Monthly Archives: April 2009

What Makes A House A Beautiful Home

There are many different things which make a home beautiful. Some are very contemporary while others are ancient. Some are very urban while others are rustic. And some are very spacious while others are more cottage like.

Beautiful homes have certain things in common. Exquisite materials. Attention to the small details. Thoughtful planning. Beautiful surroundings. These are all things that you must consider when planning a remodel or new construction of a home.

Exquisite Materials. This home is beautiful because of the elegant textiles in the draperies, furniture and floor coverings. The floors are of exceptional wood and the skill with which they were laid. The setting of the room makes it very warm and inviting as well.

Attention to small details. This home is beautiful in a rustic sense. The eclectic sense of the room is carefully orchestrated so that it is comfortable without crossing the line into cheap. The red dress in the art work at the rear of the room is the perfect offset to the room’s soft colors of blues, creams and whites.

Thoughtful planning. When contemporary meets classic , the outcome is beautiful in this home. The blend of the retro floors and the radiator unit with contemporary artwork, wall finishings and furniture is tied together with the ageless and timeless colors of black and white. The use of geometric shapes also blends the old with new.

Beautiful surroundings. The design of this home makes it seem as one with the water. From the outside, the materials and colors blend in, while the expansive wall of windows makes the exterior of the house the most important design element.

Whether the home is an expansive chateau or a townhouse in the suburb, pay attention to these elements of detail and your home will be beautiful, too.

What makes your home beautiful?

21 Home Remodeling Tips To Save Money

Right now may be the perfect time to consider a remodel of your home. The Canadian Federal Government is offering a home renovation tax credit, interest rates are very attractive and contractors are available. And if you live in New Brunswick, you may be eligible for energy efficiency grants and loans. Check out the Efficiency NB website for details.

As you plan your remodel, here are a few ideas that will save you time and money, now and for many years to come.

1. Select your contractor carefully. Visit the contractor’s job sites and see what type of work they are capable of. Talk to people and gain recommendations. And get a full and detailed estimate of the work to be completed.

2. Be Realistic. It is a romantic idea to remodel a house. And how hard could it be? It only takes an hour on HGTV to remodel a house from the 18th Century! Your contractor should set reasonable expectations for the time needed to complete a project.

3. Use a standard form, detailed contract. This protects everyone and keeps expectations vs. reality, in check.

4. Arrange your financing in advance. This will save many dollars in expenses and fees and may prevent devastating financial ruin in the future. Establish a budget and stick to it.

5. Consider the builder’s schedule. You will save time and money if you do your project when the builder is slow. Think about scheduling an interior project in the winter months.

6. Design according to standards for fixtures, building materials, windows and doors. This will save you a fortune in materials, waste and labor.

7. Plan ahead and stick with the plan. Change orders are costly, time consuming, frustrating and can lead to errors.

8. Plan living space according to how you live. Do you really live “The Great Gatsby”? I didn’t think so. When planning your living areas, carefully consider how you live. How meals are prepared. How you and your family get ready for their day. How you spend your free time. Plan accordingly.

9. Make reasonable living arrangements. It is labor intensive and time consuming for the contractors to return the house back to living conditions at the end of each work day. Decide to either move out or into a section of the house that is not under construction.

10. Protect your valuables. Damage and theft are two possibilities. Remove anything that can be removed and safeguard fixtures from damage through construction. Dust and paint, can and will go everywhere!

11. Recycle. Reuse. Donate. Talk with your contractor to see if gently used or recycled products are a fit for your job. Always look for ways to recycle or salvage the materials you will remove.

12. Don’t save in the short term to spend in the long term. High efficiency appliances and fixtures, good quality windows and doors and good building materials will save you on long term maintenance, energy loss and repairs.

13. Avoid relocation of electrical and plumbing fixtures. This will reduce permit costs, time and labor.

14. Maximize efficiency. Make the most of storage spaces and be sure to plan plenty of storage space. A smaller space will operate as a much larger one if it is not full of clutter. Open up rooms. This will make your space much more livable and enjoyable.

15. Leverage your contractor’s contacts. Look for the best discounts on materials and sub-contract work from those people your contractor knows, likes and trusts. They will look to your contractor, not you, for an ongoing relationship.

16. Build a relationship with your contractor and maintain communication throughout the remodeling process. This will save time, money and frustration. Remodeling never goes exactly as planned but communication will keep it running much smoother.

17. Consider consulting with an architect instead of hiring one for the full job. Depending on the scope of the work, the skill of your contractor and local laws and practices, this can make for a significant savings.

18. Limit recessed fixtures. Cutting the holes for the lights is labor intensive and the loss of light will require that more lights be installed.

19. Consider high quality knockoffs where applicable. Do your research and then consult with your contractor to make the best decision for your remodel.

20. Consider doing some of your own work. Decide if it makes sense for you to do some of your own demolition, trash removal, cleanup and painting.

21. Look at the cost of a remodel vs. new construction. Does it make sense to just rebuild? Look at codes; removal of asbestos, lead and mold; and structural inefficiencies.

22. … any more good tips?

Solar Homes: Weighing The Benefits

There are many benefits to either building a solar home or utilizing solar resources to make an existing home more efficient. Solar homes have good climate control, making them very comfortable. The money invested will pay for itself and more in tax credits and savings in energy consumption. Solar materials are low maintenance and long lasting. Solar homes have lots of windows, making them light and airy. And, solar homes are environmentally responsible.

It’s important to look at whether solar is for you. First of all, do the analysis. Take the survey to see if you get enough sunlight. Check with your local utility company to see if free energy audits are available in your area. These audits will really help you to hone in on which projects will give you the most return on your investment.

Is this an existing home or a new build? What are the local limitations to the project that you are considering? How much will the project cost? How much energy will you save? How much money will you save? How much will you reduce the use of greenhouse gases?

Start with a list of everywhere you use energy: all appliances, technology, fixtures, heating and cooling– everything that you do that consumes energy. Once you have identified every possibility, then start to think about solar options. Create a list of the priorities and work through them one at the time.

Think of which projects will interfere with others if done too early (for example, insulation before re-wiring is a bad idea). Think about which projects fit in your budget and will provide the most return in money and energy savings. Which projects will interfere the least with your lifestyle?

A good place to start is often solar panels to replace electricity. Other options might be a solar water heater, solar powered lights for the outdoors, switching home batteries to solar, and a solar assisted heat pump to reduce air conditioning costs.

Each time you do a new project, keep records of your savings by tracking your utility bills. Be sure to keep these bills as a record of the home’s efficiency. These upgrades will lead to higher resale values. Check with your tax advisor as these upgrades may also qualify for rebates or tax credits. Or if you live in New Brunswick, be sure to check out Efficiency NB for information about residential incentive programs.

There’s lots of good reasons to consider a solar upgrade for your new or existing home. Carefully weigh the benefits and viability of each project for your individual circumstance and feel good about saving the environment as you lower your utility bills.

Have you already benefited from solar heating? Did you get an assessment through EfficiencyNB or another agency first? How was that experience?