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The Secrets of a Stress-free Whole Home Remodel

November 6th, 2009
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Posted in Custom Homes, Design, Design and Build, Whole Home Remodel | Comments Off

WholeHomeRemodelSo, you’ve made the big decision to undertake a whole home remodel. Chances are, you’ve been thinking about remodeling for a while now. Remodeling your home is an exciting prospect, but it can also feel daunting. It seems like everyone has a horror story to share about a whole home remodel gone bad. What can you do to make sure that your remodel is a success? 

Here are some secrets to a stress-free whole home remodel:

1. Choose Your Remodeler Wisely: The first step is to find a remodeler you can trust. The contractor should be properly licensed and insured, and should be able to provide several references for work similar in scale to what you need. How you feel about the people you meet with also matters quite a bit. Remember, especially with a whole home remodel, you will be working with these people in your home for several months.  You can learn more about what to look for in a contractor here.

2. What About Design and Build?: You may have heard the term “design and build” while researching your whole home remodel. A design and build firm is responsible for both the design and construction of your home. Instead of having to find an architect, a designer, and a construction contractor, you work with just one company. Especially when you are remodeling your entire home, this can be a wise choice that will bring peace of mind as your project progresses. There is plenty to think about and take care of during your whole home remodel – the last thing you want to be doing is handling multiple contacts and contracts.

3. Know What You Want: When you’re remodeling your whole home, it’s vital that the elements all work together, and fit with your existing structure. You probably have some ideas about how you want your new home to function and look. Get your thoughts down on paper, gather some examples from home magazines, and let your contractor know what you want before you get started. Working with a contractor who has a design team on staff can be very helpful in this area.

4. Understand How Much a Whole Home Remodel Costs: A whole home remodel is a major undertaking. This is not the time to shop on price alone – you’re looking for reliability and proven skills. But, you also want to get good value for your investment. If you are getting comparison bids and they vary significantly, ask questions and take a closer look. If the parameters have been established correctly, prices should not be that different. Make sure that the bid includes everything that will be required for your remodel – from start to finish – and ask questions about how the contractor will handle any unanticipated changes during the remodel.

5. Be Patient: There’s no avoiding the fact that a major project like a whole home remodel take time. Be prepared, and depending on the level of construction involved, think about the option of living somewhere else while your home is being remodeled.

6. Have Fun and Enjoy the Process! If you have chosen the right contractor and done your homework, the process of remodeling your home really can be stress-free and rewarding. Take time to be creative, enjoy the journey from vision to completion, and learn something new about remodeling along the way.

The Lazy Way to be Green: A Green Home Can be Easier Than You Think!

November 6th, 2009
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Posted in Design, Green Home | Comments Off

GreenHome_LeavesGreen living is all over the news these days. You can find a “green guide” to just about everything, from cosmetics to kitchen appliances. We recently saw a guide to a “Green” Halloween! Transforming your current surroundings into a green home might seem like a good idea … in theory. What about all the time and expense involved in making the transition? Well, living in a green home doesn’t have to be an overwhelming task. Sometimes, making the leap into more eco-conscious living works best when you take small steps first.

Here are some easy ways to have a more green home:

1. Invest in New Energy-efficient Appliances. Appliances are usually about 18% of a typical home’s total energy bill. Older refrigerators are the biggest energy drainers, but if any of your appliances is more than 10 years old, the EPA suggests replacing them with Energy Star energy-efficient models. Energy Star-qualified appliances use 10%-50% less energy and water than standard models. Investing in new appliances is the most expensive suggestion on this list, but one of the fastest and most effective ways to lessen energy consumption at home.

2. Use CFLs. Talk about easy! Switching from standard light bulbs to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) is a simple change you can make in less than an hour. By replacing just five of your most frequently used light bulbs, you’ll save $100 per year. CFLs use 50-80% less energy than a standard incandescent bulb and last up to 10 times longer. According to Energy Star (a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy), if every home in America replaced just one incandescent light bulb with a qualified CFL, we would save enough energy to light more than 3 million homes and prevent greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to that of 800,000 cars.

3. Get Your HVAC Serviced. Get a professional tune-up every two years on your HVAC and you can save 5% to 10% on your heating and cooling bills. Clean or replace your filter every month, too. Dirty filters block airflow and significantly reduce energy-efficiency.

4. Make Your Bathroom Low-Flow. Lots of opportunities for water savings can be found in the bathroom. Low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators are easy fixes that save resources without sacrificing water pressure. An efficient shower head will save a family of four up to $285 per year. Shower heads often cost less than $15, can be found at your local hardware or home and garden store, and all you have to do is screw them on to start saving water immediately.

5. Plant a Tree. During your next lazy weekend afternoon, take a look around your yard and consider the potential for energy savings. Shade trees not only add beauty to your landscape, they can also lower your cooling costs by up to 25%. You have to be a little patient with this solution, as it will take at least a few years for the trees to grow enough to lend you any significant savings, but the payoff is rewarding. In five years, your trees may provide enough shade to let you run your air conditioner less frequently, saving you up to 40% in cooling costs. And, don’t forget the hammock potential, too!

Here are some places to learn more about green homes and green building:
http://www.thegreenguide.com/
http://www.greenhomeguide.org/
http://www.builditgreen.org/

Kitchens: Not Just for Cooking Anymore

November 6th, 2009
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Posted in Design, Design and Build, Kitchens | Comments Off

KitchenRemodelIt’s no surprise that the kitchen remodel is one of the most popular remodels homeowners undertake. For centuries, the kitchen has been “the heart of the home,” but how we use our kitchens has changed a lot over the years. Can you imagine what it would have been like to work in the earliest kitchens? Fire brick ovens and simple furniture pieces used for both surfaces and storage meant little room to do anything but prepare meals. The cook was isolated from the rest of the family at mealtime, and from guests while entertaining, doing all the work without any of the modern conveniences we enjoy today.

Kitchens have gone through a substantial evolution, parallel with social changes over the years. To accommodate our fast-paced lifestyles, the spatial planning of kitchens allows for more time to spend with family and close friends. Instead of enclosing the kitchen, many people now choose a kitchen remodel that connects the new room to the adjacent living areas. This has given a whole new meaning to a kitchen’s daily use. No longer is it just a place to cook meals; now family and friends gather around the kitchen to enjoy good food and great conversation. While making dinner, parents can help their kids with homework or check what they are watching on television or the internet. When entertaining, homeowners can invite their guests into the kitchen to demonstrate exciting new appliances and features while continuing to socialize.

Kitchens are being transformed from ordinary work rooms to extraordinary spaces that enhance the quality of homes and lives. Considering the potential impact it delivers, if you are thinking about a kitchen remodel, give the heart of your home the love and importance it deserves!