7 of 52: Fix That Fireplace

Fireplace with purple flameEvery Friday I post an idea or project to enhance your house now with an eye to selling down the road someday. Enjoy those benefits now!

I know that the season for enjoying a roaring fire is just about past. But if the fireplace is one reason you bought the house to begin with, then why not get it up and running now? It’s a key selling feature for many houses, so if it’s not in good shape now, you’re likely to have it fix it before you sell the house anyway.

I’ve been told by home inspectors that, with moderate use, a chimney should be cleaned at least once every two years and every year if it is used heavily. Having a clean chimney can prevent fires – when you burn wood, creosote builds up and can catch fire.

You also want to have the chimney inspected periodically for cracks or holes. The last thing you want is for sparks to escape into the attic or somewhere else.

I have personally used High’s Chimney Service for cleaning and had no complaints, other than a rather aggressive follow up telephone campaign the following year. I have also had several residents in Cheverly recommend Sixpenny Chimney Sweeps for repairs and cleaning. My two personal experiences with them for listings I’ve had were excellent. In the first, the seller raved about how the chimney sweep left his house cleaner than it was before the repair. In the second, the buyer felt the chimney hadn’t been cleaned thoroughly enough and Sixpenny came out the same day, without complaint, and cleaned it again at no charge.

If you get the fireplace and chimney spruced up over the summer, just think how nice it will be when the weather turns chilly in the fall. And perhaps you’ll get a little price break by having the work done on the chimney sweeps’ off-season.

Heh…I just remembered how much I looked forward to the first cold evenings when I was really young — I would hound my parents to build a fire so that we could toast marshmallows or have a “camp-out” dinner with hotdogs on a stick. My dad was very obliging – I think he enjoyed it as much as I did.

Each Friday I’ll post a new “52 things to do now that will improve your resale value/chances later.” Why do them now? Because you’ll enjoy your house more. Let’s face it – if you don’t do it now, you’ll pay for it later – either because you’ll have to do it as part of your preparing the house for sale, or if you don’t do it at all, you’ll pay for it in your sales price. (Tip: buyers always discount a problem more than it actually costs to fix.) Why not enjoy the benefits of your labor now? What is the second most-common comment I hear when I list properties -after the prep work has been done to put the house on the market? “I wish we’d done this a long time ago -we love it!”

© 2011 Susan Pruden All Rights Reserved

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