LET\’S say you are a buying a home and let\’s say, despite the current seller\’s market, you find a house that you truly love and can afford. The inspector you hire reports the house is perfect. Your hand is hovering over the dotted line. And then suddenly . . .
Fear paralyzes you at the mention of a dark presence beneath the property. It\’s an oil tank.
Want to save a coat or two of paint? When you paint wood or drywall that needs to be primed first tint the primer to match your final paint color. By tinting the primer you will reduce the amount of coats you need to paint the surface by a coat or two.
\’\’The situation is very common in New Jersey,\’\’ said Stuart Lieberman of Princeton, a former state deputy attorney general who now practices real estate and environmental law. \’\’Panic, even hysteria, is pretty common, too.\’\’
Instead of purchasing plastic boxes for under bed storage, buy some square baskets. Baskets are a great way to store items you may need throughout the day, while keeping your room uncluttered and neat. Plastic doesn\’t look very nice, but using baskets can be a touch of professionalism in any environment.
The state Department of Environmental Protection oversees about 1,800 residential oil tank cleanups annually. It does not keep tabs on the number and location of residential tanks. Larger commercial tanks must by registered and regularly inspected, but residential tanks of less than 1,100 gallons are exempt from the requirement.
When it comes to home improvement, be aware that you should never pay more than 35% of the project cost up front as a down payment. This is to ensure that you do not lose your money if the contractor backs out. Always pay by some method of payment that can be tracked such as check, instead of cash. Finally, only pay for the complete job when the job is actually completed.
Still, Mr. Lieberman said, \’\’it\’s a fact that older homes with underground steel tanks have a good chance of developing a leak.\’\’
Cover your door knobs, hinges and other hardware with petroleum jelly before painting. It is an easy way to insure they don\’t get covered in paint. All you have to do when you are finished painting is use a soft cotton cloth to wipe the petroleum jelly from the surfaces of the hardware.
\’\’There are a lot of older houses in New Jersey, and many have buried tanks,\’\’ he said. \’\’Until the 1960\’s people weren\’t generally aware of the risks to the environment, so that\’s what was done. Everybody buried their tanks.\’\’
Make your home feel like a home by adding a doormat. A lot of people tend to overlook the addition of a doormat in front of a door. It not only serves a purpose of making a home feel complete, but also serves to keep your floors clean. Putting out a doormat where people can wipe their feet will cut down the amount of time you spend cleaning your floors.
Today, the risk of soil contamination from an underground leak — and the high cost of cleanup — is well established. A buyer is not being foolish to be concerned if a tank is found, Mr. Lieberman said. The cleanup, under $10,000 on average, can easily go over $100,000 if ground water is affected.
As you begin your home improvement project, it is important to always keep your budget in mind. It is essential to plan the project out ahead of time and get prices on the materials that you will need to make your vision a reality. It is also important to consider how long the project will take you.
Yet he asserts that uncertainty over an oil tank sweep nj should never kill a deal. If a deadline for closing looms without sufficient information available, Mr. Lieberman advises clients to \’\’get creative,\’\’ i.e., negotiate.
If you plan on hiring a company for your project, it is vital that you ensure they are legit. If they don\’t have an address and they only call you, they probably don\’t have the experience that you want. Stick with companies that are reputable.
Buyer and seller can agree, for instance, that both will have some liability if contamination is found after the sale.
Create a catching focal point in your living room or hallway by hanging a collection of mismatched silver serving trays. They not only add an interesting extra to your home, but they are mighty fun to collect. Go to flea markets, antique stores or second hand shops, to find the most interesting trays you can display.
They can also agree on extra tests for soil contamination before the sale and to put money in escrow in case previous leakage is discovered after the sale.
Another very simple but easy to complete improvement is painting your home with a fresh coat of paint. By buying high quality paint with eye catching colors, you will improve the general look and mood of your place. Retouch the original color or possibly try a new, lively color in your rooms.
If no agreement is made before a sale is closed, liability is transferred to the new owner. Sometimes a previous owner can be sued for damages, Mr. Lieberman said. But the key to averting legal imbroglios, according to several specialists, is to have underground oil tanks in new jersey checked as thoroughly as possible before the sale. Maybe even checked twice.
Any painting job requires you to estimate the amount of paint you require. You will spend lots of unplanned money if you simply guesstimate about what you need for a job. Invest a few extra minutes and get the measurements correct so you know what to buy.
WHILE commercial-size tanks are regulated by the state Department of Environmental Protection, which requires inspection every three years, underground home heating oil tanks are ordinarily inspected only when taken out of use. A 1998 state law requires such tanks to be officially \’\’abandoned.\’\’ Before a tank is filled with sand, gravel or foam, it must be checked for leaks.
To make your doors feel new, replace your doorknobs. While purchasing a new door can be extremely costly, new doorknobs are available at a very low cost. A clean and new looking doorknob can change the appearance of your entire door. Try to pick out a doorknob that compliments your house\’s style.
That inspection duty falls to local authorities, usually town health inspectors, who issue certificates of legal abandonment.
To add style to your walls without spending a lot of money, hang up family photos. While artwork can be costly, picture frames can be picked up on the cheap. Don\’t feel like you have to pay for a professional photoshoot. Even normal photos shot with a digital camera can look very stylish when framed.
Even when the paperwork is in order, though, \’\’buyer beware\’\’ still applies, said Christopher Tiso, owner of a large inspection company operating in New Jersey, New York and Connecticut.
Before painting any surface, always wipe down the surface to remove stains, dirt or grease. This will help the paint adhere better to the surface and will make your paint job look its best.
Mr. Tiso said his company, Oil Tank Sweep NJ, was often called in when a potential buyer received legal abandonment papers and perhaps also the \’\’remediation\’\’ contract from the company that closed the tank, but wanted to double-check. \’\’That\’s smart,\’\’ Mr. Tiso said.
Older awnings over porches and windows can greatly detract from the appearance of your home. By removing them, you are updating your house with a more modern look that allows its distinctive character to shine through. Furthermore, you will find that more natural light enters your house through the windows, brightening the mood.
For the last few years, he said, we has been finding leakage in 30 to 40 percent of cases where a lawfully abandoned tank is rechecked.
If you realize that your heating costs are a bit more than you expected to be paying, you should have someone install some better insulation to your home. While this may be a bit pricey, it is much less than you would have to pay for inflated utility bills, over time.
\’\’I can remember the first time,\’\’ Mr. Tiso said. \’\’It was a woman buying a house with her husband, several years ago. Everybody said, \’You\’re crazy to want a test,\’ but she insisted. Even I tried telling her \’Don\’t use your money unwisely.\’ We looked, and there was so much petroleum in the ground it was unbelievable. They had to remove the tank with all the sand in it.\’\’
Landscaping is the largest component of curb appeal. Make sure that your lawn is green and mowed, that there are no weeds growing in your flower beds and that all bushes, trees and shrubbery are trimmed and shaped nicely. These things can make your home look well cared for and put together.
\’\’It was a big, big mess,\’\’ he said, \’\’and I\’m sure it wound up costing a huge amount.\’\’
Get new tiling. If your tiling does not match your walls, or is cracking and becoming damaged, replacing it is a great home improvement project that is relatively simple and inexpensive. Stick-on floor tiles are available at many home improvement stores, and if you want to use the real ones, they are not too expensive either.
Mr. Tiso is quick to say he does not suspect foul play by individual sellers, local inspectors or tank closing companies. Many times, he said, sellers will not know of buried tanks because they were left abandoned by previous owners.
Home improvement is a task that must be completed with quality materials. It is known that you will equally get out of your work, what you put in. Make sure that quality of your materials is good because using cheap materials will cost you much more in the long run than what you saved in the beginning.
As for leaks, Mr. Tiso thinks they are just plain hard for any inspector to see with the naked eye. Inspections are usually done with the top half of the tank removed and the bottom half still in the ground.
To improve your home, try re-framing your entry. Try replacing things like door knobs and locks on your main door. Try to locate a substantial handle-and-lock set that can be easily installed. Nice and sturdy pieces of hardware on the front door can help express that this is a solid home.
\’\’Often, pinhole leaks in tanks are virtually invisible against the dark background of the soil,\’\’ Mr. Tiso said.
Another way to help with home improvement, is to refinance your mortagage. If interest rates are lower now than they were when you closed on your current mortgage you might possibly be able to save some money by refinancing. One way to go is to check with your local bank to see what your options are.
The American Society of Home Inspectors recommends professional inspectors be used for precisely that reason. \’\’If you want more than casual visual inspection, tank tests as well as removal or abandonment require that you use an appropriate expert,\’\’ says Daniel Friedman in an article available at www.inspect-ny.com in the Heating Systems section.
If you would like to move but can\’t thanks to the economy, view it as an opportunity to create a home you love through renovations and updates. Not only will many upgrades add value to your home when you are ready to sell, but you will be happier surrounded by the colors, patterns, and other design components you love.
A home buyer should choose the expert carefully, society officials emphasize. For one thing, tests may be performed for various purposes, requiring various levels of expertise and equipment.
When making home improvements, it is important to check all of your faucets for leaks. A leaky faucet can waste a lot of water. If you run into a leaky faucet, be sure to repair it as soon as possible. When you wash your clothes, try using cold water. You can consider installing low flow showerheads, which will cut down on the amount of water used.
There is a very simple test to see if water has invaded a tank. (Water combines with sulfur and other components in oil to become acidic and corrode metal.) There are air pressure tests, tracer tests, core soil boring tests, electronic probes, sonic probes, tests to measure the rate of corrosion, tests that distinguish whether a leak is in the tank or fill pipes (and tests that don\’t make a distinction), tests that require 10 to 14 days for results, and tests that produce answers in two hours.
Don\’t hire a contractor until you find out if they\’re insured! This is a sure sign of a trustworthy contractor who is prepared to complete the home improvements you required, and that they\’re not a scam artist who will take your money and run.
Remedies that inspectors might be predisposed to recommend is another issue. Mr. Tiso\’s company performs inspection and tank location services only — and not tank abandonment — to avoid any possibility of conflict of interest. \’\’A lot of these mom-and-pop companies that sprang up in the mid-90\’s seem to always say the best thing to do is remove the tank — and then they do the work,\’\’ he said.
Before you decide which home improvement project to do, clean your entire home completely. That way, you can explore every inch of the house in order to prioritize your time. Additionally, you\’ll have a clean house to enjoy.
On the other hand, Oil Tank Sweep NJ, a well-established company, uniformly recommends that underground tanks be removed, noting the adverse effect a tank\’s presence can have on property value, the often expensive tests to tell if the tank has leaked, and the fact that some insurance companies will not write homeowner policies for properties with tanks, or else exclude coverage for cleanup costs.
In a search for an simple home improvement, you found new kitchen hardware that you love but just doesn\’t go with your existing style. Time to make some decisions. Where to start? Paint your existing cabinets, refinish them with stain, or buy new ones. Whatever you decide, make sure it\’s in your home improvement budget.
Many real estate experts strongly recommend insurance coverage for oil tank leaks. A few years ago, after some homeowner policies began excluding it, heating oil companies started to offer coverage for customers. \’\’They\’re cheap,\’\’ said Mr. Lieberman of these policies, \’\’but there tend to be a lot of requirements attached. Usually they cover only the tank, and not the pipes. You may have to stick with the company for a year after closing a tank.
\’\’I advise buying insurance, though,\’\’ he said. \’\’You just don\’t want to be bare.\’\’
GIVEN all these issues, which way should a home buyer go when faced with installing a new heating system? Mr. Lieberman tells clients he thinks the best choice is an aboveground oil tank, situated in a basement and surrounded by a low brick or cement berm. \’\’That way,\’\’ he said, \’\’if there\’s a leak, it\’s obvious, it\’s contained, and it\’s easily cleaned up.
Fiberglass and coated steel tanks have been developed that can be warranteed for 30 years, the New Jersey Fuel Merchants Association notes. The standard life of a buried tank is 10 to 20 years, depending on the level of the water table and other underground conditions.
But even if a tank is reasonably new and still functioning, it should still be inspected before sale, in Mr. Lieberman\’s view. \’\’What you don\’t see can hurt you,\’\’ he said. \’\’You\’re buying hidden blemishes along with the gorgeous house and yard. Find out what you can.\’\’