Archives: October 2016

Do Halloween Dangers Lurk at Your Entryway?

Posted on: October 27, 2016

By: Oliver Marks @

Is your front entryway ready for Halloween visitors? Keep everything fun and accident-free with these seven safety tips.

Everyone loves a good scare on Halloween — as long as it’s just a trick.

To help you avoid any real-life scares — such as falls, fires, and traffic accidents — around your property this All Hallows Eve, play it safe while you’re setting up your Halloween lights and decorations.

Here are seven simple precautions recommended by John Pettibone, curator of Hammond Castle, a Gloucester, Mass., mansion that draws thousands to its renowned 20-room haunted house every Halloween season.

1. Light the Scene

Providing plenty of illumination ensures that your visitors can see where they’re walking, helping to avoid missteps and falls. Pettibone suggests using the highest wattage bulbs your outdoor lighting fixtures can safely take (check the label on the socket), and adding landscape lights every few feet along your front walk.

“We use the solar-powered kind because there’s no wiring needed,” he says. “Just push them into the ground, let them soak up the sun during the day, and they’ll light up the walk after dark.”


2. Secure the Footing

Clear your walk, steps, and stoop of any obstructions that could trip youngsters focused more on tricks and treats than watching where they’re going. That means moving potted mums and jack o’lanterns out of the way, and hammering down any nail heads protruding out of your steps.

If you have a concrete stoop, which can get slippery when wet, apply friction tape ($16 for a 60-foot roll of 1-inch-wide tape) to ensure stable footing, says Pettibone. He also stocks up on chemical ice melt ($20 for a 50-lb. bag) just in case of an early freeze.


3. Tighten the Railings

If your porch railings are wobbly or broken, family members and friends may know not to lean too heavily on them, but Halloween visitors won’t. So hire a contractor or handyman to fix the problem. It’ll make your home safer for guests all year round. Because more strangers come to your front door this night than the rest of the year combined, now is the time to take care of it.

4. Eliminate Fire Hazards

Don’t put real candles into your carved pumpkins or paper lanterns. “That’s a fire waiting to happen,” says Pettibone. Instead, pick up a bulk pack of LED-bulb faux candles, which emit a yellowish, flickering, battery-powered light that looks amazingly similar to the real thing — without the danger.

5. Secure Your Property

To prevent burglaries and Halloween pranks — especially on mischief night the previous evening — make sure to keep all windows and doors (other than your main door) locked shut.

You might have an electrician add motion-sensor lights around your property, so anyone who walks down your driveway or around into the backyard will be discouraged from intruding any farther.

6. Set the Scene

In addition to spooky items like cotton cobwebs and half-buried skeletons, consider a few safety-related scene-setters. Pettibone suggests propping open the screen or storm door so it doesn’t get in the way when there’s a big group of kids congregated on your stoop. “We use yellow caution tape to tie open the door,” he says. “You can order it online and it works well with the Halloween theme.” A 1,000-ft. roll of 3-inch-wide caution tape is about $8.

You’ll also want a working doorbell, so if yours is broken, either hire an electrician or handyman to fix it — or install a wireless doorbell in its place.

7. Enhance Street Safety

Four times as many child pedestrians get killed on Halloween night than a normal night. So limit the danger as much as you can by clearing parked cars off the curb to allow better visibility and placing a reflective “watch for children sign” at the edge of the road. For for high-traffic roads in Halloween-intensive neighborhoods, consider posting an adult in the street with a hand-held traffic control light to help maintain safety.

Sale of Note: Grace Kelly House in East Falls

Posted on: October 26, 2016

Sale of Note: Grace Kelly House

Elfant Wissahickon Realtors would like to thank the Principality of Monaco and the Kelly family of Philadelphia for placing their trust in Elfant Wissahickon and giving us the opportunity to act as their agent on this meaningful purchase.  East Falls’ Grace Kelly House is a Philadelphia cultural landmark. It has long been a place that delights people when they pass by.  

This past summer, John O’Connell was asked to represent Prince Albert of Monaco (the son of Princess Grace Kelly and Prince Rainier) and his interest in taking title to the ancestral property. The prince and his many Kelly cousins have for some time wished to return the handsome brick colonial at Henry Avenue and Coulter Street to family ownership and to see to it that both the home and its grounds are restored to its original condition, the storied property enjoyed during Grace Kelly’s childhood.

Even a property with historical significance can be affected by a fast-paced real estate market.  In order for the Kelly Family to acquire the property, they had to compete with other buyers.  As a result of the skill and patience of John O’Connell and the Kelly family, the sale was successfully negotiated and this historic landmark was returned to the family.

The day after settlement, the flags of the United States, the Republic of Ireland, and Monaco flew over the main doorway fronting on Henry Avenue.

“I have no doubt,” said John O’Connell, “that Philadelphians and especially the people of East Falls, will be pleased to see this magnificent house restored and reunited with its elegant past.”

Elfant Wissahickon Realtors has extensive experience in sales of properties of historical significance. Please be in touch if you would like to learn more.


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Elfant Wissahickon Realtors Congratulates 2016’s Third Quarter Top Producers

Posted on: October 21, 2016


Storage Solutions: The Secret Life of Pocket Doors

Posted on: October 11, 2016

By: Jan Soults Walker

Gain storage space and usable square footage by installing pocket doors.

Pocket doors maximize under-utilized areas around doorways and transform them into smart storage spots.

The swing of a standard interior hinged door eats up as much as 10 square feet of floor space. That’s not to mention the unusable wall space the door occupies when open. By gliding on a track that disappears into the wall, pocket doors reclaim that space and increase the usable square footage of your home.

Is the additional space worth it? It’s not exactly an open and shut case. For starters, unless you’re dealing with new construction, you’ll need to demolish a wall. Here’s what else you need to know before giving the sledgehammer a heave-ho.

Benefits of Pocket Doors

Space. With more available wall space, you have room for furnishings or freestanding storage. However, avoid penetrating the pocket-door wall to hang shelves or artwork—nails or drywall anchors might damage the door or prevent it from sliding. Instead, use adhesive-backed wall hangers. (Easily removable versions that don’t damage walls and hold up to 20 pounds are available).

Aesthetics. Create a clean, airy look when you do away with bulky hinged doors. Door styles are limitless.

Functionality. People of all ages and abilities can operate pocket doors easily.

Drawbacks of Pocket Doors

Privacy. Because they don’t close as tightly as hinged doors, pocket doors don’t seal out sound well from one room to another.

Mess. Installation of a pocket door means demolishing and re-framing a wall, so plan to haul a few wheelbarrow loads of old drywall and wall studs out of your house.

Before demolishing the wall, investigate what you might find inside: plumbing, electrical, heating and cooling ducts. If rerouting these is an option, it will come at a price—anywhere from $300 to $800. You’ll also need to determine if the wall is load-bearing, and if the door opening needs to be reinforced with a header.

What Do They Cost?

Top-quality pocket door kits feature heavy-duty, ball-bearing nylon rollers guaranteed to not jump off their tracks, and studs wrapped in metal to prevent warping. Kits are available to fit 2×4 or 2×6 wall construction. Kit cost: $150 to $350; add $350 to $550 for professional installation, depending on the complexity of the demolition work.

Make sure your door opening is square, plumb, and level. Cut corners on hardware quality or installation procedure and you’ll risk having to redo it all down the road.