Monday, January 23, 2006

New Federal Standards for Arsenic in Water

Homeowners in New England, where there are about 2.3 million private wells, should be aware that as of January 23, 2006, the EPA has greatly reduced the allowable amount of arsenic that can be present in drinking water, in order for it to be considered safe or "potable," from 50 parts per million to 10 parts per million (Maximum Contaminant Level = 0.010ppm).

It is estimated that up to 15% of all private wells in New Hampshire may not meet this standard.

Though the regulation was promulgated in January 2001, it did not take effect until today. If you purchased your home during the last several years, and would like to retest your water to ensure that it complies with the new standards, you can find a list of Massachusetts DEP-certified labs online.

If you rely on well water and are considering selling your home, it would be advisable to investigate the arsenic level now, and take remedial action, if necessary, for your protection and to forestall problems once your home goes under agreement.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The Boston Home Show

Whether you're buying a home, redoing a room, or just dreaming about the possibilities, The Boston Home Show, opening on Friday, January 13th and running through Sunday, January 15th at the Bayside Expo, offers a wealth of information.

Attendees can also enter to win a $10,000 kitchen makeover from Kitchen Magic, a $15,000 home theater from New England Home Theater, or a day of around-the-house fix-up services from the Handy Man Network.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Flora in Winter!

If you can't wait until the New England Spring Flower Show for a fix of wonderful plants and flowers, treat yourself to a visit to the upcoming Flora in Winter exhibition, an "art and floral extravaganza" that will be on display at both the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston and the Worcester Art Museum from January 26-29, 2006.

Events at Tower Hill during the four-day feast for the senses include a luncheon and lecture/demonstration on Ikebana, the Japanese art of flower arrangement, and a Mozart Piano Candlelight Concert, in honor of the venerable composer's 250th birthday.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

The Harvard General Store is for Sale!

All of the agents in my office were surprised and saddened this week to see that Harvard's beloved General Store (home of Harvard Camera) has come on the market.

The distinguished 19th century building, a revered landmark on Harvard's historic common, has almost 8000 square feet on three levels, with hardwood floors and original moldings. It is being offered for sale as either a residential or a commercial property, for $995,000.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Home Design Portfolio

If you're thinking of updating or redesigning a room in your current home, or possibly planning a custom build, HomePortfolio is a great resource.

It's a website that enables you to search for home design products by category, and create your own private folder so you can save them online, and connect directly to the Internet portals of the manufacturers.

You can also search for local interior designers, and sign up for Home Design Update newsletters, with information on the hottest products and trends, and news of upcoming home design events and sneak preview opportunities in the greater Boston area.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

New Listings in Harvard

Realtors checkingMLSPIN, the Multiple Listing Service that covers most of Massachusetts, found that the market started showing signs of activity again today, after a long winter's nap that began in the weeks before Christmas.

Agents in my office listed two homes today, at opposite ends of the market. One is a 1984 colonial in the established Candleberry neighborhood. With almost 4000 square feet of living space (including a finished lower level), this home offers central air, three fireplaces, a screened porch and a fenced yard, at an asking price of $869,900.

Perhaps the more intriguing of the two is the eagerly awaited 2-bedroom Victorian cottage with fabulous westerly views in the Village of Still River, within walking distance to the Oxbow National Wildlife Refuge. I haven't seen it yet, but it looks adorable, and it's a sure bet that it will be scooped up quickly, at the attractive price of $375,000, including a new septic system.

If you'd like more information about either of these homes, I'd be happy to help.

Bye-bye Burning Bush

The Massachusetts Department of Agricultural Resources has announced that as of January 1st, 2006, it will begin to prohibit the sale and importation of 140 species of plants and bushes that it has identified as being "invasive" or "noxious."

Among the outlawed flora is the ubiquitous "Burning Bush" (Euonymus alata), a source of dramatic fall color in many local gardens (including mine!). It can be sold until July 1, 2006, so if you have been thinking of adding this fiery feature to your landscape, do it this spring, while you can still find specimens in local nurseries.

And don't worry, the state has no intention of forming local posses to remove the banned plants, trees, and shrubs that are ensconced on private property!

Other common species targeted by the ban include purple loosestrife, the Norway Maple, and the orangey Oriental bittersweet, which is much sought after for autumn decorative flourishes.

The complete Massachusetts Prohibited Plant List can be found here.