Thompson Hotel coming to Buckhead

A new, mid-priced hotel is under development in Buckhead Village. Two Atlanta developers, Loudermilk Companies and Regent Partners LLC, are pairing up to open a 10 story hotel with around 200 rooms at 415 East Paces Ferry Road near the Shops at Buckhead. The hotel will be designed by Atlanta-based Rule Joy Trammell + Rubio LLC and managed by the Thompson Hotel collection of Denver-based Two Roads Hospitality, LLC whose other locations can be found in Manhattan, Nashville, Chicago, Seattle, and Toronto. Slated to break ground sometime in 2019 with a predicted opening date in early 2021, the hotel will feature a rooftop chef-driven restaurant and bar as well as around 6,000 square feet of meeting space. The building will be constructed on the site that is currently home to State Bank & Trust Co. on East Paces Ferry Road.

Piedmont Park is Expanding

The Atlanta City Council gave the yes on spending $20m on three acres of land. The entire project with end up around $100m when complete and will end with a border of the park at the corner of Monroe Drive and Piedmont Avenue.

Envisioned with this project is a new gateway arch along the Beltline’s future route. Per Mayor Kasim Reed, the gateway arch will “provide a landmark gateway entrance to the crown jewel of our park system”.

For the near future, shops and restaurants located there will be paying rent to the city.

I’m wondering how this will effect the traffic on this already busy corner! Let’s hope they are smart there and property route everything in and out as well as tie properly into the traffic pattern and current lights/turn signals.

Excited to see how this turns out as it would be a pretty entry with the Botanical Gardens right behind.  If you have not been to those lately, they have a new children’s garden:

Expansion art from City of Atlanta:

Tips for Landscaping Lighting

If landscape lighting is on your summer to-do list, a quick trip to the local home store will leave you with lots of choices and maybe some confusion.

To narrow down the choices, decide if you want solar or wired lighting.

Solar lighting is easy to install and probably less expensive. The downside is that it won’t work well in areas with no sunlight. The LED lights are often not as white or bright as wired lighting.

Low voltage electric landscape lighting is usually the choice of professional landscapers, according to They look professional and offer superior illumination and timers, something you won’t get with solar lights. The downside is wiring, which usually is not that difficult but might require a professional to install.

Once you decide on the electronics, placement is the next consideration.

According to Better Homes and Gardens, landscape lighting falls into three categories: Space, task, or accent.

Space lighting illuminates places like gazebos, decks or patios.

Task lights provide safe access along paths or steps.

Accent lights highlight architectural features and are used to wash a wall with light and accent plants.

No matter what kind of lighting you need, the first rule of thumb is that less is more, according to

Too many lights distract from the beauty and too-high wattage looks and feels garish.

For wash lighting on the side of the house, use a wide beam. Pay attention to the shadows the lights cast and whether the lights shine too severely into the house.

With wired lighting, wait a couple of days before you bury wires. You will almost certainly change your mind on the light locations and even the number of lights. Experiment with positioning.

The idea behind great landscape lighting is to create safe areas and layers of light.

Avoid creating a runway effect with lights placed in a straight line.

Use lower-wattage wide beams focused upward to wash your home in a delicate glow. Make sure it doesn’t shine in the neighbors’ eyes.

Uplight interesting trees.

Downlight patios and decks. Make sure you can turn the light off if you want just candlelight.

Best time of year for intown condos!

I do not blog much on here but always this time of year, I see the same thing occurring so worth a note. Agents and homeowners with a desire to move want to wait until spring to list their homes based on the ‘market being better’. Yes there are more buyers then but there are also many, many more listings. In Atlanta, there are always people relocating at any time of year. Particularly to intown condos/townhomes, this time of year always feels the ‘time to sell’. Intown condos/townhomes are not typically driven by school timing so why not take advantage of the lower inventory and catch those buyers looking now. Your home will stand out. Also, I see more cash buyers this time of year for whatever reason. In showing this ‘time of year’ works, this past month, I have listed two Buckhead condos (Buckhead Grand 1 bedroom and Paramount 2 bedroom) as well as a townhome in Sandy Springs (ITP by the hospitals). All three we had priced ‘just slightly over all past same home sale prices’. All three sold in the first week and a half on market with multiple offers. This happens each year at this time. Just found that interesting and worth sharing for those of you both realtor friends with clients and intown home owners ‘waiting until spring’!

Home Items to do in the Fall

With winter coming, the following things are always good to do each fall-

  • After leaves have fallen, clean the gutters to keep water flowing away from the house.
  • Remove garden hoses from outdoor faucets/bibs, drain and store hoses, and shut off the water.
  • Check caulking anywhere two different materials meet. Specifically, check wood siding joining the foundation wall and where window or door trim meets the siding.
  • Check for broken or cracked glass and damaged screens or storm windows.
  • Insulate pipes in crawl spaces and attics.
  • Have the chimney flue inspected and cleaned by a certified chimney sweep. Also, inspect the damper.
  • Remove bird nests from chimney flues and outdoor electrical fixtures.
  • Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel is gone.
  • Clean, repair and store outdoor furniture.
  • Trim tree branches that hang over the roof or gutters.
  • Mulch around bulbs, shrubs and trees to prevent drastic soil temperature change from destroying plant root systems.
  • Check the reversing/safety mechanism on garage door operators.
  • Inspect the roof for missing or damaged shingles and repair.
  • If you have a pool, check the pool cover for damage and repair or replace if necessary.
  • Make sure the seal between your garage door and the ground is tight. Add a layer of weather stripping if necessary.
  • Have your heating system inspected and cleaned by a certified professional, and remember to change your furnace filters regularly.
  • Change the direction of ceiling fans to create an upward draft that redistributes warm air from the ceiling.
  • Test and change the batteries in all smoke detectors.
  • Empty all soil from outdoor pots and planters.

And stock up on hot chocolate and red wine!

Do Brookhaven, Dunwoody or Sandy Springs Dekalb County Areas Require Low Flow Plumbing?

This is an oh so common question that I get from homeowners, home buyers and agents on the other side of a transaction.  DeKalb County a few years back (Jan 2009) required that all homes in DeKalb County have a low flow plumbing certification signed off on before they would transfer or start the water for a new homeowner.

Listing agents in Dekalb should add a notice of this ordinance to the seller’s disclosure and/or sales contract. Before the new homeowner can obtain water service, they must provide written proof from a home inspector, licensed plumber, or a Department of Watershed Inspector. This certificate will be required with their application for water service.

The necessary certification of compliance for the DeKalb County Low Flow and Exemption Form can be found and downloaded here:

Guidelines are: Single family homes and condos must meet the following: 1. Toilets that use max 1.6 gallons per flush 2. Shower heads max of 2.5 gallons per minute 3. Lavatory faucets max of 2 gallons per minute 4. Kitchen faucets output of max of 2.2 gallons per minute

Below are some exemptions to the ordinance:
1. Foreclosure sale of home
2. Family sales (spouse to spouse or parents to children)
3. Homes that will be demolished after the sale
4. Circumstances where the cost of replacement would be over $1,000.00 per toilet

It’s tricky to know which toilets to change to so to be sure, here is a list of a few that are a-ok:

Protecting Your Home from Water Damage

In about 80% of inspections that my buyers or sellers have, there is a water issue that arises to be fixed prior to closing. Most common is wood rot around eves, window frames or lower areas of home siding on hardiplank, cedar or LP siding homes.  Other times, it can be more pricey and include areas like basements, foundations, roofs and interiors.

There are some key steps that you can take to protect your home from water damage. Below, I have listed a few of ways to help ‘seal’ your home from menacing water damage. This will insure proper aesthetics, sometimes even protect your air quality and definitely save you from a costly bill down the road.

ITEM #1:  Blocking Water from Entry Points:  1)Replace any damaged or missing roofing shingles (curling or cupping shingles are included on the ‘to do’ list)  2) Assure you have all needed gutters and downspouts (making sure they are cleaned regularly, have proper pitch and are not too narrow) 3) Assure all windows and doors have proper paint/glazing and/or caulk.

ITEM #2: Smart Redirection of Water 1) Sump pumps added to collect any water and send it out (clean periodically so silt does not settle)  2) French drains around the perimeter of your house (can be directed to the sump pump if no other extraction route) 3) Keeping your furnace elevated so it cannot/doe not flood

If Water Does Come In, Do the Right Steps – Waiting to fix water damage only causes more damage and can create mold/bacteria 1) Turn off your pipes immediately. You and your spouse should know where your water shut off valve is. If it happens at 1am, you most likely will not get a hold of your realtor, inspector or plumber.  More important than anything, get everyone and all pets out at the time of the problem.

If you ever end up with a high amount of water damage, I recommend in Georgia, calling Servpro to remediate the problem area properly. They are not the cheapest but, do not mess with water damage and a ‘do it yourself program. If you need them, Servpro-




Thoughts on Common Inspection Concerns

During home inspections, there are a few common ‘oh no, what do we do’ that come up, making buyers and sellers feel like there is a chance that the contract will possibly fall through.   My guess is that 1/5 times, the buyers will terminate based on one of these items but with proper expectations and if the issue is properly addressed. Aside from Chinese drywall, I feel that none of these should be a reason to terminate a contract.

Those ‘bigger ticket items of inspection concern’ that I often see arising are: Radon, Synthetic Stucco or EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finishing System), Polybutylene Plumbing, LP Siding (Louisiana Pacific Siding), and Mold.

NOTE: The one thing that can pop up but is very, very rare is Chinese drywall. If you find the house has Chinese drywall, this is a reason to terminate as it can cost 180k+ to remedy.  I have heard of homeowners walking away from homes, giving them back to the bank, as they cannot sell the home and they should not live in the home.  The only way to know for sure is to have an inspector look for it specifically.  They can go into the attic or basement and pull off a piece of drywall to inspect the back.  Sometimes the drywall with ‘bow’ out and often times it creates an egg-like sulfur type smell throughout the entire home.  There were just a few batches of this drywall brought to Georgia during the hurricanes when it was tough to find drywall. Florida had much more delivery of this material than Georgia did.

On to the others!

Radon: Radon comes up every once in a while.  I have heard that 1/15 houses have elevated radon levels in Georgia. Radon is a radioactive element that is part of the radioactive decay chain of naturally occurring uranium in soil. You can not smell, see, or taste radon gas, but it can kill you.  The effects on the body are not immediate but more long term, as it can cause lung cancer. It is the #2 producer of lung cancer in humans.  The scary part is that you can be exposed for years and never have a clue.   How does it get in? Imagine your house like a chimney and within your home, as the air warms, it rises. It goes out the attic and out the upper level windows, which creates just a very small suction of the lower ground air, pulling this radon out of the ground and into your home.  I just closed a home two weeks ago in Sandy Springs, GA where the level was noted at 11 and 2.6 and less is the noted norm of acceptable levels. The USEPA and IEMA will say 4.0 or below but be sure to stipulate 2.6 or below to be sure.  There are companies that will assure this 2.6 or below and it can be done.  For the home in Sandy Springs, GA, we did a three pipe remediation from the ground, through the home, with sensors/monitors.  The whole remediation ran about $2600 to the seller and my clients are happy and in their new home, with baby.  Of course, we tested the baby room and each individual room, to be sure there is no worry.  People will tell you that it costs $800-2000 to remediate, but I would say to go on the high end and add as many pipes out as possible and the monitoring system.  Some people believe that caulking the cracks and the openings in the basement floor will stop the radon from entering the house, but in reality, it is unlikely that caulking the accessible cracks and joints will permanently seal the openings radon needs to enter the house.  Some buyers would have ran from this home but with the proper inspector to explain and the proper remediation, it was not a stopping point for this buyer or seller.

Synthetic Stucco or EIFS (Exterior Insulation and Finishing System): Synthetic stucco is very similar to masonry stucco and can be a very energy efficient and low maintenance system.  The ‘stigma’ of water issues with EIFS lies in what the builders first believed who used it.  They were told that the closed cell polystyrene used in EIFS is water resistant, and so many homes were built without the proper sealing and flashing to protect it from water intrusion.  Without this proper flashing and sealing, moisture would collect between the inner wall of the home and the foam, especially around the foundation as well as the doors and windows of the home.  Both EIFS (synthetic) as well as hardcoat (masonry) stucco start by putting a 3 layer exterior grade plywood (or OSB as the name). The next step for both is to apply a waterproof paper (like a roofing paper).  With EIFS, foam is the next layer, then fiberglass meshing, then the base coat and then the top coat.  With masonry or ‘hardcoat’, they use a metal lath as the third step. It is very common for masonry stucco to have synthetic trim as you can get more decorative/creative with EIFS vs masonry.  How do you know? Knock on it and if it makes a hollow sound, it may be EIFS. You can also often look behind an exterior light fixture to see as they should be sealed but often times are not.  If you are a seller, you will be expected to have the home inspected and provide a report from a certified stucco inspector. You will want to do all necessary repairs.  Often times, this is simply having the windows and doors properly flashed and caulked as well as removing any stucco that is noted by them as too close to the ground. The product is not a bad product, it just needs to be sure to have been properly installed, flashed and sealed. If a buyer chooses to remove the stucco of a home and replace with hardiplank, this cost can range from $8,000-$20,000 per side of the house.

LP Siding (Louisiana Pacific Siding): Louisiana Pacific is a company that manufactured a pressed wood siding that builders used from the 1980’s to mid 1990’s. I see a lot of this in East Cobb and West Cobb.  It has varying ‘grades’ of quality and the lowest of those, which was often used, has a tendency to absorb moisture if not caulked, sealed and painted on a regular schedule/basis.  There is often rotting in areas around the chimney or windows and doors.  If the siding is near to the ground, you can sometimes see rotting there as well.  These are all the typical areas where water would hit/collect/pool more than other areas.  How do you see it? You can go into the attic and look behind the insulation.  Louisiana Pacific would have stamped the back of it with their name.  From the outside, there is often a knot hole pattern to it but not always.  A qualified contractor or an inspector is your best go to on being sure if it is or is not this type of siding.  Just like synthetic stucco, the key is to inspect it and make sure that the home has properly sealing, caulking, flashing as well as being far enough away from the ground.  If there are rotten boards, you will want to take them off and replace with a hardiplank or some other fiber cement siding, then caulk/seal/paint.  Again, not a dealbreaker, just something to be aware of and properly maintain the home.

Mold: During the ‘down 5 years of the market’, mold and appraisals were what made me crazy as I’m sure did many a realtor!  While we were going through the market downturn, appraisals were a weekly battle and it felt like mold was a monthly battle on one home or another.  My first few years of real estate, mold was introduced by inspectors to buyers as ‘every house has moisture and some level of microbial growth’.  Even if they said ‘mold’ it was never a big deal to inspector nor seller or buyer.  This excludes that fuzzy growth taking over a home that had been sitting vacant for months and you really could not even breathe.  I remember going in many of these homes and thinking that banks should not even have these homes available for show.  Now, they fix it but for years, they did not and we all had some fun ‘surprises’ and headaches to go along with it.   Then, all of the sudden, inspectors must have all gotten a ‘warning letter’ because all at once, everyone recommended $400-450 in mold testing even if it was under the home in tiny almost non-visible amount in rafters.  This had always been a ‘every home’s rafters have microbial growth’ and passed over prior.  Then, with this ‘change’,  the inspectors sternly recommend that you to do testing and full remediation.  This full remediation on one small ranch’s rafters ‘under’ the home in the open crawl space at the start of this ‘ah! mold! run!’ turn, cost my client $4200 to remediate with air scrubbers and the works.  A year early, it would have been noted as the norm and there would be no $4200 additional cost.  Now, we are somewhere in the middle and I still wonder what the inspector will say.  I would say that in 80% of my inspections, mold is noted but it’s not a big red flag and we come up with a  plan that works and often ends in a dehumidifier to be sure that they keep it at bay.  Again, fixable!