Remodel

Interior Lighting Tips – Task Lighting

Ever feel like there just is not enough light in a living room to sit down and comfortably read a good book or look over some business documents? Could you relax in an overly illuminated living room? Such thoughts come up when there is an imbalance between task lighting and ambient lighting. Understanding the difference between these two lighting types and using them effectively can help you bring harmony to the lighting in your home.
Basics of Task Lighting
You might be surprised to find out just how much of a role each room plays in the lives of its inhabitants. Rooms are often used for both work and relaxation. You may find yourself answering emails on the living room couch or playing a classical guitar piece in your bedroom. These activities contribute to and define the overall function of a room and typically require more than ambient lighting from overhead fixtures. That is when task lighting comes into play. Task lighting is fundamentally any lighting that helps to facilitate a particular visual task. In a residential setting, that job may be reading, writing, cooking, sewing, or even eating.
Task lighting can take on many forms, including desk lamps, track lighting, or fluorescent fixtures under cabinets. Efficiently distributing task lighting throughout a home requires carefully identifying the function of each room and choosing the right type of lighting.
Instead of going further into the theory of task lighting, why don’t we take a look at the rooms of a standard home and suggest some task lighting solutions for each one.
Bedroom
The bedroom is where you start and end your day. It functions as both a place for daily preparation and a quiet place of relaxation before turning in for the night. If you are like most people and enjoy reading or occasionally working in bed, you will most definitely need some task lighting. Though there are quite a few options available, one of the most practical solutions is to have a lamp on each side of the bed. Doing so allows one partner to read while the other sleeps. You may choose to place a table lamp on each nightstand or install wall lamps that will keep you from having to reach too far to turn the light on or off.
Bathroom
The most important aspect of a bathroom is the vanity, as it plays a large role in morning preparation. Most people make the mistake of placing a recessed ceiling fixture over the mirror or buying a vanity with built-in overhead lighting. But lighting from one side casts shadows on the face. The best way to balance vanity lighting and get rid of shadows is to place vertical fixtures on both sides of the mirror. The center of each fixture should be at eye level. You want the vanity to be very well lit. Use fixtures with dimmer controls if you are afraid of overdoing. In doing so you will ensure that any person who uses the vanity will be able to get the illumination he or she needs. This setup may not work for some vanities due to the layout of the bathroom. In that case, overhead lighting may be the best option available. Just remember that the goal is to evenly illuminate the face without shadows.
The shower is another key spot in the bathroom. A single recessed ceiling fixture will usually provide the lighting you need, but you may not need a dedicated fixture if the shower is open or has a glass door.
Living Room
Every living room should have a seat with a floor or desk lamp to accommodate reading and writing. You can make one lamp work for multiple seats by placing it on an end table connecting the sofa and another seat. The lamp should not be too bright, as the living room should still retain its relaxing atmosphere even when the lamp is turned on. The goal of lighting the living room is to create enough light to do the things you need without breaking the atmosphere that invites you to come kick back and relax.
Kitchen
The work that takes place in a kitchen is often intricate and requires carefully planned task lighting to achieve both maximum efficiency and pleasure. Lighting a kitchen effectively usually involves a combination of both ceiling fixtures and lighting under cabinets. Recessed spot lights are a great way to focus light on the key work surfaces of the kitchen. The one drawback is that recessed lighting tends to be more difficult to install than its alternatives. A more flexible option is track lighting with halogen bulbs. Track lighting is easier to install and is more versatile since the direction of each head can be individually adjusted. Extra lamps can also be added to a …

Caring For Your Septic System – Safe Products and Habits

Many people have experienced all too expensive septic problems. Maintenance can be painful for the pocketbook and can also greatly affect the way your family functions in order to keep the septic tank from having future problems. But what about using products that help your septic function, and do not have the harmful effects of other products? Let’s look at some simple products that can prevent back up and problems with your septic system.
While the most commonly suggested maintenance product is Rid-X there are actually items that even powerhouse products are incapable of processing and breaking down. Some products that should never be flushed, washed down a sink or bathtub, or in anyway transmitted to the septic system are: cat litter, used cooking oil, paint and thinners, bleach, cigarette butts, coffee grounds, tampons or panty liners, paper towels or tissues, and pool chemicals or pool water. For some sensitive septic systems even toilet paper can cause costly clogs. What makes these products so dangerous to your system is that many homeowners don’t even realize how harmful they really are.
On top of scheduling regular maintenance, there are products available you can use that can be greatly beneficial. One example of a product swap you can make is a simple change in laundry detergent. Whatever detergent you choose should be a liquid with little or no phosphates. Some potential brand choices are: Amway S-A-8, Arm & Hammer, Boraxo, Cheer, Dash, Equator, Fresh Start, Oxydol and Seventh Generation. These detergents are even biodegradable and have less harmful effects on the environment than other choices.
As for the cleaning products you use in your home, avoid items with ammonia and chlorine, and make sure the products are biodegradable and non-toxic. Never use powder products, liquids are always the choice to make whether it is a laundry detergent or toilet cleaner. Even using liquid dishwasher detergent is suggested by some professionals. Ironically, cheap toilet paper is better for the septic system as the thinner sheets are much more easily broken down in the system. More expensive brands that boast ultra plush toilet papers have additives mixed in and that slow down natural processes.
By buying biodegradable and “green” products you may actually save yourself lots of money by keeping your septic system functioning and clean. As previously mentioned, no product will eliminate the need to have regular maintenance on your septic, but using products that are environmentally friendly can keep your system cleaner and prevent clogging or back ups.…

Home Remodeling Tips – For The Smart Homeowner

Home remodeling can add value to your home, along with making it more comfortable and beautiful. However, a good home remodel, that gives you the most return on your investment, is not as easy as just opening the phone book and picking out the first name you see. This article is meant to help homeowners confidently get through the worst roadblocks of a home remodeling project with ease and comfort.

Know What You’re Getting Yourself Into

First thing’s first-before you start picking out hand towels and door handles, you must figure out exactly what you want to have done. It is amazing how few homeowners take the time to really establish their wants and needs before they call their contractors. From upgrading your kitchen, master bedroom, to bathrooms, just start with one area you think needs the most work.

Sketch your ideas down on paper after you have figured out which room you want to remodel. Try and determine exactly how you’ll use the space and what your goals are with the room. Is it optimized for relaxing? For entertaining? These questions will make your planning stage with the contractor much easier. Also consider asking other people-friends and neighbors-what their experience has been and where their problems have occurred.

Next, plan your budget. It is always the safest to work in an additional 5-10% above what you tell your contractor you can spend, in order to cover any inevitable added costs (these can include high material costs and increased labor costs).

Make sure you have researched and know which permits you will require. Any structural change (like a room addition or a porch) will require permits and inspection, to make sure everything meets local building codes and safety regulations.

Do not over-improve. Once you get started, you can be swept away in the possibilities, but to really get the most out of your home remodeling, do no overdo it. Take a look at home prices in your area, and try not to exceed, in one room, what the general neighborhood values would be. If you spend half the estimated value for your neighbor’s house in your master bath, you will never be able to sell!

Lastly and maybe most importantly: Prepare yourself for problems! Yes, even the most thoroughly planned project can head into unexpected trouble. Using a professional, reliable contractor can ease these issues, but ultimately weather or other unforeseen circumstance can always put a snag in your plans. Remember your extra budget and keep calm, and you can make it through any obstacle.

Getting the Most Out of Your Home Remodeling Dollar

There are, of course, certain home remodeling projects that are going to offer the best return on your investment. Remodeling magazine published the following list to show where you get the most bang for your buck:

Bathroom Addition: 89%

Kitchen Remodel: 87%

Two Story Addition: 84%

Attic Bedroom Conversion: 83%

Master Suite Addition: 82%

Bathroom Remodel: 73%

Siding Replacement: 71%

Ultimately the best tips come on the job, from the experienced professionals. Pick a contractor that is knowledgeable and helpful, work together, and you will end up with your dream home remodeling project.…

What Flooring Will Suit Me Best For My Bathroom?

Changing the bathroom flooring is a great way to give your bathroom a new look. Bathroom flooring can give your bathroom a sense of style and a sense of comfort. There’s something about the look of new floors that can change the entire feeling of a bathroom.
There are many types of flooring that are available to consumers, but thinking of you and your family’s needs you have to choose what flooring is right for you. Think about your style, do you like bright colours or earth tones? Figure out if you are a flower lover, marble design lover or do you just like straight coloured flooring? Whatever your taste make sure that you are happy with the flooring that you choose. Since there are so many flooring options around here is a list of some popular flooring that other homeowners are talking about.
Hardwood floors have become a well known favourite for bathrooms. Most people think they are only for hallways, living rooms and dining rooms but that is false many consumers are becoming hip to hardwood bathroom floors. This type of flooring looks beautiful and is solid. Just make sure that you install it or have it installed properly with no cracks or small crevices because moisture can damage it. Most people use this type of flooring in a half bathroom.
Laminate flooring is a popular choice for bathroom flooring. This flooring comes in 5 types oak, pine, stone, travertine and slate. These types then come in different colours which opens up the range immensely. Laminate flooring is also probably the easiest flooring to clean. With laminate remember that it also has a wood base so take the same precaution as you would with hardwood floors and make sure that it is installed properly. Stone flooring can be a great flooring choice, however make sure that your finances are up to fit the style because this flooring is very expensive.
Stone flooring provides options such as marble, granite and limestone, it’s not easily damaged and it’s easy to clean. Most consumers love it because it lasts well beyond its years. Just make sure to wear socks or slippers when entering your bathroom because this flooring can be cold. Not to mention ensuring that the floor that you are putting it on is capable of withstanding the weight.
Ceramic tile flooring is the most popular choice for consumers by far in today’s market. This flooring looks great, feels great, is inexpensive to the wallet and is waterproof. Don’t forget the easy cleaning that comes with it as well. You can’t go wrong with this flooring and it’s easy to install.
That’s four extremely popular choices for your flooring. Some expensive and some much more affordable. Whatever your choice is all of them will transform your bathroom completely.…

Choose Cork Flooring

When choosing flooring options, many people only know about wood, tile and carpet. Very few have ever considered let alone heard of cork flooring. Cork flooring is a growing trend amongst eco-friendly families and home builders alike. Houses that are aiming to Go Green are not only enjoying the beautiful natural color of cork, but the cushy, low impact that it provides.
If you are considering going green and choosing cork here are some things for you to consider:
Comfort – Cork flooring is often found in children’s playrooms, as a strong yet safe way to protect children even when they run, jump, and even come crashing down. This flooring is a natural shock absorber. Unlike hard wood and ceramic flooring, cork will absorb the impact of every step making it perfect for athletes and children alike.
Durability – If properly cared for cork will easily outlast you. Cork is a resilient material that unlike wood is not prone to scratching or chipping, making this a good choice for any busy family.
Health – If you suffer from allergies, this type of flooring may be just what you’ve been looking for. Cork will not allow mildew and mold to fester, nor does it attract dust or pollen. Cork floors are hypoallergenic and resist static electricity.
Variety – Generally less expensive than any other floor option on the market, flooring is available in virtually any color. Cork can also be purchased in planks like hardwood, or vinyl covered tiles for easier clean up.
Efficiency – Cork flooring is an excellent insulator. Keeping the warm or the cold in your home where it belong. When looking to create an environmentally friendly, energy efficient flooring option, cork is definitely the right choice for you and your family.…

Find Out What Your Clients Really Think About You

Right now, you’re thinking this might be a case of “be careful what you wish for.” Absolutely not-there’s nothing to fear. You need to know definitively what your clients think, and creating an annual survey is an important marketing step, especially prior to any strategic planning.
Today, with the high utilization of all forms of electronic media-much of it never even opened-it can be more difficult to know in what areas you are doing well and what areas need improvement. A survey offers you a snapshot in time that, given a good response rate, presents you with a portrait of your entire database. It’s also a great communication tool, offering one more thoughtful contact with your clients.
Doing a short survey of your current clients is quick and easy. There are free survey tools, such as Survey Monkey, Poll Daddy, and others, that help you develop your survey and then provide you with a link to include in your cover e-mail. Using a tool like this keeps clients’ responses anonymous, which is very important in order to achieve objective, useful information.
Survey etiquette dictates that you make the survey and the cover e-mail short. If you do this, you will have a higher response rate and better data returned to you.
But, before you begin writing the actual questions, determine the theme of the survey or what you would like to learn from your clients. It can be as simple as questions pertaining to obtaining repeat business from them in the future or recommending you to their family and friends. You may think you know the answer to these questions, but, more than likely, you will find some surprises and insightful responses.
You can also use your survey results to improve your brand and client interactions. Incorporating the great testimonials that come out of it and any satisfaction numbers in your marketing efforts will make your brand messaging even more powerful. For example, if close to 100% of your clients responded they would use you again and recommend you to others, you can use that to enhance your advertising message.
For some final survey etiquette, create a quick, easy-to-understand survey that takes no more than a couple of minutes to fill out. Leave space for testimonials and suggestions. Communicate a clear deadline date of when the survey will close and, if you can, offer some small incentive to complete it.…

Tarion New Home Warranty – Do I Need an Inspection?

Every new home in Ontario is protected by a mandatory Warranty that is provided by the Builder and guaranteed by the Tarion Home Warranty Programme. The Warranty covers deposit insurance, protection against defects in work and materials, unauthorized substitutions, delayed closings or delayed occupancy. The most common claims relate to defects in work and materials, which require homeowners to submit a list of deficiencies at 30 day and one-year deadlines.
While Builders provide a pre-delivery inspection (PDI) for buyers just before closing, these are more related to cosmetic issues such as whether the chosen flooring, cabinets, countertops, etc. are installed. Although the PDI serves a purpose it really does not cover all the systems of the house.
While a typical PDI is basically a walk through inspection and generally takes about one hour, an independent thorough inspection should take about three hours and should include such items as foundation, roofing, grading, structure, insulation, plumbing, heating and ventilation.
While most people think that buying a new house will mean everything will be perfect, it’s not uncommon to find missing insulation in the attic, poor ventilation systems or even structural issues. An example of this may be something as simple as a bathroom fan venting into the attic. This can cause serious damage when moist air meets the cold attic. If caught quickly little damage will result but a year down the road, mould, mildew and even rot may be visible on the attic sheathing and rafters.
Although buyers may believe that the Builder and the City Inspectors will have thoroughly inspected everything, this is rarely the case. The problem generally stems from the fact that there are many tradesmen following each other during construction, each with a very tight schedule. On a large site with multiple trades and many house designs in different stages of construction it’s not unusual for some things to get moved or damaged or just plain forgotten.
The average home owner can not be expected to be familiar with the complex systems of a home.
A professional Home Inspection by a Registered Home Inspector (RHI) is your best defence when it comes to protecting your investment and receiving the full benefit of the New Home Warranty program.
When choosing an inspector, those with RHI designation have extensive training and are required to conform to a strict Code of Ethics and the Standards of Practice as set out by the Ontario Association of Home Inspectors.…