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NEW HOME PRODUCTS
renewed respect for nature
Whenever extreme weather strikes, designers, manufacturers and builders become more aware of the need for long-term durability in our homes. This need is sometimes enforced through tighter building codes, or more stringent demands by insurance companies for better construction materials and higher endurance standards. Meanwhile, as we seek to protect ourselves from nature's extremes, there is also a need to protect nature from our own extreme behavior. Environmental protection is a growing trend that inspires more people every year to take on new initiatives, either to save energy costs or to avoid environmental deterioration caused by excessive waste.
social and family needs
With the members of the "baby boom" population bulge approaching their retirement years, there is a greater demand for homes and properties with lower maintenance requirements and higher accessibility standards. Thanks to more enlightened planning and renovating, homes can be made accessible for all ages by including no-step thresholds, wider doorways, wheelchair-friendly sinks and cabinetry, and main floor bathroom and laundry facilities. Contemporary lifestyle patterns such as the long-predicted trend of "cocooning" have already evolved enough to spawn entire industries specializing in home decor and renovation designed to meet these lifestyles.
Rapid technological advances in household operational systems and home convenience products are assisting both the aging population and young families on the go. When discussing technology, many people think of entertainment and information advances, but these are only the beginning. The new multi-functional equipment that has been developed will virtually run all household system operations for the homeowner. Physically speaking, home designs will need to make space to accommodate the new equipment. The "smart home" management centers connect with equipment within your home in order to provide automatic intervention of systems such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning, as well as indoor and outdoor security systems monitoring.
adjusting for tomorrow
Perhaps the most significant trend in space planning is thinking ahead to accommodate technologies and lifestyles that will affect our homes in the future. It is no longer acceptable for one function to be included without consideration for another. Just as a traditional carpenter allows for electrical and plumbing installations, the modern home builder or renovator will need to plan space for managing future systems. For example, even though our hot water, heating and air conditioning units are getting smaller and more efficient, we may soon need extra space for electricity storage units and back-up battery cells.
So as technology continues to advance, we will also need to adopt new trends and habits that will help us make better use of our space. Even cherished garage space could become more coveted in the future. While switching to a smaller electric or hybrid car may fit with out environmental objectives, we will eventually have to include a battery charger system alongside it. In fact, there just may come a time when we dedicate our garages to contribute to energy production and conservation, rather than energy consumption.
Our home space is becoming increasingly more important to us. As newer building materials are used, new designs are developed, and new technological innovations and coordinating systems are installed, our homes will adapt to the new trends and lifestyles of our population. Of course, a lot of these advances will cost money. Choosing from the many options will be part of making a carefully managed real estate decision.
A new hybrid barbecue/fireplace unit is designed especially for cool outdoor evening. Its a fireplace cage suspended on wheels with the addition of a cooking grill. You can start the unit with charcoal for cooking and then add a couple of logs for instant ambience.
This trash can opens when you approach it, and it closes after its been fed. Its a touchless system that could save a nasty spill if you have a handful of disposables.
These decorative water fountains are powered by a built-in solar panel. Some are made to float on your pond and draw water from beneath, while others can be wall-mounted or fence-mounted in a cascading step design that circulates its existing water supply.
This state-of-the-art product is the hot new oven with the cool refrigeration feature. You can keep your chicken chilled or your casserole cool until its ready for cooking right in the oven! It keeps your dinner in Cold Storage prior to the programmed start time, then automatically switches to roast or bake. In the event you arrive home late, it keeps it warm, or even refrigerates it again.
Caring for outdoor plants means more than providing adequate water you must also provide the right environment. So, you should ensure that the plants you buy are intended for this region as identified by the official government hardiness zones. A plants hardiness is identified by its ability to survive in one or more of these specific geographic zones. The zones are designated according to duration and intensity of sunlight, length of growing season, amount and timing of rainfall, length and severity of drought, drainage, soil characteristics, slope, elevation, humidity and frost potential.
Wood remains a very popular fencing material due to its traditional appearance, workability, and serviceability. It is usually available in a wide range of choices, including inexpensive spruces and pines (which need regular weather finishing with paint or stain treatment), as well as weather and rot resistant cedars and premium redwoods. Pressure-treated posts and fence boards are also very popular due to their low maintenance and relative cost effectiveness. However, some environmentalists are cautious about the potential long-term effects of certain chemical treatments.
Some vinyl fencing is merely a smooth PVC casing designed to fit over steel posts or aluminum rails. Other vinyl fence panels are manufactured to look like imitation wood, and are similar to artificial decking materials. Although these fences are available in many styles, manufacturers tend to limit color options to lighter shades in order to avoid attracting UV rays. Nonetheless, vinyl fencing is gaining popularity because it is becoming more competitively priced, and some brands offer the benefits of waterproof, fireproof, recyclable, and virtually maintenance free products.
Wrought iron or steel bars arent just for large estates or public institutions. Metal fences, arbors and gates manufactured on a smaller scale can provide reasonable property protection and traditional flourishing garden or a classic home entrance. However, these fences typically require a metal paint application to protect the material. A simpler, less expensive alternative is chain-link or vinyl coated chain-link. These options remain popular because they offer a relatively secure but inexpensive fence alternative. Plus, these styles dont block the view of a well-landscaped property and also provide plants with maximum sunshine.
Don't Overlook the Paint
A thorough paint job on your home's exterior may be one of the faster, easiest and least expensive "major" renovations you should consider. The visual impact of just a few coats of paint may even result in an increase in the value of your home. Whether you are inclinded to take on such a project yourself or hire a professional, it's worthwhile knowing a few details that might have an effect on your job's cost and overall outcome.
Choose the paint type as carefully as the color
Most people spend a lot of time choosing the right paint colors for their home, but they rarely spend the same effort choosing the right type of paint. There are several key components that contribute to the quality of house paint, including pigments (which affect color and sheen), and binders which affect a paint's adhesion adn durability. When paint is drying, the liquid component evaporates, leaving the pigments and binders behind as the actual coat of paint. Logically, higher quality paint will have more pigments and binders by volume, resulting in a thicker application, richer looking color, and a more durable coating. (Clearly you shouldn't thin your house paint, unless specified by the manufacturer.)
There are two types of house paint: water-based "latex" (which cleans up with soap and water) and oil-based "alkyd" (which cleans up with mineral spirits). It is widely acknowledged that modern high-quality latex paints have improved to such a degree that they outperform alkyd paint on most factors, including application, appearance and durability. For example, 100% acrylic latex paint is generally less likely to blister, flake, peel or chalk. In addition, latex dries more quickly, and maintains more elasticity and breathing ability. Nonetheless, oil based paints may be preferred under specific circumstances, where reliable adhesion is required, or when high-hiding properties are a concern.
Think of the Results
Don't compromise the quality and life span of your paint job by using the wrong paint, just because it's cheaper. High quality paint means high value: it goes on faster and easier, and requires less brushing, less retouching, and possibly fewer coats to achieve an attractive, uniform appearance. Also, less spattering results in less waste and faster, easier cleanup (especially with latex). When top quality paint is applied to a properly prepared surface, the actual cost of paint on a per year basis may well be lower than a cheaper exterior paint because of the paint's life span. However, since every paint type has its own unique characteristics, it's wise to ask a qualified paint dealer to recommend the right paint for the job at hand.
Regardless of the type of paint, read the label carefully before you buy. Check the manufacturer's warranty and look for the features and properties that will achieve the intended results. Below are a few desirable paint characteristics that may add confidence to your decision:
High Adhesion Resists blistering, peeling, etc.
Chalk Resistance Delays aging from exposure
Mildew Resistance Suppresses bacterial growth
Color Retention Maintains original appearance longer
Alkali Resistance Prevents deterioration on fresh masonry
Dirt Resistance Sheds airborne dust and dirt
Your Home Deserves the Attention
Most homeowners know that they need to care for their investment through regular upgrades and maintenace. Yet, some don't realize that a fresh paint job can actually enhance the perceived value of a house. A new coat of top quality paint protects the hom's exterior against the elements. Plus, when you show your interest in the appearance of your home, you communicate your intention to protect the hom's integrity. That is the kind of pride that gets noticed by visitors and prospective buyers. It's also the kind of pride that can easily catch on throughout an entire neighborhood, and help maximize everyone's property values.
If your home's exterior requires repair or replacement, you may want to consider changing the finish or material. While the objective may be to find a product to effectively withstand the elements, the result will also impact the overall appearance and first impression of your home. Of course, certain choices will be more appropriate than others, depending upon the style, location, elevation and exposure of your home. You'll also need to consider the fire safety, maintenance and utitity requirements of each product - not to mention the cost of the product and its installation. When you get right down to it, you'll discover that there are some great choices available to give any house or extension a whole new look and feel.
Wood siding has long been a practical and stylish home exterior, thanks to a plentiful supply, ease of handling and resistance to weather. Even though newer more durable siding materials are available, wood siding remains viable due to improved treatments and coatings that help ensure its weather resistance. This product is commonly positioned in horizontal planks, slightly overlapped to keep water out. However, there are also many other exterior applications for wood siding, including vertical "board and batten" siding, treated exterior wood paneling sheets and reclaimed barn boards.
Manufactured siding has improved significantly over the years, and offers many advantages. It comes in a wide range of materials, (vinyl, aluminum, steel, etc.) and has many color and finish options to match or coordinate with any home whether rustic, colonial or modern in style. This siding has virtually no maintenance issues, so your choice will be entirely personal, and based on visual preference, availability and cost.
STUCCO and sheathing
Stucco has evolved from its Native American and Mediterranean heritages and has become well established as a reliable home exterior throughout North America. A professionally installed stucco finish is very resilient and easy to maintain. Small cracks can be easily repaired and should be addressed before they get bigger. However, larger cracks may indicate structural problems, so an authorized building inspector and a reliable repair person should be consulted. A modern alternative to a traditional stucco exterior utilizes large sheathing panels with a waterproof plaster-like finish, which allow for quicker installation and individual replacement. This method is often combined with wood strips to conceal seams, such as in Tudo or ranch-style homes.
LOGS AND Log Facings
Modern log cabins look a lot like their predecessors, but newer methods and materials make them a very practical and long-lasting choice for a home exterior. If you don't plan to replace your exterior walls with full-sized logs, you can still achieve the look with a "log veneer" facing on an existing weatherproof wall. Plaster-like "chinking" between rows prevents moisture penetration while maintaining that authentic log cabin look.
STONE, BRICK, or inlay
Stone and brick have always been considered weatherproof. While stone tends to only b used in areas with a nearby supply, brick is available just about anywhere and provides solid protection if graded accordingly. Look for a performance guarantee from both the manufacturer and the installer, since even the best bricks are only as strong as the mortar used to hold them together. A cost-saving alternative to a stone or brick exterior is inlaid flagstone or brick facings set in a watherproof compound. Consult a qualified professional to ensure you get a worry-free finish that lives up to its appearance.
Most doors should have double cylinder deadbolts. Patio sliders and windows should be equipped with contact sensors.
A company monitors and responds to your system.
Forced entry monitor will alert you or your security company at the moment of impact.
Alert neighbors to witness suspects fleeing from the home.
Remote control allows you to set or disengage your system from outside your home.
Signs confirming the presence of an alarm system can be very effective.
Make sure stairs, furniture and carpets are safe for family and visitors have a first aid kit and a weather/power failure kit.
Know your fire extinguishers and the different types of fires they are used for
Install collapsible escape ladders inside above-ground bedroom windows
Change smoke/gas detector batteries at least twice a year
Stage a family fire drill
Save an extra copy of your insurance policy off premises, take pictures of valuables, record serial numbers, etc.
Check your electrical panel and outlets to be sure ground wires remain intact
Test your drinking water every season
Have your home tested if you suspect the presence of mold or toxins such as asbestos or radon gas.
HOME REMODELLING TIPS
Dents and Dimples Drywall joint filler compound can repair most minor blemishes with a small dab of the compound and a smooth damp cloth.
Split or lifting joint tape Replace any loose tape with fresh drywall joint tape then apply compound over the area with a broad flat putty knife. Once the area is dry, then sand to a smooth finish. Repeat with another coat and feather the edge to a taper so that it melds with the existing wall finish.
Nail-Head pops Countersink loose nails and add new drywall screws in an adjacent spot to ensure the wallboard is fixed firmly. Smoothly apply joint compound with a putty knife over the indentations and allow the area to dry before sanding.
Small and medium holes if a hole is a bit too big to support wet compound, apply the compound in stages around the edge and let it dry between applications. Alternatively, secure mesh inside the hole is filled and dried, sand the surface to a smooth finish before priming and painting.
Designing a NEW Kitchen
Kitchens have evolved a great deal since the fifties, when the standard "work triangle" consisted of three focal points - the sink, the refrigerator and the "stove" or oven/range combination - each positioned about three or four steps apart. Today most kitchens have many extras, such as dishwashers, dual-ovens, microwaves, toasters, cook-top ranges, double sinks and freezers - not to mention computers, televisions, breakfast bars, and stools. Although the three basic work points of the traditional kitchen remain central to any well-planned modern-day kitchen, the introduction of so many other appliances has affected the present-day layout and requires consideration for the efficiency of the design. Added conveniences like kitchen islands, secondary ovens, burners, sinks and refrigerators have expanded the kitchen configuration into more of a hub-style layout, to accommodate additional work stations near the traditional focal points.
Plan with an open Mind
The kitchen of the future could become even busier. Despite the decline in average family size, there is often more traffic in the modern kitchen. Frequent snack times (and fewer formal meals) due to busier schedules combined with a greater acceptance of casual interaction in the kitchen during social gatherings have made the kitchen space ven more popular. So, when planning a new kitchen, consider expanding the size of this space, especially if you recognize it as the best use of your common household area. Also consider "big-picture" ideas for your kitchen, like wider doorways for easier access and more window space to increase natural light. Your design considerations might also address "universal accessibility" which would allow for wheelchair mobility. Plan ahead to make large and small appliances, utensils and supplies easy to reach, through flexible cabinet and counter height positioning, easy pull-out drawers, and strategic door arrangements.
Right to the Finish
The kitchen is often referred to as the physical and emotional heart of the home. Before beginning a renovation, think about newer and bigger kitchen appliances, as well as the plumbing, electrical, nets and exhaust fans that may be necessary for them to function safely and efficiently in the future. Watch for new trends that may influence the activities and aesthetics of your kitchen, especially if they come from professional planners. Here are just a few predictions, taken from a recent survey at a major kitchen trade show:
1. Stylish appearances
both modern and traditional designers are calling for more flexible yet cohesive theme arrangements, often utilizing colors and styles inspired by exotic locations and eras. Stainless steel is still growing in popularity for both vertical and horizontal surfaces, compared to established materials like stone, brick, tile and wood. But the door is now open for other kitchen metals, such as oiled bronze and hammered or brushed copper.
2. Durable and clean
New kitchens need to be easy to maintain and clean. smooth countertop materials like polished quartz, glass and high-grade plastic are rapidly gaining in popularity. Hands-free faucets, high-temp dishwashers and anti-bacterial soaps all indicate greater emphasis on kitchen cleanliness. The latest trends even incorporate clean ways to store composting and recycling.
3. Gourmet foods and wines
Fine food and wine consumption is increasing in the home, and occurring more frequently as integral parts of in-home menus. Newer kitchens will be reflecting this trend with wine racks, wine bars, wine gadgets, wine refrigerators and other custom cooling units.
Space / Time continuum
Whether your kitchen was designed in the 50's, the 90's, or over the last five years, the most important element of its function is in its utilization of space - no matter what the size. Planning a modern kitchen to make the most of your space may take up valubale time and money, but there is much to be gained in return. by focusing on increased storage and easy access, plus convenient preparation and quick clean-up, you could ransform your kitchen into the most accommodating room in your home. Once you determine how to best utilize and enjoy your kitchen space, it will make all the difference in the world.
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