Dave Mallison

Bear Respect

This story was told to me. Whether or not it’s true, it is certainly plausible. It’s about a bear that was roaming Salisbury village last summer.

Some people heard the bear had been seen around the rear of LaBonne’s Market. They slowly drove their vehicle around the building—a man, a woman in the front, with a child and a dog in the rear. All windows were open.

Bears are wild—synonym: unpredictable. They’re also fast and agile. They can outrun and out-climb any human easily. Their sense of smell is 100 times better than most dogs. From 20 feet away, the bear can be reaching inside your vehicle before you get one window rolled up. If the bear took a growling dog as a threat or smelled food, the consequences could’ve been grave. Fortunately, in this case,  nothing happened.

But this serves as a good reminder to please observe wild animals from a distance.  They deserve our respect. One split-second encounter may mean severe harm to you and death for the animal.  It’s about protection—yours and theirs.




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    Your Mind In The Gutter?

    Probably not, but roof gutters need your attention at least twice a year.

    They need cleaning and care in the spring and fall to work properly.

    If you don’t have a gutter system, your home needs a ground drainage system that will handle rain and snowmelt dripping (and sometimes cascading) from your roof eaves.  Either system prevents a buildup of water at your foundation; this is particularly important for older homes that might not have the advanced waterproofing coatings that have been available for the last several years.

    Gutters and downspouts are meant to carry water away from the house, so the base of each downspout should extend away at ground level for a least six feet. “Splash blocks” only help minimally.  Another solution is in-ground pipes that take water from downspouts away below grade and discharge a safe distance away. These systems also diminish “splash back” from water hitting the ground, which will add life to your siding and trim.


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      Water Softeners and Brine Discharge

      If you have a water softening system that requires salt pellets, you probably have a small hose that discharges a fluid known as “brine” two or three times a week. This fluid contains minerals and other components that remain from the water softening process and needs disposal for the system to work properly.

      Where does this fluid go?  Often, this ends up in your waste lines, and ultimately into the sewer or septic system.  No problem if you’re on town sewer, but if you have a septic system, chemicals in the brine can erode your concrete septic tank and other concrete components of the leaching system.

      The State of CT has never allowed this, but often installers either ignored or weren’t aware of the regulations. Check your system! This is an issue in selling your home, and buyers need to be aware of this concern also.

      CT adopted new rules for brine discharge recently, and if you’re considering a new water softener, make sure it’s installed correctly.


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        My Homes Is "Inventory"??!

        I cringe when I see this term applied to residential real estate. It strips sentiment from a situation that is often emotional and personal.

        We use this to describe real estate market conditions; if you’re looking for a home and there aren’t many available in your price range, then “inventory” is low; prices tend to rise. If you’re selling your home, and so are many others in the area, then “inventory” is high; prices tend to fall. It’s simple economics, but it’s harsh to hear the word applied to your endeavor, no matter what side of the equation you’re on.

        It’s like comparing a home to a can of corn on the grocer’s shelf, but it’s wise to under-stand the local market and respond accordingly. Prices can only rise to a point; many will go elsewhere to find value.  They can only fall so far before the stream of buyers dries up.

        To speak with agents who understand and care, please call us at Best & Cavallaro!


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          Spring Chores - Ugh!

          Last month, we set our clocks ahead and everyone changed the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, right?  Good - your life can depend on this.

          Some other tasks that can save your life or save you a lot of money in repair costs should be done yearly at a minimum; here are a few tasks that are best done in the spring and fall:

          GFCI outlets. Usually found in baths, kitchens, garages, basements, and outdoors. They have a “test” and a “reset” button. Test first, then reset – if your outlet won’t reset, call an electrician.

          Dryer vents. Open the vent outside and look for lint; clean out what you can.

          Hot water heater. Drain the hot water heater and test the pressure relief value (and the one on your boiler if you have one).

          Furnace. Change your furnace filters if you have forced air heat.

          It’s also a good time to clean refrigerator coils and their drip pans, re-seal all your grout, and clean the gutters and downspouts.

          And please call a professional should you need one.


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            Time To Assess...

            Spring is right around the corner in the Berkshires and our Litchfield Hills; it’s the time to plan the steps ahead. Intending to make repairs? Did this winter cause any damage?

            Good contractors and service providers are not idle, hoping for your call.  The time for action is here, they have a schedule, and “wait” is not an advisable modus operandi. Know the six “Ps” of homeownership: Proper Planning Positively Prevents Potential Problems.


            Every situation is different, and as qualified people assess your needs, the more info you will have. The point is to act; delaying repairs will usually cost more money over time.  If budget is the concern, it’s still important to be informed.

            Yes, contractors get busy when the weather improves, but procrastination drains your wallet. Take a look - inside and out, top to bottom. Know your building(s) and know your property. And remember that maintenance is less costly than repair.


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              Tempted to Winterize?

              With the recent cold spell in our Tri-State area, the cost to heat our homes increases and some second-home owners are tempted to “shut down and turn off.” Understandable, but potentially dangerous. We all know the risks of frozen pipes, but there are other factors as well.

              Even with all precautions taken, most homes are not built to withstand frigid temperatures. When our walls, floors, and ceilings freeze, we’ve created conditions that can lead to harm as they thaw.  Frozen surfaces condense as temperatures rise, leading to mold and mildew. Insulation increases this problem. Material expansion/contraction opens cracks, gaps, and flaws that aren’t only unsightly but offer refuge to pests. Paint and caulk distort, boards warp, and many of our smart appliances suffer; furniture can be impacted, too.

              Protect your investment.  While away, 55° is safe; lower than 50° is inefficient. Wi-Fi compatible thermostats let you control your home from afar; most alert you to problems.

              Home concerns? Need a change? Give us a call!


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                What Does It Cost to Build a New House?

                I’m often asked what it costs per square foot to build a house in the Tri-State area. In spite of having built five homes, there’s not an easy answer because of the many factors involved.

                1. What’s included? Is it just the cost of the house or are you including the septic, well, driveway and landscaping?

                2. Finishes - Hardwood floors, stone, high-end appliances all add to the cost versus fiberglass showers, vinyl siding, standard appliances, formica counters.

                3. Design – This is probably the biggest factor affecting square foot cost. A square 2-story Colonial with a clean, simple design will cost less than a shingle-style house with lots of eaves and dormers.

                4. Where is the square footage located? Second floor space is less expensive than adding more to the foundation for a larger first floor.

                So, is she going to answer this question or not? Okay, I am not including septic, well and landscaping as those items can vary enormously depending on your building site. Here in the northeast, construction costs do tend to be a bit higher. In our neck of the woods, a house with a simple design and basic finishes can be built for as little as $200 per sq. ft. and can go up to $400+ per sq. ft., depending on the above factors.



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