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VOL. 39 | NO. 37 | Friday, September 11, 2015

Lawrence brothers have cure for what ails your house

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Can a sick house be cured? Some houses are simply healthier than others, and while there are no shortages of companies that will inspect and mitigate almost anything, things can change.

Skip Lawrence of the highly acclaimed Lawrence Brothers, LLC, recently met with a homeowner to discuss his desire to turn a house from sick to healthy.

The Lawrence Brothers – Bill, Fred and Skip – have more decorations than Sergeant York, including being named Regional Builder of the Year by Earth Craft House. Their best practices include using recycled paper insulation and blown-in cellulose made from recycled blue jeans. They are the Imogene + Willie of green building.

Having relocated from the Northeast, Skip was surprised to observe some of the traditional building practices in the city, especially as it relates to sealing the home. In dealing with homes that he is retro-curing, he cannot control the process inasmuch as it is not cost-effective to strip the existing veneer, be it brick, wood, EIFS or a manufactured siding, in order to seal the house.

In his overview to a person with an existing structure, he warns that no two homes are the same, even side by side, built by the same builder, using materials from the same vendors.

He compares houses to plants in gardens, explaining that a plant may suffer in one spot but flourish three feet away. The soil might be different, for example, because the positioning of the house in relation to the sun might affect the moisture level and temperature.

Making an existing home healthy can be complicated. Houses breathe as air comes in and goes out in any variety of places, including windows and doors that aren’t caulked, leaky ductwork, fireplaces, hood vents over cooktops, attic access doors and unsealed vents.

If the house is sealed, that can prevent moist air from escaping once it gains entry, thereby causing mold issues. In dealing with renovations, Lawrence suggests ongoing air quality testing in order to ensure that repairs in one phase have not caused issues in others.

And then there’s radon.

The house in question was tested, and the radon level was found to be low. But, as Skip points out, the owner should not be relieved since the house next door has a radon mitigation system.

When Realtors have a house listed, they hope the radon inspection is conducted during a period of high clouds and no precipitation. Low clouds and rainy days can lead to higher radon tests.

To that end, if a person purchases a house and the radon test was low on the bright, bright, bright sunshiny day, Lawrence says the owner should install radon mitigation albeit at their own expense because “radon is everywhere here,” and he is right.

A low radon reading during a home inspection should mean that the seller does not bear the burden of the installation, but all homeowners should have radon mitigation since radon is the No. 1 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers, and some sources attribute the deaths of 29,000 annually to radon.

There is the argument for how to handle crawl spaces – ventless versus vented.

For years, inspectors and contractors recommended opening foundation vents in the summer and closing them in the winter. As all Nashville area residents know, the barometers can hit high 90s in the summer along with the temperature.

If 90-degree air filled with moisture is pulled into a 55-degree cavity, what happens? When condensation occurs, there is moisture. Moisture left unattended can breed fungi. Some fungi is mold. Types of mold are lethal.

Then encapsulated and conditioned spaces came into vogue. But what happens when moisture becomes trapped inside the encapsulated area?

Each house is different, Skip Lawrence says, and the air should be tested regularly within the home and outside the home in order to ensure air quality.

Of course, no two humans are exactly alike, either, so how they process various contaminants will vary. Food for thought.

Sale of the Week

Last week, Unit 30 in Richmeade Place sold for $400,000 with its 1972 square feet, two-car garage, three bedrooms, two full baths and one half bath.

The neighborhood was developed in 1976 yet houses some of Nashville’s more artistic residents, many of whom are talented in the area of interior design.

Many of the floor plans feature multi-level living, which can present challenges with décor, but time and time again the homes glimmer in contemporary and even traditional design.

Karen Roach, the principal broker with the Wilson Group now affiliated with Parks, was the listing agent. Roach replaced the ever-popular Christie Wilson, who left her principal broker role to become CEO of all thing Parks.

Those in the industry, in particular those at the Wilson Group, anxiously awaited the successor to the Wilson throne, and when the white smoke billowed from the Wilson furnace, the company rejoiced in learning that Roach would lead them forward.

The buyer’s agent was Tim King of French King Fine Properties, and is a man who has spent quite a bit of time at Richmeade and is one of the reasons for its popularity and appreciation.

This unit featured “soaring ceilings and a flip-of-the-switch fireplace,” Roach states.

Richard Courtney is a real estate broker with Christianson, Patterson, Courtney, and Associates and can be reached at Richard@richardcourtney.com.

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