Answer: I am a proponent of starting with an investigation of the current roof to determine if the leaks are because the roof is simply old and in need of replacement or just needs some minor repairs that will lengthen the life of the current roof. Composition roofs usually have a life span of around 25 years, so if your roof is only 15 years old, then it might make sense to spend just a few hundred dollars to repair. New ridge caps and a few new pieces of roofing might give the roof a fresh start. Many Realtors know roofers who do repairs such as I just suggested. But if the roof is past its useful life then your question comes into play. If most of the roofs in the neighborhood are composition, then I would consider staying with composition. There are many benefits of that type of roof. You can walk on it. It is much cheaper than a concrete tile roof. They have improved the appearance of composition roofs since yours was likely installed. However, if you look around your neighborhood and most have redone their roofs to a concrete or Spanish type tile roof, then you might consider the upgrade as well. It would improve the value of your home if you ever wanted to sell. One advantage is the lifespan of that style of roof may be much longer than the composition type of roof. The disadvantage of concrete tile roofs is they should not be walked on as the tiles can break. If you do much walking on them, let's say to put up Christmas lighting, you may shorten the life of the roof by breaking tiles that could damage the felt underneath and create a leak. Of course the other disadvantage is the cost as they are much more expensive and can lead to having to strengthen the roof to be able to support the additional weight of the tiles. The difference in cost may be $10,000 to $15,000 more than composition. At the same time that difference might be adsorbed in the higher value of the home if you were to sell. There are other possibilities as well such as a metal tile roof with insulation that looks like a shake roof (still more expensive). The best approach is to get a reputable roofer to check out the roof and give you quotes to help you make a decision and to understand the differences. It is important to have a good roof over your heads in 2014. Happy New Year to you all!


Answer: You are correct that curb appeal is very important. Why? It is the first thing the buyer sees when they come to your property. It is marketing 101 for almost everything. The retail sector puts their best foot forward when you look at their displays or when you first walk into the store. There needs to be something that draws you in and encourages you to shop or to look inside. Curb appeal is equivalent to the trailer for a movie. Just a snapshot to make you want to see more. It is hard to evaluate your own curb appeal sometimes as you see it every day and don't think very much about it. Now you are interested and I would recommend you have a few friends give you their opinion (let them know they will still be friends after the opinion no matter what!). Here is a question you might ask yourself, does the image of the house from the curb match the image in the inside? Does it demand that you want to see more of the house based on the view from the street? After you have asked and answered those questions, then consider what changes might make it more appealing. People want a "happy" environment or a calming environment. We all want a house that brings peace and wellbeing to us. Of course I know those factors are a result of the family more than the furnishings but the setting can help provide the atmosphere that generates those qualities. Outside consider if the grass is green and there are no bare spots. Are the trees trimmed? Can you see the house or are there too many plants and the view is blocked? Is there any color that catches your eye? How does the paint look, are there rough areas or chipped paint visible? If the first thing I see is a lot of work to be done, then I might tell the agent, "Never mind, let's just move on and look at the next house." So, add some flowers for color, add some bark for ground cover, put in sod where the grass is bare, and trim the trees or remove some foliage from around the front of the house so that the buyer can see the full effect of the house. By the way, don't park all your cars in the driveway when you have your house for sale. The message is there is no room for cars as you must have to store everything in the garage. Plus, it makes the house look smaller. Curb appeal is like the smell of fresh baked cookies; it draws you in and makes you want to know where the kitchen is. It is the sizzle that makes the steak appealing. Thank you.


Question: My old water heater finally gave up the ghost after 18 years. New water heaters don’t seem to have the same kind of life expectancy. Does it make more sense to buy a tankless water heater even though it is more expensive? 

Answer: I can give you general information on that question but I have never claimed to be a plumber. If you have a plumber you like, I would put that question to him/her. I personally replaced my water heater with a tankless. While it cost more the difference was not that great and it was necessary as I have a big bathtub that takes a lot of water to fill. My plumber told me that it is very hard on water heaters if you use all the water and refill the water heater and do that often. The other good reason for the tankless was the cost of operation. A regular hot water heater is always heating the water to a certain temperature, all day and all night. The tankless only heats the water when you need it. Obvious savings on the gas bill. I am sure I
have saved the cost difference between the old hot water heater and the new tankless by now. Some people think that having a tankless water heater means you get instant hot water when you turn on the faucet. That is not true unless you also install a device that turns on your hot water at a certain time and circulates the water so that when you turn it on it will immediately deliver hot water to you. There is additional cost for that device but at the same time it will save you water that would otherwise go down the drain while you wait for the water to get hot (unless you are saving the water by putting buckets under the shower head). The other advantage to the tankless water heater is you don’t have to worry about the hot water heater leaking and flooding the house (or garage). So, while it may be more expensive I think it is a good move to replace the regular hot water heater with a tankless model. And, by the way, it will add value to your home should you decide to sell.