudolph, Anderson Paint Company
A fresh coat of paint can make a world of difference.Remember these key points for painting properly and improving your home's curb appeal.

1) We are big fans of power washing!
Surface prep is key to any long term expectation. Take the proper steps to prepare the surface for paint or stain.

A. Removes any dirt and grime from the surface. Michigan provides a nice climate
for mold and mildew. Using a power washer and cleaner will remove the mildew.

B. Removes loose coatings that may or may not have been visible.
C. Scrap and sand any problem areas.
D. Prime bare spots if necessary

2) We highly recommend using better paint!
Choose a high quality premium paint or stain. The small investment up front can save you hundreds or thousands of dollars in the future.

Anderson Paint has been in Ann Arbor since the 1950s with a knowledgable long-term staff that is ready to help and answer your questions.

Listen on or on 1290 AM on Friday, 5/11 at 8:40 am



Current Real Estate Conditions
Not Seen In The Last Decade

Expert: Pat Durston, Reinhart Realtors

Get inside information on the state of the local residential real-estate market in this conversation with one of the area's most trusted Realtors. In this segment, Pat offers insight into the challenges for consumers in the next 120 days as well as the following topics.

The market has tipped from a buyers market to a sellers market.

• Buyers need to be counseled on being ready to make good decisions
• Low inventory of homes
• Market data is changing rapidly
• How to make an offer appear to be the ”best “ offer
• Getting through the appraisal process, what is “market value?”
• How to handle this stressful situation

With over 30 years of experience in the real estate industry Pat started her career working for Henry Landau selling custom homes. In 1998, she purchased the business from Henry when he officially retired and continued to build and remodel homes under the name of Landau Custom Homes. While looking back over that building career, she decided to join forces with The Charles Reinhart Company in 2005 to better serve her clients. Her depth of knowledge and wealth of experience in custom home building, remodeling, development of vacant land, property management and sales of new and used homes brings added value to both buyers and sellers.

She serves on several boards including; The Ann Arbor Student Building Program and is a Life Director of the Builders & Remodelers Association of Greater Ann Arbor as well as Treasurer. Pat received a prestigious Pillar award for Outstanding Real Estate Representative in 2006 from The Washtenaw County Home Builders Association.

Pat was born and raised in Ann Arbor and her knowledge of the local real estate and neighborhoods throughout Washtenaw County gives her clients a distinct advantage.

Listen on or on 1290 AM on Friday, 5/4 at 8:40 am


Decks: Designing and Building Them Safely
Expert: Gordon Fellows,, (734) 426-8633

In the past, homes that we now consider “older”, were typically built with a front porch. These nostalgic front porches were often covered and sometimes partially or completely enclosed. This was the place our grandparents would relax in the evening and maybe sit to visit with the neighbors. In recent years, the front porch has largely been replaced by a sliding glass door leading to a backyard patio or deck as the preferred location to relax and entertain. Decks generally offer more room and a somewhat less formal environment than the old front porch. Because of their unique nature and use, designing and building a safe, enjoyable deck requires the consideration of several important factors.

Design Considerations
A lot of advertising for decks and deck building materials frequently highlight decks with multiple levels, steps, and stairs. While a multi-leveled deck may look cool and impress your guests and neighbors, it is important to remember that each step, or change in floor level introduces a trip hazard. This hazard is amplified in low-light situations - a condition commonly encountered because decks are frequently used in the evening. Multi-level decks pose an even greater risk for small children and the elderly. A number of lighting options are available but the cost increase is usually significant. A single level deck may not look as impressive but is generally much more useable.

Railings are another area of particular concern. Safety and building-code compliancy should always be priority number one; making a fashion statement or impressing your guests should be further down the priority list. With today’s materials, safety and attractive appearance do not have to be mutually exclusive.

It is important to note that decks do not always need a stairway. While convenient, they add a significant amount to the cost. If a stairway is not necessary or unlikely to be used regularly, omit it and save the money. If unsure about the need for a stairway, design the deck for it but do not build it until the deck has been in use for a while. It can then be added easily if the need is demonstrated.

Building Considerations
All successful building projects have to start with a good foundation and decks are no exception. A mistake at this stage can lead to partial or complete collapse of the structure. At the very least, undesirable sagging can occur. Decks can be subjected to some extreme loading conditions and most homeowners and weekend carpenters do not have the knowledge and training to construct adequate footings for a deck.

The structural part of a deck is typically constructed with treated lumber. The chemicals used in treating wood to make it decay resistant are highly corrosive. If the wrong types of fasteners are used, catastrophic collapses can and do occur regularly. Proper attachment to the house is a particularly critical component in building a safe deck. Errors here are a leading cause of deck failures.


Download the "Deck Building Checklist"

Verify a License and get more
info on insurance and liability

Because decks are built and used in an exposed environment, some materials and construction methods that may be used inside the house are not acceptable for a deck. Many types of materials are available for deck construction, however. They include treated wood, naturally decay resistant wood, manufactured composite lumber, and PVC. It is important to know the advantages and disadvantages of each type of material, as well as when and where to use them.

Regulatory Considerations
Almost all deck construction is governed by local building codes and zoning ordinances. Many subdivisions also have certain requirements or restrictions regarding deck construction. Prior to starting construction, it is necessary to get appropriate approval and permits from each of these entities.

Contractor Considerations
Deck construction requires certain skill sets and a knowledge base that not all contractors have. Deck contractors must also be licensed by the State of Michigan (). Decks can and do collapse. People have been killed and seriously injured as the result of a deck failure. These collapses are avoidable. When building a deck, only contract with individuals who have the proper experience and training in deck construction. Ask for references and follow them up. Ask to see a copy of their license. Verify their license with the State if there are any doubts. Confirm that they carry all necessary insurance with appropriate limits. Being a member of a professional organization such as the local home builders association, like BRAG Ann Arbor is a plus. Avoid individuals that only work weekends, claim there is no need for permits and inspections, or are reluctant to provide the information listed above. Be safe, not sorry.

Listen to this interview on


Lawn Maintenance & Landscaping Design
Expert: Mike Kowalski, Great Outdoors, Great Outdoors

This interview covers:

 • A brief spring lawn maintenance overview
 • Designing and installing hardscapes (any non-plant addition to the landscape.)
 • Design and installation of a variety of hardscapes.
 Patios, driveways, sidewalks, decks, arbors, fences,
    pergolas, gazebos, water features and landscape lighting.

Listen to this interview on

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