Home In Bay Area

Home Improvement

Latest Posts

The Many Benefits of Owning a Sustainable Home

sustainable home
Image by SFU – University Communications

 

What is a sustainable house? A sustainable house is a home which is a healthy environment for everyone in the household (even your pets) which is free of the synthetic, often toxic building materials which are often used in home construction. A sustainable house is less aggravating to those with allergies and safer than a traditional home to live in.

A Sustainable House is Healthy:

Building a sustainable house is more environmentally friendly as well as having a much higher air quality indoors than do many homes. A lot of building materials and furniture contain formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen as well as being an irritant to the nose, throat and skin – many are allergic to this chemical as well. Materials which often contain formaldehyde include plywood, fabrics and furniture upholstery.

In a sustainable house, the furniture and building materials alike will be made from organic fibers and be free of toxic finishes. Since 1980, the rates of asthma have doubled; something which has been linked to the indoor air quality in our homes – the air quality in our homes can be as much as 100 times worse than the air outside, even in a polluted area.

A Sustainable House is Energy Efficient and Saves You Money:

The newer models of heating systems, water heaters and other appliances are far more energy efficient than are the older models which are still in use in many homes. Compact fluorescent bulbs use 80% energy than do older incandescent bulbs, making them a popular choice for homeowners. A lot of homeowners are choosing to make their homes not only sustainable but also energy efficient by insulating and sealing windows and doors, along with installing programmable thermostats.

Other small steps which can make a big difference are changing your furnace filters regularly, using low flow showerheads and insulating your water heater. Making sure that your attic is well insulated can also greatly reduce your heating and cooling costs, while using less energy.

A Sustainable House Uses Green Products:

With interest in green building on the rise, green building products are much more readily available. There are non-toxic wood finishes and paints – and there are even options for sustainable wood out there. One particularly popular sustainable wood choice is bamboo flooring. These green building products are not only sustainable but also attractive, increasing the value of your sustainable house. You can also find carpets which are made from natural materials like wool or carpets made from recycled materials.

A Sustainable House Uses Solar Energy For Additional Light or Heating:

Any house can become a sustainable house by using the sun’s power to save on heating and light. Even without solar panels, you can use skylights and windows to increase the light and warmth of your home, especially during the daytime.

You can also choose to install tinting on your windows to reduce cooling costs in the summer. There are organic window treatments available which can help you to reduce your energy costs and make yours a more sustainable house.

It doesn’t have to be difficult to make your home into a sustainable house and save a lot of money on energy costs (and maybe even doctor bills) while doing your part to protect the environment.

What Is Sustainable Home Construction?

sustainable home
Image by Jeremy Levine Design

Reducing the environmental impact of building and construction has become a key priority in recent years. Sustainable construction or green building describes the process of reducing the environmental impact of a building over its entire lifespan. Sitting, design, construction, operation, maintenance, renovation and demolition are all taken into consideration, in a way that will minimise the use of water, raw materials, land and energy in general, but the traditional concerns of economy, utility and comfort are not forgotten.

OECD countries that have a trading agreement to work together for the stimulation of economic progress contribute substantially to the damage of the environment. The built environment in these countries is responsible for 15-40% of energy use, 30% of raw material use and up to 40% of global greenhouse gases and solid waste generation. Something has to be done to reduce this impact to save the worlds dwindling ecosystems. At the moment building and construction works have the largest share in global resource use and pollution emission but this could be significantly reduced if more contractors opted for sustainable construction.

Measures to reduce energy use are perhaps the most useful in the general lifespan of the building. Often these new buildings may use high-efficiency windows and insulation in walls, ceilings and floors. Onsite generation of renewable energy is also common through solar power, wind power or hydro power; though these are the most expensive features you can add to a building.

Though experts have estimated green buildings as costing 17% more to construct, other sources indicate that this is much lower, at around only 5%. Regardless of this, sustainable building will save you money in the long run, as you will significantly save on energy bills. You may even make a profit in the future as surplus generated energy could be put back into the grid.

There are clear benefits for investing in sustainable homes, not least the satisfaction you will get from knowing that you are doing your bit to protect the environment, so invest today and you won’t regret it.

Home Decorating Television Shows Help Millions

home decorating tv
Image by stetted

Some of us just have to face the fact that we have absolutely no taste when it comes to how we decorate our homes or businesses. Lucky for us over the past several years television has once again came to our rescue by supplying us with numerous home decorating shows.

If you are decoratively challenged, then you need to be watching these new shows. For many years, This Old House was one of the only shows that could teach you things that you needed to know about how to fix up your home as far as plumbing, adding on a room, or turning your garage into useable living space. This was great for these kinds of projects and it is still a much watched show even now.

Today we have HGTV, or more specifically, Home and Garden Television. The Do it Your Self Network is right up there in popularity too. It is amazing what you can learn about decorating on the cable and satellite channels. They show you how to paint, how to lay stone, how to remodel entire rooms, or an entire house.

There are many programs like Designed to Sell and Flip That House, that people watch to help them know what the best ideas and design are when it comes to selling a home or condominium. They teach you what remodeling options may be or may not be a good selling point. They can show you how to do some of the work yourself that can sometimes save you thousands of dollars.

Some of the home decorating shows like Design on a Dime and Decorating Cents, are programs on HGTV that give you great ideas about how to make and buy some great things for designing on a very limited budget. You can go from trash to chic in no time after viewing these shows.

Design Star is a different sort of decorating show. It is a reality show that comes on HGTV that hosts a competition for up and coming designers. They can get their own home decorating show on HGTV if they win. They are given various decorating projects, both as teams and individually, to see who can make the winning room designs. It is as addictive to watch as any of the other network reality shows.

The next time you feel you could use a little help decorating in your home, the help is just a remote control away. You will be able to find at least one, if not countless shows that can help you make your home become beautiful and stylish.

Easy DIY Home Improvement Ideas

wooden fence
Image by Theen …
Many enthusiasts of DIY home improvement differentiate between two specific classes of projects. The first class involves major renovations in the house, including:

* Replacement of floors

* Installation of new insulation

* Installation of a new roof

* Installation of wooden fences around a yard

The second type of DIY are smaller projects that delivers creative pleasure to the ones engaging in them. These small projects typically involve adding small yet useful objects inside the house. Though most of them involve one form of furniture or another, these smaller projects are recommended for those who are just beginning with DIY home improvement.

Small ideas but nice results

Free time, a bit of cash and a lot of good ideas is all you need to think of your own DIY home improvement project. Here are some ideas to get you started:

* Windows- if you’ve been thinking for the longest time that the windows in your bedroom are creepy at night, why not replace them? Contrary to popular belief, it is easy to replace windows. All you need are a few traditional tools like a crowbar and a hammer, or a saw in some instances. Simply measure the window’s dimensions and purchase a window of the exact same size. Take down the old window frame, taking utmost care not to damage the glass. Then simply install the new window sets using window glue and a few bolts or nails.

* Gates- gates can be customized. If your own gate allows it, you may attempt to install name plates on your own gate, to identify your house easily. This would be a great idea especially if you live in a housing neighborhood, where houses generally look alike.

* Extra utility table- If you don’t have enough table when you go out for a yard picnic, why not build one yourself? All you need would be small planks of wood and a little ingenuity. First determine what particular table size you want. After making the proper measurements, simply follow the configuration of picnic tables you see everyday and voila, you have your own picnic table. DIY projects that involve wood are often durable because wood is a sturdy material.

* Floor design- tired of visible scratches on your floor? One way to successfully remedy old floors is simply installing new vinyl. Vinyl comes in a variety of colors and designs so you would be having a lot of fun and choices by simply choosing the design you like. The installation of vinyl is even easier- you simply need contact cement or other forms of strong adhesives to attach the vinyl to your floor. Just find the center of the floor area using a nylon thread and divide each area into quarters. Start with 1 quarter and finish by cutting to size when you reach the edge.

* Wall design- wallpaper is still in. You simply have to know how to install wallpaper properly. First, the walls must be free from dirt, moisture or grease before the application of the adhesive. Let the adhesive dry a bit first before attaching the wallpaper in small, manageable strips. Watch your bedroom or your living room come alive with the new look.

Home Renovations to Save Energy

28092014-0114-HDRRenovating or upgrading your home can be fun, especially when incorporating energy efficient upgrades, which saves you money and makes your home less susceptible to mold and allergens. In fact, the average homeowner can save up to 96 percent on their heating and cooling bills simply by making their home more energy efficient.

 

Whether you are renovating your home to make it more appealing, or you simply wish to enjoy an increase in energy savings, these energy saving tips will provide maximum savings while enjoying your beautiful, new home.

 

Inspect for Condensation, Water Leaks and Excess Moisture Before You Begin

 

Water leaks and excess condensation and moisture cause mold. Prior to your project, inspect for signs of excess moisture. Addressing those issues first, can help improve the interior air quality of your home.

 

Insulate Upstairs

 

According to research, about half the homes in the U.S. are not fully insulated. Insulation helps keep your home comfortable year round. When renovating your home, don’t forget to insulate upstairs, and while you’re at it, you should also consider insulating your water pipes, ducts, attic spaces and recessed lights above the attic for even more savings.

 

Replace High Energy Use Equipment with Energy Efficient Ones

 

Replacing old ventilation, heating and air condition units with more energy efficient ones can decrease your monthly energy costs. It is important to have your home well insulated and sealed in addition to this project, in order to reap maximum benefits.

 

Renewable Energy

 

Renewable energy is obtained from natural processes such as wind, sunlight and water etc., that are replenished at a greater extent than they are used, which means lower power plant and fossil fuel costs and greater savings passed on to consumers. According to Spark Energy, renewable energy is on the rise in the transport, heating, cooling and electricity sectors worldwide, and is predicted to account for approximately one third of new electricity generation in the U.S. over the next three years. In fact, over 65 countries already have policies in motion involving renewable energy.

 

Seal the Ducts

 

If your home relies on forced-air cooling and heating systems, approximately one fifth of the air could be escaping through leaks in the ducts. To address this issue, use duct sealing to seal gaps or leaks in the ducts. If you need to, seal around windows and doors as well. And don’t forget the basement and attic, to also help lower your heating and cooling bills.

 

Install Energy Efficient Water Heaters

 

Water heating makes up approximately 15 to 20 percent of the annual energy usage in a home. Installing energy efficient water heaters can help drive down costs.

 

Replace Drafty Windows with Energy Efficient Ones

 

Replacing old, drafty windows with energy efficient ones can increase energy savings. When replacing your windows, opt for wood instead of aluminum framed models. If you are low on funds, consider installing lower-cost storm windows instead. As long as your interior windows are in good condition, installing storm windows provide a quick and easy way to make your windows more energy efficient without the hassle and cost of full-blown window replacement.

 

Install Energy Efficient Doors

 

When installing energy efficient doors, avoid using hollow metal doors because they allow air to penetrate right through.

 

Install a Programmable Thermostat

 

Programmable thermostats save about 10 percent on your cooling and heating costs, which more than pays for themselves in just a few months, and they allow you to cool your home at warmer temps, while you’re away.

What is a Home Designer? (and How to Choose One)

home design

Image by JoeInSouthernCA

A home designer specifies the design, materials, stylishness, as well as interior details for residential building projects. In lots of states in the US home designers aren’t mandated to have an architectural diploma or architectural license.

Many people may think that these kinds of home designers not having specific qualifications is an undesirable factor, but that’s not even close to the truth. A professional within the field of non commercial design, a “home designer” is the most suitable choice that will lead you through the design and building process from start to finish.

A great home designer generally possesses years of expertise not only designing and drafting the construction docs , but in addition will often have put in many years on actual construction sites performing the actual job themselves. Now this isn’t at all times the situation however, these people with this kind of knowledge are usually best to design your home. Not just because of their experience and expertise in the profession but their rates tend to be more affordable when compared to a registered architect’s charges will be.

The rates a home designer, as well as an architect command has proven to be completely different. Architects attain four years or more of college getting an education and studying the particulars on architect home design as well as architectural design of almost everything else all varying from little homes to large high-rise buildings. Architects are registered to approve numerous facets of building not employed for individual houses. Because of these two details architects demand very high service fees to create an architectural design in addition to a set of construction drawings for houses. The majority of architect’s charges vary from 7% to 15% (sometimes greater) for his or her services on a housing project. Almost all home designers’ rates for this exact same service vary from 3% to 8%. This particular large variation in rates combined with the undeniable fact that each commonly possess the identical or the same level of expertise in residential design is actually the reason why the majority will probably select a home designer above an architect for their housing project.

Even though design capacity can virtually, be trained, the most effective jobs are the effect of a mix of skill and knowledge, therefore your choice in who to employ shouldn’t be exclusively selected simply for their reduced rates or education. A home designer needs to be selected as due to their outstanding results of their labor.

Home designers make use of numerous sources and instruments accessible to them to assist in communicating their architectural designs as well as the construction documents into the completed product. Many home designers continue to utilize pencil and paper in addition to numerous types of color goods to symbolize and express their design to their clientele. Even though this can be a great method of communicating a design to a customer it really is outdated and doesn’t consistently accomplish the job the home designer developed it for, to help the customer to fully grasp and picture the design. Nowadays there’s a large amount of computer programs that enable a great house designer to provide their house design to their clientele. These types of graphic tools as I prefer to refer to them include things like 3D colored renderings, walk-a-rounds, as well as walk-throughs.

Therefore, when you’re looking to select a designer it’s also advisable to consider exactly how they show their designs to their clientele. Not everybody can easily figure out a conceptual drawing of a 2D floor plan. In fact ultimately it will come right down to what home designer you sense you might have more suitable connection with and you feel the most confident with.

Building a residence signifies one of the biggest monetary assets the majority of people is likely to make within their lifetime and very few comprehend just how complicated the procedure will be till they’re involved with a lot of restricted covenants, construction requirements, zoning ordinances, design and style choices, material options, suppliers as well as builder options and so forth. Do your family as well as your bank account a favor and locate a home designer to partner with and to who you’re confident with.

Sustainable Homes and the Environment

CITIB-projektorThere’s no doubt that though the 21st century has brought us many post millennium technological innovations. It has also come with its fair share of environmental issues, which seem to be gathering momentum as time goes on. The reduction of carbon emissions, which are a key contributor to the greenhouse effect and therefore global warming, is certainly something that has had a lot of exposure in the media in past decade or so. And as a result of this exposure it seems that many car manufacturers and even property dealers have begun taking these pressing environmental issues into account.

Though many people might not realize the extent of it, the way that we choose to power our homes has a massive impact on the environment, and this is not just true locally but also on a global scale. In the United Kingdom our homes account for 27 percent of total carbon emissions. Fortunately any improvements that we make regarding energy efficiency in our homes won’t just benefit us, but also the environment globally. So by making our homes cheaper to heat and power, and by choosing to run on clean energy people, places and wildlife all around the world will be less vulnerable to changes in climate.

The push for sustainable homes and lifestyles is something that is becoming increasingly real and on the 13 of December 2006 the Department for Communities and Local Government launched the Code for Sustainable Homes – a new national standard for sustainable design and construction of new homes. This code measures the whole home as a complete package assessing its sustainability against nine categories including energy/carbon dioxide, water, materials, surface water run-off, waste, pollution, health and well-being, management, and ecology.

There are a number of different techniques that are now being implemented to make new homes more sustainable. Normally the first factor that is considered is regarding insulation, this is sometimes referred to as the “fabric first” approach, where the construction of a home is considered and insulating techniques are used to make it economical and therefore energy efficient. The use of natural light is something else that is now considered when the orientation of homes is decided, maximizing the amount of natural light that is let in and therefore reducing energy consumption. Renewable energy resources are also taken into consideration too, and features such as wood burners, which are very economical, are considered. Location is also taken into account and important environmental factors such as wildlife corridors are not blocked.

3D Home Design for Everybody

Modern_Homes_in_Richardson_Fields_-_geograph.org.uk_-_1191235 (1)3D Home Design is a different way for architects to design homes, it is not far from the conventional 2D way of designing, but is more competitive. 3D Home Design, just like the traditional way also includes the floor plans, elevations and the perspective of the project. The only difference is that 3D Home Design features 3D Floor Plans and 3D Elevations instead of the conventional 2D.

3D Home Design in an Architect’s point of view

For architects, presenting for a client using 3D Home Design can be a great advantage since the presentation will be able to capture the client’s attention from the beginning, with the color rich presentations of the floor plan and elevations.

3D Home Design in a Client’s point of view

For clients having no background in architecture, watching an architect’s presentation, especially with the architect showing boring 2D drawings and talking about it in technical terms that you don’t even understand a bit, can be a boring task. But when an architect presents you with a 3D presentation, you will be able to understand right away what the architect is conveying. There is no need to decipher the technical terms and the plan drawings, you just need to look at the presentation and you will have an idea of what the project will look like.

3D Home Design and its components

Presenting for a client consist of 2 phases, the primary phase and the major phase. The primary stage is the presentation of the floor plans and elevations, which was discussed in an earlier post. The major phase includes the presentation of the interior and exterior perspectives.

3D Interior

3D Interior presentations include views of the inside of the house in certain parts. It is for the client to see and feel how the house will look like, and if the spaces will work according to their preferences, it can also serve as an attachment to the floor plans if the client need some verifications on how a certain space in the house will look like.

3D Exterior

3D Exterior presentations include views of the outside of the house as a whole, including the background to apply the environment where the actual house will be built. It can also serve as a medium for the clients to see how the house will look like and it gives the chance to the client to tell the architect whether they want to change some colors or part before the construction begins.

DIY Furniture Projects

furniture builder
Image by IndoGemstone

The reality of life is that everything has a cost. This is true no matter what you need to buy. But what if you need, say, some new furniture, and don’t have the money – but you do have the time to try to make it yourself?

There’s nothing wrong in doing DIY furniture projects at home. It saves money, increases one’s skill, and it builds one’s confidence in doing things by themselves. Furniture is no-doubt, an expensive item to buy. For people who are either newly-married, recently moved out of the house, or are starting out after a major life catastrophe, buying new furniture can be a bit of a stress.

Of course, people want to fill out their new space with good-quality furniture but it takes a lot of work to buy each piece one by one. Imagine working non-stop just to buy a couch for this month, while saving up for a cabinet next payday. While that is possible, it involves a lot of passing time and hard work. Why not just make some furniture of your own? Buying in shops and stores means that you are also paying for the laborers and distributors who have shared their time and effort in the production of a basic furniture item. Whether it’s the coffee table or cabinet that you’re eyeing, chances are the prices of these items are high because of the added costs.

In making your own DIY furniture projects, you are saving up in precious bucks. This of course, requires a person to sacrifice their time and effort in the building process of the furniture. If time is not a problem, then one would discover that making furniture from scratch is actually an enjoyable and rewarding hobby. The basic things one will need in creating their own furniture are a plan, tools in building, and the materials. Many of the tools that one will need are available in the hardware stores in reasonable prices. Ordering the wood and paint is easy as well. In a matter of days, the company will deliver the materials right in one’s doorstep. The plan is easy to buy as well, but customers must look for one that can be returned in case it’s too hard to understand.

After the materials in tools are in check, one can now build the chosen furniture project. Some of the easiest furniture items to build include chairs and tables. Harder projects meanwhile, include cabinets, cupboards, or anything that has a lot of doors and pockets.

Doing DIY furniture projects also enable one to customize the item early on. This can be done by painting the furniture item with paint or wood varnish to give it a glossy finish. One can even add engraved patterns into the items as designs though this would take time and skill to do. To jazz up chairs for example, one can buy golden knobs and accents to beautify the project. For tables, buying glass to put on the face will make the project look like it was bought from the shops. Cabinets can also be decorated by buying handles and knobs with intricate designs on them. In the end, it all depends on one’s preferences.

How to Start a DIY Home Improvement Project: Tips & Tricks

 

hammer and nail
Image by KingTyrone

 

Do it yourself projects are efficient ways to minimize cost, and to a certain degree, tap into your creative side. Home improvement is just one area in the wide and complex world of Do- it- Yourself.

In a way, home improvement should be done by the homeowners themselves, because the property is theirs, and if something succeeds or fails, the homeowners take full accountability for what happens. How does one begin a do it yourself project? The following is a step by step guide in determining your general path for future DIY projects.

1. Examine your house- a house that has stood against the elements of nature for at least three years probably has suffered some form of damage. When was the last time that you stopped to inspect whether your house is still safe to live in, or if there is something that you can still do to improve it?

A thorough evaluation of your house and all its parts would definitely give you great ideas for your future DIY project. With you some paper and a pen, list down everything that you think must be repaired, replaced, improved or taken down completely. Be critical of how furniture and electrical wires are placed in your house.

After making your list, start sifting through them. What is it that interests you at the moment? Do you wish to make a new gate made purely of wood, and coated with varnish? Do you think that old door needs sprucing up? Whatever you might choose to do, remember that you have to take into consideration time and budget constraints.

2. Plan first, and plan well- do not commit the mistake of not being able to plan before you try your hand in DIY home improvement. Any project, executed without a clear plan in mind is bound to either fail or finish unsuccessfully.

How does one begin a work plan for a DIY project? First identify what needs to be done. Make a list of the things that have to be done prior to the DIY project. Then proceed to make a list of the things that you need to do. This includes even the smallest of implements in the DIY project, like nails and paint.

After determining the materials needed for the DIY project, begin to compute how much all this would cost. A good and reliable computation should not be based on estimates alone. If you can, make the computation when you’re at the hardware store.

If something seems to be too expensive, then try to find an alternative brand, or if it’s not possible to do this, try to find an alternative, material to replace that which you cannot acquire due to cost, a good example will be thinner gauge plywood for sidings and non load bearing structures.

3. Timeframe- never forget to make a timeframe for a particular DIY project. Failure to do so might mean the project might take too long to finish, or in some instances, it might not be completed at all. A timeframe would tell you what to do and what to complete in a day.