Local Real Estate News
The metro Washington, D.C. area (to include Washington-Arlington-Alexandria) was the No. 6 metro area nationwide with the most new construction in 2015, according to the study, “Building Boom Towns” by Dodge Data. The list tallies the dollar value of construction starts (breaking ground and actually beginning work) for single- and multi-family homes, office, retail, warehouses, healthcare facilities, educational buildings, manufacturing plants and research facilities, among others.
For the Washington, D.C. metro area in 2015, there was $11.3 billion of new construction underway, a change of -7 percent from 2014 of $12.2 billion. The largest project started in 2015 was a $345 million Museum of the Bible, funded by Hobby Lobby.
From fairfaxcounty.gov: “Governor Terry McAuliffe and members from both parties and both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly announced [Feb. 10] a bipartisan agreement to move forward on a plan to reduce congestion on I-66 inside the Beltway by widening a four mile stretch from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston, improving transit and adding new options for single drivers.
The work to start widening of eastbound I-66 from the Dulles Connector Road to Ballston will commence this year with an environmental assessment. Construction work will start in 2017 and the new lane will be open to traffic in 2019. This construction will take place within the existing right-of-way and will not take any homes.”
Lastly: Until recently, disaster-protection products and features were too expensive or not an option for homeowners and buyers to consider in their residential homes. However, the real estate industry is now seeing a shift and these types of features are becoming more obtainable. In these unsettling times and when Mother Nature has an ever-changing weather pattern up her sleeve, safe rooms are becoming more and more popular, and in fact, were featured recently at the International Builders’ Show in Las Vegas.
These safe rooms are constructed of materials that will protect occupants from such things as tornadoes, hurricanes, fires, home invasion or terrorist attacks. There are a variety of safe rooms and intended purposes, whether for residential, commercial or community properties. Safe rooms can also be designed to protect valuable documents and collectables.
In residential circumstances, a safe room is often used for protection from weather related disasters. In fact, FEMA offers guidelines for the design and construction of such shelters seen here. There is also a growing demand for safe rooms for personal protection from intruders or bomb attacks. Wealthy condo owners in New York City, for example, have incorporated elaborate safe rooms in their properties, as they are in fear of dirty bombs, kidnapping or even being taken hostage.
When considering a home with a safe room, some key features and options to think about include:
- Cinderblock construction materials on all sides
- Floors and ceilings with steel reinforcement – Consider a location above ground level in situations when there is a fear of flooding.
- Steel door – This is one of the most important construction components. It needs to be made of steel with adequate locking devices and always open inward. In a disaster, material may fall against the door or block an entry.
- Make sure the safe room meets your needs – Make sure your safe room will protect you from the specific hazard(s) you want to be covered by and incorporate the appropriate features into the space.
- Pre-made shelters – These are available for a reasonable cost or you can contract for elaborate rooms that function like a hotel suite. It is best to check FEMA guidelines or your local municipal building and zoning office to be sure your safe room meets the requirements.
- Air supply – This is a crucial component of a safe room. In more basic designs, a pipe is inserted in the structure to allow for ventilation. More elaborate rooms have their own independent HVAC system, usually with a generator as a power source.
Common supplies needed in a safe room include non-perishable foods, a supply of water that will last multiple days, some type of bathroom facility, often a marine toilet can be used. Other supplies include all prescribed medications/prescriptions, flashlights, batteries and blankets. It is most important to have a plan in place for all family members to know how to access the safe room and how to remain in communication with those outside.
Approaching security needs in a way that matches both budget and likely scenarios is key when considering a safe room as a design feature.
—McEnearney Associates, “What to do if you’re considering a safe room in your home”
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