Q: I have two questions about fix-and-flip remodels. On a 1963, 1,300-square-foot tri-level brick home, is it worth it to build a carport? Some homes in the neighborhood have carports and others have garages or nothing at all. This home also has no appliances. Is it best to buy appliances so it shows better? –Susan

A: Two good questions, although both are a little hard to answer because they depend so much on the specifics of your exact neighborhood location.

As to the carport, my suspicion is that you might not recover your entire investment on that one. I would ask your real estate agent for sales figures of comparable houses in your area (or go online and get them). Look at the selling price (not the original listing price), and compare what homes with carports sold for compared to ones without carports. You can also do the same for ones with garages.

This should give you a pretty good idea of what the difference is in selling prices (assuming the homes are comparable in size, etc.) You can then look at the cost of the carport or garage and hopefully get a better idea as to whether or not it will be worth it.

In my own opinion, I’m not the biggest fan of carports in general. Unless they are very well designed and constructed, I think they detract from the overall look of the home rather than add to it. I much prefer the appearance and functionality of a garage, but of course that’s a more expensive undertaking.

As far as the appliances go, my opinion would be to put them in. I think they add greatly to a home’s appeal, and they make it easier for a potential buyer to visualize living there. It’s the same reason that I’m a fan of staging homes with furniture to make them more appealing.

If you decide to go with appliances, make sure that they are of a style and value that’s consistent with the house. New appliances are definitely preferable to used ones, and don’t go overly cheap or overly extravagant — again, match them to the house. I also don’t personally think that you need to invest in a refrigerator, since many people have their own.

Q: I read your article on deck railings and I could not agree more that tempered glass mixed with wood is an attractive option.

I recently contacted my zoning officer here in eastern Pennsylvania and he said we would have to use glass embedded with wire. I think we should be able to use tempered glass, at least that’s what everyone else seems to say (I spoke with a glass company employee who said wired glass was typically for fire hazards and not really used anymore).

Do you know a building code that would support the use of glass deck railings? I did not see anything in the International Residential Code 2006. My permit officer cited Uniform Construction Codes (but I am not sure his opinion was based on this code). I would like to help my permit officer find the most correct and relevant information.

We just want a nice looking deck (that is safe too). –Deb D.

A: Wired glass is used in certain situations, primarily for security reasons. I would agree with the glass company that wired glass is definitely a specialty item with limited applications, and wouldn’t really be appropriate for use in a railing.

I would suggest you call the building official and ask if he could tell you the name and edition of the building code that your city is currently using, and ask if he could refer you to the particular code section he is basing his decision on. You can then go to the library and see if the reference department has a copy of the code book so you can read the applicable section.

It could be that your local code has some type of special provision that covers deck construction, or it could be that the building official misunderstood what you wanted to do, or is not familiar with specific materials — or is simply in error.

If the code does not specifically require wired glass, then you should be able to work with a local glass company to get specifications for tempered or laminated glass that meets the codes, and attach a copy of the specifications when you apply for your building permit.

If the code does require wired glass, or if the glass company can’t help you out with the necessary specifications, then the next step is a little more involved. You’ll need to consult with an architect or a structural engineer to have them do the necessary calculations to document that a particular tempered glass will meet or exceed the code requirements, and attach those calculations with your permit application.

In most cases, the building department needs to have documentation from a registered engineer or a licensed architect that a particular material or installation procedure is safe and meets the intent of the code. As long as they have that, it removes the liability from the building department and they’ll typically be willing to issue the permits.

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