Start winter recovery now

Some chores are best done prior to spring

Though spring is still a few weeks away, there are important tasks you can do around the house this month to prepare your home for the coming season.

“It’s vital to start on your winter-recovery checklist as soon as you start to feel the first shy breezes of spring blow in,” says Rob Morelli, chief executive of HomeKeepr.com, a referral network for home-service professionals.

These home maintenance tasks deserve your attention now, not later.

Seal air leaks. The dead of winter is when you’ll really notice drafts in your home. This will make it easier for you to identify air leaks and plug them, which will help prevent warm air loss now and cool air loss during warm spring days, Morelli says.

Homeowners should pay particular attention to windows and doors, he says. If you spot cracks or gaps, caulking or weatherstripping should fix the problem; both are simple, DIY projects. Weatherstripping windows, for example, requires only measuring tape, a utility knife and self-adhesive tape.

Inspect your roof for damage. If roof is 20 years or older, inspecting its condition after a major snow or ice storm could be a good idea, as older shingles may have taken a beating. “Assuming the roof is walkable, you have an appropriate-size ladder and you’re comfortable going up,” advises Mark Clement, co-founder of MyFixitUpLife.com, a resource for DIY home remodeling, “check your roof.”

Look for torn, warped or missing shingles and contact a professional roofing company immediately if you discover any, as they can indicate deeper problems in the structural integrity. Just make sure you’ve given ice or snow time to melt before doing your inspection so you have clear visibility and won’t slip.

Clear out gutters. Heavy snow or ice can loosen fasteners and pull gutters away from your home, says Morelli, which may cause drainage issues. “With the heavy rain months approaching and winter getting behind us, you want to fix any damage to gutters now,” he says. Clearing gutters of winter debris will also prepare them for spring showers.

Check for uninvited guests. Morelli says now is a good time to check certain areas of your home for animals or critters that may have taken up residence inside your house to escape the cold. Search for pests in dryer vents, the attic and the basement; animals tend to hole up in warm spaces.

Test your sump pump. Sump pumps help keep basements and crawl spaces dry. If water accumulates in these areas, a sump pump will perform like a drain, sucking up the water and pumping it through a pipe that releases the water outside your home. Without a working sump pump, your home could be at risk of flooding, which is a real concern during spring showers, Morelli says.

Consider hiring a plumber to do an inspection for you, as most plumbers charge only $45 to $65 an hour for sump pump work, HomeAdvisor says.

Prepare lawn equipment. If you’ve got a lawn to mow, tend to your equipment now so you’re ready to kick off the spring season without a hitch. You can start by draining old gas and oil from your mower, because lawn mower fuel that has been left to sit over the winter can deteriorate and harm small engines, says Missy Henriksen, a spokeswoman at the National Association of Landscape Professionals. Then check your mower blades for wear and tear, replace spark plugs to ensure easy start-up, and inspect the air filter. A clogged or dirty air filter can cause the machine to burn gas less efficiently.

Insulate the attic. If your attic has little or no insulation, the room could become a sweatbox on a warm spring day. Adding insulation before warmer weather arrives will prevent that from happening. Another benefit of insulating your attic now: It will help reduce heat loss during the cold winter days ahead, says Clement.

Of course, there are different types of insulation to choose from: blown-in cellulose, batt (such as fiberglass, mineral wool or cotton) and spray foam are three popular materials. Your best selection method: Reach out to an architect to evaluate the conditions of your attic and to provide recommendations for the best insulation for your budget (e.g. professionals charge $1,500 to $2,000 to insulate a 1,200-square-foot attic with blown-in cellulose, according to FamilyHandyman.com.)

Insulate pipes. If a pipe burst in your house during a recent cold snap, make sure the new one is well-insulated. The last thing you want is for newly replaced pipes to burst.

Foam pipe insulation can benefit your home year-round, because it acts as a protective cover against cold during the winter and heat during the summer (when condensation can build) for copper and PVC pipes; it costs about $1.50 to $3 per six feet at Home Depot.

Check your deck. If you cleaned and sealed your deck in the fall, you’re probably not going to need to worry much about damage. But if you didn’t, check carefully for signs of rot before power washing the deck boards to remove the salt and muck from winter.

Original Source: http://www.journalgazette.net/features/home-garden/20190304/start-winter-recovery-now

Original Date: March 4 2019

Written By: Daniel Bortz

Planning Your Home For Aging In Place Renovations

In general, society tends to shy away from talking about and planning for the steps necessary as we age.  The hard-cold truth though is that we are all going to get older.  We will start to lose the ability to do as we once did and eventually will need aides in place to assist us with everyday tasks.  Age in place remodeling allows us to be in charge in the changes happening in our homes.  Beginning this process sooner rather than later allows for better planning and helps to create a safer, more usable space that is easy for homeowners of all ages to live in. 

Below is a list of age in place renovation ideas to help get you inspired during your next remodeling project.  It is important to take control of your quality of life while you are still fully in charge to ensure your own personal comfort in your home throughout the aging process.

Age in Place Kitchen Renovation Ideas

Kitchens are a key space in renovating for aging as much of our time is spent in the space.  Elements to consider include:

  • Sinks:  If possible, install a motorized sink that can raise and lower. These are a perfect addition for individuals who are unable to stand for long periods of time or are wheelchair bound.  Increasing the height of a sink can be beneficial as well as it offers support to lean upon for those using the sink in an upright position.  Consider installing a shallow sink with a hands-free faucet element with a pull-out sprayer are beneficial as well. 
  • Cabinets:  Install cabinet hardware that can easily be opened and closed, most often “D” shape pulls work the best.  Cabinets with shelving that is easily pushed in and pulled out is the best suited option for both top and bottom cabinets when remodeling a kitchen for aging in place.
  • Appliances: The installation of universally designed appliances is a major advantage when renovating your kitchen for ease of use for aging homeowners.  To save money, invest in energy saving appliances that are specifically made for easy use of individuals that are aging. 

Age in Place Bathroom Remodeling Ideas

Bathrooms are another space within the home that are used daily.  Elements to consider in age in place bathroom renovations include:

  • Space: The less clutter and the more open floor space the better.  If aides such as a wheelchair or cane are needed it is crucial that there is space within the room to move about.
  • Toilets:  A seat extender can be used on a standard toilet height however a taller toilet is the best option.  Install a toilet that can accommodate aging users with limited mobility.  It gets harder to stand up off a toilet the lower the basin is.  Consider adding a budget for improved hygiene.  Toilet paper holders should be installed within easy sitting reach. 
  • Grab Bars: Anytime you can add on support it increases the safety of a room and task ten-fold.  Consider adding grab bars around the toilet and shower.  Grab bars should support upwards of 300 pounds.  Textured grab bars are better than non textured.
  • Bathtubs/Showers: Standard bathtubs are not ideal for aging individuals.  If possible, replace standard tubs with walk-in tubs or a no threshold shower.  It is crucial to offer seating either permanent or temporary, adjustable shower heads with a hand-held option, and a non-slip floor.

Each room in your home from the laundry room to the garage should all be included in planned age in place renovations.  It is important that spaces are uncluttered, free of throw rugs, and made to be as easy to use as possible.  If there is a simpler way to complete everyday tasks make sure it is in place to bring as much ease of living as possible to your home and loved ones.

Glen Miller the Home Doctor is a licensed general contractor servicing Livingston County and the surrounding areas.  Glen offers a wide range of services including home maintenance plans, age in place remodeling, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, finished basements, and hardwood floor refinishing.  More information can be found online at https://www.glenmillerthehomedoctor.com/.



That’s So 2018! Outdated Remodeling Advice You Might Be Following

reno-demo
RyanJLane/iStock

Few things are as exciting as remodeling your house. Who hasn’t swooned over glass tile, or groovy wallpaper, or some other cool idea for updating your digs? But this doesn’t mean you should buy into every renovation idea that catches your fancy.

The reason: Many seemingly hot trends aren’t as “timeless” as you might think—and same goes for a lot of the advice you might hear on how to make these upgrades happen. So before you sign that punch list, check this list of outdated remodeling tips that may have been fine to follow last year, but are currently on the outs.

Focus on the kitchen

The kitchen is no longer the room where you should be investing all your time and money. According to Sarah Karakaian, interior designer at Nestrs out of Columbus, OH, “Kitchens are important, but do not bring the highest ROI anymore.”

For better resale value today, focus on your outside space.

“Investing in your garage’s curb appeal, like a new door, will help you get more return on investment than your kitchen,” Karakaian says.

Always go for granite counters

Speaking of kitchens, granite has been the gold standard when it comes to countertops for decades, but it’s not the winner that it used to be.

“It was just a matter of time, but granite countertops are becoming old school,” says Robert Taylor, a rehabber in Sacramento, CA.

The reason: “Buyers are looking for lower-maintenance kitchen counters that lack granite’s need for regular sealing,” Taylor explains. “Because quartz is nonporous and harder than granite, it lasts longer.”

Sustainability points also go to this material. “Quartz countertops are recyclable and often include recycled materials,” Taylor adds. (Here’s more on types of countertops and their pros and cons.)

Bright white is best

If you’re a fan of color, it’s finally your time to shine.

“The all-white space is a thing of the past,” says Leah Tuttleman, corporate designer at Re-Bath. However, just because it’s time to tone down the white doesn’t mean it’s completely gone.

“Black and white are classic colors, unlike other colors that come and go. In combination, black and white will forever remain a classic—but it shouldn’t be overdone,” she explains.

This rings particularly true with your tile choices. Those black and white tile designs that have been “in” for decades are finally seeing their way out.

“If you are thinking of doing a renovation, stay away from black and white tiles in kitchens and baths,” adds Chrissy O’Donnell, associate broker with Re/Max West End in Northern Virginia. “Brighter colors are in style now.”

Additions are always a good idea

No one likes to feel crowded—especially in their own home—but that doesn’t mean you should jump right to adding more square footage to your home. In fact, doing so has started to take on a negative vibe.

“In an era where consumers are focused on minimizing carbon footprints, adding oversized master suites and nonessential living areas is outdated,” explains Scott Toal, president of Federal Brace, in Belmont NC.

“Current advice would direct the renovation toward maximizing functional areas that exists within the home and even to repurpose underutilized space to increase the efficiency of the structure,” he explains.

In other words, it’s time to figure out how to work with the space you’ve got.

Finish the basement ‘for the kids’

Don’t panic, finished basements are sill a thing. They’re just serving a different purpose these days.

“The old thought was, finish the basement and put the kids down there. Now basements are much more—man caves, sports bars, or people are adding kitchens and baths to accommodate aging family members moving in,” explains Will Faix, president of the Open Floor Plan in West Chester, PA.

“More and more, the finished basement is sought out by home buyers and will make your home sell for more and faster when the time comes,” Faix adds. But as an adult play space, not just for kids.

Just rip the whole thing out and start over!

You’ve seen it on all the home improvement shows, right? The best part of any renovation is demo day. But be careful where you aim that sledgehammer, because nowadays, salvaging what’s there can be trendy.

“Now the thinking is to conserve the charm and intent of a space, and make more minor improvements,” says Rebecca Rowland, owner of Rebecca Rowland Interiors in Seattle.

“Something like a pink tile, pink toilet, pink tub bathroom can be updated with a great wallpaper and new vanity to feel vintage and filled with character, but with a modern twist that helps it not feel quite so dated.”

Use a loan to pay for fixes

Not too long ago, homeowners wouldn’t blink at the thought of refinancing to pay for renovations. Recent history, however, should make you reconsider.

“Memories from 2008 should instill caution as to how much to borrow, potential for rising interest rates, resale value, and other events that could disrupt your financial situation,” warns designer Susan Serra, president of Susan Serra Associates. “Proceed with caution and second-guess the total cost commitment.”

It’ll be hard to enjoy your freshened space if it puts you in a tough financial situation. Instead, homeowners today have learned the value of saving for a project and finishing it without a mountain of debt.

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/outdated-home-renovation-advice-to-ignore/

Original Date: Feb 5 2019

Written By: Whitney Coy

What Should I Know About Universal Design and Remodeling My Bathroom?


The first thing you should know is that when accessible bathroom design is done well, it will be a perfect blend between function, form, and aesthetics.  Thanks to all of the advancements in universal bathroom design, contractors are able to transform and everyday space into and accessible sanctuary that is safe for everyone to use. Contractors combine products designed for patient safety with interior design ideas in order to create a bathroom that is functional regardless of age or ability. 

Take a look at how the licensed and insured Universal Design contractors at Glen Miller the Home Doctor can create a bathroom space that keeps you safe as you age in place without compromising on aesthetics.

Cupboards Hung On the Wall

Wall hung cabinets are best as they can be hung at any height needed while minimizing obstruction of objects on the floor.  Cabinets made from natural and easy to maintain materials are perfect for use in age in place bathroom remodeling. Wall hung cabinets give a contemporary feel with a minimalist approach that is perfect for use in Universal Design.

Walk-In Tubs and Showers

Two very unique concepts but both providing function, safety, and beauty: walk-in tubs and threshold free showers are popular options in bathroom remodeling.  Age in place showers have come a long way since the days of installing grab bars around an old ceramic tub.  Accessible showers are now created using slip-resistant tiles, built in seating, built in grab bars, and removable shower heads.  Thus, creating a luxury spa like shower that can be enjoyed without the worry of falls while getting clean.  Accessible tubs make bathing possible without the dangers associated with limited mobility.

Toilet Accessibility

Another important element in Universal Bathroom design is the accessibility to the toilet without the need for assistance. To accommodate aging bodies or ones with disabilities it is crucial to have a toilet that is easy to access.  This means the height of the toilet is adjusted to be higher and grab bar support to help ease the up and down are in place. This also means installing toilet paper roles at a height and location that is accessible without any real reaching.  Don’t skimp and install a raised toilet chair if you are redesigning a bathroom for Universal Design.  Spend the little bit extra to install a secure, higher height toilet.  It is usable for individuals of all abilities with very little noticeable difference to standard toilets.

The whole concept of Universal Design is to create a space that blends functionality with home design; creating a space that is safe to use for individuals of all ages and abilities.

Glen Miller the Home Doctor is a licensed general contractor servicing Livingston County and the surrounding areas.  Glen offers a wide range of services including home maintenance plans, age in place remodeling, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, finished basements, and hardwood floor refinishing.  More information can be found online at https://www.glenmillerthehomedoctor.com/.



Proactive planning eases stresses that may come with aging in place

Updating a home for easier aging in place can be daunting, but being proactive can minimize both the financial and emotional stresses. (Andy Dean Photography/Big Stock Photo)

As we age, our physical abilities change. One day you’re taking stairs two at a time, the next it’s a pain to go up even a dozen.

Those challenges are amplified if you’re in a house that wasn’t designed with those capabilities in mind. The choice to remain in a home that you have loved for decades but no longer meets your physical needs can be incredibly tough.

Luckily, there are more options for aging in place than ever before.

“The number one problem with aging in place is falls,” said Bob Aquilino, president of Accessible Design & Build. “Equipping the home to have the infrastructure to prevent that begins in the bathroom and the kitchen.”

Updating a bathroom or kitchen for easier aging in place is more than just installing new countertops or shelves.

It can mean a new oven where all of the buttons are on the front so it’s accessible from a lower height, or installing a microwave that’s built into the central island. Even just adjusting the height of all of the light switches or plugs can make a major difference.

For Aquilino, all of the houses they build come standard with some basic adjustments to make life just that much easier.

“All of the doors are 36 inches. The bathroom door: it opens out, not in. The width around the island is wide enough that a wheelchair can navigate it easily. There are outlets at the bottom and top of the stairs so it’s easy to put a chairlift in,” Aquilino pointed out.

Renovating homes that weren’t built with aging in place in mind can be prohibitively expensive.

Multi-floor homes might require the introduction of an elevator, a cost Aquilino estimates can reach $75,000. Smaller renovations, like installing a walk-in shower or updating the garage entry so it doesn’t include steps, are more cost-effective but may not address every issue.

When it comes down to choosing a home for aging residents, quality of health should be one of the most important factors.

“Can they function in their environment?” asked Robin Kipple, senior director of population health and clinical integration at WellCare Health. “If you’re talking about function, you’re going to look at, ‘Can they do the things in their environment to maintain their health? Are they able to make their meals? Can they take their medication?’”

It’s not enough to just know these changes are coming, it is important to discuss them and have a plan. If an accident occurs or if needs change over time as they age, what does the senior want and what options are financially viable?

“Really, to be proactive versus reactive is always the best route to go,” Kipple said. “Have these conversations early, discuss the family member’s wishes. What arrangements do you need to make? Having these worked out ahead of time is always the best bet.”

Having the discussion is one thing, but knowing all of the options is another.

Instead of guessing how much a renovation would cost, get an estimate. Learn more about caregivers in the area, what services they provide as well as what you can afford. Getting unbiased and knowledgeable professional guidance is critical to ensuring a fully informed living location decision is made.

“We utilize a multi-dimensional assessment tool,” said Cameron Tribbett, co-founder of Summit Senior Solutions. “Working in conjunction with older adult-focused health and home renovation professionals can help you get an unbiased assessment to determine if staying at home is truly viable. If the health and environment-needs equation isn’t working to age in place, we’ll then work with the older adult and their family to help determine the best alternative living situation.”

Updating a home or relocating to a new living situation can be daunting, but experts are available to help you make an informed choice. Being proactive can minimize both the financial and emotional stresses and ensure that your senior life is healthy, safe and enjoyable.

Original Source: https://www.wral.com/proactive-planning-eases-stresses-that-may-come-with-aging-in-place/18089124/

Original Date: Jan 2 2019

Written By: Curtis Spring

The Correct Use of Lighting in Your Home Improvements

In order to bring your remodeling projects to a whole new level consider the lighting in the space. In order to truly understand how the lighting in a room can spice up any renovation it is important to know what types of lighting is available and the best ratio of light to use within the space. To help we have created a list of different lighting options available to choose from.

Options in Lighting

Lighting can be used in a number of ways.  More often than not layered lighting is the best option to really boost your rooms appeal. When renovating the space consider how the three options below work together to not only provide functionality but also style, and beauty. Ambient Lighting: General lighting is considered ambient lighting and is used to create overall illumination within your renovation. Ambient lighting is the lighting is the usable lighting in the space.  It provides the brightness that is needed in the room to proceed with the tasks that are done within the space.More often than not your renovations will include ambient lighting.  This includes lighting that comes from the ceiling from ceiling mounted lights, recessed lighting, track lights, and chandeliers. Task Lighting: As the name applies, task lighting is in place to make every day tasks easier.  Task lighting provides a small beam of targeted light for activities like working, cooking, reading, getting ready and more.  Some examples of task lighting are floor lamps, reading lamps, under-cabinet lighting, stove lighting and more.  Task lighting take away the imperfections such as glare and shadow. Accent Lighting: Much like you add a hat and scarf to your coat or earring to an outfit, accent lighting is used to add flair to your room. It adds a focal point within your room. Most accent lighting fixtures provide at least three more times the light then ambient light does.  If you have incredibly high ceilings and you want to accentuate the height add an accent light to the ceiling.  If you have a picture on the wall that you want to be the main focus of the room, try adding in sconces that project lighting on to the pieces.

Plan for Lighting in Your Renovation

As you are planning for your remodel clarify your goals for the space and how the lighting needs to be utilized in the space.  What will you be doing in the space?  If you are renovating a kitchen are you looking to do more than cook and eat? Often times extra lighting is needed above an island area to illuminate the space for working or studying. Consider adjustable lighting as well in areas like a dining room so that the mood of the room can be changed depending on the situation. Your lighting should also take into consideration the style of your renovation.  Modern lighting options don’t fit in aesthetically with country chic.  When choosing lighting consider the different aspects of the room remodel you want to coordinate with. Next it is important to consider how much lighting you actually want and need.  What is the right amount of lighting to make your renovation usable as it is intended too?  Having too little lighting in a space may make the remodel useless which is the last thing you want for your new space.  Consider the size of the space.  A good calculation to make is that 40 lumens are needs per foot of room space.  A 600 square foot room would need 24,000 lumens, 600 square foot x 40. Build a plan for your room remodeling lighting elements that begins with a central source of ambient lighting.  You can build onto the lighting in the space from there.  Task lighting is usually the next element that contractors consider. Do you need some glare free work space above the counters to allow you to easily measure ingredients?  Do you need additional lighting over a kitchen island where you will be prepping meals or bake goods?  Lastly, choose one interesting feature in the renovation that you want to bring attention to.  Add in an accent feature to highlight the feature.  If you have had an amazing arched entry add you may want to include wall sconces that shine light upward on each side of the entry to highlight the arch. It is also important to choose the right type of light bulb for each type of lighting feature.  Will you be using all incandescent lights?  Do you prefer LED bulbs?  Are you okay with a combination of both?  Most ambient lighting will use incandescent light bulbs as they provide a warm glow.  LED lights are best used in task lighting where the brightness of the bulb helps to see what you are working on better. Glen Miller the Home Doctor is a licensed general contractor servicing Livingston County and the surrounding areas.  Glen offers a wide range of services including home maintenance plans, age in place remodeling, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, finished basements, and hardwood floor refinishing.  More information can be found online at https://www.glenmillerthehomedoctor.com/

‘The Best Home Improvement Advice I Ever Heard’

If you’re a homeowner, you’ve probably heard and read plenty of home improvement advice. It just kind of comes with the territory, right? In fact, the second you sign the mortgage, your fellow homeowners will welcome you to the club with tons of tips about fixing up your humble abode—whether you welcome their help or not.

Some of the advice you’ll receive should probably be taken with a smile and a nod … and then immediately disregarded. But every now and then, you’ll hear a piece of advice that’s so full of wisdom, it will stick with you for years to come. Maybe you’ll even pass it on to everyone else!

We asked homeowners and real estate experts about the best home improvement advice they’ve ever heard. So take out your notebook and jot these gems down (or, you know, just bookmark this page). You’re going to want to remember these later.

Paint can solve a plethora of problems

“The absolute best home improvement advice I ever received was one word, and it [was] something of a mantra for my father: ‘Paint.’ Style looking dated? Paint. Want to brighten up a room? Paint. Need to enhance curb appeal? Paint—even if it’s just the front door.

“But my dad also emphasized it was about more than aesthetics. Air getting in through a crack? Caulk it, then paint it. Eaves or fascia rotting? Replace, reseal, paint. Metal patio furniture rusting? Coat it with a rust-prohibiting primer, then keep it painted. The fastest, easiest, and most straightforward answer for both immediate home improvement and long-term care? Paint. This advice has never steered me wrong.” —Monica Eaton-Cardone, homeowner in Clearwater, FL

Fix what you can before you move in

“Before [I moved] into my first home last summer, my mom advised me to fix whatever we could prior to moving in. … And I’m so glad we did, because little projects I saved for after the move, like painting the inside of closet doors, are yet to be complete. Once your furniture and clothes are moved in, it’s just so much harder to work around all this stuff.” —Rebecca Graham, homeowner in Pleasant Grove, UT

Planning a huge renovation? Wait awhile

“If you can, live in a home for a while before renovating. You will be much more thoughtful about how you utilize the space, problems that need to be solved, and new additions you would like to have. This is especially true for high-use locations, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and entrances, which can all be costly to renovate.” —Joan Kagan, real estate agent at Triplemint, New York, NY

Renovate with the next buyer in mind

“I’ve moved a lot and purchased homes in a few different states, and the best home improvement advice I ever received was: ‘Don’t think of what you want, think about what the next owner will want.’ When renovating, keeping this wise advice in mind has helped me have every house I’ve ever tried to sell under contract within a week of listing.” —Julie Gurner, homeowner in Lancaster, PA

Do improvements long before you sell

“Make and enjoy home improvements for yourself—what’s the point of waiting until you’re ready to sell your property?” —Barbara Bowers, homeowner and real estate agent in Key West, FL

Cheaper isn’t always better

“‘Cheap is often expensive.’ This proved to be painfully true when we hired a painter to paint our apartment while we were out of town. We got a referral for the guy, who seemed to do a great job for a friend and … we found his fee attractive. Fast-forward a week, when we came back to a filthy apartment that was half-done, with paint everywhere—on the sofa, our floors, and even on newly painted areas! We wound up dealing with more stress than it was worth.” —Brenda Della Casa, homeowner in London

There are some things you just can’t DIY

“My dad told me, ‘You can do anything yourself, except foundation, electrical, or plumbing.'” —Kirsten Selvage, homeowner in Ontario, Canada

Pretty stupid is not pretty

“Don’t forget function. ‘Pretty stupid is not pretty!’ I’ve shared that quote with many clients over the years; never allow aesthetics to trump function in your design. A common example we see all the time is beautiful kitchens with inadequate counter space or cabinets that can’t open when appliances/other cabinets are being used.” —Katherine Scarim, owner of Island Bridge Realty, Jupiter, FL

Do it right the first time

“It’s cheaper to do it right than it is to do it over.” —Jim Molinelli, architect in Columbia, MD

Not everything goes as planned

“Every project costs twice as much and takes twice as long as you think.” —Lori Smith, homeowner in Pataskala, OH

Original Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/best-home-improvement-advice-ever-heard/

Written By: Whitney Coy

Published Date: Nov 28, 2018

The Importance of Fire Blocking Techniques and Products In Construction

The last thing that homeowners want or deserve from their contractor is short cuts taken in their home improvement project.  When doing any renovation around the home from installing a new door between your garage and your home, as in the picture above, or adding a new room onto an existing structure, the homeowner’s safety, now and in the future, is of utmost importance.

The need for for stopping or blocking

One safety issue we have found in many house’s that we have worked on is the lack of fire stopping or fire blocking with in the walls and door jams of homes.  Even though building codes and regulations state that fire blocking materials are included in construction, it is an all too often short cut that less than professional contractors take.  Talk with any firefighter and they will agree that this is a huge mistake.  Proper installation of fire blocks and fire blocking materials within walls and doorways is a property and life saver.

People have been seriously injured or lost their lives because of the lack of simple fire stopping blocks.  Fire stopping blocks are a simple component used in framing homes that when done correctly can help decrease the speed at which fire ravages your home, giving your family more time to escape.  This building technique is not as common in older homes, thus leading to a total loss of many older homes.

Modern day home construction

In modern day construction horizontal double 2×4’s can be seen on top of vertical studs to create a wall blocking system.  This helps to seal in the cavity and separate it from the one next to it which in turn works to prevent the rapid spread of fire throughout your home.

Without properly installed fire stop, the framing in your home can act like many mini chimneys throughout the home.  In older homes it was common to be able to drop an item from the homes attic only to have it shoot out on the basement floor moments later.  With out a barrier between the floors, flames are sucked up through the walls, acting very much like a chimney.

It may be hard to believe but the use of a single solid piece of wood at the top and bottom of the wall in between the studs can significantly reduce how fast fire spreads throughout the home.  If a fire does occur within the wall, the top block will help stop the fire from shooting upwards and into the home’s attic. Fire blocking at the intersections of joists and walls as well as sideways between floor and ceiling joists can literally save your family.

Materials used for fire blocking

Another material that can be used in construction and during renovations is known as Fireblock foam insulation and fire barrier caulk. When a hole is created within the home it is important that it is filled.  Not only will it help to prevent drafts, it also helps to stall fires from sneaking between the walls. Fireblock products should always be used when contractors are installing door jams or have created holes.  Plumbers, electricians, heating contractors, and even general contractors should all be well versed in the use of Fireblock products.

Glen Miller the Home Doctor is a licensed general contractor servicing Livingston County and the surrounding areas.  Glen offers a wide range of services including home maintenance plans, age in place remodeling, kitchen and bathroom remodeling, finished basements, and hardwood floor refinishing.  More information can be found online at https://www.glenmillerthehomedoctor.com/.

How to find financial assistance for aging in place

An AARP survey found 71 percent of Americans in their 50s and early 60s want to stay where they are as they age, and the preference for “aging in place” jumps to 87 percent among people 65 and older.

Successful aging in place combines the comfort and stability of living at home with the kinds of safety and accessibility features found in an assisted living facility or nursing home. Some necessary modifications to the home can be easy — while others are much more involved and expensive.

Fortunately, financial help is available.

Prepping a home for aging in place

Popular accessibility modifications include adding grab bars and a shower seat in the master bathroom — which are relatively cheap and easy changes.

But more complicated work may be required when an older person needs a wheelchair or walker to get around. Doorways are often too narrow and kitchen countertops can be too high for a homeowner with serious mobility issues.

Widening doorways and lowering the height of kitchen counters (or raising the floor) can get quite costly. For example, in the kitchen it might be necessary to buy brand-new cabinets — possibly at a price of up to $20,000.

Installing a roll-in shower in a bathroom can cost as much as $10,000, says Homeability.com. Putting in a walk-in bathtub costs an average of $6,000, says Fixr.com

Programs that cover all or some of the costs

An older homeowner might decide the modifications aren’t worth the expense and hassle. For someone straining to get by on a fixed income and meager savings, the costs might seem out of the question.

But several government and private programs can help offset the cost of aging in place:

  • Medicare, Medicaid and private health insurance generally won’t cover modifications to a home, though Medicare might pay for a walk-in tub or wheelchair ramp if either feature is deemed medically necessary.
  • The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Housing Repair Loans and Grants program (at USDA.gov) offers grants so Americans 62 or older can make home repairs and improvements for the sake of health and safety.
  • At NCSHA.org, the National Council of State Housing Agencies has a list of state offices and organizations offering various types of support and assistance.
  • The U.S. Administration on Aging’s “Eldercare Locator” tool can help you find home repair and modification resources near you. All you have to do is plug in your ZIP code.
  • A nonprofit called ModestNeeds.org provides “self-sufficiency grants” to help Americans just above the poverty line cover unexpected expenses, such as a necessary home project.
  • Reverse mortgages, available from lenders, allow seniors to tap the equity in their homes to fund improvements.

Never assume that you can’t afford whatever alterations are needed to age in place, with all the dignity and comfort of remaining at home. Assistance is out there!

Original Source: https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/caregiver/housing-choices/remaining-at-home/sd-he-sae-financial-assistance-20181022-story.html

Original Author: Doug Whiteman

Original Date: Oct 22 2018

The real deal on TV home-remodeling shows


Commentator Stephanie Brick says that while reality home shows are fun to watch, not everything you see may be reality. (Michael Noble Jr. for The Washington Post)

It is no surprise that reality television is rarely a representation of reality. How genuinely can anyone act (no pun intended) with a crew of cameras and microphones within arm’s reach? From scripted dialogue to behind-the-scenes staging, reality TV has seeped into nearly every corner of the market, and home remodeling is no exception.

Through the evolution of television, facts and fiction have generally known their respective places and, even if commingled, remained distinct from each other. Historically, there has been a differentiating line between programming intended for entertainment and programming intended for information.

The difficulty is that the television industry has increasingly blurred the line between shows designed for entertainment and shows designed for education. Channels such as TLC (which once stood for “The Learning Channel”), HGTV, and even the Weather Channel and various news syndicates used to be defined by either their informative or educational programs. Now, however, they are more entertainment than information channels: You are more likely to tune in to facts or reality — when it is even presented — encased by opinions, drama, heavy editing or outright inaccurate data.

How we process information changes when that entertainment/education line is blurred — specifically, when programs designed for entertainment start introducing elements of their show as factual (or vice versa). It is a sneaky way to tip the scales: The entire show is easy to register as entertainment. So when little “facts” or context-specific truths work their way in, we have our guard down and accept them, often without even thinking about it. At times, almost insidiously, these programs start to rebalance themselves in our minds as mildly educational. This is the danger zone of misinformation.

As a design professional, I believe one of my responsibilities is to help educate my clients. Despite living in the information age, we are surrounded by misinformation — and it can be nearly impossible to differentiate between the two without proper guidance. I see the source of this problem regularly when I tune in to shows about remodeling. So how can you tell what is true to the screen and what may be — directly or indirectly — propagating misinformation?

When it comes to home-remodeling reality TV, context is everything.

First consider the context of the home: Where is it located?

In some renovation shows, the city, state or even country (a surprising number that air in the United States are produced in Canada) are omitted. This becomes a honey pot for misinformation when numbers are then, inevitably, discussed.

Pricing for materials, labor and overall project budgets are not consistent across the United States, and any dollar amount needs context to have value. A $50,000 budget will yield wildly different results for a project in the heart of an East Coast city than it will in a Midwestern suburb. Always think to question where a project is located if numbers are discussed on a remodeling show.

It should also be noted that budget and total project costs may be influenced by the channel paying its regular and/or guest cast members each episode. (Do you think the designers, contractors and homeowners are only receiving 15 minutes of fame as compensation?)

Next, consider the episode in the context of its series. Does it follow a formula? Confident designer makes lofty promises on seemingly low budget; problems are discovered during demolition; lofty scope must be dramatically reduced “to resolve discovered problem” or an egregious budget increase is required . . . every time.

To their credit, many of these shows do an excellent job communicating this true reality: Once construction has started, sometimes hidden or unknown existing conditions are revealed that warrant (or require) an unexpected increase in scope — which results in an increase in cost.

For instance, disintegrating pipelines or tangled DIY electrical work behind drywall usually cannot be detected — or accounted for — ahead of time. (As I tell my clients, we are still working on X-ray vision technology.)

However, this does not happen with every single household or project. So if you notice it happening — on a dramatic scale — during every episode of a reality TV show, recognize this consistently injected drama for what it is: a real representation of renovation risks? Perhaps. An excuse to get out of building that third-story addition that was never even close to realistic for the proposed, yet accepted, budget? Definitely.

Third, what is the context of the final results you are seeing? Extravagant scopes on extremely short timelines are simply unrealistic. In theory, you could hire a huge workforce — but have you ever tried to find more than one really good craftsman or contractor to work on your home? How about a hundred? Even with the best of laborers, tight timelines rarely set anyone up for quality success.

In recent years, the grand unveiling of these finished houses have been quietly revealed as — sometimes — just grand shams, showcasing a meticulously composed staging. What you see is a beautiful, furnished, finished space, but just beyond the camera’s precisely calculated pan is an unfinished room and incomplete home.

Not knowing a project’s geographic context can lead to a misperception of budget and costs. Having only the pinhole sightline of a camera’s view can lead to unrealistic timeline expectations — even if just as an indirect, trickle-down effect.

We all know building a custom home from scratch in a week is unrealistic under normal circumstances. But does it not still, despite this acknowledgment, make three weeks for a bathroom remodel seem a little longer than it should be?

Whether or not your project is filmed by a crew and broadcast to the world, all architecture projects are governed by three factors: time, money and quality. If you are lucky, pick any two — speedy schedule, low cost, genuine craftsmanship — at the sacrifice of the third.

Many home-remodeling TV shows seem to deliver all three. These may be excellent sources for entertainment but should be recognized as poor sources of information.

Original Source: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2018/10/29/real-deal-tv-home-remodeling-shows/?utm_term=.4e87e0983e19

Original Date: October 22 2018

Written By: Stephanie Brick