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28th Annual Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake Clean-up Day

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Once again, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Smith Mountain Lake Real Estate is a proud sponsor the 28th Annual Take Pride in SML Clean-up Day. Please join us in helping spruce up Smith Mountain Lake for the coming summer season at tomorrow’s Take Pride in SML Clean-up Day. This event marks the 28th annual lake-wide clean-up effort. Volunteers from the entire community get involved in sprucing up the lake. Volunteers can register individually, as a group or organization. Pick up supplies today at the Smith Mountain Lake Visitor’s Center at 16430 Booker T. Washington Hwy, Bridgewater Plaza, Suite 2 from 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. Special thanks to the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, the Smith Mountain Lake Association and the Tri-County Lakes Administrative Commission for working hard to orchestrate the event.

May 1, 2015   Comments Off

Avoid the 8 Staging Mistakes for your Smith Mountain Lake Residence.

Avoid the 8 Staging Mistakes.

You may love your Smith Mountain Lake home, but that doesn’t mean that everyone coming through the door will feel the same way. What may be “charming” to the seller may seem off-putting to a prospective buyer. Many sellers attempt to stage their home themselves. In doing so, they make mistakes that can sidetrack the sale. Here are some of the biggest staging mistakes, according to professional home stagers:

  • Don’t get too personal: Staging is all about de-personalizing the space, and creating a model home look that will appeal to most everyone. Don’t create a look that appeals to just you.
  • Avoid dark colors: Choose neutral or warm colors. A few coats of fresh paint will make a huge difference.
  • Take advantage of natural light: Blocking off light with heavy curtains or furniture can hurt your sale—especially if the home has attractive views.
  • Don’t think more is better: Scale down your furniture. The size of furniture needs to be in balance with the scale of the room. Furniture should define the purpose of the room.
  • Don’t leave pets at home: Remove all traces of animals from the house. Make sure Fido is away during showings. A pet could kill a sale before a potential buyer even steps into the house.
  • Don’t neglect the outside: Outside is as important as the inside. Add flowers, mow the lawn, tidy up and add kid-friendly accessories.
  • Don’t just deal with “main” rooms: Don’t forget the garage, basement and closets.
  • Don’t forget fixtures: It’s important that all lights are burning and all fixtures are working.

Staging a Smith Mountain Lake home means showcasing features, not concealing flaws. Make sure your house is in good condition and use staging to cast the home in its best light.

April 29, 2015   Comments Off

Sunken City Brewing Company Grand Opening on Friday, May 10 at 4 p.m.

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Sunken City Brewing Company, Southwest Virginia’s newest craft brewery located in Westlake Towne Center on Rt. 122 at Smith Mountain Lake, will celebrate its grand opening on Friday, May 10 with a ribbon cutting ceremony at 4 p.m. Bruno’s GastroTruck will be on-site for the celebration as well as the band Barefoot West who will perform around 5:30 p.m. Come out and meet Sunken City Owner, Jerome Parnell and Brewmaster, Jeremy Kirby.

Sunken City will be selling 20-oz. imperial pints during the opening including two of their signature beers Dam Lager and Red Clay IPA. Dam Lager is an American-style amber (4.7 percent ABV) and Red Clay IPA is an amber-colored India Pale Ale (7 percent ABV).

In the near future, Sunken City plans to brew additional beers with hopes to distribute their beer throughout the state.

Officials and business leaders broke ground on Sunken City Brewing Company back in August 2012 and is Franklin County’s first microbrewery. The $2.3 million, 8,800-square-foot project, features a features a 25-barrel brewhouse, automatic canning distribution, a tasting room, pub and an outdoor beer garden. Sunken City Brewing Company, named for the villages that were submerged when Smith Mountain Lake was created, is expected to create 20-25 new jobs within five years.

May 7, 2013   No Comments

A for Accessible

When purchasing a Smith Mountain Lake home there are many considerations – space requirements, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, location, proximity to work and services. Additionally, there are the aesthetics, the style of the home, its condition, and price. However, there are other important considerations that many people overlook – and these fall into the realm of Accessibility.

The term Accessibility is often used in relation to public buildings and public transportation, and we know about it largely because of a piece of important legislation called “The Americans with Disabilities Act”, or ADA. The ADA provides the framework that ensures that public structures are able to be used by a wide population, including people in wheelchairs and those who have other physical challenges, to ensure their success in a wide range of “major life activities”.

If you have ever tried to go somewhere or reach something that was essential to your well-being, but beyond your grasp, you know the frustration and helplessness that this can evoke. Imagine facing this time and again, in your own home. Whether you are facing a physical challenge due to an accident, or aging and can no longer move and achieve as you used to, your home should be a place where you can live, work and play in a way that is easy for you. Sometimes this means that issues of “accessibility” are at play.

Accessibility can also come into focus when you have a visitor to your home that uses a wheelchair or walker, is blind, or cannot use stairs for some reason. Aged or injured guests benefit from a home that is thoughtfully designed with accessibility as a focus.

While it is possible to retrofit or remodel a home to make it more accessible, this can be an expensive and time-consuming process. Some of the principles of accessibility to consider when purchasing a home include:

  • Can everyone, of all ages and abilities, use the home equally well?
  • Are the rooms “flexible” – can they be used for a variety of activities?
  • Are items in the house simple and intuitive to use?
  • Is it easy to see where you are in the house?
  • Do the entrances make sense?
  • Is storage easy to find and use? Are closets in the right places?
  • Is it a safe place?
  • Are there railings and places to hold on to, at heights good for all ages?
  • Do stairs, windows, and hallways make sense? Are bathrooms where you expect them to be?
  • How much physical effort is required for day-to-day activities?
  • Has effort been made to make it easy to see and get to all features?
  • When a home is designed and built, it should meet the needs of people despite their age or ability. The ability for it to be flexible and adaptable is an important factor, so that as needs change the home does not create obstacles for the inhabitants or guests. Modern architecture began following the adage, “Form follows function” early in the 20th century, and home buyers are advised to evaluate homes in light of functionality as well as style.

Difficulties arise when homes present barriers to the people who live in or visit them. If the owner ages significantly and loses abilities that made living in the home possible, then something must change. If babies or children enter the scene who might be hurt by stairs or other hazards, those dangers must be addressed. Accidents or other medical issues can result in sudden changes in mobility or self-sufficiency requiring adjustments to improve accessibility. In short, it might be prudent to consider accessibility when buying, building, or remodeling a home.

Looking at a building’s “bones” enables you to understand right away where barriers might occur. Pay attention to hallways, doorways and stairs – even when there are just one or two steps, as each of these elements can be an obstacle to someone who has mobility or sight issues. While doorways can be widened, hallways are more difficult to modify. Additionally, hallways can be dark areas and “wasted” space. Is there a good place for a lift-chair or elevator should someone in a wheel chair have to go up stairs? How easy will it be to control the light, reach counters and cabinets, enjoy the grounds, live daily life?

Cabinets, doors, faucets and switches can be difficult to operate, but easy if you think clearly while choosing these options. As you move around your home, look at these features and how it would feel to use each of these should your hands become stiff or painful. Traditional doorknobs can be replaced by lever-style “knobs” that could even be operated with an elbow or chin in an emergency. Faucets that operate with levers are also useful, as are switch-plates that operate with a simple touch – but beware that they are intuitive to use.

When you are buying a home that might require “adjustments” to afford the accessibility that you desire, consider the spaces and structure of the home. Is there enough property to create ramps to the entrance? Is it feasible to enjoy the best areas of the home and property if mobility is impaired? Are there steep inclines on the property or is the property exposed to extreme weather conditions that could increase hazards seasonally? Look at the approach to the property and how close you might bring a car to the entrance. Are the walkways easy to traverse?

Understanding the more challenging issues around a home or property might not rule it out, but will give you insight into the cost of overcoming these potential obstacles. Pay close attention to bathrooms and stairwells to ensure that you would have the space you need to adjust bathtubs and showers, or to install lifts. Is there a bedroom or office on a lower floor? In the event that it is needed, having an option to create single-level living arrangements could be a boon to your family.

Homes are designed to shelter people and their possessions, provide space for cooking and eating, hygiene, and sleeping. Entertaining in your home is a luxury for some, and a necessity for others. In each function, age and physical ability must come into play, and so architects and builders who consider accessibility up front will usually build more adaptable homes. If you believe that accessibility could be an issue for you or members of your family, consider taking the time to have an expert evaluate a property that you would like to buy. There is a list of professionals in the area of accessibility through the National Council on Aging In Place (NAICP.org). Going in with your eyes open will result in long-term satisfaction and a plan for the house and people alike.

May 6, 2013   No Comments

Future Renovation Plans at The Waterfront Country Club

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The Willard Companies, owners of The Waterfront Country Club, a private golf and country club at Smith Mountain Lake, unveiled future club expansion and long term renovation plans at a vision meeting with its membership last week in conjunction with a new membership campaign.

The Willard Companies partnered with Richard Mandell Golf Architecture to develop a proposed land plan for the Clubhouse and hired Architect Antonio Veloso to design a new fitness center and pool building. The Willard Companies main goal will be to update existing Club amenities such as relocating the swimming pool in closer proximity to the Clubhouse complex, incorporating a new state-of-the-art fitness and recreational area for members, and creating a new short game area for the club. Expansion features include the following: zero entry pool, lap pool and diving area, lounge area in pool, outdoor bar, fitness center (group exercise and weights), 4 Pickle Ball Courts, 2 tennis courts, and a short game area between the club and range. Estimated costs for the renovation are projected around $1.4 million.

Timeframe for the groundbreaking and construction start on the renovation project hinge on membership growth. The company recently launched a new membership campaign offering prospective members lower initiation fees with financing options, reduced social dues structure, and new Under 40 classifications with special pricing. The company goal is to reach pre-recession membership at around 400 members in order for the vision to become reality.

According to Ron Willard II, Vice President of The Willard Companies, the Private Club Industry is in the process of finding its niche again and clubs are being forced to adapt to the demands of membership and potential members. “The Private Clubs that are going to survive in the decades to come must change and adapt to the market demands,” said Willard.

For media inquires or for more information, please contact Christopher Finley at 540-721-5288 or email chris@thewillardcompanies.com.

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The Waterfront encompasses 750 acres and 8.5 miles of shoreline. The 18-hole, PGA Championship Golf Course was designed by George Dillon of the Fazio Group. The course offers a very fair but challenging layout. Preserving the history of the land used was at the top of the list of priorities when this course was built. It offers incredible vista views and follows the original topography of the land. The 22,000 square foot clubhouse was planned by The Willard Companies in cooperation with Robert Bradley, AIA and Associates. Club amenities include tennis courts, swimming pool, fitness center, driving range, pro shop and fine dining. The Waterfront Country Club opened in 1981. Visit online at www.thewaterfrontcc.com.

The Willard Companies is the umbrella for Willard Construction of Roanoke Valley, Inc., Prudential Waterfront Properties, The Waterfront, The Water’s Edge and The Westlake Golf and Country Clubs. The company is involved in country clubs, building, developing, marketing and real estate. The Willard Companies is also affiliated with Westlake Towne Center, Westlake Cinema, Westlake Salon & Spa, Window and Door Design Gallery and Smith Mountain Building Supply. Visit online at www.thewillardcompanies.com.

April 15, 2013   No Comments

Save-the-dates! 2013 Smith Mountain Lake Calendar of Events

April

April 12, 13  —  College East Super Regional Bass Tournament – Over 100 to 125 College teams from Texas to New York come to SML to compete for a chance to go to the Bassmaster Classic at Bridgewater Plaza, Moneta. Va. Tech alone has over 10 teams and bass fishing currently is the only nationally ranked sport that VA Tech has. Televised on ESPNU.

April 19, 20, 21  —  (Oakley Tour) Blue Ridge Big Bass Classic Open Big Bass Tournament at Bridgewater Plaza, Moneta. Last year 269 anglers entered our first tournament. This year we expect 350 to 400 anglers.  Registration is Friday, April 19  from Noon – 8pm. Entry Fee – $100 One Day Entry – $150 Two Day Entry. Grand Prize: 2013 Nitro Z7 valued at $25,000. Televised on WFN – World Fishing Network and Fox Sport West will be a new market for us.

April 26  —  10th Annual SML Business Expo Sponsored by the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, this annual event showcases member businesses, service providers and their products. Public invited. Held at Downtown Moneta.

April 27 – Rockin Brews & BBQ’s an annual spring ‘music, food and fun’ event in the Smith Mountain Lake area.  Held at Downtown Moneta, Route 608 and 122, Noon – 6 p.m. Saturday, April 27. $5 Admission, Children 12 and under free.

May

May 3, 4, 5 – Optimist Club Fishing Tournament The 43rd Cave Spring Optimist Club Fishing Tournament participation may get a boost from the BASS Elite Series on SML that created excitement and turned up a bunch of bass. One advantage for Optimist anglers: they can fish at night if they choose. Held at Foxport Marina, at the mouth of Gills Creek on the Blackwater River. CATEGORIES: The competition is for the largest fish in categories for largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, muskie, catfish, crappie and striped bass. PAYOFF: The tournament offers prizes that total $15,000. In each category, the heaviest fish is worth $1,000 in cash; second, $500; third, $300; fourth, $150.

May 4  —  16th Annual SML Triathlon

Come participate or cheer your favorites in swimming, biking and running events at the beautiful Smith Mountain Lake State Park located in Huddleston off of the Smith Mountain Lake State Parkway (Route 626).

May 4   —  26th  Annual Take Pride in Smith Mountain Lake Cleanup  Day This event marks the 26th annual lake-wide clean-up effort. Volunteers from the entire community get involved in sprucing up the lake and shore for the coming summer season. Volunteers can register individually, as a group or organization.  Call the Smith Mountain Lake Visitor Center for more information at 540.721.1203.

May 17 – 19—Pigg River Ramble   The Pigg River Ramble is a 3-day whitewater packed weekend full of excitement and adventure. You can race against other Ramblers or simply float for fun down the Pigg River. Friday, May 17 at 9:00pm kicks off the Pigg River Ramble weekend with the fun of a night-time float on the Blackwater River with the “Blackwater Blackout.”

Saturday, May 18, at 10:00am the Annual Pigg River Ramble kicks off with a competitive style float down the Pigg River, with canoeists/kayakers from all over the East Coast.

Sunday, May 19, at 7:00am Breakfast on the Blackwater starts off with a homestyle breakfast and wraps up the weekend with one more float down the Blackwater River. Info: www.franklincountyva.org/parks

May 17, 18   —  Tom Maynard Memorial Poker Run

Special charity event that involves playing poker from watercraft.   Prizes are awarded for both winning and losing hands and best “decked out” boat and crew.  The Poker Run is dedicated to good fun and all proceeds go to a worthy cause.  Other special events surrounding the Tom Maynard Poker Run weekend include a welcome dinner with entertainment as well as a special boating safety orientation class.

June

June 15 – Juneteenth Celebration at Booker T. Washington National Monument

Freedom is the focus of this emancipation celebration for the whole family. Tour the Burroughs Plantation – music performed by local gospel groups. Free admission. www.nps.gov/bowa, 540-721-2094.

July

Independence Day Celebration  — Thursday, July 4th, Downtown Moneta

Start the Fourth of July holiday in grand style. Enjoy the music of The Worx band from 6pm to 10 pm and then see our spectacular fireworks show! Food, drinks, children’s games and more will be available. All proceeds benefit Moneta Fire Department.

Independence Day Celebration  —  Saturday, July 6th(Raindate – Sunday, July 7)

Loaded with fun, entertainment and grand fireworks for all to see, this major event takes place at Parkway Marina in Huddleston to celebrate our nation’s independence.  No Pets will be allowed on the Point!

July 19, 20, 21 — Smith Mountain Lake Pirate Days….All 3 counties Franklin, Bedford & Pittsylvania, surrounding Smith Mountain Lake, participate in creating a 3-D Pirate experience. The theme is simple and ‘family friendly’, a great way for area businesses to connect their marketing efforts to create a memorable Smith Mountain Lake experience.

September

September 13 & 14  —  Smith Mountain Lake Antique and Classic Boat Show

In and out of the water antique and classic boats, a display of antique automobiles and a great selection of quality craft vendors.  The event will be held at Mariners Landing in Huddleston, VA.  For more information contact SMLRCC at 540.721.1203 or visit www.woodenboats.net.

September 28 and 29   — 25th  Annual Smith Mountain Lake Wine Festival This amazing weekend event includes 28 Virginia wineries participating offering their finest vintages. Try wine tastings, more than 85+ quality food and craft vendors plus live entertainment— it’s one of the lakes truly GRAPE events!

October

October 11, 12, 13   —  Smith Mountain Lake Charity Home Tour Visit eight beautiful waterfront homes reflecting a variety of architectural and decorating styles. Tour the featured homes by car or boat.

October 19 — A Night at the Races, The Rotary Club of Smith Mountain Lake’s Fall Fundraiser will be held Saturday night October 19, 2013, at the W.E. Skelton 4-H Conference Center. This will be a very exciting evening of trumpets blaring, horse racing, dinner, refreshments, door prizes, 50/50 raffle, race card winner’s drawing for prizes, and even a woman’s hat parade and contest.

November

November 2  —  11th Annual Smith Mountain Lake Fall Chili and Craft Festival

Enjoy a full-day event featuring music, crafts and a spectacular competitive chili cook-off, with awards for Best Chili, People’s Choice and Showmanship!  Held at Bridgewater Plaza, it’ll be a hot time at Smith Mountain Lake.  Savor the essence of fall with ‘chili…just the way you like it’ at the Smith Mountain Lake Fall Chili & Craft Festival. The event is slated for Saturday, November 2nd at Bridgewater Plaza. This will be the tenth fall event sponsored by the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce and it captures the best of everything with plenty of activity, great chili for tasting, craft vendors, awards and a beautiful lakeside setting.

November 30 —  16th Annual Virginia Dare Flotilla for Toys Christmas Boat Parade

An evening event, with a parade of boats ‘decked out’ for the holiday season with lights and displays.  The boats leave port from the Virginia Dare Marina at 7 p.m., travel to Halesford Bridge at Bridgewater Plaza, circle past the SML State Park and return to the Virginia Dare Marina. This event is a local toy drive with all gifts distributed by the Lake Christian Ministries.

Additional Events: Many other events take place at Smith Mountain Lake throughout the year. Feel free to call our SML Visitor Center for an update of the latest lake happenings.  Call 540.721.1203 for more information.

The Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce sponsors the “Business After Hours” program for its members the third Thursday of each month from 5:00 -7:00 PM at scheduled business locations.  “Business Before Hours” are also held periodically.  The SML Regional Chamber of Commerce also hosts annual business educational seminars and other noteworthy events for the benefit of its membership. To learn more about the Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce, click on “Chamber of Commerce” on the website or call 540.721.1203.

February 8, 2013   No Comments

Thanks Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce for the Regional Advocate Award!

The Smith Mountain Lake Regional Chamber of Commerce rolled out the red carpet in 2013 with the theme, “Blur the Lines-One Community” at the 12th Annual Chamber Awards Dinner. Organizers created an Academy Awards inspired event, for all who attended, with television cameras, TV screens, elegant décor, an excellent meal and full award regalia.

In addition to gathering the membership to kick off the 2013 business year in grand style, the dinner also served as a platform to recognize the work of area individuals and businesses for outstanding achievement.

The Willard Companies and Prudential Waterfront Properties received the Regional Advocate Award. This award goes to a SML Chamber member or business who has exhibited creativity in promoting this region as well as their business and has used many levels of marketing to significantly impact growth in the region as well as promote products, services, and this region.

In addition to the Regional Advocate Award, The Norma Jean Teass Award for community leadership went to Teresa Tyree, SML Animal Control. Print-n-Paper was named Business of the Year. Emerging Entrepreneur Award went to Laker Beverage & Tobacco. The Enduring Enterprise Award was awarded to Capps Home Building Center and the Service Excellence Award went to The Landing Restaurant.

February 7, 2013   No Comments

Making the Most of Storage

Whether buying or selling a Smith Mountain Lake home, storage becomes an issue. Buyers want ample storage areas — indeed, it can be a make-or-break feature when buying a home. Sellers need it both for eliminating clutter from rooms while showing a home, and for containing their own personal items. Learning how to best utilize the storage will increase the functionality and presentation of your home.

Once you’ve reduced the amount you would like to store – items have been sorted, unwanted and useless things have been discarded – presumably the remaining items needing storage are wanted, useful, and/or valuable in some way. Here are the steps that will ensure success:

Assess: Storage Areas and Items to Store

What you have and where you will store it are both questions that are pertinent to the task at hand. Storage of dishes or books, clothing or car parts, may require different solutions. The only way to do this is to take a good look. Simply having a lot of space is only part of the puzzle; being able to access your belongings is equally important.

Inventory the storage areas on your property to better understand “reality”. Having an attic or basement does not mean that you have more storage if they are difficult to access, wet, unduly hot or cold, infested with mice or mold – so check these areas and really look at their condition. Similarly, cabinets and closets with particularly high shelving or excessively deep shelving provide wonderful storage for items that are not often in use.

Don’t overlook non-traditional storage – alcoves, and places where storage furniture or built-in furniture could exist. Your space might have a perfect place to put an armoire, bench seat with storage, or built-in bookshelves. Mantels and large porches, sheds and garages often have places where storage is possible. If these areas are exposed to view, containers should be attractive and appropriate to the spot.

When assessing where to store each item, keep in mind that having items close to the location where they will ultimately be used is often essential to it having value. Items you cannot access might as well not be there. If you are keeping something, consider “charging it rent” – is it worth the space it takes up?

If in your assessment of space and items to store you have far more items than space, then further reduction of possessions might be in order. An alternative is to “find more space” by creating more storage in the home or on the property possibly by building an addition, garage, or shed. Otherwise, if you have more stuff than fits in storage, you will either live with it in your way day-to-day, or have to rent storage space out of the home, which is expensive and inconvenient for accessing your items. Or perhaps you just need a bigger home!

Prepare: The Space, the Items, and the System

After you have assessed the storage space, it is time to remedy any issues found. Creating access, resolving moisture or pest infestation, heating or cooling issues, and cleaning an area can ensure that items stored there will retain their value and usefulness.

Storage space that is climate controlled (not too hot or too cold), dry and easily accessible is the most valuable storage on your property. Renovations that add additional storage of this sort may increase your home’s value. Any time that you consider removing storage, eliminating closets or shelving, consider the consequences carefully and determine if that storage will be available elsewhere.

Storing items in containers that are strong, helps keep them in good repair. While storage containers might be expensive, storing your valuables poorly can result in loss or damage, which might be equally costly. Cardboard boxes are subject to moisture and are often difficult to move, and can result in content which is difficult to see and access.

Shelving can provide an alternative to stacking boxes on the floor and make them easier to access. Moving one box to get to another is acceptable, but stacking too many boxes on top of each other can make retrieving items from lower boxes a daunting task. If you cannot get to your stored items, they can become a burden rather than a help.

Using boxes or containers that are sized to the contents will ensure that each box does not get too heavy. Fragile items that are stored in large boxes can be broken more easily, and items with many pieces should be stored together. Ensure that shelving and containers work together, and that items of like kinds are stored near each other, in a place that makes sense. Labels are a wonderful way to cut down on searching for things, but be sure to update them when the contents shift.

Achieve and Maintain: Principles of Storing

Now that you understand what you have in the way of stuff and storage space, and you have prepared the items and the spaces and created a system, placing things is much easier. By this time, you probably understand what you have and whether it will be actively used.

Generally there are levels of storage – long-term, seasonal, and active-use. Understand the nature of what you are storing.

Items being held for future generations, which might not be accessed for years, belong in long-tem storage. If they are well-stored and secure, putting them in a far corner that is not very accessible might be fine. This is the time to consider attic and basement space, but only if the items are well-stored and the space is properly prepared.

Similarly, decorations and house wares that are seasonal will get in the way if they are taking up prime space in the wrong place. Consider dedicating “seasonal storage” that can be rotated so that the next season’s items are in the front, ready to be taken out when needed. Packing seasonal storage too tightly and not rotating it may render it useless, so this is one area where establishing a system can really pay off.

Active storage is important to keep organized and not over-filled. Items should be easy to locate, retrieve and replace, and what you want should be where you want it; kitchen and food items in their proper spots, health and beauty items in a hygienic location, and cleaning and maintenance tools where they are likely to be used and serviceable. Items that are out of place breed clutter and chaos, so well ordered active storage is a key to a well-functioning home.

Kitchen cabinets are typically sorted and items stored close to the stations where they will be used. Cabinets that are deeper might store items that are used rarely toward the back, and frequently used tools up front. Everyday plates and utensils should be easy to access and put away, while holiday dishes and party platters are better out of the way.

Garage and sheds and even bathrooms and bedrooms follow similar rules. Enabling access to tools and materials while ensuring clear areas is a key to successfully living and working in a space. Items that you use a lot need a “home” – either in storage or in plain sight. Having items you love and places to keep them will ensure that cleanup is easy and your rooms look tidy.

If you are storing something that you don’t use or love, it is taking up valuable space. Every so often, go into the back of your cabinets and drawers to find items you no longer use or love – this is one of the quickest ways to gain storage space without spending money on shelves or storage systems. Similarly, if you are storing something to give to future generations, ask yourself if they will really want it or if they might be ready to receive the item now – then it doesn’t spend years in storage and you gain space!

Refine: Love What Works and Don’t Let Trouble Continue

Every so often, a homeowner will look up and find that they have a “trouble spot”. When tools are hard to return to their storage areas, or holiday items linger in boxes by the door, it is usually a sign that the storage area is too difficult to access or the system of storage hinders use. The ability to return items to storage is as important as the ability to get to them easily – so you might need to refine your system to overcome any challenges you find.

Annual inspections might reveal that there are items to purge, spaces to improve, or systems that need upgrading – but most of all, you stay in touch with your home and its real value to you. While you are at it, don’t forget to appreciate what is working well. Storing stuff you love in a way that works makes your home a haven and a place that allows you to function at a high level. It’s the best way to get value out of your home, and give you a new perspective on what you really have. After all, as a homeowner you want to be in touch with your most important asset!

February 6, 2013   No Comments

Testing the Boundaries

Ownership of real property is a privilege that once belonged only to kings and nobility, and as masters of our own domain we each take our home and lands very seriously. It is no wonder that boundary disputes can provoke the nastiest of all sentiments between Smith Mountain Lake neighbors. Many of these disputes can be avoided, however, if both parties have a clear understanding of facts, proper documentation, and a willingness to come to fair agreements.

Know your Facts

Boundary issues can arise at any time – so one of the very best ways to avoid an issue around property lines is to know your facts. The time to do this is before signing a purchase agreement. When purchasing a home on land, there is no substitute for a thorough check on property lines, including a clear understanding of the deed of title, and land record, or “plat”. If you are purchasing a condo, or a home in a community, study all the documentation you can about your unit, storage and ancillary areas that come with the unit, and common areas, rules around building or renovating fences, screens, or dividers.

Learn about your rights and responsibilities around trees, landscaping, driveways and sidewalks, or any area where you might come into contact with your neighbors. If there is a view involved, understand any community or local view ordinances, and consider entering into an agreement with neighbors regarding your view, going so far as to purchase those rights. Offering cash to procure a written contract may seem excessive, but your rights will be protected and may be upheld in a court of law.

Drawing the Line

Property lines should be clearly described in official records including a property title and land plat. Establishing where lines are up front will aid any interested party prior to clearing, building, or using land. Online resources make these records readily available in many areas, though finding markers on site may prove more of a challenge. When in doubt, hire a licensed surveyor to establish where the property line is actually located and mark the findings clearly.

When you are conducting your search for issues on any property that you are considering buying, it is well worth your time to understand mineral and water rights, forest issues, rights of water and well and other covenants. Know if there are any easements on your property – “Right of way” enables property owners who would otherwise not be able to gain access to their land to do just that. Usually this is accomplished by negotiating an easement across another property. If there is a recorded easement on your property, it may be exercised at any time.

In addition to your rights with regards to property lines, it is important to understand your responsibilities. Before building, clearing, or using property close to a boundary line, ensure that you have a thorough grasp of the building codes in your locality. Building over, on, or close to a property line may violate laws and incur costs that are avoidable.

Views

The value of some property is greatly enhanced by its view. Views, however, can change if a neighbor plants or builds obstructions. Many areas have rules and regulations governing the obstruction of views, however it may be wise to enter into your own agreement with neighbors, even offering a cash incentive for ensuring your view is safe. Contracts are advisable, as they ensure that these rights are enforceable by a court of law, should the need arise.

Mending Fences

The most common and often frustrating property line issues arise around the common fence. Whether designed to distinguish the property lines, provide privacy, or to contain livestock and other animals, fence owners invest a significant amount of money and time in construction and maintenance of these valuable assets. In some areas fences are owned and maintained cooperatively between neighbors, though other places one party owns and maintains the fence. Understand your rights and obligations regarding fences on your property lines. Unduly high fences or plantings designed to create barriers can present an eyesore, obstruct a view, or violate local ordinances. When this is the case, it may be deemed a “spite fence” and legal action might be considered, though it often takes time and money.

The Trouble with Trees

While many people cherish and value trees, like all living things they have a lifespan and needs that must be met. Large trees that overhang buildings, fences, or boundary lines pose a threat. Trees that lean across lines may present special situations that affect homes or fences, and there are often laws protecting each party’s interests. While perfectly healthy trees can fall or break given specific circumstances, if neglect can be proved, a property owner might be liable for damages. Understanding your responsibilities around pruning and maintaining trees on your property is key.

Insurance companies may get involved when damage is incurred by falling trees or tree limbs, though if negligence can be proven your insurance rates might be affected. Knowing the health of trees on your property, and taking measures to ensure that they don’t damage your neighbor’s home or property, is the landowners’ responsibility.

Felling large trees is a difficult endeavor and should be undertaken only by qualified individuals who are bonded, licensed and insured. Speaking with your neighbor prior to the work may reduce concerns, but also evoke some unwanted emotion. Trees that have been established for many years might be missed by some, while others might be relieved with the removal of a diseased tree or welcome the additional natural light. Tree work that may pose any risk to your neighbor’s property should be discussed prior to engaging in the work.

Avoiding Encroachment

The term “encroachment” refers to a piece of real property that hangs over the boundary of another landowner’s property. Trees or bushes are naturally occurring, while buildings or structural encroachments may be accidental or intentional. Generally, there are laws and precedents in place that are designed to aid parties in sorting out disputes. If you don’t know or understand the laws, a real estate lawyer can provide assistance.

Buildings that are already in existence, but that have been built on another person’s property present a special problem. When possible, both property owners should work together to design a property line adjustment that is equitable to both parties. While there is a temptation to resolve the issue through the court system, legal battles can be expensive, and the relationship between the land owners is often stressed to the breaking point.

While there are plenty of instances of having to raze, move, or alter a structure due to judgments against the owner who is violating the property line, there are also many neighbors who have found equitable ways of resolving the issues through a land-swap or cash agreement. Encroachment is a serious issue, and consulting with a real estate lawyer is highly advised.

In the Event of Emergency – Know the Emotional Climate

Whatever you do, avoid making decisions or confronting a neighbor when emotions are high or facts are in question. This may be difficult when highly paid contractors are on site to cut trees, dig trenches or construct fences or buildings, but ensuring that the issue is dealt with up front might avoid costly reparations on in the future, or months mired in legal proceedings should one party take the other to court.

There is a well-known saying that dictates, “Fences make the best neighbors.” While it might sound cleaver, the truth is that Good Neighbors make the best neighbors. When there is an issue around boundaries, nothing drives the point more to home. Increasingly, neighbors might not know one another. Privacy and busy lives sometimes create the feeling of neighbors being more like two ships passing at night, trying to avoid one another. However, when you know your neighbors, it helps you to understand their relationship to their boundaries. Generally, when there is an issue between two parties that know each other, it is easier to resolve. When purchasing property you can’t choose your neighbors, but you can ask good questions about them, and you can ask questions about the property lines and fences.

If you are in a dispute over property lines, rights of way and other boundary issues — be a good neighbor and treat your neighbors as you would want to be treated. If you are in a community or condo, there may be a group designed to help work through issues like yours. Mediation may be a way to avoid costly litigation, and may aid you in finding ways to adjust the property lines so that there is equity. Finally, once an issue has been resolved, ensure that all property lines and agreements are clearly and legally recorded and marked so that everyone is clear from then on.

January 7, 2013   No Comments

SML Tree Lighting and Holiday Open House Dec. 6

Event features holiday festivities, WE CARE toy drive and chance to win $1,000 shopping spree.

The Willard Companies is pleased to announce its annual Holiday Tree Lighting and Open House event at Westlake Towne Center on Thursday, December 6, 2012 from 5:30 – 8 p.m. Several holiday festivities are planned including four live concerts, horse and carriage rides, free pictures with Santa, and awarding a $1,000 shopping spree.

In addition, the first 150 individuals who donate a new, unwrapped toy to WE CARE of Franklin County during the event will be given a complimentary ticket to a special showing of “White Christmas” at Westlake Cinema showing after the event. Collection boxes for toy donations will be located inside the retail stores during the event and movie vouchers can be picked up after toy donation.

Activities taking place during the two hour event include:

  • Special arrival of Santa on a fire truck
  • Free photos with Santa sponsored by Your School Photos
  • Horse and Carriage Rides sponsored by Kroger
  • Live concert by Lakeside Singers
  • Live concert by The Mark Dubbeld Family
  • Live concert by Smith Mountain Lake Harmeneers
  • Live concert by EastLake Community Church members
  • Complimentary refreshments
  • WE CARE of Franklin County Toy Drive
  • Reading Education Assistance Dogs (R.E.A.D.) at Westlake Library
  • Carilion Clinic Helipad site open for air ambulance tours and meet the crew
  • Special appearances by Miss Smith Mountain Lake and Miss Blue Ridge pageant winners
  • Free holiday coloring books to children donated by Carilion Clinic

Participating Westlake Towne Center businesses include Kroger, SweetFrog, Westlake Library, Merle Norman, Haywood’s Jewelers, Westlake Salon & Spa, and Cottage Gate. Carilion Clinic will also be participating.

The Fraser fir selected for the event will stand approximately 26’ tall and was picked from Roll Out Farm in Pilot, Virginia. The tree will be centrally located at the retail shopping center and stand in front of Westlake Library at Westlake Towne Center.

According to Christopher Finley, Director of Marketing and Public Relations for The Willard Companies, “The annual Tree Lighting and Open House is a festive event for the entire family. It also serves as an opportunity to collect toy donations to benefit WE CARE of Franklin County and many families who are in need this holiday season.”

 

November 19, 2012   No Comments