House

Green Home Plans Save Money and the Environment

Join the latest trend in construction with green home plans that are good for the environment, better for your health, and easy on your pocketbook. With an increase in demand for eco-friendly and energy efficient homes, more builders are becoming educated in this area and offering a variety of green options that will help you do your part in preserving the planet without compromising quality or style. Recycled and environmentally friendly products are more aesthetically pleasing than ever before so it is easy to build your dream home while also saving money, conserving natural resources, achieving energy independence, and ensuring a safer and healthier world for future generations.
Whether you are building a new house or renovating an existing one, green home plans offer many benefits that make them a wise, responsible, and stylish choice.
1. Energy cost savings.
Build your house with energy efficient windows that are made from recycled glass and tinted to help regulate indoor temperatures in every season. Also, incorporating the use of active or passive solar concepts will decrease energy costs by using the sun to reduce dependence on costly and toxic fuels. Passive, or climatic design is a natural way of generating energy and allows the residence to store heat in the winter and release it in the summer so you can use the weather to your advantage and enjoy maximum cost savings. You can even purchase appliances that operate on solar generated energy, lowering electricity bills while protecting the environment.
2. Conservation.
Green homes are usually built with sustainable design in mind, using materials that are non-toxic, recycled, or quickly renewable. Also, systems can be installed to prevent soil erosion and focus on water conservation. Installing low-flow fixtures, collecting rainwater, and using filtration systems that allow water to be reused for non-drinking purposes such as laundry and cleaning are features that can be included in your green home plan and will help you save money as well as the environment.
3. Health benefits.
Our homes are often filled with toxic materials, chemically treated or finished wood, products that contain formaldehyde or other dangerous substances, and heating and cooling systems that emit unhealthy by-products. Wouldn’t you like to know that you are protecting yourself and your family by providing a healthy environment that uses natural energy, non-toxic materials, and ventilation and purification systems that ensure pure water and good air quality? Look into the options and find out how green homes can make you happier and healthier.
4. Mortgage savings.
Many banks and lending companies are now offering “Green Mortgages” for homes that are built or improved using energy efficient or environmentally friendly products and systems. Such things as solar panels, wind turbines, water conservation features, and high quality windows can translate into greater borrowing power or a discount on rates. Some areas even offer tax incentives for eco-friendly construction. Building a green home can offer better resale value, reduced utility bills, and lower mortgage payments while also giving you the peace of mind of knowing that you are helping to make the world a better place to live.
Green homes make environmental and economic sense. They offer features that will save you money, improve your health, and help you do your part to preserve our planet. And with so many new options available, environmentally friendly has become contemporary and stylish, allowing you to build a house that is both beautiful and smart.…

How To Design A 21st Century Kitchen

The demographic
The first thing an outstanding designer does when putting pen to paper on a home design is find out exactly who is going to live in that home–the exact demographic of the inhabitant. This is specially true about the kitchen which is often the most lived-in space in the house and around which many more activities occur any more nowadays than just cooking. Luckily, today’s demographic in the kitchen ‘mass market’ is easy to define–it is mostly ‘baby boomers’ aged 55-65, followed by ‘leading edge GenX’ers’ aged 45-55 years old. These two demographics between them make up the bulk of the folks looking to design a kitchen as opposed to simply taking what comes with a new house. People older than 65, the ‘seniors’, are no longer the dominant home owning demographic and don’t spend as much time in the kitchen while those younger than 45 are considered entry-level homeowners and are also not as numerous as the first two.
Activities in and around the kitchen
A baby boomer’s kitchen is very likely to have a large flat screen TV as part of it that is easily visible from several activity areas surrounding it. The kitchen is no longer a ‘room’ but a space around which a lot of family activity revolves. This activity could be video games, watching the news, searching for data and even doing homework with access to outdoor grilling and a deck just a step or two away. The common factor is that it all revolves around the kitchen. This often manifests in a ‘living room’ or ‘family room’ area complete with sitting or lounging furniture joined to the kitchen with an informal ‘dining’ area, both divided and united by a cabinetwork peninsula, perhaps with a sink and cooktop on one side and an open area on the other with tall stools for the kids to do their homework on or simply help make dinner.
Baby boomers are no longer willing to risk a back injury by bending down to open an oven door and will likely have wall ovens installed at a carefully measured height. Similarly, the efficiency-demanding boomer will insist on having the pantry close at hand at most 3 or 4 steps away, not in another room and certainly not behind another door. This can manifest as another ‘area’ adjacent to the cooking areas, perhaps with a dividing wall of overhead cabinets and counter spaces open to both areas.
The GenX’er is even more tech savvy and may have several appliances hooked up to the internet with sensors and alarms to remind and warn of upcoming events, like a “cake is ready” message flashing on TV screens all over the house. She may switch on the oven with her phone on her way back from work and set the temperature for baked fish when she is 10 minutes away. Her priority is “get it done quick” and therefore all appliances will likely be electric with a few being dual fuel, all with touch control panels that work just like her phone screen, perhaps with the same operating system (iOS, Android, webOS or some other new OS).
All of this is exciting stuff for kitchen design and there is no question that something like this will become the de facto standard if it is not already.…

Saving Energy – It’s All About the Heat

First, some basic science:
A. Heat naturally flows from warmer areas to cooler areas. Its speed of movement depends upon how much a difference there is between these two temperatures. The greater the difference, the faster the flow.
B. Heat flow can be reduced by insulation.
C. Heat can be artificially made to travel in the opposite direction – from cold to hot. This is done by any device that “pumps” heat. Air conditioners pump heat out of the home. Pumping heat costs about one third the cost to create heat.
D. When heat enters your home, during the summertime, it must be removed by the air conditioning system.
E. Radiative heat, from the sun, can easily flow through glass. It heats up whatever it lands upon. Because of certain physical characteristics (called “black-body” radiation) that heat can’t pass back through glass. It is effectively trapped. This is called the “greenhouse” effect.
F. When you install or provide something which operates without need for additional energy, this is called a passive operation.
Okay – so based upon these simple rules, here are 10 basic actions that will improve a home’s energy efficiency which will save you money. I’ll mention the rule and then what you can do:
1. Rule B – Insulation is likely one of the best investments you can make. There are few actions that can give you a better cost to benefit ratio. This is passive in that it takes no energy to operate (rule F).
2. Rules D and E – Increasing the size of your eaves and other overhangs will reduce sunlight entering your home which just has to be removed by your air conditioner (costing money). This is also passive (rule F).
3. Rules D and E – Windows on the west side tend to bring in the most heat from the sun. It is best to limit western exposure either by design or by blocking the windows with shrubbery. This is a passive action (rule F)
4. Rule E – Using reflective glass can be extremely helpful. Curtains and shades do not work because by the time the sun light hits them it has already entered the home (remember greenhouse). Any time something heats up in your home your air conditioner will have to remove that heat. Sunlight must be stopped before it goes through the glass. This is a also a passive method and will save both energy and money during the summer.
5. Rule A – Place foil on the bottom of the plywood roof sheathing of your home. This is easiest to do while building a new home. If your home exists, then consider a radiation barrier in the attic. This will keep the attic cooler. This is also passive (rule F)
6. Rule A – Ventilate the attic. This can be passive or active. It reduces the attic temperature which slows the flow of heat into your home. The active, but effective, way is with a powered fan system which operates only at high attic temperatures. An advantage is that this will not operate in the winter when you DO want heat flow into your home. The passive method of ventilation is by effective venting that operates when the wind blows. This is excellent in the hotter states. This requires good air flow both into the attic and out of the attic.
7. Rules A and B – Your air conditioning ductwork is exposed to attic heat which flows into the cool air that flows through them. Placing these ducts inside the air conditioned space of the home will significantly reduce heat flowing into the ducts. Another way is to place good insulation over top of the ducts to help isolate them from the attic heat. This is also passive (rule F).
8. Rule D – Water heaters should be outside of any air conditioned space. They leak heat. If they leak heat into the home then the air conditioner has to remove it. This action is passive.
9. Rule D – Dryers, ideally, should be outside air conditioned space for the same reason as water heaters. This action is passive (rule F)
10. Rule C – Water heaters heat their water with heating coils. This is the creation of heat and is relatively expensive. Alternatively one can take advantage of the savings of pumping heat by installing a system which takes the waste heat that is being pumped to the outside by the air conditioner and routing it into the water. This allows for the heat to be pumped into the water (which is cheaper) though, actually, during operation, it is totally free since the AC is pumping heat to the outdoors anyway. This is an excellent way to save energy and money.
Once you understand the basic …

Australian Cypress Flooring Is A Great Choice For Your Home!

These days as people are trying to make their home a very valuable investment, many people are thinking about updating their flooring and making the switch to hardwood flooring! My husband and I purchased our first home a few years ago, and the number one requirement on our list was hardwood flooring. You may have purchased a home without this type of flooring, but installation is a snap, and today we will discuss a popular flooring choice that is a great investment – Australian Cypress Flooring!
Australian Cypress flooring is a unique looking wood that many people adore. This type of flooring will add a lot of value to a home is quite durable! Australian Cypress flooring is composed of stunning wood that has a variety of tones to it. This makes it very unique and in a category that is a bit above the rest. This is the type of flooring that will get noticed and you will find your friends and family will probably be quite envious of. This is also a great investment if you are planning on selling your home and you want to up the value of it.
The interesting thing about Australian Cypress flooring is the unique tones of which it is made up from. This is a very stunning wood with a variety of shades and hues, ranging from cream to honey brown. I have seen a few homes with this type of flooring and really love how the tones range from a rich creamy shade to the glorious honey brown that so many people love and adore. This makes for interesting contrast in colors and shades of the flooring.
The details of this type of wood flooring are mind-blowing. The intricate grain and beautiful dark knots make it a great choice when you want to create a homey and rustic feeling to your home or office. This is perfect if you are looking for a touch of cabin-class to your everyday home. It adds a warmth and dimension to the flooring that is truly an interesting feature to a home.
Finally another great feature to this type of flooring is its durability and hardness! This is the perfect choice for high-volume areas such as a living room or anywhere you get a lot of foot traffic. This is the type of wood that can stand up to the kids, the dogs, and whatever life throws at you!…

Building an Eco Friendly Home

You may be thinking of building your first dream home and might be considering going down the Eco Friendly route. Then the questions emerge, like where do you start? What is an Eco Friendly home design? Is using the majority of building materials that are renewable enough to call your new home Eco Friendly? Are the building codes in my area open enough to build the way I’m wanting to?
These are all valid questions! The best place to start is to consider how you use your home. Do you spend most of your time in a living area, a dining area, or an office area? Are you entering and exiting the home a lot i.e. kids running inside and out to a garden. Doors being opened create the biggest loss of heating or cooling which could be reduced with the use of an enclosed patio area at the entrance that is most used. Does your family sleep in or are they early rises? These factors will impact the direction you face your home, as you may prefer bedroom light in the morning and living area light in the evening. What is your local climate like? Can you utilise the sun for heating in winter and make adjustments like using directions shutters for protection from the suns heat in summer.
With these things in mind it’s now time to talk to an architect. Finding an architect that specialises in eco friendly home designs is a great idea as they often have some unique ideas specific to your location. If you cant, you will need to give your architect clear criteria. Here are some important considerations you may wish to discuss:
Water Conservation: Capture and use and reuse of water
Energy Efficiency: insulation, natural heating/cooling, and Solar energy
Building materials: Recycled, recyclable, renewable and toxicity
Appliances: Energy efficient and conservative with water
Remember, The most important factor for your design is how it fits you, your family and your activities. Your home must fit your families’ physical and emotional needs to ensure you live happily in your new environment.
Being Eco Friendly should not just be a home design choice, but a lifestyle choice. Use Eco friendly soaps and detergents; if you’re recycling your grey wastewater, your garden will thank you. Minimise your use of plastic bags when shopping, reusable bags can be obtained from most grocery outlets. Eat healthy, minimise consumption on foods with non-natural additives and flavourings. Keep active and enjoy your new home.…

The Truth About Home Protection Plans

In some cases, a seller may offer you a home protection plan in lieu of an inspection. Before you get excited about a home warranty plan, make sure you understand what you’re getting, and what you’re not getting.
Home Protection Plans Provide Limited Coverage
The coverage you get with a home protection plan is limited. Home protection plans typically restrict you to a specific provider or one of a few providers, who have agreements with the home warranty company. Generally, you make a co-pay when someone comes out to your home to inspect a problem, and you may also have to pay a portion of the repair cost, depending on the terms of the plan.
Unfortunately, home protection services provide limited coverage. They may include many exclusions that prevent the plan from covering common home issues. For example, a protection plan may not cover damage to the structure of the home, or may only cover damage if it occurs in a specific way or during a limited time period. Realistically, these plans have as many exclusions as possible to avoid paying out. These businesses only make money if they pay out less than they take in, so they generally overcharge for these plans and do what they can to avoid making payouts.
Even if a specific repair is covered, it may only be covered up to a certain dollar amount. That means that you’d have to pay any costs over that dollar amount, or accept a less optimal repair just to qualify for the coverage. Over the long term, this can cost you far more than doing a repair properly in the first place.
Never accept a home service plan in lieu of a property inspection. Some sellers or home builders offer home warranty plans as a token of ‘good faith’ to demonstrate to buyers that there is no problem with the property, and that buyers are protected if a problem should occur. Unfortunately, because home plans cover such a limited range of issues, buyers may not have the protection they think they have if a problem should occur. Buyers should never accept a home protection plan in lieu of a property inspection. Buyers should insist on a property inspection, and if the seller isn’t willing to grant one, buyers should walk away from the property.
Great Deals are everywhere right now and we find them all over the the United States.
Let us help you find your next Great Deal!…

Improving Your Kitchen Without Renovating

The kitchen is the heart of your home, and a room you should take pride in and keep up to date, not only so you can cook, eat and socialise in a special area but also to increase the price the property should you choose to move one day. The kitchen is the first room potential buyers will look at, and if it’s up-to-date and looks good, buyers won’t have to worry about splashing out on any renovations.
If your kitchen is fairly up-to-date with appliances and furniture but you want to spruce it up, there are plenty of ways you can modernise your kitchen without a full renovation. Take a look below at some of our lighting tips to help give your kitchen a new lease of life.
Change the lighting
The lighting can really change the overall look of a room so why not speak to a lighting specialist to give you guidance on the best type of lighting for your kitchen? You’d be surprised how lighting can give the illusion of more space in your kitchen and create just the right ambiance for different tasks in the kitchen.
The first step is to make sure your kitchen is getting as much natural light as possible – natural light makes a room appear larger and gives it a light and airy feel. Keep your windows uncluttered so you’re letting in as much natural daylight as possible.
You should then think about practical lighting – for example, over the cooker and over food preparation areas so you have enough light to perform all of your usual tasks with ease. You should also consider feature lighting (if you have the budget for it) – feature lighting is aesthetically pleasing rather than practical, although it can create different tones to the kitchen, which can give the illusion of more space. It would be worth speaking to a lighting specialist if you want to implement feature lighting. You could add feature lighting to your cabinets or a focal area of your kitchen to give it more emphasis – for example, add feature lighting to a breakfast bar to make it stand out and show it off. Pedant lighting always gives a grand impression, think hanging lighting over the dining table to make your kitchen look luxurious.
Lighting is a brilliant way of transforming a room without fully renovating it – and it doesn’t have to cost the world. Some lighting fixtures can be pricey but you can also find cheaper, low budget budget, which still looks fantastic – it all depends on the budget you have.
You should consider using low energy light bulbs for your kitchen as you will be conserving energy to help the environment and also saving yourself money on energy bills, which as you probably know have gone through the roof recently.
It’s easy to give your kitchen a bit of sparkle without fully renovating but if you do choose to renovate or remodel, make sure you plan thoroughly to avoid any costly mistakes at a later date. Try using kitchen design software to plan your room to its exact dimensions so you can be confident your kitchen will look exactly as planned. You can also use home design software for planning any other rooms in your home.…