How to Protect Your Family from Allergens and Irritants in the Home

Many people know to take precautions outdoors to protect themselves from common allergens like pollen when the seasons change. However, when the weather gets colder and you start spending more time indoors, you are exposing yourself to many indoor allergens like pet dander and dust mites. These are often overlooked, but should be taken seriously to protect the health of you and your family.
How-to-Protect-Your-Family-from-Allergens-and
Family members spend a lot of time in confined spaces in the home which contribute to significant and chronic health problems. As a result, we must take steps to limit their exposure to mold and other allergy producing irritants. These simple procedures will help to keep your home free of these allergens and irritants:
  • Have heating and air conditioning system serviced regularly.
  • Replace air conditioning filter with small particle or HEPA filter. Make sure that the filter holder is airtight to prevent air bypass.
  • Encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in dust mite proof covers.
  • Spread aquarium gravel over the dirt in plants to help contain mold and be careful not to spill water on the carpet when watering the plants to prevent mold growth in the carpet.
  • Avoid using wood burning fireplaces and make sure that gas fireplaces vent to the exterior.
  • Use the exhaust fan in the bathroom to reduce moisture and mold buildup while bathing and showering. Leave the fan running an hour to two after showering.
  • Don’t allow smoking in the home.
  • Remove shoes prior to entering the home to prevent contamination from mold or lead dust.
  • If home is equipped with a front loading washer, make sure the door gasket is cleaned with bleach frequently to prevent a buildup of mold.
  • Use tapered candles instead of jar candles to prevent spreading soot particles.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to prevent spreading dust particles throughout the home.
  • Avoid running your automobile in the garage for an extended period of time to prevent combustion gases from entering adjacent living spaces.
  • Keep doors and windows closed during warm weather and use air conditioner and dehumidifiers to keep moisture in the home at a minimum.
  • Clean the refrigerator drip tray annually to avoid spreading contaminants that have collected in the tray.
  • Avoid using scented laundry, cleaning and body products which contain chemicals that contribute to allergies.
  • Control pest infestations from cockroaches and mice by utilizing inexpensive traps. Seal any cracks or holes where mice could enter.  Remove allergy triggering insect and mouse residue by thoroughly vacuuming carpet and washing hard surfaces.
By following these suggestions, you should significantly reduce your family’s exposure to allergy causing irritants. To further protect your home from harmful allergens, schedule an appointment with our experienced and certified home inspectors. You can reach us at 800-822-7200 to learn more about our extensive inspection process.


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Alban Inspectors Identify all Important Valves in a Home

Alban Inspections has published and printed a new valve hanger identifying all important water and gas valves in the homes we inspect.  Our home inspectors will place one of these hangers on each water and gas valve to help our clients, once they are living in the home, to find and operate each valve in case of an emergency.  Take a look at the valve identifier. Alban Valve Door Hanger
 

Alban Establishes Handyman/Renovations Division

The Alban family of companies provides the complete range of real estate services.  Through fully coordinated relationships among Alban Real Estate Services, Alban Inspections, Inc., Alban Management LLC, and residential and commercial Realtors®, we can satisfy every aspect of your real estate needs, from buying and selling properties, to pre-sale or pre-purchase* inspections,  handyman repairs or full renovations. Alban Establishes Handyman Renovation Division(1)

Sandy Watkins and Terry Toms Celebrate Important Anniversaries of their Alban Employment Tenure

WOW!!! Arthur Lazerow, principal of the Alban family of companies, is so proud to celebrate having both Sandy Watkins and Terry Toms as colleagues for so many years. A forty-year and thirty-five year is fantastic and has been enormously productive – development of new businesses, working toward their success, experiencing personal growth with life cycle events shared, from marriages to child births to grandchildren to parents’ funerals…so much joy and sorrow shared over these years. These years represent over half of each of their lives together and what productive years they have been! Both Sandy and Terry are trusted advisers to Art Lazerow and bring to the Alban family of companies reasoned and practical thinking.

Sandy Watkins joined Art Lazerow as his secretary in 2017. Housed in a dusty construction trailer shared with a construction superintendent and Art, Sandy helped build the communities of Frederick Heights and Alban Place in Frederick, Maryland and property management in Frederick and Phoenix Arizona. Along the way, she became a first-rate property manager and earned her real estate license. She currently serves the Alban family of companies as chief executive and head of all property management, home inspection and handyman/renovation activities of the Alban companies. Sandy has been married to Leroy for 53 years. They have a son and daughter and six grandchildren.

Terry Toms came to work with Art in 1982 as one of several junior bookkeepers for the growing homebuilding and property management company under the banner of Lazerow Development Corp. Over the years, her knowledge of bookkeeping for these businesses grew and she was promoted appropriately and repeatedly. She now serves the Alban companies as Chief financial officer, Chief Bookkeeper and Chief of frugality. Terry has been instrumental in the financial success of the companies. Terry has been married to Skip for 35 years. They have a son and daughter and two grandchildren.

Art Lazerow has said repeatedly: “What a blessing to have such fine people around me as colleagues and friends. I appreciate their good humor, great judgment and well reasoned business advice.”

Alban Inspection’s Sister Company Performs Handyman and Renovation Services

With a long career in general construction and as chief of maintenance and renovations for large multifamily rental communities managed by Alban, David Henry has been promoted to Chief of real estate improvement services for Alban Real Estate Service’s new handyman, property improvement, renovation and construction management division.  These services are available to properties located in Montgomery, Frederick and Washington counties. Read more…     Handyman Division of Alban RE Services

90-Day Guarantee Program Now Offered

Peace of Mind…that’s the Alban way delivered to our clients.  Alban Inspections is now offering a 90-day guarantee for all pre-purchase inspections performed by our home inspectors.  Major appliances such as your furnace, air handler, air conditioning systems, thermostat, dishwasher, and range.  The Complete Appliance Protection company will pay 100% of the repair costs (parts and labor) or provide you with a reimbursement allowance should the covered item not be repairable.  Read more… 90 Day Warranty Program

Prepare your home for summer: Part 2 [Video]

Welcome back! Here are more tips for getting your home ready for the hot months of summer. Arguably, among the few negative aspects of summer, none are quite as irritating as insect bites and stings. You’ll want to check for the same kind of cracks and gaps in your walls, attic, foundation, doors and windows that cause air leakage – as they also let bugs in. For an extra layer of protection, spray the areas you just caulked or weather-stripped with a pesticide that’s safe for home use, on both the inside and outside. If you don’t relish the idea of handling all these tasks yourself, though, you may simply want to bring a home inspection professional to assess every aspect of your house and recommend the best course of action. Thanks for watching!

Avoid the trend of waiving home inspections

As a homebuyer near the end of the highly complex process of seeking out, finding and closing on the perfect home, it's understandable if you feel some fatigue, and perhaps some eagerness to get everything over with. This isn't abnormal. It's akin to the last hour of work on a Friday for those with nine-to-five jobs, or how students feel just before summer starts. The papers are signed and the house is virtually yours. Any last steps regarding the property are probably just formalities, right?

"Some buyers are waiving their right to a home inspection before completing sales on new houses."

Sadly, this is not the case. If you haven't already done so, having your soon-to-be new home inspected by an expert from an established home inspection company is without a doubt the last piece in the puzzle of new homeownership. But despite this generally accepted truism, an alarming trend has surfaced in certain segments of the U.S. real estate market of late – numerous buyers waiving the right to a home inspection before the completion of a deal on a house for sale.

Let's look at the disconcerting development and explain in no uncertain terms exactly why an inspection is essential: 

Inspection waivers stemming from buyer desperation 
According to the Tacoma News Tribune, impatience and fierce competition among buyers are the factors motivating a significant amount of hopeful homeowners to eschew the option of having home inspectors conduct surveys of a property for safety issues, damages, general cleanliness – and, if requested, specific tasks such as an energy audit.

For example, if two buyers come to a real estate agent, or directly approach a property owner, with offers that are essentially identical except that one demands a home inspection and one doesn't, the seller or seller's agent is more likely to choose the no-inspection buyer. It speeds up the process by which they earn their revenue. There's nothing unscrupulous about this – it's part of the business – but problems that aren't found before the sale is closed can cause major headaches for buyers down the road.

Real estate agent Karla Wagner confirmed the risks for buyers resulting from a waived home inspection.

"There's just so many things that can go wrong," Wagner told the News Tribune. "What if it's [a problem that costs] $10,000? What if it's whatever, and then you don't have a way out? You don't need to force anything, or be risky, and then end up with a huge problem on your hand and a money pit."

Although the News Tribune piece specifically focuses on the Tacoma, Washington metropolitan area, evidence shows that this trend exists in markets across the country – including Arlington and other areas of Virginia, according to Arlington Now.

Avoid the trend of waiving home inspectionsBuyers shouldn't neglect to receive the professional home inspection to which they're entitled.

Major advantages of undergoing an inspection
The ability to develop leverage in real estate negotiations is one of the most pragmatic benefits a home inspection affords a buyer. If a home inspector finds a structural issue that isn't a deal-breaker but still constitutes a problem – windows in need of replacement, or an attic that's supposed to be insulated but isn't – you can haggle. You're in a position to tell the seller or seller's agent that you'll take the property, but only with a few thousand dollars cut from the listing price. Some sellers might not budge at this, but many are willing to make a deal.

"Some sellers are more willing to accept buyer offers that don't require an inspection, but this shouldn't sway you."

Beyond that, the simple fact of being able to uncover hazards within a home, such as badly wired electrical infrastructure, leaky water pipes and significant structural damage, is ultimately worth more than the price-haggling it allows. It helps ensure your safety and that of your spouse and family, and by extension guarantees peace of mind. 

Remember what to look for
As noted in Reuben Saltzman's real estate blog for the Minneapolis Star Tribune, sellers should know what your inspector – and you, by proxy – want to see. All essential utilities should be activated, and appliances such as the boiler or furnace and hot water heater must be readily accessible so they can be examined. Garages and any crawl spaces should also be open.

Finally, don't forget your contingency form. Typically attached to home purchasing agreements, this document details buyers' rights in this context and constitutes written proof that you can call off buying the house without incident or penalty if the inspection is unsatisfactory.

Finding a compromise
Writing for Arlington Now, real estate agent Eli Tucker pointed out that you can find middle ground between yourself and the seller on this issue. The typical contingency period for a home inspection is seven to 10 days, but if you reduce it to five, you can allay a seller's apprehension while still getting your new home properly inspected.

Mobile apps to aid your home improvement tasks

Take a look around your home today. Chances are good there are some basic upkeep tasks you could stand to get done – or maybe there's a more serious problem, like loose shingles on your roof that are causing leakage. Or perhaps you're planning to sell the home at some point in the near future and it's repainting, renovations and additions you've got in mind.

All of these are equally important. Whether you want to make your home look better for your benefit or to attract the eyes of a buyer, it isn't always the easiest responsibility to shoulder, especially if you consider yourself a DIY individual and plan to handle much of the work on your own. 

Naturally, you should look for help wherever you can get it, from episodes of HGTV to consultations with home inspection contractors. And considering how thoroughly mobile devices have become intertwined in the fabric of our lives, why not use your smartphone or tablet to your advantage, to make your home improvement responsibilities somewhat easier? Check out some of the ways in which various apps can benefit the home repair and renovation process:

Mobile apps to aid your home improvement tasksMobile apps to aid your home improvement tasks

Brainstorming and shopping
You might know exactly what changes you're going to make, or which problems to solve. But even if you do, what materials do you want you use? Is the design you want to incorporate right for a particular interior space? Likely as not, you don't have it all figured out just yet. (Few of us do, in most contexts. Don't fret.)

This is where lifestyle apps come in. According to consumer advice expert Clark Howard's blog, Pinterest can be a big help for interior and exterior design. The lifestyle social network's app lets you dedicate specific "pinboards" to individual projects, each serving as a space for photo inspirations, products you plan to use and more, and by sharing your boards, you can get feedback and tips from other homeowners or designers. In a similar vein, Houzz's app helps you find photos of successful renovations similar to yours as well as blog posts explaining how they were done.

Finally, it's time to buy any tools and materials you need. You might want to stick with Houzz's online marketplace if its blog served you well, but other major home goods retailers like Lowe's and Home Depot also have useful apps. The former, in addition to its e-commerce and project management app, recently released an augmented reality app to make in-store navigation a breeze. It essentially creates your shopping list for you. Lowe's did this to catch up with its major competitor, which already had an augmented reality offering. Home Depot's app lets you view products as they might look in your home.

Apps for design
Pinterest has its limitations, and won't necessarily help with the nitty-gritty of design. But there are other apps for that. For example, Home Design 3D has a leg up on the augmented reality features of the Home Depot and Lowe's apps, as it visualizes the way your additions will look in full 3-D, which is how professional designers make their plans. It's available in both free and premium versions, the latter offering users more freedom in sharing their plans with others. 

Magic Plan fills a similar role. It incorporates data from photos you take of your house's interior and allows you to place virtual objects or features in a simulation of the space to get a sense of different looks. And if you're going to be painting, multiple apps serve this need alone, including Adornably, TapPainter and Home Depot's Project Color. 

Measurement and labor-assisting apps
When you're down to the physical work of home improvement, apps can be of help here too. iHandy Carpenter turns your phone into one of five tools – a protractor, ruler, plumb bob, bubble level and surface level. Android smartphone and tablet users can download Handyman Calculator to determine measurements and make conversions as necessary, while Builder Calculator serves the same purpose for those who use Apple iOS devices. 

What if you run into problems? You guessed it – there are apps for that as well. The e-commerce apps named above all have advice sections, and HGTV Magazine's mobile version serves as a great source of building, painting and renovation troubleshooting tips. Last but not least, if all else fails and you can't get everything done on your own, you can use the Angie's List app to take full advantage of the home improvement contractor listings site wherever you are and bring in a professional to handle the toughest jobs.