Archive for the ‘Home Maintenance & Remodeling Tips’ Category
Thursday, April 14th, 2011
Our clients has 3 growing boys and 1 good sized dog and were finding their existing space to be too confining. We were hired to add a family room addition to a modestly sized 4 bedroom colonial in Ridgefield, CT. They indicated they’d like a warmer look to their cathedral ceiling than the stark appearance offered by drywall. We referred to our photo gallery of past jobs for alternatives that might fit the bill.
We had achieved excellent results and very favorable response from clients and architects using painted tongue & groove pine with 1 key detail added. As we were using center-match T&G stock, we wanted to avoid the inevitable inconsistent gapping that would occur as the material dried over time.
We ran our 16 foot T&G stock through our table saw and removed about 1/8” on the groove side along its length. Doing this insures that when each length is butted up to the adjacent length, the tongue will bottom out in the groove and the finished ceiling will align with a consistent 1/8” spacing between boards. 1/8” is too large a gap for paint to bridge it, so when painted, the ceiling yields a continuous, finished look which doesn’t vary visibly with climate generated material expansion and contraction. Result was spectacular!
The construction progress of this Ridgefield Family Room Addition can be seen on 2 previous Titus Built posts. http://bit.ly/haQ0Cv
Friday, March 25th, 2011
1. Install a programmable thermostat.
Programmable thermostats automatically adjust your home’s temperature as needed, and can easily save you $100 a year on your energy bill.
2. Replace regular incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs).
A CFL bulb uses 50-75 percent less energy and lasts about 10 times longer than an incandescent bulb.
3. Use rechargeable batteries to keep dead batteries out of landfills.
Rechargeable batteries have 32 times less impact on the environment and use a fraction of the natural resources disposables do.
4. Choose and use appliances wisely.
Look for the Energy Star™ label on new appliances to choose the most energy-efficient products available, and remember to shut off appliances when not in use. Computers, televisions, and other electronics use a surprising amount of energy on "sleep" or "standby" mode.
5. Don’t do the dishes!
Good news: an energy-efficient dishwasher is more "green" than hand-washing a sink full of dirty dishes.
6. Replace your old single-glazed windows with double-glazed models.
This requires some initial investment, but will halve the energy lost through your windows and reap rewards in the long term.
7. Insulate and weatherize your home.
Properly insulating your walls and ceilings can save 25% of your home heating bill.
8. Heat only the space you occupy.
Close off rarely used rooms, and heat only just prior to use.
9. Take a shower instead of a bath.
A shower takes up to four times less energy than a bath. To maximize the energy saving, avoid power showers and use low-flow shower heads instead.
10. Use less hot water.
Hot water requires a lot of energy. Install a low-flow shower head and wash your clothes in cold or warm water instead.
11. Be sure you’re recycling at home.
You can save 2,400 pounds of carbon dioxide a year by recycling half of the waste your household generates.
12. Expand your recycling to composting.
Yard trimmings and food residuals together constitute 24 percent of the U.S. municipal solid waste stream. Composting creates a useful product from organic waste that would otherwise have been land-filled. If you have a garden, your soil will love compost.
13. Plant a tree.
A single tree will absorb one ton of carbon dioxide over its lifetime. Shade provided by trees can also reduce your air conditioning bill by 10% to 15%.
14. Buy an electric lawn mower.
According to the EPA, the average gasoline mower emits the same amount of hydrocarbons in one hour as a 1992 Ford Explorer emits in over 23,600 miles. An electric lawn mower will save you, on average, 73% on lawn care costs and is better for the environment.
15. Buy locally grown and produced foods.
The average meal in the United States travels 1,200 miles from the farm to your plate. Buying locally will save fuel and keep money in your community.
16. Buy in bulk.
Not only will you save fuel by making fewer trips to the grocery store, you will also consume less packaging material.
17. Choose products that come with little packaging and buy refills when you can.
This practice cuts down on waste production and energy use.
18. Reuse your shopping bag.
Save energy and waste by using your own reusable bags instead of accepting a disposable one in each shop.
19. Keep your car tuned up.
Regular maintenance helps improve fuel efficiency and reduces emissions. When just 1% of car owners properly maintain their cars, nearly a billion pounds of carbon dioxide are kept out of the atmosphere.
20. Check your tires weekly to make sure they’re properly inflated.
Proper tire inflation can improve gas mileage by as much as 4.5%
Thursday, March 10th, 2011
Photo: Gutter Cleaning Service, Dallas, TX
With spring’s arrival, you might feel the urge to get outside and start your yard work early. Ladders are useful tools, but if you do not follow the proper safety tips, you could fall and hurt yourself.
A few useful tips that will help make any ladder project safer…
· Have someone you trust hold the ladder.
· Before climbing a ladder, make sure the bottom rails are resting on a dry, level surface and the top rails are on firm surfaces.
· Make sure your shoelaces are securely tied and you are wearing appropriate footwear.
· Face the ladder while climbing and stay in the center of the rails.
· Don’t overreach, and do not lean over the side of the ladder; it’s safer to move the ladder to a new location when needed.
· Don’t try to "jog" or "walk" the ladder to a new location while standing on it.
If you do fall from a ladder you should –
· Get up slowly, if you are able.
· If you feel like you have an injury which prevents standing or walking, call for assistance. If the injury is serious, call 911.
· If you are not injured, rest for awhile before putting your tools away and calling Titus Built to finish the job for you.
Okay, weekend warrior, you are ready for battle … Just remember that ladders are useful tools, but they should always be used properly to avoid a trip to the emergency room!
Monday, March 7th, 2011
White Flower Farm Photo
Spring equinox starts on March 20th and the daffodils, crocuses and lilies are starting to sprout in my yard. Like most of us, I can’t wait to enjoy the outdoors with the warm breezes and the fresh smell of spring!
A growing number of homeowners are discovering ways to enhance their lifestyles year round by remodeling for outdoor living. Outdoor living is a burgeoning trend, and experts agree that a defined outdoor living space can represent up to 30 percent of a home’s value. Outdoor areas expand on entertaining space for family and friends, give the kids a safe place to play and add the feeling of a peaceful retreat right in your own backyard. As we all welcome spring with relief and anticipation, here we share some ideas for improving your outdoor living space to take full advantage of the season.
If you want to maximize the amount of space you have to work with, consider a system placed underneath your deck to create a clean and dry living space. A ceiling placed underneath your deck structure captures rain and debris falling through the deck boards and sends it to the rain gutters and spouts. A formerly dark, damp and under-used space is transformed into an environment that expands your living area into the outdoors. What will you use the new space for? An entertainment area with media and a hot tub, a screened-in porch, or an intimate dining area are just some ideas.
Here are some things to consider when planning for such a system. Most importantly, it has to be able to handle any potential ice loads from the typical Connecticut winter. Second, a good system needs to keep debris moving, as trapped debris that falls through deck boards will act like a sponge and keep wood from drying properly. And, don’t forget good ventilation to prevent stagnant air, which will keep wood from drying and age your deck prematurely.
Now that you are spending more time outdoors enjoying the welcoming weather, take a good look at the details of your surroundings. Careful attention to landscaping can significantly increase a home’s value, while landscaping mistakes detract from value.
A gurgling water fountain brings serenity to your outdoor environment, along with attracting the season’s bright feathered visitors. Regardless the size of your backyard area, the use of water, whether in swimming pools, spas, fountains, ponds, or even waterfalls adds a whole new dimension to your outdoor living experience.
Outdoor furniture, often placed in storage or exposed to the elements, should be carefully cleaned at the beginning of each spring. For most metal tables and chairs, including those produced of steel, cast aluminum or aluminum, mild soap and water is the best choice for safe cleaning. To maintain the frame finish, some experts recommend a coat of clear liquid car wax once a year.
If you don’t have an outdoor fireplace, a freestanding or tabletop patio heater is an easy way to extend the seasonal life of your space. If you are a music lover, consider enhancing your outdoor experience with a new sound system. Shield yourself from the elements and add privacy with the creative use of trellises, hedges, awnings, umbrellas, gazebos, pergolas, fences and landscaping options.
Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011
What does "green" mean to you? The list is endless and the definition of "green" is different for many people. The fundamental concept of green is conserving the earth’s resources so that they are not depleted faster than they can be replenished. Learn to make conscious choices and be aware of potential consequences. Here are just a few of the ways people live a greener lifestyle:
Become less wasteful and more energy-efficient.
Remember to turn off lights, unplug unused appliances, and wash only full loads of dishes and clothes.
Save money on energy costs.
Turn down thermostats, replace incandescent bulbs with CFL bulbs, and clean dryer filters.
Find cheaper, earth-sustainable alternatives.
Ride bikes, take mass transit, and use paperless statements.
Make healthier basic choices for your home.
Use solvent-free grout, low-formaldehyde carpet pads and insulation, low-VOC paint, or a water treatment system.
Build with recycled materials.
Choose reclaimed wood, recycled steel, or recycled material countertops.
Ask Titus Built for tips about conserving natural resources and saving energy costs.
Monday, February 21st, 2011
How to determine what makes sense for your family.
Before making the decision to renovate your existing home or move, ask yourself a few questions:
- Do you like the town you live in?
- Do you like your property and your neighbors?
- Is your property expandable?
If the answer is "no" to any of these questions, then you need not give remodeling another thought!
On the other hand, if you answer "yes" to the questions above then you still must consider the following:
The Selling Cycle: During the selling process your home must always be kept clean and tidy for potential viewings. In today’s economy it is taking an average of four months to sell a home in Fairfield County.
Moving Before You Sell: If you move and sell your home after relocating to your new home, potential buyers will believe that if you hold onto your old home long enough the stress factor will come into play. This increases the chance that you will receive lower offers on your home.
Unexpected Upgrade Costs: When upgrading your home and moving to a new location, you must consider the higher costs. A larger home also means bigger utility bills, homeowner’s insurance premiums and so forth. That lawn that used to cost you $100/week to maintain now costs much more. Do your homework and get estimates on these additional costs prior to purchasing your new home. We have heard from many homeowners who were taken by surprise when their Landscape Contractors gave them the estimate for their new property!
Related Fees: Real estate commissions, closing and moving costs will typically be 10% or more of your selling price.
Moving Costs and Headaches: Once you sell your home you have to pack up your belongings and move. The new home will be filled with boxes to unpack and redecorate.
Redecorating Expenses: Unless your home is custom built, you will also need to paint and refurbish your new home. Perhaps those drapes and blinds that fit so nicely in your old home no longer suit the new house. Sometimes, although the previous owners thought their taste was exquisite, you don’t share the same aesthetic.
Family Issues: If children are involved, they must be uprooted and transferred to a new neighborhood. Most children are quite resilient and able to cope with the transition smoothly, but this is obviously an important factor in a family’s decision to move.
If you are considering a move, don’t hesitate to call us before buying your new home. A Pre-purchase Consultation and Renovation Feasibility Analysis will help you visualize the renovation prior to purchase.
At Titus Built, we are able to transform your thoughts and ideas into reality. Your home will be designed to enhance your lifestyle with new technology, re-purposed rooms, and built-ins added to minimize your footprint in a clutter-free environment.
Monday, February 14th, 2011
The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI), based in Des Plaines, Ill and the CT chapter of NARI, Remodeling Contractors Association, offers tips for homeowners affected by snow and ice damage. Consumers must avoid doing business with unregistered contractors or contractors that are not certified by the EPA.
As of April 22, 2010, federal law requires that:
- Renovation firms must be certified under EPA’s Renovation, Repair and Painting Rule
- Individuals must be trained in lead-safe work practices
- Training providers must be accredited by EPA.
Con artists often show up at a homeowner’s door after a disaster, offering an array of services and demanding a hefty down payment up front. They might offer a "great deal," based on using materials left over from a neighbor’s job, but homeowners should remember that a "great deal" isn’t always what it seems. Frequently, these fly-by-night operators drive vehicles with out-of-state license plates, or set up temporary offices from which they can move quickly once authorities start looking for them. Before writing that check, and especially before allowing any unknown individual into your home, NARI suggests that a homeowner:
- Get the name and address of the company that person allegedly represents.
- Get all details of the offer in writing and carefully review it. Be sure you understand everything in the contract and that any verbal promises made are included in the contract.
- Determine how long the company has been in business and call organizations with which the contractor is affiliated, such as NARI or other trade associations, to determine the firm’s legitimacy.
- Ask for references and contact each one.
- Remember that any legitimate company that wants your business will be more than willing to allow you the time to do your homework. Don’t fall prey to high-pressure tactics such as "this is the only chance you have" or "by tomorrow the extra materials will be gone."
Homeowners should be especially skeptical if they….
- Come to your door unsolicited.
- Use high-pressure sales tactics.
- Request full payment before completing the work.
- Give a post office box without a street address or phone number.
- Promise to begin and complete the work more quickly and cheaply than any other company.
- Say they just finished work on your neighbor’s house and have just enough materials to do repair work on yours. They might say they can give you a better bargain if you let them do the work today since they have the supplies now.
NARI is a professional association whose members voluntarily subscribe to a strict code of ethics. Homeowners may wish to search www.NARI.org on the Homeowners Guide page for additional tips, or to find a qualified professional who is a member of the Connecticut Chapter of NARI. Homeowners may also call the NARI National hotline at 800-611-NARI and request a free copy of NARI’s brochure, "How to Select a Remodeling Professional".
Titus Built, LLC has provided residential design and build remodeling services in Fairfield County, Connecticut since 1995. The company provides a unique customer experience by delivering the convenience of truly integrated, step-by-step design and building services. Titus Built has developed a loyal following in the Fairfield County area with its focus on the highest quality craftsmanship, a systematic project process, and dedicated attention to customer care.
Monday, January 17th, 2011
Laundry Room Hidden in Kitchen Cabinets
Front Load Washer & Dryer
The need for multi-purpose rooms is usually associated with small homes, but according to a Procter and Gamble survey today the average American woman spends seven to nine hours a week on laundry. And, according to an ICPS Family Study on dual-wage families, “women devote an average of 28-29 hrs/week to all household duties combined, while men’s contributions range from 15.57 to 19.39 hrs/week, depending on whether the man himself, or his spouse is reporting.” Whether you agree with these reports, or not, we live busier lives and need to multitask to accomplish our daily responsibilities and spend time with our families.
Embrace the art of living by allowing one room to serve many purposes. Below are photos of several multi-purpose rooms to allow you to multitask and enjoy your family at the same time.
Kitchen & Family Room Combination
Office in Kitchen or Family Room Closet
Playroom & Workout Room Combination
Pantry & Mudroom Combination
Located between garage and kitchen
When architectural design is done right, rooms are configured to fit in your existing home by utilizing the space to its maximum potential. These multi-purposes rooms help you to enjoy a less stressful life.
Sunday, January 9th, 2011
In today’s market, many general contractors have decided that they can do the design work as well. Before you know it you are hiring someone to design your home who is only marginally qualified; you are paying enough for the service as if you had hired a bona fide architect; and, the design for the project usually ends up in the simplest form. When you inquire about more complex designs they and are likely to give you reasons why these designs can’t be done.
Hiring an architect to custom design your home renovation, and putting the plans and specifications out to bid, can cost you more than you are prepared to spend. Usually the bids come in way over budget because the costs are much higher than the architect anticipated. In turn, the architect ends up reducing the scope of the project. Also, since most architects are not builders – they can conceptually draw the plans, but it takes a quality builder to see the architect’s plans and know if the concepts can be transformed into practical, effective solutions without costly alterations during the project. What works on paper doesn’t always convert smoothly to the building process.
Before hiring the architect, it is usually best to retain a builder along with your architect to budget and estimate throughout the design process. On the other hand, if the architect and builder are not on the same page the joint venture can cause confusion, a loss of the client’s vision, and unclear communications, all areas which lead to significant disappointment during the process of a remodel or addition. It is best to choose an architect and builder that have worked well together in the past and can give you a partnering method.
When done right, remodeling design is thoughtful and complex. Quality remodeling contractors know how to reconfigure rooms to fit in your existing home by utilizing the space to its maximum potential. Choosing a design-build firm that has experts and licensed professionals working on both the architecture and construction portions of the project usually delivers a project on budget. The design-build process is completed faster, less expensive than an architect bid-build project and tops in quality measurements.
Titus Built has been remodeling homes for over 15 years. We are design-build remodeling experts. Our experienced staff and trade contractors specialize in residential remodeling by communicating clearly, keeping your home clean and livable while we are working, protecting your property, and paying special attention to the safety of your children and pets. Our integrated service provides a proven, systematic and efficient process from start to finish.
Next time you remodel choose a design-build firm, you gain the advantage of working with just one source for your remodeling project.