Remodeling Your Home? Why or Why Not!

Homeowners often remodel their homes to enhance their comfort and quality of life. However, when one hears the word remodeling one may either feel excited or shudder at the mere thought of it. But whatever your thoughts may be on this topic, your house will require a remodel during your time.

Surveys indicate that at least 87% of homeowners remodel their homes at least once. Several reasons are associated with why people remodel their homes. Most of them concern the general enhancement of the aesthetics and current living conditions.

Remodeling could offer a fresh look to your home. It will also improve the aspects that need fixing. However, this process is more challenging. There are multiple facets to consider such as finances, time, availability of the contractors, and materials among others.

So, do you remodel or not? If you are indecisive, you have come to the right place. Today, we will talk about several upsides and downsides associated with remodeling your home. Then, you could decide what would be best for your home!

Upsides of Remodeling

Remodeling could be the best decision you ever made if you have access to reliable and trustworthy contractors. Most residential architects when asked a question about remodeling tell clients to hire dependable contractors. A residential architect can redesign and help guide, but it is the contractor who will take the final steps.

Let’s talk about the details!

Remodeling Could Be Cost Effective

This is a professional tip for all homeowners. Before you decide to remodel your home, plan your budget. Residential architects suggest that renovating a home that is less than 1000 square feet could cost approximately anywhere from $80,000 – $200,000 depending on the scope or your project.

Exceeding their budget is a fear most people have. And when it comes to remodeling, it will cost less than buying a new house. However, if you are not entirely sure about remodeling the entire house but want a change, you could go for DIY tutorials. But ensure safety.

Save the Cost of Moving

Renovating your home is generally a better idea than selling your home and moving. This way you will avoid the stress of purchasing a new property and all the associated costs. Making your current home better with some affordable renovations will save you money in the long run.

Increase the Value of Your Property

Renovations are one of the most efficient ways to increase the value of your property. Investing in a few upgrades in the kitchen and bathroom could fetch a higher price for your property.

Installing a new roof could also potentially boost the value of your property. Having your roof repaired could make your property more attractive, helping you sell it faster and save money. Additionally, insulating your home is one of the most sought-after renovation tips that residential architects undertake. It offers the maximum return on investment (ROI). Find some great info on return on investment by clinking this link!

Improve the Efficiency of Your Home/Lower Energy Bills

Another benefit of home renovation is making your home more sustainable and environment-friendly. Improving the efficiency of your home could also result in lower energy bills. For instance, in New Jersey, when it comes to electricity rates, you could compare them before you decide.

Investing in sustainable alternatives may appear costly upfront, but you will be saving a lot from a broader perspective. By insulating your home, you are almost saving around 15% to 50% on your cooling and heating bills.

Improve the Quality of Your Life

Some houses can be quite impractical. You may have three bedrooms on the first floor but only one bathroom. Waiting in line could become a hassle. If you decide to remodel your home and think that an additional bathroom on the top floor could be useful and budget-friendly, then go for it. The remodeling is to make the house as functional as possible for the users.

During renovations, residential architects recommend converting all unused space into adapted interiors with a purpose. You may have an empty corner in the living room that could be converted into a breakfast nook. So, why not go with it?

Tax Benefits

An energy-efficient home could attract several tax benefits. Installing a solar panel or solar water heater would benefit homeowners to save up on costs. The authorities also encourage homeowners for these upgrades and in return often provide them with better tax packages.

Downsides to Remodeling

Besides the upsides to remodeling, there are several downsides too. For the remodeling to work, you will require a contractor and that is the challenge. Finding an efficient contractor is a tedious job, especially if you do not have the budget for it. Additionally, remodeling halts your daily life.

Here are the details!

Remodeling is a Time Consuming Job

By the sound of it, remodeling is great, but it will affect your day-to-day life. You might not have access to hot water or the construction sounds may bother you during calls. Get ready to have your life disrupted for a few months.

You might even have to temporarily move to a new place and that gets even more stressful if you have a family. A simple remodeling of the kitchen takes somewhere around seven to ten days. As the number of days keeps on increasing, so will the budget.

Complete Remodeling Can Get Tedious

Some homes need a complete do-over and generally, that is not the wise choice. Remodeling should be done in parts to avoid spending in bulk and the stress associated with it. In complete renovations, people end up paying more than they would need to purchase a new house.

Hence, buying a new home is more advisable than remodeling every corner of your house. You will end up investing more money if you are going for the option of a complete remodel. However, if you love where you live it may be worth the aggravation!

You Might Be Paying for Two Places at One Time

If the remodel requires you and your family to move out temporarily, you might have to rent a new property or stay at a hotel. In either case, you will spend more money. Before you start with the remodeling, factor this into your budget.

If you are on a budget, you may want to consider what other alternatives are there if you are not willing to accept this additional expense.

To Remodel or Not to Remodel Your Home? What is the Wise Choice?

Here lie the difficult questions. On one hand, you want your house to have some upgrades, but on the other hand, you do not have the time to invest. How do you go about this?

As we said before, your house will undergo a remodel at least once in your lifetime. So, might as well be prepared for it when the need arises. Ask a residential architect, sit with them and get your hands dirty.

Of course, you will need the trifecta of time, money, and energy, but the remodel has more advantages to offer. We would recommend the answer is to REMODEL!

 

How to Modernize Your Home the Right Way: A Residential Architect’s Perspective

A modern home is today’s top trend when it comes to interiors. Changing consumer behavior is guiding residential architects toward uplifting and modernizing their designs. Residential architects are using this opportunity to freshen and liven peoples’ homes while integrating them with sustainability features.

If you are preparing to sell or just in the mood for a change, residential architects could instantly add a contemporary feel to your home. And here is how they could do it!

Choose Natural Materials

Organic and natural materials are a must when renovating your home for a modern look. Gone are the days when modernizing meant top-of-the-class luxury. Dark wooden cabinets with minimalist tones in between could entirely modernize your kitchen, stone benches could positively impact the living space, while bamboo as a flooring material could give your house the perfect modern aesthetic.

Retain Only the Essential

There is a famous architectural saying that less is more. Modernizing your home requires getting rid of all the extra clutter that you may have. Trust me, there is a lot of clutter that you may not even know about. Residential architects suggest that you must only focus on the objects that may enhance the aesthetic appeal of your home. Rather than displaying over-the-top trinkets, choose a few statement pieces that go with the overall scheme.

Use Glass

Modern homes and glass are partners in crime. However, that does not mean that you should bring in glass furniture. Instead, you can use glass as a skylight or french door to attain more natural life and enhanced spaces. You could install a glass partition wall to separate the kitchen and living area while keeping up with a semi-open plan. This is one of the most sought-after industry tricks.

Add New Lighting

Efficient lighting can “light” up a space. A brightly lit space appears welcoming and cozy. If you are in the process of modernizing your home, consider replacing traditional ceiling fixtures with contemporary pieces. It means hiring an electrician, but that is well worth the money.

Adopt Smart Lighting

Other than regular lighting, homeowners now also opt for smart lighting. Although a tad bit expensive, it does the job well and is worth the money. Smart lighting can change hues based on what you want them to be, dim the lights through voice commands, and even set a schedule. Smart lighting is an efficient way to modernize your spaces while also being at par with the changing times.

Create An Outdoor Space

An outdoor space does not have to mean an outdoor space. You may not have access to a large garden, but that should not stop you from creating an outdoor space. You can change the definition of a room by putting together a space with the help of a rug, some throw pillows, and some lights, and you are good to go. If you have more space, you could install a pergola with vines and add some drapes for privacy. Now here is a modern space to get comfortable and unwind on the weekend!

Some Fresh Paint

This is probably the easiest and most convenient way to modernize your home. Residential architects swear by paint even for their most complex projects. A fresh coat of paint in a new shade could do things to modernize your home that even the most expensive wallpapers could not. For the extra touch, you could go for an accent wall or change the color of the ceiling. A freshly painted room goes a long way in modernizing your space.

Update Window Treatments

Homeowners generally struggle to decide what style would be best suited for their spaces. This often makes them overlook the windows and they end up settling for simple blinds. However, here is the catch. Windows are a treasure trove for modernizing your home. You can play with the shades to your heart’s content. You could opt for a bold look with geometric panels, or choose to be minimalistic with sheer curtains. The possibilities are endless.

Consider Using Statement Colors

There is a common misconception in the industry that modern colors entail whites, greys, and blacks. The best and most modern home decor displays pops of bright colors. You could do it to brighten up a wall and provide the space with some personality. You could integrate color into your home with a brightly colored wall hanging or even choose a bold scheme for furniture. If you are in doubt, sit with the residential architect or interior designer and finalize a color scheme.

Utilize the Green Spaces

Basic garden upkeep is quite essential. From trimming hedges to mowing the lawn, a garden could highly modernize your home. Attractive outdoor furniture and a well-maintained landscape could make your lawn appear welcoming, modern, and more spacious than it actually is. Residential architects often recommend creating a link between the indoors and outdoors through transition spaces in the form of patios.

On the Path to a Modern Home

And there you have it folks, some advice from a residential architect’s perspective. Today’s homes, be it whatever size is now catering to today’s people. They now want their homes to express their views and want it done through spaces. And that is why modern homes are fluid, freeform, and without definitions.

Residential architects are now constantly experimenting, growing, and developing new concepts to evolve their designs and creativity. So why don’t you have a go at a modern approach?!

 

How is Climate Change Going to Affect the Housing Sector?

Even though we are aware of the negative impacts of climate change, we are drifting closer to the tipping point. The damage from climate change is on track to impact every single industry, including construction and housing.

People associated with the housing industry, including surveyors, planners, residential architects, and many more, are trying their best to maintain this impact. We are at a stage where the damage has become irreversible.

Owing to climate change, homeowners and renters alike are progressing toward a much different future than we may have imagined. Drastic steps, organizational shifts, and a targeted approach on a macro and micro level are now the need of the hour.

The Future of Housing

In recent years, climate change has taught people how to salvage the situation. Cultivating sustainability has now become an integral part of human lives. As a result, homeowners from all over are spearheading the environmental movement in their homes.

Green construction and sustainable building are simple and effective ways for homeowners to reduce their carbon footprint. In most municipalities and towns, new houses must now meet several environmental standards to receive planning permission.

Let’s explore some key takeaways from climate change on housing.

Rising Homeowner Costs

Surprisingly, climate change could create a domino effect and impact homeowner costs, especially in the form of insurance rates. Insurance companies in the wildfire-prone areas of California are now limiting the coverage for homebuyers. Increasing insurance rates will make coverage expensive for homeowners and can make ownership difficult for prospective buyers.

Burst Pipes

Despite the mild winter, one critical impact of climate change is the fast progression to severe winter conditions. Burst pipes are one of the most famous impacts on housing owing to climate change. These can cause severe damage to properties. With the increase of the cold spell, homeowners must be ready to witness a rise in burst pipes. Homeowners must consider if they are at risk and what measures must they take to mitigate them.

Poor Indoor Quality

Green design has presented a plethora of sustainable improvements including improved indoor air quality. According to the World Health Organization, over 7 million people lose their lives due to household and outdoor air pollution.

Most city dwellers are not even aware that they are breathing in contaminated air. This phenomenon known as Sick Building Syndrome (SBS) is highly common. It entails symptoms such as cough, nausea, or throat irritation. Although quite common, SBS goes unnoticed in urban settings due to large populations.

Increased Material Costs

The unethical supply chain is one of the primary reasons for high building material costs. However, in terms of impact, it would be foolish to overlook the role essayed by climate change. An example could be the price of lumber. Homeowners in many areas indicate that despite increasing lumber production, they witnessed their property values depreciate within the same timeline.

Deforestation and water crises are likely to keep the forests from thriving, decreasing the availability of usable wood and keeping prices high.

Increased Risk of Weather Events

Climate change brings with it plenty of side effects. Some effects are more extreme and damaging than others. Extreme weather conditions ranging from floods and hurricanes to drought and unexpected snowstorms have increased their frequency in recent years.

Modern residential architects now take into effect the impact of these weather events. And they do so throughout the construction process. For example, in flood-prone areas, residential buildings now utilize flood-resistant materials, better forms of construction, and sustainable measures.

Subsidence

The increasing temperature causes higher evaporation of the moisture trapped in the soil. The drying of soil could cause a loss of structural strength below ground and increase the risk of subsidence. Subsidence could also occur as a result of trees located close to homes absorbing water from the soil, thereby stripping the soil of its moisture, and increasing evaporation.

This phenomenon can cause irreparable damage to homes and also impact their sale. If the walls in your home exhibit significant cracks, immediate action are required.

Housing Affordability

Climate change has also had a significant impact on housing affordability. In many areas, homeowners are facing consistent damage to their homes that require repair. Homeowners in these locations must enhance their resilience by retrofitting their homes. However, these costs are often out of reach for many and those who cannot afford to repair them will be forced to remain in debilitating conditions.

Depreciating Home Values

Increasing climate change also impacts property values. Studies indicate that flooding caused by rising sea levels has resulted in monetary losses of billions of dollars in home value appreciation in the past 15 years across the East Coast.

Like insurance agencies, banks are also taking notes of the risks posed by climate change. With the potential of banks to face immense financial losses due to climate change, they may begin to decline mortgages for properties in risky areas. This can hinder home affordability for millions of people and also drive home value depreciation as well.

Exposure to Extreme Heat and Cold

Cardiac failure and respiratory infections (in the case of cold) are related to temperature extremes, which could result from insufficient housing design. Inadequate household heating, insulation, or ventilation could aggravate the effects of climate change. Poor households are the worst hit as the poor are unable to afford heating and cooling for their homes. Factors of cold indoor conditions comprise the dwelling’s age, household income, heating costs, etc.

Where New Housing Should Be Built

Due to unawareness over the years, most of the housing construction around the west coast has occurred in areas that are prone to the effects of climate change. Historically, climate change has not been a significant consideration in locating new housing. However, with the increase in environmental effects, this must change. The risks posed by changing climate must be considered as a more critical factor when building new housing.

Climate change will not only affect where new housing should be built but also how it should be built. This comprises the design of individual houses and larger communities. Housing communities in high-risk areas such as fire or flooding must be designed with adequate access for evacuation. Modern designs must also incorporate design elements that could serve as barriers such as greenbelts or roads.

Upwards and Onwards

To ensure the protection of current homeowners and prospective buyers, resilience must be harnessed to create better and safer, and affordable communities. Green infrastructure, circular economy, and promoting sustainability are just a few ways that can help improve and better the impact the housing sector has on the climate.

Residential architects, builders, designers, etc. are trying to play their part by updating homeowners on how they could mitigate the negative impacts of construction and home development.

Acting on resilience could also result in city-wide benefits and also contribute to the affordability and vibrancy of housing.

 

 

How to Build a Sustainable House?

Owing to climate change comprising rising sea levels, depletion of the ozone layers, and increased air pollution, we must take accountability for our roles. The built environment essays a significant character in the episode of climate change. How can homeowners and residential architects help to reduce this natural crisis?

Sustainable houses are now the talk of the town. They have gained momentum in recent years because of the low impact they have on the environment. For many homeowners, having sustainable features on their property is now a must. And rightly so!

Residential architects have also upgraded by adapting their designs to be more sustainable and environment-friendly. Let’s look at some essentials that can make your houses sustainable.

Insulating the Walls and Floors

Properly insulating the walls and floors could help reduce energy bills. Insulation makes the house more comfortable because it traps heat inside. It helps maintain a comfortable temperature inside irrespective of the outside temperature. Insulation balances the temperature in all seasons.

Use the Sun

For this method, orientation is essential. It involves passive heating designs and making maximum use of daylight. By incorporating passive solar heating, the windows can let in energy, and the absorbed heat will reduce the need for heating the house during winter. Most residential architects use passive heating to promote sustainability in homes.

Use Vernacular Materials

Using locally available materials is the perfect way to eliminate the degradation of the environment during transportation. Several residential architects have been known to use mud as a prospective material in homes to promote cooling. But I have not seen this happen in New Jersey!

Install Double Glazed Windows

Installing double-glazed windows is one of the most efficient ways to improve the sustainability of your home. These windows make the house warmer during the summer and cooler during the summer.

Minimize Material Waste

During construction, the waste can be recycled to reduce accumulation. Several residential architects source materials that have been recycled.

Promote Airtightness

Fewer gaps in the structural envelope mean less heat will be lost. Airtightness maximizes the efficiency of insulation thereby lowering the overall energy costs.

Install Energy-Efficient Windows

Due to their insulating properties, energy-efficient windows will keep the house warm in the winter and cool during the summer.

Create Efficient Heating

Creating efficient heating is a crucial step in making your house more sustainable. It can be done by using blinds and curtains. Many residential architects make use of the shade from the sun to create an insulation-like environment.

Use Renewable R

Solar and wind power is two of the cheapest renewable energy resources. These resources can significantly reduce your energy bills and also curtail the use of fossil fuels. Solar panels are installed on the roofs and reduce energy costs by independently generating electricity.

Use Eco-Friendly Roofing Materials

Now, roofs are built to reduce energy costs while retaining the energy in your home. Some examples of eco-friendly roofing materials include solar power roofs, corrugated roofs, recycled shingles, etc.

Install Low-Flush Toilets

Low-flush toilets can significantly reduce water wastage compared to traditional ones. Low-flush toilets use around 1.3 – 1.6 gallons per flush.

Install Skylights

Skylights are an architectural marvel that has been in use since old times. These not only enhance the aesthetics of the room, promote natural light, and also save on energy costs by promoting natural ventilation.

Sustainable Flooring

Sustainable materials on the floor will make it appear more pleasing and well-made. Bamboo is a very common material used for flooring to enhance sustainability. Bamboo is abundantly available and grows quickly thereby replenishing the lost material. Bamboo has now become a cult favorite among homeowners who also use it for decorative purposes.

HVAC Systems

Choosing energy-efficient heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning system (HVAC) is an integral part of a sustainable home. The correct selection and maintenance of the HVAC system could reduce energy costs, conserve water, and also save the environment. HVAC systems are costly to repair. You must always keep them in supreme shape through annual maintenance.

Use Energy-Efficient Appliances

In a house, energy efficiency is not just promoted through the building. The appliances have a role to play as well. Swapping old electrical appliances that have a low energy rating with energy-saving certified products is one of the best practices for a sustainable home.

Install Thermostats

Thermostats can be used to monitor the temperature of the house, thereby balancing the heating and cooling inside the house in all seasons. These are great options to reduce energy bills and help better the environment.

Use Energy Savers

LED bulbs or fluorescent lamps are now the only used lighting fixtures in most homes. People are now reducing the use of incandescent bulbs that not only increased energy bills but are also harmful to the environment.

Use Non-Toxic Building Materials

Non-toxic building materials lower the environmental impacts the house might pose to the environment. They are sustainable, recyclable, and readily available. Although they might cost slightly more, in the long run, you will be saving yourself some money and the environment.

Collect Rainwater

Collecting rainwater in tanks for reusing it in washrooms or gardens is a great way to replenish water. The process is called rainwater harvesting. Underground tanks are a great source of rainwater harvesting. Since there is no direct sunlight, the chance of evaporation is also less. Once the tank is full of rainwater, the clean water then passes through a filtration pump for use. Rainwater harvesting is a great way to sustainable living.

Design Sustainability

Sustainable design is something that a residential architect or a sustainability expert can guide you through. You must ensure that the house uses materials that are easily available, viable, durable, and can be recycled. The house must also be able to adapt to changing needs without incurring any additional costs. This is the most crucial aspect of sustainable living as the residential architect is trying to incorporate green practices into the fabric of the house itself.

Conclusion

These are some of the most widely-used sustainable design practices that residential architects, builders, and designers have been incorporating into new houses. Some architects have also had projects where homeowners wanted to upgrade their homes to be more sustainable.

Sustainability is now the need of the house, and it is time that people related to the built environment also took a stand. So, if you’re thinking of becoming more sustainable in the ways you live, then look no further. Speak to your local architect and find out ways that you could be benefitting your home, yourself, and the environment.

 

Design Tricks That Will Maximize Your Space

Accommodating ALL your belongings is a near-impossible task when you reside in a small apartment or house. And trying to make everything appear aesthetically pleasing is even more exhausting and challenging.

But residential architects are a different and unique breed. The challenge is what makes it fun: thinking of clever ways to design in less square footage makes it all the more rewarding towards the end.

Luckily for you, we have some tricks up our sleeve that is sure to maximize your space without having to compromise on your belongings. These design ideas will make your interiors feel spacious and more open.

Use Reflective Surfaces

Reflective surfaces can make the interior spaces appear more spacious than they are. You could opt for white or beige walls. These colors are reflective and can generate an effect similar to that of mirrors.

This effect is due to the natural light bouncing off the lightly colored surfaces making the space appear voluminous.

Be Imaginative

When you have limited space and do not want to shop for new bulky furniture, it is time to get resourceful. A residential architect might suggest installing wall sconces instead of floor lamps or reusing a traditional wooden chest as a side table.

There are no bounds to being imaginative, and this is your chance.

Honey! I Shrunk the Dining Table

Petite round tables are not just to grace your breakfast nook. You could dump the extra-large dining table and carve some space by opting for a smaller table.

This brilliant trick is a holy grail for most residential architects and interior designers dealing with small spaces. A round dining table avoids using more space, unlike a rectangular one. However, a downside to this trick is that if you have more than three family members, the round table will not be of much use.

Think Vertically

Interior designers often use vertical designs to make a modestly-sized space appear more streamlined. Examples include vertical ceramic tiles in washrooms, tall and slender bookshelves in living rooms or bedrooms, and thin photo frames to enhance the area.

Benefit From the Architectural Elements of Your Home

 

When it comes to tiny houses, every square inch makes a difference. If your home exhibits a decent bay window, you could customize the interior space to create a window nook. It could function as a reading area, provide extra seating, or just a cozy spot to take advantage of the views from the window.

Use Mirrors

Mirrors are the oldest trick in the book. These will make your interior spaces feel lighter, brighter, and more generous. Versatile designs allow you to add character and depth to the interiors without accommodating too much space.

Get Creative with the Furniture

Many residential architects suggest combining the storage with the furniture in your homes. It allows for multitasking and quirky adaptation of the furnishings.

Use the Height of the Ceiling

Small-scale houses benefit from lofty ceilings. Soaring ceilings also contribute to the overall design of the house. Residential architects often experiment with the outline to make the rooms appear taller. Another upside to this trick is that it could incorporate extra storage space that would merge with the interiors.

Let It Be Neutral

Even-toned rooms fool the eye into thinking that they are more spacious. Pastel colors are a decent choice when it comes to creating calm interiors. However, ensure to play with some textures to avoid the space turning bland.

Avail All Surface Space

When there is no room for an extra table or shelf, even a wide windowsill could provide the space for decor or other essentials. A bright flower vase on the windowsill could add a pop of color to an otherwise simple room.

Strategize the Seating Arrangement

Small-scale houses might not offer you the comfort of an extensive seating arrangement. You might need to be quick with your thinking.

You could choose extra seating that can fold up and is compact. So, you could store it when the guests are not over.

Promote Interconnectedness

You could exchange solid doors for glass ones to connect adjacent spaces and open views. It could create an airy atmosphere enlarging the interiors.

As Clear as Crystal

Styling your home with see-through pieces will make it appear less bestrewn. The simple concept works if you can “see through” furniture, the interior space will feel much more open. Items that help achieve this effect include glass tableware, storage units, and curtains.

Patterns

Hallways and passageways are often dark and lacking in natural light. A striking wallpaper in subtle colors could help feature this part of your home.

Optimize Natural Light

Natural light could improve the perception of space and make your home more inviting. Residential architects suggest that homeowners must take advantage of the natural light. It might mean installing skylights, creating grand windows, or eliminating a wall or two.

If the source of natural light is limited, you could use reflective surfaces such as mirrors to create the illusion of more light and space.

Embrace Unity Through Materials

Treating the interior spaces as a single entity could work wonders in the case of open plan layouts. It means running the same flooring through all the spaces or painting the walls in the same shades.

It does not mean you must create a dull and monotonous look for your interiors. Think about the textures you will be using in the kitchen and how you could incorporate into the living area. Subtle uses of a color palette or materials in each room will maintain consistency and provide a greater sense of space.

Mount the Television

A television on a table or shelf is the primary culprit behind space wastage in a room. Mount the television on the wall, and you shall regain the floor space.

Keep the Floor Visible

Keeping some bare floor space can make the room appear more spacious. However, you must not be entirely consistent. A simple rug or a piece of carpet near the seating area could enhance the textures in the room and prevent it from falling flat.

These are the Best Tricks of the Trade

You have witnessed some of the best and most used tricks that residential architects and designers’ harness to make the best of interior spaces. Whether it’s making a moderately-sized house appear more spacious or add some free-flow to a large house, design illusions are the go-to solution for residential architects.

With these tricks and tips at hand, you won’t ever feel claustrophobic again. So, why not collaborate with your local residential architect to avail these genius tricks and increase some space in your home?

 

Eco-Friendly Roofing Materials

Every homeowner must replace their roof shingles at some point. You must keep this in mind if you are building a new home. Roofs are the “guardians” of your home. Their primary job to withstand harsh weather makes it necessary for you to select a high-quality roof for your home.

Climate changes have had a massive impact on the global environment, and every individual has some part to play. Several residential architects are now of the opinion that when looking for a new roof, homeowners could invest in a sustainable roofing system.

Building green is beneficial for the environment and a positive step towards reducing the carbon footprint. Climate change is perceived as a global threat, with the built environment being collectively responsible for almost 40% of the world’s combined emissions.

For years, those in the property sector have been conscious of their impact on climate change, but while most recognized their responsibilities, little or nothing was done to address the issue. Affordable remedies are now available to enable the built environment to leap towards climate-resilient building strategies as the industry is steadily shifting to renewable energy and a plethora of sustainable measures that could reduce carbon emissions and enhance adaptation efforts.

How to Proceed

Selecting the right kind of roof in the present could save you money in the long term. Roofs are now constructed in a way that helps reduce energy bills while retaining the energy in your home. Several advanced but expensive techniques allow the roofs to produce energy for your home.

These factors can be quite overwhelming and make the process tedious. However, most sustainable roofs have at least one of these factors, so you are good.

Let’s look at the sustainable alternative to roofing materials.

Solar Power Roof

Solar roofs are at the top of the sustainable roofing game. They are a long-term environment-friendly solution with multiple benefits.

Solar roofs allow homeowners to generate their electricity, thereby lowering their utility bills and giving them greater control over their energy consumption. Solar power has been consistently developing over the decades and is now becoming more affordable for the average homeowner.

Solar roofs create clean energy by eliminating carbon emissions, reducing the dependency on depleting fossil fuels. By installing a solar power roof, you will not only be playing your part towards saving the planet but also increasing the value of your property.

Corrugated Roof

Corrugated roofing is an economical green roof for your home. Corrugated roofing is one of the most used materials for average homes.

Owing to the advancement in technology, now this roof is not limited to just the wavy pattern and translucent colors. There are various styles and shades for you to select from. The versatility that corrugated roofing exhibits in addition to being a green option are one of the primary reasons for its popularity.

The fact that corrugated roofing is durable makes it a heavy-hitter in the list of sustainable roofing alternatives. The roof is easy to fix and install and exhibits a neat appearance on any structure.

Recycled Shingles

These roof shingles are a product of recycled waste material such as rubber, plastic, or wood fiber. Some are also the result of post-industrial waste.

Recycled shingles are not only durable but exhibit an aesthetic appearance. They are highly eco-friendly as they keep the waste out of the landfills and they do not require the processing of raw materials, thereby reducing energy consumption.

Although a frontrunner in sustainable roofing, recycled shingles have a low fire rating. This negative trait makes many residential architects skeptical about the long-term use of recycled shingles for homeowners.

Rubber Roofing

Manufactured from old steel tires, reinforced rubber shingles are a reliable sustainable roofing material. These are coated with ground slate to enhance their texture and durability.

The roof comes in a versatile range of colors and has a lifespan of about fifty years. Rubber roofing is highly resistant to storms and other harsh weather conditions.

Reclaimed Slate or Clay Roof

Since ancient times, slate and clay tiles have been in use for roofing and their presence is prevalent even today. Reclaimed tiles are a highly sustainable roofing option.

Clay tiles are a prominent roofing choice in Spanish villas and have been so since the earlier days. Slate tiles are a significate feature in historic homes and are even used by residential architects for homeowners who want a classic look for their homes.

Slate and clay tiles have a long service life lasting up to hundreds of years and are available in a series of color palettes.

Green Roof

Green roofs have become the most sought-after sustainable roofing option in residential as well as commercial buildings. It exhibits several environmental benefits at the micro and macro level.

The name itself means that the roofs are covered in vegetation and grass. The growing medium is planted over a waterproof membrane and consists of more layers such as drainage and irrigation systems.

By installing a green roof, homeowners could reduce the negative impact of construction while providing environmental, social, and economic benefits. Green roofs help reduce runoff during storms and reduce noise and air pollution.

Homeowners also benefit from lowered energy bills and a long-lasting roof membrane. Green roofs are highly prominent in the agricultural industry as they also provide a habitat for wildlife.

White Roof or Cool Roof

Any white roof or other light-shaded roofs irrespective of the material is called a cool roof. This roof has a cooling effect on the house as it reflects the sun’s rays.

Cool roofing systems are highly advantageous in hot climates because the air conditioning will not be used during the day. Thus, there will be a significant reduction in the summer energy bills for such homeowners.

Standing Seam Roof

This roofing system is entirely recyclable and long-lasting with an expected lifespan of almost fifty to sixty years. Metal roofs are not only beneficial as a sustainable roofing option but also to anyone who is looking to invest in a durable and reliable roofing system.

By selecting a lighter shade of the metal roof, you could reduce your summer energy bills while playing your role in the crusade for saving the environment. In addition, metal roofs are fire-resistant.

There You Have It!

When it comes to a roof, age is not just a number. You will have to replace the roof of your home at least once in your lifetime. And if that is for sure the case, why not go for a sustainable choice?!

The roof of your home requires maintenance and care in prolonging its life. And that is what every homeowner wants right? A hassle-free roofing system once installed, will be in place for at least half a century.

Your answer to the best-suited sustainable roof maybe with your local architect. Homeowners are now aware of the role they play in bettering the environment and are more than ready to invest in sustainable materials and circular buildings.

Lastly, sustainability drives results and there are no shortcuts to achieving it. So, the architects must connect with their clients in ways that appeal to them and their inner environment crusader. And why not start with a long-term investment in a sustainable roof?!

 

The Best Suited Finishes for Wood Floors

Timber construction has gained a significant amount of momentum in the previous decades. Being a renewable material, the flexibility and adaptability of this material have allowed for a more environment-friendly construction.

In its crude form, wood is not fully usable. It undergoes cleaning and processing and finally, the finished product is what goes onto the structures. Finishes can be grouped into classes based on what they have to offer. There are varnishes, oils, waxes, and much more that are used as finishes on the wood.

Different finishes exhibit varying degrees of durability, protection, aesthetical appearance, and ease of application. Without a proper finish, the wood could crack, lose its natural appearance and tone, and deteriorate.

An appropriate finish prevents the wood from deteriorating and increases its natural life. Below is the list of the most used finishes on wood with their attributes and uses.

Oils

Oil finishes are highly popular with carpenters and woodworkers. They tend to highlight the original character of wood without altering its texture or color. Since oils are natural, they are easy to apply.

Linseed oil is primarily used as a finish for wood. Unrefined linseed oil is rarely used as a finish because it has a slow rate of drying. One of the best ways to use linseed oil as a finish is by boiling it, which results in a thick product that dries quickly. This product is known as polymerized oil or heat-treated oil.

Tung oil is available in an unrefined or polymerized form. The heat-treating process speeds up the drying time and makes the oil more efficient as a finish. It also reduces the tendency of tung oil to freeze. Tung oil exhibits better moisture resistance than linseed oil.

Varnishes

Varnishes create a transparent film-like layer on the surface, which covers the pores in the wood. It also highlights the natural characteristics of the wood.

Varnishes are made from synthetic resins that are modified with drying oils. These resins include urethane, alkyd, and phenolic. Other than linseed and tung oil, semi-drying oils such as soybean are also used.

Varnishes such as polyurethane are resistant to moisture and water. Some varnishes that protect the wood against ultraviolet rays are highly useful for outdoor structures such as gazebos and trellises. Residential architects suggest using this finish on wooden landscaping features.

Varnishes are regularly used on facades, frames, and internal parts. After some time when the varnish layer peels off, the wooden surface must be varnished again.

Waxes

Waxes are a derivative of mineral, animal, and vegetable sources. These are marketed in a paste or liquid form. The most common are beeswax and carnauba.

As a finish, waxes do not penetrate the wood but form a protective layer. Many carpenters use wax as an additional finish along with oils or varnish to give the wooden surface a pleasing appearance.

Water-based

Water-based finishes have the same ingredients as varnishes, particularly acrylic and urethane. However, some of the ingredients are replaced with water. Water-based finishes exhibit complex chemistry. Since resins do not have a natural affinity toward the water, they must be chemically modified to combine with it.

A water-based finish is usually made with an acrylic resin or urethane mixture. The addition of urethane toughens the resin and makes it scratch resistant.

Impregnants

Impregnants penetrate the wood, nourishing it from inside by allowing it to breathe. This gives off a more natural look. Since impregnants permeate the wood, it makes it water-resistant.

Impregnants are convenient to apply and maintain. However, they are not as protective as other finishes.

Shellac

Shellac is a natural finish secreted by the insect Kerria lacca found in Thailand and India. The secretions are in the form of cocoons, which are gathered and refined into dry flakes. These flakes are then dissolved into ethyl alcohol, which results in the shellac solution.

Shellac is available in premixed or flake form that you can mix yourself with denatured (ethyl) alcohol. Shellac dries quickly and forms a strong film that is useful for varnishing wooden furniture and floors. At present, it is not used much as it is not highly resistant to water or alcohol.

Lacquers

Lacquer is regarded to be one of the best and most widely-used finishes for wood. It dries fast and imparts a richness to the wood and exhibits durability. Different types of lacquer exhibit different performance attributes.

The most common is nitrocellulose lacquer. It is a result of alkyd and nitrocellulose resin, which is mixed with solvents. Such a type of lacquer has moderate water resistance but is sensitive to heat. One of the preliminary disadvantages of this lacquer is that it yellows over time and that is visible in lightly-colored woods.

Acrylic-modified lacquer is made from a mixture of cellulose acetate butyrate and acrylic. This lacquer possesses the same properties as nitrocellulose lacquer except that it is water-white. This means that it will not show as an amber color when applied to light-colored woods. This lacquer does not yellow over time.

Another type is the catalyzed lacquer. It strengthens the relationship between the application of nitrocellulose lacquer and varnish. It is a finish comprised of urea melamine or urea-formaldehyde and an alkyd that has nitrocellulose resin added to it.

Adding the acid catalyst initiates a chemical reaction that results in a durable finish. Catalyzed lacquer is of two types namely pre-catalyzed and post-catalyzed. Pre-catalyzed lacquer has premixed components while post-catalyzed lacquer is to be devised using precise ratios at your home or workshop.

How to Understand the Durability of a Finish?

The durability of a finish is measured by its resistance to heat, water, chemicals, and scratches. Shellac, water-based finishes, and wax will be damaged if exposed to water long enough. Most of these finishes scratch easily, however, they rub out well.

Oil-based polyurethane is the most durable finish that can be applied by hand. Varnish and catalyzed lacquer are the most durable sprayed finishes.

Conclusion

It is essential to note that when considering wood finishes, several issues must be addressed. These include the possible use of the piece, where it will be installed, and its life expectancy. The crucial aspect is that the architect must be aware of the function of the wooden piece to find the most appropriate finish for the situation.

Whether you are transforming a wooden floor or just sanding your old wooden furniture, you must use the right type of finish to extend its life. Invest your time, money, and energy in a finish that will bear fruitful results.

Choose a finish that gives off a rustic yet modern look for your home that reflects through the furniture, doors, or even decorative wooden elements. So, let’s lookout for the best and most efficient finish out there.

 

How to Swipe Right on a Residential Architect

It is a well-known saying that there is plenty of fish in the sea. And truer words have never been spoken. When you are in the market for a residential architect, how do you know who the perfect match for your needs will be?!

You could find someone with hundreds of great reviews online, but how can you be sure that a year later you would also leave them a great review?! Unless you know a residential architect, all others are on an even playing field.

So how to get out of this conundrum?! A residential architect’s expertise is one of the most critical aspects to consider, but the right architect will also be someone you feel comfortable working with.

For your convenience, there are some rules you could follow to find the residential architect of your dreams. So, let’s get going.

Step 1: Develop A Preliminary Brief Before You Look for an Architect

Before you start approaching architects, you must have a brief ready for the first discussion. It could be a simple list of your requirements and ideas. If you have a preliminary brief ready, the residential architect will know what you are after so they can determine if they are the right fit for the project.

The brief does not have to be set in stone, but a rough idea could go a long way in finalizing things. It could include aspects such as:

  • The number of bedrooms.
  • The number of bathrooms.
  • The materials you like.
  • The architectural style you prefer.
  • The preliminary budget.
  • Are you considering an open plan?
  • Do you want landscaping in the garden area?
  • Are you looking for an outdoor living space?

Step 2: Ask Around, Your Friends or Coworkers Maybe They Know of a Reliable Residential Architect

When it comes to finding a residential architect, referrals go a long way in partnership with a simple internet search. Social media platforms are overflowing with architects showcasing their work and they always put their contact details to find more clients. This could be a convenient step for you.

You could also ask for recommendations from your friends, neighbors, or coworkers. Simply ask them if they know any residential architect they would recommend.

In addition, you could also take a stroll around the neighborhood and look at newly constructed houses, if any. There is no harm in asking your neighbors who they hired for their home.

These are some of the basic ways that could start your search for a residential architect.

Step 3: Find an Architect With Whom You Can Communicate Openly

Your residential architect is the person you are trusting your home with. There can be no room for miscommunication. You will be investing time and money and the architect’s approach must be to involve you in talks.

You must feel confident that you can approach the architect about the process without any hesitations. This will help run the process smoothly and without problems.

Any communication error could cause delays and have a lasting effect on the entire project. So, when choosing an architect ensure that they are dependable and communicative.

Step 4: Find an Architect Whose Work You Have Seen Beforehand

Social media has made it so convenient for you to check out any residential architect’s work. Whether it’s their projects, sketches, or blogs, you can access them through the touch of your hands.

An architecture practice’s primary selling tool is its website. They showcase their work, personal information, and project details for prospective clients to see. The more impressive their website, the more clients they could attract.

Their website will give you an indication of their caliber, design ideas, and working process. You could also understand the architectural style they generally work with, the materials they are familiar with, and the construction methods they are used to working with.

Step 5: Find an Architect Who Listens to Your Ideas

When selecting an architect, make sure that they listen to your ideas and do not shut them down. During the initial discussion, a residential architect might suggest their options and that is great, but do not let them steer you away entirely from your initial thoughts.

Many homeowners get excited that their residential architect designed an excellent home. But in that process, do not compromise the essential design elements that you want to be included in your home.

Architects are professionals who are supposed to register the preliminary design ideas and then further on that with their expertise. They cannot force you into wanting something that you simply do not.

Always remember this!

Step 6: Find an Architect Who Understands Your Budget

Everyone cannot afford a house that is worth millions and that is okay. Designing your home will take a large amount of the overall budget. That is why it is essential to get it right and for you to be happy with it.

You must be quite sensible if you do not have unlimited funds to throw at the project. Do not go overboard with your money.

The best way is to be upfront with your residential architect and realistic about what could be achieved in that budget. Do not let the architect talk you into adding architectural features that are out of your budget.

When selecting a residential architect, make sure that they can handle your budget and are fully aware of the amount you are ready to spend on the project. Then it is the architect’s job to come up with a design that fits well within your means.

Now You Have Your Residential Architect!

Now that you have understood some golden rules, ensure that you follow them till the end. Your home is where you are going to stay for a long part of your life, build a family, stain the curtains, adopt a pet, and chip off the door handles. So it must be almost perfect.

Your home is your abode, and you must be happy with it. That is why choosing the best-suited residential architect for your home is a must. No compromises there.

So why not swipe right on a local architect and find out how to start with your home project.

 

What Should Home Owners Be Aware Of Before Purchasing or Renovating a Home?

 

Part One: Purchasing

Purchasing or renting a house is probably one of the most significant economic investments in people’s lives. You are willingly giving away a certain sum of your money every month, either as a mortgage or rent.

Of course, this decision is critical and carries several aspects that need to be thought through. This is real life, and you are not living in one of the television episodes of Selling Sunset where everyone can afford glamorous houses worth millions of dollars. Yes, we all love the show but let’s be realistic!

Before you purchase a house, it is natural to ask yourself what considerations are imperative to have an in-depth base before plunging into the pool. On several occasions, residential architects try to guide prospective homebuyers about the process.

Check Out the Precise Location of the Development

The location is the most preliminary way you get to understand a house. You get a look into the proximity of the house to amenities, the orientation, and assess the overall situation.

Orientation is fundamental because it helps reduce the energy costs saving you hundreds of dollars every year. Understanding the proximity to essential services such as schools, supermarkets, hospitals, parks, and access to public transport among others is crucial.

In addition, it is also useful to inquire about social and infrastructure projects going around the site on a neighborhood level that may increase or decrease the value of the property in the future.

Understand the Local Regulations

Development projects bring with them a lot of red tapes. Developers must get through planning applications, and receive development permission, construction hassles, inspections, and marketing, all while trying to sell the properties for a profit.

From the homebuyers’ perspective, you must ensure to find out about the local regulations. Ignoring building regulations could dampen your plans of adding an extension or renovation in the future.

Set a Budget and Search for Price References in the Neighborhood

As mentioned before, not everyone can afford a house worth millions and that is fine. There are excellent houses available in a price range below that. But you must set your budget. And then some.

By having a budget in mind, your meetings with the mortgage advisors could become more convenient. Additionally, you could do your homework by searching for comps in the neighborhood you are eyeing.

Look for the price range that is predominant in the neighborhood and for how much the average house sells. You must also inquire about the development and construction costs. Taking heed of simple aspects could end up saving you money.

 

Find Out About the Process of Buying a Home

The process of selling and buying a house is not simple. Several aspects might impact your budget. This specifically includes the planning regulations and overhead taxes. It is always best to take guidance from a reliable solicitor.

Here concludes Part One of the blog that discusses some essentials of purchasing a house. Buying a house requires spending a lot of money and critical analysis of the situation. Hence, assessing the property and the related attributes such as finances, maintenance, regulations, etc. are a must.

Part Two: Renovating

The regulations (NJAC 5:26-6.3) define renovations as “the removal and replacement or covering of interior or exterior finish, trim, doors, windows or other materials with new materials that serve the same purpose and do not change the configuration of space. Renovation shall include the replacement of equipment or fixtures”. When an architect takes up renovation works, there are two Sets of Requirements that they must adhere to: products and practices and materials and methods.

Consult a Residential Architect

Many prospective clients skip the architect and visit a builder for their home renovation project. The first thing the builder asks for is the architect’s drawings. So technically, the first step is to consult a residential architect.

Ideally, you want to go to a residential architect who specializes in additions and alterations. These projects exhibit their unique set of problems, and a residential architect should be able to guide you through the process.

Ask yourself questions like what is your budget, could you grab some extra space in the attic or basement, or should you go up or go out? A residential architect can help answer these questions for you.

Spend at the Property During Renovation

Many times, during renovations, homeowners ignore the process and step in once every two weeks to check on the process. Residential architects generally prefer if you are part of every minute detail. This is to avoid confusion and unnecessary expectations at a later stage.

For instance, the color palette of your newly-renovated home will influence a lot of other aspects such as the carpets, curtains, and the overall interior scheme. Paint palettes that are selected before the renovation must be tested on the walls and could change as the process continues.

If you need more time to reconsider things, then spend more time at the property during renovations to avoid back to square one moment.

Be Realistic About the Timeline

The renovation could take longer than expected so be prepared for that scenario and make accommodations to avoid last-minute frustrations. It could be two weeks before your new pool is delivered or the wooden framework for new windows requires an additional week. Currently some windows are taking 16 weeks to be delivered!

Be prepared for contingencies.

Renovate the Kitchen First

Homeowners often want to know which space to renovate first. Generally, residential architects suggest the kitchen. It is the best space to start with as it could add additional value to your property.

According to the National Association of Realtors 2019 Impact Report, homeowners can recover 59% of the cost of a full kitchen renovation if they sell their home. Further, if you have an outdated kitchen, it makes sense to upgrade it to contemporary times to enjoy the full potential of the renovations.

Practically speaking, kitchen renovations should be the first because they will result in excessive debris and dust. And you do not want that settling on a new paint job or flooring.

Be Specific About Your Design Ideas

If you are working along with the residential architect during the design stages of the renovations, be specific but realistic. It is the residential architect’s job to bring your ideas to life, but they will think about the technical aspects as well.

As clients, you must be rational and openly discuss your ideas with the architect for the renovation. Of course, you are allowed to take inspiration from the internet or books, but take heed of your budget, set a timeline, and then decide what works best for your project.

Be upfront with the residential architect about the money and do not let them go over budget. This teamwork should bear fruitful results. Of course it is just a guideline and you will not know the real cost until the documents are completed. Especially in our current times!

This is the end of Part Two that presents the essentials associated with renovating a home. The process can be tedious and time consuming, but many homeowners enjoy the process of redesigning small aspects of their homes.

So What is Better?

Now you have two full-blown housing options in front of you. Whether you decide to purchase a house or renovate the one you already have, the processes require time, research, energy, and a lot of money.

So, save yourself the trouble, consult professionals, observe what they have to say, and get your queries clarified. After all, the result should be a feeling of money well spent.

 

Home Renovation Ideas

Residential architects love renovations. Most of them suggest that the best home renovations are those that respect the original structure and enlighten it from a modern and contemporary perspective. Old houses offer the inhabitants glimpses into the past, stability, and character. So, it’s fair to retain some of those features during renovation.

Architects for renovation tend to get creative when it comes to modern designs. They take the renovation as a challenge and aspire to transform the project with a wow factor.

During the renovation, the scale of the project matters. It is also necessary to understand the organization associated with the renovation. Are you going for a partial or full renovation? How much time have you allotted? These are some questions you must answer before hiring a residential architect.

So, why don’t you check out some bright renovation ideas that could transform your home from old to new?!

Instilling Sustainability

With the advent of climate change, building laws have adopted sustainability, residential architects are designing with eco-friendly materials, and homeowners are doing their bit to reduce the harm to the environment.

A home renovation presents homeowners with the perfect opportunity to instill eco-friendly construction techniques in their homes. Not only is it a balanced way to do your part for the environment, but it also allows you to live comfortably in the future with reduced electricity and heating bills.

Some examples could include upgrading old windows with double glazed options or adding insulation to the floors and walls, and installing solar panels on the roof for the highest sustainability standards.

Building a Connection with the Outdoors

Home renovation allows you to bring in light indoors and create a connection with the outdoor spaces. Many residential architects try to incorporate French windows extending towards decks that step down into the back garden.

Some architects use picture windows to create focus and a sliding door to the side for access that also opens the newly renovated space.

In addition, homeowners who grow their vegetables get the opportunity to merge their kitchen with the vegetable patch. Residential architects get creative by creating a small greenhouse that offers connectivity with the built environment as well.

Adding Volume

A home renovation could offer the opportunity to maximize the potential in the existing space. Although homeowners often think of increasing the floor space, they tend to overlook the space above it.

Volume essays an essential role in making the space appear bigger and wider. By incorporating nig picture windows for depth, strategically placed skylights, and changes to the ceilings (vaults if possible), your home could feel spacious and airy.

And what’s more, is that it enhances the concept of space. Now, who wouldn’t want that?!

Upcycling

Salvaging original materials or exposing the fabric of an old home could bring character and depth to the new interiors and give a callout to the history of the structure. Residential architects try to use timber from the old structure and incorporate it as a decorative element.

Previously-used metal if in decent shape could be used as an enhancing element as part of the interiors. You could get it reshaped into a decorative piece or simply use it as a frame for your walls.

Additional Story

If you have the space, avenue, and planning permission, then why not add a story to your existing structure?! An additional story will present you with more space, volume, and a higher property value in the future.

You could choose to make the addition over the garage in the form of living space for yourself, guests, or rentals. If an addition is not possible, you could always opt for conversion to incorporate more space.

Internal Glass Doors

Source: (Houzz)

Often considered to be a crucial designing element in home renovations by residential architects, internal glass doors could be the perfect source to improve lighting conditions in semi-detached houses where central spaces often lack natural light and appear dark.

Presently refurbished industrial-style glass doors are quite popular with many homeowners appreciating their prefabricated appeal.

Porch Addition

Installing a porch could transform the appearance of your home. Residential architects ensure that the design of the porch is proportional to the size of the house and that it does not block the natural light from entering through the front door.

A porch could create a draft lobby that reduces heat loss from your home. This factor is also dependent on using the right materials.

Get Creative with Ceilings

If you are worried about sloped ceilings, that is not a problem for residential architects. They will make do with what they have. When you are conducting a renovation project that has awkward ceilings, residential architects will try to produce a solution to what is present in front of them.

For sections of the room with a low ceiling, they might suggest options that do not let the space go to waste. An idea could be incorporating built-in storage, a small vanity mirror, or a spot for a comfortable reading area.

Building Shelves

You can never have too much storage. So, make the best of every inch possible with shelves and storage cupboards. Nowadays, residential architects get creative with storage space by making the most of awkward spaces and corners.

It is the perfect way to use every nook and cranny in your house for extra storage. Some ideas could be combining the storage with furniture, building multipurpose staircases, or installing a closet under an elevated bed.

Introduce Wall Panels

Wall panels are hugely popular in-home renovation projects. A well-crafted wall panel could add interest to an otherwise featureless room by creating depth and symmetry.

Residential architects also play with the dimensions of the wall panels to add proportionality to a room. This could be incredibly useful for disproportionate or unusually shaped spaces in your home.

Low-Maintenance Landscaping

Not only does low-maintenance landscaping save money, but it is also significant for future homebuyers. This is an exterior home renovation idea that will add to the overall value of your property.

For instance, if you live in a dry area, opt for shrubs native to that region.

Use Paint

One of the most cost-effective improvements for your home is paint. Freshly-painted rooms create impact and add density to the spaces.

Most people relate to neutral-colored spaces as it has the appropriate amount of impact on the space. Painting is an effortless way to renovate your home aesthetically. Overall, the cost of this type of renovation is low, the subsequent result looks more expensive.

Replace Kitchen Countertops

The kitchen is the most widely-used space in any home and faces the brunt of grease stains and chipped countertops. While renovating, a residential architect might suggest paying more attention to the countertops for functionality and cosmetic appeal.

You could always incorporate hard-wearing marble, versatile granite, or trendy porcelain countertops. Residential architects could even upcycle the material that is not going to be of use anymore and you could end up with a classic decorative piece for your home.

Increase the Space of Tiny Bathrooms… Visually

The size of your home affects its value. However, the square footage is not the only thing that matters. The trick is to make each space in your home feel larger.

For the washroom, you could do this by installing a large mirror to visually enhance the size of that space and reflect more light. Residential architects also suggest using a neutral color palette to blur the harsh lines and make the space feel airy.

Clean Up the Lawn

You all must have come across a house with overgrown bushes and messy flower beds that make you feel uncomfortable. A tidy landscape is a critical element of a home. Freshly-cut grass, pruned bushes, and overall tidiness will go a long way in upgrading your home.

Concluding Remarks

Home renovation can be a tedious and nerve-wracking process if approached in the wrong way. But lucky for you, residential architects are the holy grail.

With creative ideas, a technical mindset, and determination, residential architects could spruce up your home and renovate the best out of it. Whether you are renovating for yourselves or to sell, home renovation gives you a clean slate to produce innovative ideas that you missed the first time.

You might want to install those expensive yet quality windows you chose to ignore the last time, or you could finally get that skylight in your master bedroom you have always wanted. A home renovation is the best chance for those unfulfilled wishes.

These renovation ideas and even more could go a long way in upgrading your home, adding to its value, and changing your outlook on how a home should be. And most of all, some professional guidance would make this process so much easier.

Collaborating with residential architects is a sure-short way to get that dreary-looking renovation out of the way. So, people, let’s get renovating!!!

 

The Most Common Architectural Styles in New Jersey

The magnificent New Jersey. With almost nine million residents, New Jersey is the most densely populated state in the nation. History describes the Native Americans as the first inhabitants of the state, followed by Europeans in the seventeenth century.

With varying communities and people in the past, New Jersey has experienced significant cultural and architectural influence. It is difficult to find a street in New Jersey without experiencing some sort of history and culture.

New Jersey exhibits centuries-old educational buildings, regal private homes, and museums among other architectural feats. Each architectural marvel represents a unique style and that is what you get to witness today.

Greek Revival Architecture

Doric House in Flemington, NJ

Source: Hunterdon County Historical Society

The Doric House is one of the finest examples of Greek Revival architecture in New Jersey. The Doric House served as a private residence for architect Mahlon Fisher who built the house in 1845.

The Greek Revival style is characterized by tall columns, plain embellishments, and sharp edges. These structures exhibit symmetry and are simpler compared to other architectural styles.

Greek Revival dominated American architecture between 1830 to 1850. American architects such as Robert Mills, Thomas U. Walter, and Benjamin Latrobe experienced highly with the Grecian style. In addition, easy-to-follow- guides for carpenters developed by architects Minard Lafever and Asher Benjamin made the style widely available for imitation.

Today, Flemington in New Jersey continues to be the hub of Greek Revival architecture.

Greek Revival Characteristics

  • Symmetrical framework.
  • Pedimented gable.
  • Heavy cornices.
  • Simple crown moldings.
  • Decorative columns.
  • Narrow windows adjacent to the front door.

Georgian Architecture

Dey Mansion in Wayne, NJ

Source: Dey Mansion

Originally known as Bloomsburg Manor, the Dey Mansion was built by Col. Theunis Dey in the 1770s. On several occasions, it served as Washington’s Headquarters.

This style traces its origins back to the Italian Renaissance. Georgian style dominated American architecture from 1700 to 1776.

The Georgian style is easy to recognize. Homes in this design are one to two stories tall. The style exhibits symmetrical arrangement owing to its box shape. Many Georgian homes feature rectangle windows on top of a two-paneled front door, which is embellished with decorative pilasters.

Most often windows are five across, arranged in a straight pattern across the front of the structure. Larger windows feature between nine to twelve panes each.

Most of the present-day Georgian-style homes are or have been associated with prominent citizens and in the past, they were reserved for the wealthiest.

Georgian Characteristics

  • Symmetrical arrangement using a box design.
  • Two rooms deep.
  • Centered panel front door, topped with rectangular windows.
  • Multi-pane windows, five across.
  • Chimneys on both sides of the structure.
  • Roofs can be gambrel, hipped, or side-gabled.

Queen Anne

Strauss Mansion

Source: Journey Through Jersey

The Queen Anne style encompasses a variety of architectural features. One of the most prominent features of this style is the intricate brickwork. However, most homes in this style also incorporate terracotta panels. Limestone and white woodwork are also featured in the Queen Anne style.

The trademark feature of this type is the asymmetrical design, which hints at the Italianate architecture style. Queen Anne style exhibits irregular floor plans. To add to their intrigue, the entrances to Queen Anne-style homes often have shadows owing to the multiple balconies and porches.

From 1880 to 1910, Queen Anne was the preferred choice for builders in America. Originally inspired from England, the final product was American. The credit for this popularity goes to architect Henry Hobson Richardson, who erected the first specimen of this style in Rhode Island in 1874.

This popularity was furthered by the Philadelphia Exhibition in 1876. Today it is difficult to pinpoint the exact Queen Anne features of a particular building.

Queen Anne Characteristics

  • Irregular floor plans.
  • Fine brickwork with terracotta panels.
  • White woodwork and limestone detailing.
  • Asymmetrical elevations.
  • Bay windows.
  • Broad porches.
  • Shadowed entrances.

Italianate Architectecture

The Southern Mansion in Cape May, NJ

Source: Southern Mansion

The Italianate style originated in Europe as part of the Picturesque movement. This movement was in response to the classical ideals in architecture and art that had dominated the previous centuries.

Italianate architecture is inspired by the Italian villas that exhibit open floor plans. These villas featured asymmetrical layouts and square towers that overshadowed the traditional designs.

The style gained popularity in the United States of America in the 1840s owing to the books published by Alexander Jackson Davis who presented this style as an alternative to the Greek Revival and Gothic styles. However, by the 1870s, the style lost its charm because of the demand for the Queen Anne style.

You can find stunning examples of Italianate architecture in Cape May, Morristown, and Trenton in New Jersey. The Southern Mansion is a terrific bed and breakfast by the way! Love visiting there!

Italianate Characteristics

  • Low pitched or flat roofs.
  • Cornice structures.
  • Pedimented windows and doors.
  • Angled bay windows.
  • Balconies with Renaissance-style balustrades.
  • Tall first-floor windows.

Arts and Crafts

The Log House at Craftsman Farms in Parsippany-Troy Hills, NJ

Source: Wikipedia

Also known as the American Craftsman style, the Arts and Crafts style gained popularity in the United States of America because of Gustav Stickley. This style was an amalgamation of architecture, decorative arts, and furniture design.

The Arts and Crafts Movement prevailed between the more famous Art Nouveau and Art Deco eras between 1910 to 1925. The pictured Log House is a great day trip and happens to be across the street from me!

Arts and Crafts Characteristics

  • Overhanging eaves.
  • Hipped or gabled roof.
  • Low-pitched roof lines.
  • Square columns supporting the roof.
  • Double-hung windows.
  • Hand-crafted wood or stonework.
  • Use of mixed materials.

Doo-Wop

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Caribbean Hotel 1952

Source: Wildwood Historical Society

The Doo-Wop style has its foundation in Wildwood, New Jersey. The style was conceived out of modernism in the 1950s and 1960s. The term doo-wop hints at the Wildwoods’ time as a rock and roll venue.

The architecture from this era reflects the culture and the spirit of the people. The building fabric presents varied designs to grab the passing motorists’ attention.

Many new buildings constructed in Wildwoods today try to embrace the Doo-Wop style in the facade of the structures and are the Neo Doo-Wop style.

Doo-Wop Characteristics

  • Pointed building parts.
  • Zig-zag balconies and railings.
  • Revival of Colonial Architecture.
  • Use of neon lights.

That Was Informative

New Jersey prides itself on being a humble abode to millions of people living in homes exhibiting traditional, classical, and even modern styles. With such a rich architectural history, New Jersey is bound to represent decades worth of architectural transformations.

Enriched with culture and history at each corner, New Jersey has seen it all. The rise and downfall of many architectural styles. And the cities have tried to preserve as much of its rich history as it can.

Residential architects take inspiration from these predecessors and try to imbibe it into the present urban fabric. In today’s modern times, a touch of history becomes essential.

 

Interior Design Secrets for Your Home

The secret to a gorgeous home is a mix of structural and interior design. Yes, you can all agree that strong foundations, beams, and columns are what make a house. But the color scheme, furniture, and overall layout are what makes it the perfect house.

How do you make the space appear best while reflecting your style and ideas?! Do it properly, and you will end up in a comfortable home.

Nowadays residential architects use their creative skills to design the interiors of your homes as well. And they might even have a professional interior designer on hand for extra convenience. What’s more, you’re getting the house of your dreams!

So, let’s move on to laying the groundwork.

Furniture Store is not the First Step

Don’t go furniture shopping in a panic. It is NOT the first step! There are a series of pre-conditions that need to be ticked off the to-do list before your trip to Ikea. Yes, you need a dining table. But, without proper measurements, you might end up getting something too large or too small for your space.

And then you’re stuck with it! (Or you may have assembled it and now you need to disassemble it and make a return!). The rest of the room will have to be accommodated around that dining table and it might end up as something that you don’t appreciate. So, before you move ahead with a trip to the furniture store, consult the measurements of the spaces and possible furniture sizes with your residential architect or interior designer.

Measurements are Critical

Matching the scale of the furniture to the scale of the room is essential. A powering sofa might easily disturb the aura of the space, or an underwhelming floor lamp might not add the depth you thought it would.

Before the interior designer starts their work, they will measure the structural elements of the space such as the columns, beams, and openings. It’s to get clarity of the areas they have available for incorporating the interior design seamlessly.

The preliminary mistake most homeowners make is that they purchase sofas that are too big for the space and won’t fit through the door. It’s too late to PIVOT now!! (Those who get it, get it).

Carefully measuring the space could save you a whole lot of trouble.

How are you going to live?

The utility of the space depends on how you want to use it. If you’re someone who wants to point their living room furniture towards the TV, then you do it. But, if you’re someone who wants to host parties in their living room, then the TV can’t be the focal point.

So, some sort of flexibility is a must. Many residential architects and interior designers insist on designing flexible spaces to incorporate future changes to your home. And this idea is genius because it allows you to experiment with fresh ideas.

Budgeting

There’s no way around the finances. If you splurge on an expensive ottoman, then forget about finishing up the rest of the interiors. You want to ensure that you’re being strategic and smart about how you’re spending your money.

A budget acts as a roadmap and lets you know how to divide the costs between the spaces in your home. You could still make an exception if you find a one-of-a-kind sofa, but to be able to pay for that you should know where you must cut back.

Now Let’s Talk Design

Now that we have covered the basics, let’s delve into some interior design secrets that could transform your home.

Create a Breakfast Nook

A cozy spot for breakfast with a view? Where’s the sign-up link?! Residential architects could come up with looks that appear rustic, homely, and modern and that would light up your interiors.

What’s more, is that you have a relaxing spot to take your morning coffee and catch up on current news under the sun.

Highlight the Entryway

Not every home will have a grand entrance with a chandelier. So, you have to make do with what you’ve got. But what could you do?

For a modern aesthetic, you could opt for a rustic wooden table and then hang portraits above it. If you get your hands on a decorative piece that would elevate these elements, then go for it.

Style a Bookshelf

You could break the monotonous pattern of a bookshelf by adding in small decorative elements such as vases or sculptures. An interior designer might suggest combining books and decorations to create an impact through colors and patterns.

Experiment with Colors on the Walls

For a statement design, most residential architects and interior designers harness the power of colors. You could opt for two neutral tones or half dark and light. The play of colors could allow the walls to accentuate the overall layout of the space.

You could choose to do it on a single wall for focus or alternate walls to create a pattern. And if you’re redoing the entire space, your furniture could also notice a contrast.

Utilize Accent Wallpaper

You don’t need to use wallpaper on all the walls of your space. Select a wall and experiment with that. If you want a bold look then you could choose a darker shade of wallpaper for that one wall.

For a minimalist appearance, light shades should do the trick.

Install new Lighting

Lighting is an interior element that doesn’t need any introduction. Pendant lights are much better than wall-hung lights when it comes to dramatic effects. These lights feel more sophisticated than table lamps and contrast with the overall aura of the space creating focus.

Rearrange your Furniture

There is no such rule that the furniture in your living room must be symmetric. You could live a little and opt for some asymmetry. Your chairs and sofa do not have to line up. You could play with side tables and rearrange them based on what looks good, even if it is asymmetrical.

Experiment with Proportion and Scale

In each space of your home, the interior designer or residential architect could play with proportion and scale. Each new design offers uniqueness and depth. For proportion, you could hang an oversized mirror on the central wall.

The rest of the walls could have a neutral color with a minimal number of decorative pieces such as a small portrait or an antique wall-hanging.

Use Colorful Curtains

A brilliant technique to instill a splash of creativity in your home is utilizing colorful curtains. For the transition from the living space to a formal hall, instead of a door, you could use bright and flowy curtains that create a welcoming look.

For instance, yellow curtains would pop against the blue walls adding depth and texture to the space.

Open Shelves

Open shelves could be a great tool for your kitchens especially if they are open plan. Open shelves allow decorative freedom while maximizing storage. Colorful bone china would appear pleasing against minimalistic walls in your kitchen.

Secret? What Secret?

And there you have it folks! Interior design secrets for your home. And these are the secrets that you can share!!! Residential architects and interior designer pour then blood, sweat, and tears in coming up with the best designs for your home. That’s not only their job but their dedication that flowers into the shape of your home.

Collaboration and communication with the designers are critical and make up for the best designs, both exterior and interior.

So, which one of these secrets will you be utilizing for your home? I think I would go ahead with all and even more!!

 

The Best Ways to Light Your Home

Lighting design is a critical element when it comes to creating the perfect environment in your home. It is a choice between making it or breaking it. Lighting could very easily determine the ambiance in your home and administer the mood and look of the space.

During the early stages of lighting design, you might have considered several options. Cove lighting might have appealed for that one niche in your living room, track lighting had its fair share of benefits or even stepped lighting for that extra spark.

But where in your home do you incorporate these lighting types? And how are they going to light your home? So, let us explore these options.

Start From Scratch

Residential architects swear by initial planning. The best plan would be that addresses the lighting essentials. At this stage, you might want to think of features in your home that you want to highlight. You must also consider the designated activities for each space.

For instance, in a reading corner, you might not want bright lights. Task lighting with dimming options could be a smart idea along with a classy table or floor lamp. In the case of a kitchen, however, you might want bright task lighting in the food preparation area. The dining area might need hanging light fixtures to enhance the seating.

Preliminary planning is an essential stage where you must ask yourself questions and discuss the design, style, and efficiency of the fixtures. Planning might help reduce errors and last-minute decisions.

Impact of Lighting

When selecting the light fixtures for your home, you must pay heed to the impact of lighting. You should not rush into selecting the first fixture you find. It is a slow dance. It will take time.

Think about how you want the lighting to impact your spaces. Kitchen areas require task lighting. A combination of recessed and downlighting in the dining and kitchen area could make things convenient and set up an ambient environment.

Dimmers could be useful in several spaces. These days energy-efficient dimmers are taking the world by storm because of their sustainability features.

If you want to take it up a notch, you could install stepped lighting under the staircase that creates a cascading effect. However, ensure to keep it sensor-detectable to be more energy-efficient.

Choosing The Right Luminaires

The luminaires you select must be considered from the start. Ask yourself questions such as how many watts do you require, think about the color temperature, and are energy-efficient luminaires an option?

Energy-efficient homes are now the need of the hour and lighting plays a crucial character. Think of using energy-efficient alternatives such as LED lights. Lighting contributes extensively to your electricity bills. LED lights could significantly reduce the energy consumption in your home.

Uniformity Is Key

Residential architects and interior designers generally stick to consistency when it comes to interior design. The same could be said for lighting design.

For the lighting design scheme to harness its full potential, it should be kept uniform throughout the house. That shows efficiency and proper planning. Neutral tones could be highly useful in maintaining consistency.

Creating Symmetry

You could create symmetry in a space by using similar lighting fixtures. For instance, you could achieve symmetry in the bedroom by adding lampshades on either side of the bed.

In the living room, symmetry could be achieved by creating a balance using floor lamps and downlights.

Lighting in Layers

The best way to make a space versatile and flexible is to layer the lighting and use multiple sources. You could create a character in the space by alternating different heights of floor lamps and ceiling lights.

In addition, you could use pendant lighting as the primary source of lighting in the space and dramatize it by accessorizing table lamps.

Channel Your Inner Decorator

Installing light fixtures as decorative elements could help set the mood in a space. If general lighting is already installed, using lights as decorative pieces could provide ambient lighting.

Do Not Ignore the Corners

If you have an awkward corner, one of the tricks to make it appear less awkward is to use a floor lamp. You could look for a lamp that is complementary to the surrounding space in terms of material and finish.

A strategically-placed floor lamp could make the empty corner the showstopper of your home.

Think About the Color of the Light

LEDs exhibit variations in their colors. By experimenting with hues, you could create a mood depending on the utility of the space.

You could play with tones ranging from warm white to amber and create an impact in space.

Less is More

When it comes to choosing pendant lighting for your kitchen island, follow the principle of less is more. All you must ensure is that the pendant functions as a task light.

You must also look at the proportions of the kitchen island to the fixture. Residential architects tend to avoid multiple pendants and stick to one statement piece.

Choose a Focal Point

Not all light fixtures should be of the same size, otherwise, the eyes will search for a visual anchor without finding one. For a large space such as the family living room or dining area, a chandelier makes a decent focal point.

In a small room, you could think of using vintage sconces or a statement floor lamp to instill visual focus.

Select a New Shade

Lighter versions of lampshades could help diffuse the light in a wider circle. A darker lampshade will focus the light on a surface.

Selecting a new shade also gives you the opportunity to try out new colors, designs, and patterns before you redo the entire space.

Exterior Fixtures

Other than highlighting the outdoor features, safety is the primary concern when it comes to exterior and landscape lighting. Floodlights and sconces are the best choices to light up a side entrance or the garden shed. You will feel more secure. Do not forget walkway lighting as well!

Lighting the Living Room

The living space in your home requires a wide range of functional and decorative lighting. For lighting the living room, you could use wall lights to accentuate the walls, pendant lights for depth, and a floor lamp as a decorative piece.

Lighting the Kitchen and Dining Area

In the dining area, you could use adjustable pendant lighting to get the perfect height. For dinner parties, a dimmer could allow you to get a natural ambiance.

Lighting the Bathroom

Wall lights on either side of the mirror are convenient and functional. In addition, a spotlight or a flushed ceiling light would be ideal for the bathroom as they do not take up too much space.

Light it Up! Light Up Your Life!!

Now that you are updated on the best ways to light your home, you will never approach lighting design the same way as earlier. The difference is that now you are technically sound and want to make the best of the lighting system in your house.

A residential architect or a lighting designer would be the best way to choose your lighting pattern. So, let’s get lighting!

Mold, A Disease in Your House, An Architectural Bible Story

Leviticus 14:33-35 states that “When you come into the land of Canaan, which I give you for a possession, and I put a case of leprous disease in a house in the land of your possession, then he who owns the house shall come and tell the priest, ‘There seems to me to be some case of the disease in my house.”

The word mold or mildew in the above passage translates to “leprosy.” The Almighty wanted his children to reside in healthy and mold-free environments, showing his concern for the people.

Quarantine of the Home

Leviticus 14:36-42 professes that “Then the priest shall command that they empty the house before the priest goes to examine the disease, lest all that is in the house be declared unclean. And afterward, the priest shall go in to see the house. And he shall examine the disease. And if the disease is in the walls of the house with greenish or reddish spots, and if it is deeper than the surface, then the priest shall go out of the house to the door of the house and shut up the house seven days. And the priest shall come again on the seventh day and look. If the disease has spread in the walls of the house, then the priest shall command that they take out the stones in which is the disease and throw them into an unclean place outside the city. And he shall have the inside of the house scraped all around, and the plaster that they scrape off they shall pour out in an unclean place outside the city. Then they shall take other stones and put them in the place of those stones, and he shall take other plaster and plaster the house”.

Here, the question arises “why is it crucial to diagnose the sickness or plague?

Besides physical health, scriptures discuss mold in the house as a representation of sin. Like leprosy, mold in a house is unclean and destructive. According to the Old Testament Law, mold has a debilitating impact on a person’s home. Like transgression, it would spread and if left unchecked it would cause chaos.

Mold has been present in homes since biblical times. In Leviticus 14:33-45, the Lord told Moses and Aaron how to rid a house of mold. The inspection, scraping, and cleaning are what humans follow to date, except we do not involve a priest!

In her article “Haunted by Mold” in the New York Times Magazine published August 12, 2001, Lisa Belkin indicates that molds are relatively harmless and most people are not allergic. However, exposure to toxic mold may cause allergic reactions.

 

The Curse

Leviticus 14:34-35 states that “When you enter the land of Canaan that I give you as a possession, and I inflict an eruptive plague upon a house in the land you possess, and the owner of the house shall come and tell the priest something like a plague has appeared upon my house.”

The people believed that if they were in harmony with the Lord, the Lord would preserve them, their spirits and bodies, and their homes. Whenever one of them sinned, he would face discoloration of the skin, clothes, and then the house. This indicated that the Lord had departed from their humble abode.

In the earlier times, it was deduced that the plague in the form of mold was sent by the Lord himself. A home afflicted by mold represented the loss of social values from the family residing there.

Moses, Son of Maimon states that “He who indulges in evil talk finds that the walls of his house change color” (Mishneh Torah, N’gaim 12:5).

What is your job?

In today’s times, what are the plagues in our homes? Other than the literal meaning of mold, how should you interpret the meaning of plague?

Could it mean that the children of the Lord have wavered from the path of righteousness that has led to the moral decay of their homes? In such a situation, how would you purify your home?

Deuteronomy 22:8 states “When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you do not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone should fall from it.” How can you address the modern-day afflictions in your homes?

Since biblical times, mold has represented the poison homes have developed owing to greed, sabotage, and jealousy. Home or house also defines the wider community of people.

Mold in its sense has infected our homes and made them inhabitable. Our moral duty is to clean our homes of this plague and acknowledge the responsibility for the mistakes we have made in the literal and biblical sense. This is so we can restore harmony and happiness within our homes and the wider community.

Let’s Talk Present

What you just read was the biblical version of the mold. Now, we must acknowledge the black spots in the corner of your shower cubicle.

All mold needs to thrive in your home is the correct temperature, a constant food source, and moisture. The development of mold is not entirely dependent on damp surfaces. It could even grow in houses without these issues.

In most homes, mold could develop in the following spaces:

  • Around bathtubs and showers.
  • In the crawlspace.
  • Near gutters and drains (near dripping water).
  • Under the carpeting.
  • Near the vents

And even more spaces!!!

Prevention is better than cure

The best way to keep your house mold-free is to start from the basics:

  • You must keep ALL surfaces always clean.
  • Try to increase natural ventilation in your homes.
  • If natural ventilation is not possible for all spaces, use an exhaust.
  • You must ensure than HVAC vents are always unblocked.
  • Mold thrives in humidity. You could install a dehumidifier to keep a check on that.
  • Ensure that the dryer vents are also clean.
  • Try to refrain from installing carpeting in areas that are prone to moisture.
  • You could invest in testing the quality of air in your home and get professional advice.

How to eliminate mold from your home?

You want to nip this mold thing right in the bud! Mold only keeps on spreading if not kept in check at the right time. Before cleaning mold, always wear old clothes or protective clothing and waterproof gloves.

You could use an antimicrobial spray or a mild detergent with a combination of water and vinegar. So, let’s look at the steps:

Step 1 Remove and dispose of the unwanted material from the surface. This could include rotted wood, drywall, wallpaper, etc.

Step 2 Mist the surface with clean water to prevent the mold spores from being released into the air.

Step 3 Spray the surface with the antimicrobial spray or the detergent mixture.

Step 4 Rub off the surface with a sponge to remove the mold. Remember to keep on changing the water and the sponge frequently as reusing them could redeposit the spores on the surface.

Step 5 Let the surface dry for a day or two before you put it to use again.

And there you have it! The real-life version of the disease in your home. If left unchecked, mold could spread day by day and even cause health problems. Any part of your home that could be prone to the growth of mold needs to be always kept clean and dry.

Even after preliminary treatment, the mold might regrow, but now you know how to keep it in check without the need of a holy priest!

 

Kitchen Trends to Follow

People often look at a kitchen and associate it with designs they might have seen somewhere. It could be a website, a Pinterest board, or even an architectural magazine. But what designs are there to stay, and what designs are now out of fashion?

Residential architects and interior designers seem to think that design trends not only concern the overall house but individual spaces within. And they are right.

For instance, the open plan kitchen has been dominating the industry for years. But it accommodated the modular kitchen when that gained popularity. So, what you now have is an amalgamation of the two and more.

Today, let’s talk about some kitchen trends that could be everywhere in the coming years. And some of these trends might be here to stay.

Double Islands

Source: Houzz

Double islands are the new single islands. The designers asked themselves why to stop at one island when they could incorporate two? If space permits, then the more, the merrier. Double islands that allow for food prep on one and dining on the other could be quite useful in large kitchens.

Another impact they have created is eliminating large dining tables in a separate room. Instead, you could utilize that space to create a different space altogether such as a reading nook or install a Stairmaster to burn those calories.

Colorful Cabinets

Fresh and colorful kitchen cabinets could make waves in the coming years. Residential architects say that neutral kitchens will always remain timeless but colorful kitchens are approaching ahead.

Pops of colors that are saturated but can still be paired with neutral tones could become heavy-hitters in trendy kitchens. Many designers’ experiment with metals and colors for creativity. For instance, using a brass or aluminum trim over a darker shade for the cabinets.

Hues of grey or deep green could help achieve a statement look. The colors are modern yet simple.

Open Shelves

Source: Houzz

In the coming years, open shelves will make their grand comeback. You could see open shelves being used in the kitchen for display and storage. Several residential architects suggest that replacing cabinets with shelves is one of the most cost-effective ways to transform kitchens.

With open shelves, homeowners have a plethora of ideas. The shelves could be turned into an open pantry, integrate a personal coffee station, and even help establish design principles such as symmetry in your kitchen.

Open shelves are not just limited to the walls. A kitchen island with exposed shelves could lend also lend a helping hand in this department. I am not one to advocate for the open shelves, because I cannot imagine dusting all of the items constantly needing tending to, but it is a trend!

Countertop Cabinets

Countertops are permanent members of any kitchen. They are the first line of defense against all the oils spills and stains. These countertops are now evolving into countertop cabinets.

Countertop cabinets increase storage impressively and are a great approach to conceal the appliances displayed on the countertops. If you’re something of a traditionalist, these countertop cabinets could be very useful in creating a small and rustic pantry.

Woods

Source: Houzz

Several interior designers and residential architects consider light woods to be their go-to decorative style for kitchens. Even though it wasn’t as popular as it is today, this approach is only going to gain momentum in the coming years.

Lighter tones such as hickory appear graceful in both modern and traditional kitchens. Experiments could be done by adding a darker wooden tone alternately to create more drama.

Glass Partitions

Over recent years homeowners have come to appreciate the benefits of closing the door and escaping the noise from the kitchen, an attribute that doesn’t come along with open plan kitchens.

A glass partition could split spaces without compromising on the light. It also has the advantage of restricting the smells from the kitchen. Glazed partitions also offer a backdrop for pieces of furniture on the other side.

Pantry

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Source: Houzz

Pantry cupboards have been kitchen essentials for centuries. Books written hundreds of years ago described pantries in homes. In the past few years, pantry cupboards have established themselves as kitsch must-haves.

Having a pantry makes perfect sense because all the food is stored in one place, and nothing is scattered around the rest of the kitchen. The other advantage is that kitchen walls no longer need to be stacked with cupboards and shelves for extra storage.

It frees up entire walls to be left alone, decorated or anything you want.

Layered Lighting

Lighting in kitchens could be a challenge but the art of layering the lights could be a game-changer. Residential architects suggest that kitchens only require a certain amount of task lighting in particular preparation areas.

If there are too many downlighters, the kitchen might end up looking like an airport runway. Minimal lighting in layers is going to take kitchen lighting to higher standards in the coming years.

Natural Materials

The use of natural materials is one kitchen trend that has always been on the list. Granite and marble have become firm fixtures in almost every kitchen.

Not only do these materials offer aesthetic appeal and high quality, but they are also being recognized for their health benefits as they reduce the amount of chemically treated elements in homes.

Gold Finishes

Aesthetics have made an impact in the wet areas as they have on furniture and appliances with their colors, shapes, and designs. Kitchen sinks are now available in a versatile range of finishes and colors, with gold being a cult favorite.

Sinks with gold finishes are noticing popularity in kitchens with neutral tones for homeowners who want a touch of royalty.

Metallics

Several residential architects and interior designers prefer working with actual metals to bring out their true qualities. Metals when worked with properly could create a lasting aesthetic impact and become a trendsetter for the coming years.

Painted Kitchens

Source: Houzz

2021 saw the revival of hand-painted kitchens and this trend continues through 2022. Hand-painted kitchens age well and are reliable in comparison to the ways of the factory-applied paints.

Paint offers a classic look of the traditional kitchen and the boldness of the modern design. One of the best advantages of this trend is that the availability of colors is almost limitless and allows homeowners to express their ideas freely.

And you could always upgrade in the future by re-painting if you want a fresh look.

Mixed Materials

When it comes to combining materials, contrast is the queen. The key is to ensure that these materials bring out the best in each other.

Timber and marble mixed with brass are going for the win in the list of kitchen trends. A fusion of materials could result in a confident blend of styles.

Contrasting materials for different worktops in the kitchen creates zones that are naturally pleasing and promote harmony.

Mudrooms and Utility Spaces

These spaces located just before your kitchen are the first line of defense against muddy shoes, wet umbrellas, and paw marks. A mudroom is one of the most useful design choices for homes because it promotes cleanliness and an organized environment.

Residential architects are aware that a well-designed mudroom could be highly beneficial for the kitchens. Mudrooms are now gaining popularity and many homeowners are demanding them to be placed at the back of the kitchen.

Marble

Marble has been a statement material for centuries. If there’s one thing that marble exhibits, that’s luxury. Marble is a popular choice for kitchens and is highly sustainable. Its durability, timelessness, and physical qualities make it a permanent member of the kitchen trends.

Marble adds value and creates contact between other surfaces, woods, and metals.

Trendsetters

These kitchen trendsetters are here to stay awhile and look quite promising. Now whether you want your kitchen to have double islands, statement lighting, or pops of colors, the kitchen will end up following the best of the trends.

There could even be other trends that you might not know of. After all, new trends are born overnight, aren’t they? A professional would be the most ideal person to guide you on the best use of these trends for your kitchen.

So, let’s get trendy, shall we?

 

Do You Need a Residential Architect?

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How do you think your homes come to life? Who thinks of where the columns need to be for support or what should be the skill level? Let’s not forget natural lighting and ventilation.

Where do you think this comes from? These and countless other factors are the brainchild(ren) of residential architects. You may think that your home project might not require the input of one, but architects could make or break your home (all puns intended)!!

What do Residential Architects do?

Residential architects are more than just your average person with a measuring tape and plans. They will quite literally bring your home to life. From designing the layout of the entire structure to carving out the smallest niche for a decorative vase, residential architects are there for your home.

Residential architects possess the technical know-how to decide what goes where in the residence to be.

If you own a complicated plot that has levels, a residential architect might suggest utilizing those contours to elevate the interior of your home. It means that the structure will incorporate the layout of the plot and use it for architectural enhancement. Say whatever you want but DIY will only take you so far.

Or let’s talk about playing with skylight and angles to harness the full potential of the sun direction. Residential architects could have a complete grasp on these aspects to make your home different and more efficient.

Here are characteristics that residential architects could bring to your home:

  • Residential architects could better your concepts of initial designs.
  • Some professional guidance could go a long way in getting that structure off the ground.
  • You won’t have to worry about the technical aspects of the construction.
  • Architects generally tend to participate in the project from start to end, so you know your home is in safe hands.
  • Residential architects could modernize your home or even traditionalize it based on your preferences.
  • You get a structurally and functionally sound home.

Building a relationship with your Architect

Like personal relationships, professional relations also work on mutual trust and respect. You must have faith in your architect, and they need to respect you and your opinions. A simple concept of a two-way street.

When you start searching for an architect, you’d most likely want someone reliable and reputed. And hey, that’s what I’d want as well. Some research goes a long way in streamlining the process of building your home. You would want to collaborate with a residential architect who prioritizes clients, their needs, and most of all the design of the upcoming project.

And this collaboration requires open communication from both parties. That’s the crucial step of developing a relationship with your architect. So folks remember, communication is key.

What comes after?

After the groundwork of getting to know each other and hashing out preliminary details, you move on to the next step – the discussion stage.

At this stage, almost all residential architects will ask you this question, “so what is it that you’re looking for”?

And that’s where the story begins.

You might not be entirely clear at this stage, or you might think that you are, but in reality you’re not. That’s where the guidance of the residential architect comes into play.

If you think that a spiral staircase is the best for your house, in ten minutes a residential architect could tell you why it’s not. But there might be some brilliant idea that you come up with, that could even blow the architect’s mind.

So key number two is collaboration.

The Design Stage

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Once you let the residential architect know about your wants, they’ll take a few days to develop conceptual designs. It’s a meticulous planned process because that’s going to be your first impression of the architect’s capabilities.

Your next meeting is where further discussions will take over the initial plans. There are high chances that you might not like everything about it. And that’s okay, because everything can’t work out on the first try. That’s why it’s called a conceptual drawing.

This stage is crucial as the architect will get your input on what’s about to happen and you could get clarity on how the structure is going to progress. Any doubts you have at this stage must be cleared by the residential architect.

Another critical aspect of this stage is that you get to see your home grow and understand the credibility of the architect you’ve hired.

Over the next few weeks as most of the plans and elevations are finalized, work could begin on the site. However, you must note that as actual physical work progresses the design might require some minor changes based on site conditions. And that’s fine.

The Construction Stage

Professional residential architects will ensure to stay with the project during the construction stage. It is not imperative for them to visit the site everyday but once or twice a week to check up on the work is preferred. But they will ask you to hire a reliable site manager. And that’s acceptable.

During construction, the architect will notify you about any required changes and help you adjust with how it will work. An architect’s job is not limited to developing designs but also your trust in it.

During the construction stage, the architect will get face time with the construction team and the developer. For a successful project, there must be successful teamwork.

The construction stage has the highest weight on the timeline as it requires more time. Depending on the scale of the project it could be somewhere between 10 to 12 months (in case of new build) or even more.

For simple renovations, it could take between 6 to 8 months.

The Completion

This is the final stage as the project has come to fruition. The structure is built, polished, and complete. The interior is as good as can be. And your house is ready to transition into a home.

The last ten months have been hectic, nerve-wracking, stressful yet exciting and finally the results are here.

Your initial thoughts now actually exist on a piece of land! Isn’t that amazing?! And it’s all because you and a professional residential architect decided to work together.

Now this is the place where you will probably stay for the rest of your life, make it a home and build a family.

Soon the structural walls will have photo frames, the door frame will have the growing height marks of your kids, and the kitchen island will have that one broken edge. And that’s your home for you.

The Departure

Now that the work is done, payments cleared, and satisfaction achieved, it’s time to bid farewell to the residential architect.

They have done their job well, made you happy, and learnt new techniques in the process. Additionally, they have added to their portfolio, a successful collaboration.

As you look back to the first meeting you had with the residential architect, you remember being nervous and doubtful of their abilities. And now when you look at the structure, you’re sitting in making that cup of coffee in your new kitchen, you agree that a residential architect was all that you needed for it to be possible.

And isn’t that one of the best decisions you made?! So, when it comes to selecting a residential architect, do some digging and collaborate with the right one.

And to answer the question that you need a residential architect, I’d think that you most certainly do!!!

 

How to Read a Floor Plan?

When you intend to build a new home, the floor plan is a treasure trove promising the result. Trying to read a floor plan with dimensions and furniture layout gets you imagining the home of your dreams, and you start to wonder how the spaces will appear.

But the language of a floor plan goes way beyond shapes and measurements. Sometimes experienced residential architects even surprise themselves by how different a finished home feels from their earlier concepts.

Let’s start from the basics – What is a floor plan?

In the earlier days, floor plans used to be called blueprints. These were A1-sized sheets that came in blue ink and comprised of whatever you needed to build a home. Today’s floor plans still comprise the same data but more compactly.

The plans have also become digitalized and can easily be viewed on a screen. They can even be printed on A2 to A4-sized sheets for review. Going into more detail, a floor plan is a part of a set of plans that also comprise the site plan, roofing plans, electrical layout, etc. Individually, a floor plan refers to the layout of each floor.

Walls and Openings

In a floor plan, walls are the most robust visual element. These walls are represented by parallel lines that may be hatched with a pattern or solid. Any breaks in walls represent the openings that are the doors and windows, or any openings between rooms.

Staircase

Stairs are represented by a series of rectangles with an arrow that indicates which way the staircase is traveling. When the stair rises to a certain level above the floor, it is cut with a diagonal line. The stairs above this cut line are represented with a dashed line.

Furniture Layout

Most residential architects indicate the kitchen and bathroom fixtures as they know that the layout for these spaces is critical. Generally, floor plans exhibit the location of toilets, sinks, and other fixtures.

The placement of a refrigerator concerning the oven and sink could determine if the layout of the kitchen is convenient or awkward. The critical fixtures are relatively easy to spot.

Residential architects may also incorporate flooring material in the floor plans to help you visualize the space or just to delineate between defined areas.

Measurements and Dimensions

Floor plans include dimensions to locate walls, doors, and other elements. These dimensions are represented by dimension strings that are drawn parallel to what they are denoting with a 45-degree hash mark at each end indicating where the measure begins and where it ends.

Room dimensions are represented in width over the length. A room that has a dimension of 14’ x 20’ means that it is 14 feet wide and 20 feet long. Rooms aren’t always square, so ensure that you understand how it appears.

Volume

Volume is as critical as the room size or furniture layout in determining the success of the space. Over the years, taller ceilings have gained popularity.

With higher ceilings, smaller floor plans can become more comfortable and spacious. In contrast, a large room with a low height ceiling can feel cramped despite sufficient space.

Ceiling features are represented by a dashed line. Ceiling heights might also influence the energy demand of your home. The more height available in a room, the larger volume of air controlled by the HVAC.

Feature Details

Feature shelves, niches, and other details are a great way to display the aesthetic elements in your home. These should be convenient to notice on a floor plan as there is generally a void on the wall and will be noted.

Kitchen and Bathroom Details

Residential architects ensure to show the locations of the fridge, oven, cooktop, sink, and dishwasher. All these details are critical and are always labeled to help you visualize the space.

Many residential architects advise their clients to analyze the space in the kitchen. At this stage, it would be beneficial to look at the shape and location of the kitchen island and the designated storage space. You may even find it valuable to seek out a kitchen designer to review the design.

During the planning stage, bathrooms details require as much attention as possible. The items to review include the location and length of the vanity, the type of tub, and whether the water closet is closed off with a door or open to the rest of the space.

Some other specifications comprise the number of showerheads, steam shower, or rain head addition. These aspects have visual differences in floor plans and ideally should be indicated.

What will a floor plan tell you?

Here are some things that you might find out once you know how to read a floor plan:

  • You can visualize how it will be like to live in the spaces like watching tv, taking a shower, or making dinner (of course not all at the same time).
  • You can judge the quality of light and ventilation in each of the rooms.
  • You can understand how circulation works in your home.
  • You can understand the orientation.
  • You can see where the views are, both internal and external.
  • You can see the relationship between the spaces.

What a floor plan will not tell you?

Floor plans are the preliminary drawings. Other drawings such as the elevations and sections add to the plan and associate your mind with the structure that is to be built.

  • A floor plan can’t tell you the heights of the openings.
  • A floor plan doesn’t contain any information about what finishes are used on the interior and exterior of the house.
  • A floor plan will not tell you how high the ceiling is unless it is specifically noted.
  • Overall, floor plans don’t have sufficient information to be passed onto the builder to start with the construction.

What do the symbols and figures indicate?

Overall, a floor plan is relatively easy to understand. But some cryptic details mean so much more than they appear. The direction of the arrows, the thickness, and types of lines, the abbreviations, etc. are vital to the floor plan.

These are incorporated so that the builder understands what goes where. They make the job easier.

Orientation and scale

Floor plans feature a North arrow to indicate how the house is oriented. The direction your house faces makes an impact on lighting, heating, and cooling the house.

Floor plans also feature a written ratio scale such as 1/4″ = 1’-0” or 1/8” = 1’-0” to demonstrate scale. This helps give a visual indication of the distances and sizes.

Experiencing the floor plan

Here are some helpful tips to visualize and fully experience the floor plan:

  • Compare a space on your floor plan to a room in your current home. That means to bring out the tape measure.
  • Check out a model home. This won’t be possible for everyone, but if you can manage then pop into a model home with a floor plan like yours.
  • You can harness the power of digitalization. You may have video access to a model home that has a similar floor plan as yours. It can help make things clearer.
  • Take a mental stroll through the floor plan. It could include visualizing your day-to-day life in the new home.

Ask an Architect

All your floor plan-related doubts have one clear answer – Ask an Architect. The one source of information who has designed the floor plan and knows it inside out. Understanding a floor plan is not always easy but your architect is there to guide you!

So, if you’re in the market for a new house or redesigning your current one, reading the floor plan will be relatively easier for you.

And you should have all the information possible. After all, you’re going to be building life onto the floor plan!

 

Choosing the Right Plumbing Fixtures for Your Home

Source: Houzz

Your precious bathroom may be out of other people’s sight. But it doesn’t mean that you get a free pass of carelessly buying any plumbing fixtures. Choosing the right plumbing fixtures needs as much effort as designing a bedroom or a living space.

The end goal is not only aesthetics but comfort and functionality. Plumbing fixtures are critical elements of a bathroom. And while choosing them, many factors come into play.

So, let’s talk plumbing fixtures!

What might be the influence?

Plumbing fixtures should develop the perfect balance between mobility and practicality. The most uncomfortable bathrooms are those that are hard to navigate. So, for compact spaces, a residential architect might suggest simple plumbing fixtures that offers maximum space utility.

Subsequently, space-saving water closets, bidets, and washbasins that are fit for purpose owing to their compactness and wall installation abilities minimize visible pipes and water connections.

But in the case of medium and large-sized bathrooms, the case differs. You get varied options that are more suitable. Additionally, residential architects might even advise using some complex designs.

Decision-making Tips

To achieve the goal of choosing the right plumbing fixtures for your home, here are some tips that might come in handy:

Resistance

When choosing plumbing fixtures for your bathroom, design, and durability must be considered. The basins and toilet bowls should be of an efficient design and be sturdy enough to not chip away easily. Furthermore, they should not have any harsh edges and you must ensure that they are well-fitted.

Quality

Even if you purchase high-quality plumbing fixtures for your bathrooms, it will not be a success if you can’t handle them. Whenever you want to select plumbing fixtures for your home, ensure that someone who’s familiar with the quality of these can assist you in deciding to avoid sub-par options.

Comfort

Since you are already spending money, why not spend it on plumbing fixtures that’ll make the bathroom experience more comfortable? If it is affordable, you could invest in a temperature-controlled shower and bathtub. You’ll be grateful for your decision when you get to have a nice long bath in some bubbles after a hectic day of work.

Color

When it comes to plumbing fixtures, you can get creative. All you must ensure is that the colors complement each other and are not heavy on the eyes. Residential architects might come in handy in choosing a color palette that’s both functional and aesthetic. In case you’re not too sure of a color scheme, you could always stick with white. The color is timeless and reliable and once it reflects the light, it will make your bathroom appear bigger and more radiant.

In addition to the white, you could use a darker shade such as gray or black on the toilet seat cover or accessories for a pop of color. It could even boost up the aesthetic value of your bathroom.

Size and space available

If your bathroom is compact, it would be advisable to opt for plumbing fixtures that are on the smaller side. Installing large plumbing fixtures will make your bathroom appear smaller and leave you with a bruised knee or two.

Convenient Cleaning

Before buying, analyze how convenient it would be to clean the plumbing fixtures. Cleaning takes a good chunk of time, and you don’t want fittings that collect dirt and dust easily. You don’t want to end up amplifying your swearing vocab when you’re scrubbing the life out of your bathroom!

Installation Process

No homeowner would want to go through a tedious plumbing fixtures installation process. Make sure you only buy those items that are convenient to install. Even a minor issue might render the plumbing fixtures useless if it is not installed properly.

Perfect Balance

Plumbing fixtures should provide the perfect balance of utility, convenience, and aesthetics. For maximum comfort, you should pair the right plumbing fixtures with the size of your bathroom. Convenient movement is necessary, and your bathroom should make you feel free not restricted.

Significance of Aesthetics

Choosing the best plumbing fixtures for one’s bathroom, your attention could be on style and color. But if there’s a pre-existing design, it might get hard to match the sinks and bidets. For a modern design, residential architects might recommend plumbing fixtures that are in linear shapes with simple outlines.

Wall-mounted plumbing fixtures and counter-top washbasins are the holy grail of contemporary style and modern bathrooms designs. Several residential architects term them to be the ideal bathroom plumbing fittings.

Essential Interior Design Aspects

The choice of bathroom furniture exhibits a thin line between under-spending and over-spending. The balance between personal taste, availability of space, and comfort is essential in creating a comfortable bathroom.

Cabinets and other accessories could be chosen in versatile models, colors, and sizes. These are useful for storing extra towels and toiletries, and helpful in keeping your bathroom neat and tidy.

Wall units and under-sink drawer units could be a furnishing solution if you prefer a bathroom that exhibits an airy atmosphere. For a more elegant appearance, you could have visible metal shelves under the sink. If you’re more into traditional styles and designs, then a chest of drawers or cabinets with hinged doors could be your approach.

Things you should NEVER do when choosing plumbing fixtures

Like every other story, this one has two sides as well. Here are some things you should never do when choosing plumbing fixtures for your bathroom:

Assume the drainage will work out with the new fittings – IT WON’T!

When choosing new plumbing fixtures, the focus is generally aesthetics. However, there’s a less than glamorous side to this as well.

One of these critical factors is drainage. It must work seamlessly with the fittings. Once your pipeline network is set, you can decide where the shower, basin, and bath will go. The exciting work begins once the layout is finalized.

Purchase a shower without studying the water pressure – NO SIR!

When choosing a shower, it’s not just about the shape and what looks best. The water pressure has a lot riding on it.

Generally, the water pressure in residences could be low pressure (gravity), high pressure (combi-boiler system), or high pressure (pumped system).

Choose the wrong size of the bath – A BIG NO!

We all dream of a luxurious Roman bath in a wide gallery with chandeliers hanging on top for some effect. But let’s get real. That’s not happening!

You don’t want to go overboard with unnecessary accessories only for you to realize that there’s not enough space to move around. Think before splurging on expensive plumbing fixtures. Do you have enough space to use it?

Taking charge

Here is something great from the industry for the environment. And aren’t we proud?!

The bathroom industry has taken charge in the crusade to conserve water. Presently, several plumbing fixtures in the market help reduce the consumption of water. These include low and high volume flushing on toilets and aerated showerheads to reduce the volume of water among others.

Additionally, you could also go for a dual-flush water-saving toilet. This variation uses two handles to flush different levels of water. It operates on 2.5 to 4 liters of water per flush. A normal single-flush toilet might use up to 6 liters of water per flush.

It is slightly more expensive to purchase and install than a single-flush toilet, but this is before you factor in the costs of saving water.

And there you go

Now you can see that choosing the right plumbing fixtures for your home shouldn’t be so annoying. If you follow the process of professional advice, market research, and some good old spreadsheet sessions to keep your expenses in check.

These plumbing fixtures are going to be in your bathroom for the coming years. So, why not invest wisely?

Keep your requirements listed and you will be good to go.

 

A Guide to Choosing the Best Kitchen Countertops

When it comes to a kitchen design, you might have your Pinterest boards ready with the themes and shades for the cabinets to the worktops. But one critical aspect is the material you select. It could be something graceful yet hard-wearing and which could serve the dual purpose of aesthetics and durability.

Whether it is stone or marble, concrete or wood, selecting a surface that will not only conform with the look of your kitchen but serve the purpose is essential. From budget-friendly to extravagant options, residential architects have a list of choices for you.

So, keep scrolling to find the best countertop material for your kitchen.

The Approach to choosing the Best Kitchen Countertops

The preliminary approach towards finalizing a kitchen countertop could be analyzing how you’ll be using them. If your cooking is meticulous and involves a lot of preparations, you might require countertops with resilience. Or, if you tend to use the surface less vigorously, you could go for something less expensive but aesthetically appealing.

Some residential architects might ask you these questions before you finalize a kitchen countertop:

  • Are you prepared for the constant upkeep of glossy material, or would you prefer a countertop with a matte finish?
  • Are you comfortable with the regular maintenance or do are you looking for something with less hassle?

Choosing the Best Countertop

The primary aspect to consider when choosing countertops for your kitchen is material. Some common options are marble, wood, and laminate, with each having its specific properties.

Granite Kitchen Countertops

The material granite associates itself with luxurious kitchen designs and is one of the most popular countertop materials. Granite countertops are relatively easy to maintain and offer a long service life without any scratches or nicks.

The material is highly heat-resistant so your pans can directly go on the surface once you’re done cooking (a plus for impatient chefs!). Cleaning granite countertops is a joy for most homeowners because all you need is warm water, a soft cloth, some mild cleaning agent, and you’re done.

Pros:

Granite is a hard-wearing material.

Granite countertops are aesthetic yet functional.

Granite is supremely heat-resistant.

Cons:

Granite countertops are priced on the higher side.

The backsplash choice is limited.

Hardwood Kitchen Countertops

If you’re looking for budget-friendly kitchen countertops, then hardwood ones could be the way to go. If maintained properly, hardwood countertops could last ages.

However, over time the look of the wood will change as it fades in the sunlight. But that can be managed by applying oil or varnish. Some homeowners may even see this as a benefit as the countertop will gain character because of the deep color change.

When it comes to scratches and chips, you can eliminate them with sandpaper, a unique option that isn’t available in other materials.

Pros:

Hardwood countertops are relatively easy to maintain.

Hardwood countertops have a long service life.

Cons:

It requires oiling to keep the stains away.

Hardwood countertops are not heat-resistant.

These can scratch easily.

Laminate Kitchen Countertops

For a kitchen on a budget, laminate countertops are another reasonable choice. These come in a versatile range of colors and finishes. Additionally, you can even fit them yourself without any professional help.

Pros:

Laminate countertops are resilient to stains.

These are easy to afford and install.

Cons:

Laminate countertops are prone to damage.

It is hard to eliminate the scratches.

Quartz Kitchen Countertops

Quartz is one of the most attractive materials for kitchen countertops. It comes with a natural look and is highly low maintenance.

Quartz countertops are more durable than granite countertops and are often used as their replacement. However, unlike granite quartz is not heat-resistant.

Pros:

Quartz countertops are convenient to maintain.

These require occasional resealing.

Cons:

Quartz is an expensive material.

Quartz countertops are expensive to install.

Glass Kitchen Countertops

Toughened glass is a highly durable kitchen countertop material. Glass is a non-porous material and can withstand moisture as well. This quality makes it especially suited for kitchens as spills and stains become easy to remove.

Glass countertops are heat-resistant that adds to their practical benefits for your kitchen. However, they are highly expensive.

Pros:

Glass countertops prevent the formation of build-up.

These are highly hygienic.

Cons:

Glass countertops can show off fingerprints.

They are prone to scratches.

Marble Kitchen Countertops

One of the most popular types of kitchen countertop materials, marble is found in both contemporary and traditional kitchen designs. Many residential architects find this to be the favorite choice of homeowners.

Marble exudes elegance and should be on your radar if you’re going after a luxurious and timeless look for your kitchen. Marble is a poor conductor of heat that makes it a valuable trait in a steamy kitchen.

Pros:

Marble countertops are highly durable.

They are aesthetically appealing.

Cons:

Marble as a material is highly porous.

Marble countertops are high-maintenance.

Stainless Steel Kitchen Countertops

Stainless steel is the perfect material for commercial and industrial kitchens. It is naturally antibacterial, resistant to heat and stains, and waterproof. These are the qualities that make it a favorite choice of professional chefs all around the world.

Even though the material is prone to scratching, you could go for a matte finish to make them less obvious.

Pros:

The material is lightweight.

Stainless steel countertops are easy to clean.

Cons:

The material is highly prone to scratches.

It is not the preferred choice for residential kitchens.

Ceramic Kitchen Countertops

An alternative to real marble, ceramic countertops offer a marble-inspired appeal. These countertops act as a luxurious addition to residential kitchens are a frontrunner for most homeowners.

Ceramic countertops are popular because of their versatility and durability. These are extremely hard-wearing and highly hygienic. Ceramic countertops are also resistant to water and bacteria.

Pros:

Ceramic countertops are resistant to moisture and heat.

These are easy to maintain.

Cons:

Ceramic countertops are prone to scratches.

These can crack easily.

Tiles

Tiles are a great choice for kitchen countertops if you’re going for a retro or vintage look. They are highly affordable, versatile, and resistant to heat. So, they’ll stand up to your hot pans and plates.

Pros:

Tiles are a decent option for backsplash as well.

Tile countertops are easy to install.

Cons:

Tile countertops require re-grouting to stay clean.

These are high-maintenance.

Onyx Kitchen Countertops

Onyx traces its origins to limestone caves and comes in shades of pink, orange, green, and more. Owing to its soft physical state, onyx isn’t as durable as other materials. However, with the right sealant, it can possess a long service life.

Pros:

These are available in many shades.

Cons:

Onyx countertops are brittle.

How to maintain kitchen countertops?

A kitchen and its elements are a huge investment for your home. Once the kitchen countertops are installed, you should know how to care for them. For laminates and man-made composites, some mild soap, and water should be enough. But, when it comes to materials such as hardwood that are easily damaged, oiling is a must.

In most cases, the supplier should help you with maintenance strategies. Sometimes you DIY or even take tips from a residential architect.

The Verdict

Kitchen countertops are a long-serving member of your kitchens and should be at par with your requirements and the aesthetics of your home. The materials mentioned in today’s blog are a few of the most widely used in most homes around the world and are recommended by residential architects and interior designers as well.

These are reliable, long-lasting, and offer a wider design spectrum for your kitchen. And most of these materials are readily available for installation.

Some other choices include solid surfaces, terrazzo, and concrete that have also gained momentum in their popularity as kitchen countertops. For more information, you can always consult a residential architect and come up with designs to invest in your kitchen for higher returns in the future.

Till then, happy redesigning.

 

Energy Efficient Homes: The Need of the Hour?

Climate change is current, and so is your participation in it. So, what can you do to reduce your home’s impact in this process? You can implement several energy-saving techniques in your home no matter the climate in your city.

In the broader picture, you’ll be mitigating the impact of climate change. Now that’s an energy-efficient idea! As an added bonus, you’ll be paying less on your energy bills as well.

Today you’ll come across several strategies that can help your home to become more energy-efficient. Now whether you reside in an old house or a new one, discover ways to save energy.

Why is Home Energy Efficiency Crucial?

Energy efficiency manages and regulates our consumption of energy. Daily energy resources go to waste in homes because of negligence and lack of knowledge. However, that’s about to change. And its high time now!

Energy efficiency provides the following core benefits:

  • safeguards the planet.
  • reduces the reliance on fossil fuels.
  • reduces the energy bills.

All of these are reasons compelling enough for your homes to go green. A single energy-efficient home plays a significant part in giving back to the environment. Now imagine if every single household on the planet could do so?

And here’s how you can also take that sustainable approach:

Conduct an Energy Audit

A home energy audit could be a preliminary step into making your home more energy-efficient. You can consult a professional or do it yourself. Check for air leaks, insulation, and examine the heating and cooling equipment.

The US Department of Energy suggests that homes must undergo an energy audit at least once every year. For more information, you could look at their DIY Home Energy Assessments.

Switch to LED Lighting

Lighting accounts for a high percentage of your electricity bills. A convenient approach to adopt energy conservation and reduce your electric bills are to switch to light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that could significantly reduce energy consumption.

LED lighting can be expensive. However, on average these last for up to 25,000 hours and the savings in electricity bills could offset their cost.

Fill Gaps Between Floorboards

For older homes, filling the gaps between floorboards is one of the best energy-saving approaches. Although floorboards add to the character of a space, a high percentage of heat could be lost from within the gaps.

For extra insulation, it’s always a smart idea to utilize a rug in the winter months.

Utilize Smart Lighting

Think of smart lighting as a long-term investment with high returns in the future, both in terms of cost and energy. This approach is a frontrunner in energy-efficient strategies and allows homeowners to streamline their lighting systems.

It’s because you can control all the lights in your home literally from your hands, through a smartphone.

Smart Heating Controls

An unbelievable amount of energy could be saved if your home has a smart thermostat. And don’t forget about the massive amount of money being saved ANNUALLY!

With smart heating technology, homeowners can regulate the temperature from a wi-fi-enabled device. As a result, the amount of energy being utilized will be under control.

Along with smart lighting, smart heating is a great approach to streamline the process and play your part in saving the environment.

Insulate the Walls

Several residential architects might suggest insulating the walls of your home to save. As a strategy to reduce energy bills, it is possible to add cavity wall insulation from the exterior of your home.

Alternatively, interior walls can be made more energy-efficient by spraying wet cellulose or foam into the cavities.

Insulate the Floors

The right floor insulation could save energy while making your rooms comfortable. However, it depends on whether the floor is solid or suspended.

A concrete solid floor can be improved by utilizing insulating foam boards or a floating wood floor. A suspended wood floor requires both thermal insulation and draught proofing.

Install an Energy-Efficient Heating Stove

The design of fireplaces is inefficient when it comes to energy-saving and unlike these, wood-burning stoves are sealed within the interior space. Going with an energy-efficient stove will result in less fossil fuel consumption and radiate the heat efficiently throughout the room.

This option works well if you’re trying to make an older home more energy-efficient.

Seal Those Windows

In your crusade for a more energy-efficient home, you could go the extra mile by sealing the air leaks in and around the windows. You could consider incorporating weatherstripping around the frame if your windows are drafty.

Shutting gaps could be the easiest and most inexpensive method to reduce energy costs in your home.

Install Solar Panels

Although installing solar panels will cost you a decent sum, they are one of the most popular ways in increasing the energy efficiency of homes. Solar panels come with a plethora of benefits.

These help you save money on energy bills and reduce the usage of fossil fuels. Solar panels are installed on the roofs and cut electricity costs by independently generating energy.

Limit Space Heater Usage

Even though gas space heaters keep you warm like toast, it isn’t the most efficient way to heat your home. Many space heaters consume around 1200 to 1500 watts of energy and significantly contribute to high electricity bills.

Before spending all this money, ensure the model of your space heater is energy-efficient. Alternatively, you could layer up or wrap yourself in a cozy blanket instead of cranking up the thermostat.

Insulate the Attic

Insulating your attic can help seal air leaks and better your home’s heating and cooling costs. The amount of insulation required to cover the attic will depend on the size of your home and the climatic conditions.

Start Composting

Composting is one of the most efficient ways to go green and protect the environment. And your backyard doesn’t need to have a ton of space to start a compost pile.

Composting involves decomposing organic waste from your home by setting it in a pit. Over time, the natural process results in what is called compost, which acts as a natural fertilizer for your gardens. Composting also reduces the amount of trash your home produces regularly.

Upgrade the Boiler

Inefficient boilers could be a major source of high electricity bills in your home. Boilers consume high energy to run and when they use more energy than they need, that’s another source of carbon sneaking into the environment.

With time, boilers have become more energy-efficient and newer models are better suited for today’s homes.

Switch your Energy Plan

One of the most convenient ways to cut down your energy bills is to switch the energy plan of your home. But be cautious when doing so and stay on top of your bills! An ideal approach would be to switch to a company that offers renewable energy and sustainable options.

The right deal will help lower energy bills and reduce the number of fossil fuels being utilized. Thus, a win-win for you and the environment.

The Final Word

Nobody said that the road to an energy-efficient home is busy, but nobody said that it can’t be possible either. As tenants of this earth, you owe it to the environment to give back clean and green.

The two-way street of energy efficiency benefits both the environment and your household. The environment stays renewable, and you save on additional costs.

Constructing your new home or renovating it in an eco-friendlier way could go a long way in adding to the years of this Earth. And isn’t that something great?

As an additional resource in this energy efficiency crusade, residential architects are the green warriors and they have their roles to essay. So why not take in all the help you can get?

Mother Earth would be happy.

 

Types of Residential Windows

Windows are the openings to the outer world. Encompassed within your home is the niche of comfort, warmth, and safety that get their aesthetic touch through windows. Windows act as catalysts of a functional yet visual completion of a home.

Along with distributing load, windows promote natural ventilation and light. Deciding which windows are correct for your home begins with understanding to identify some of the common types.

There is a plethora of options, and it also depends on your choice. Factors such as how much natural light you want your home to have, or the style of your home also come into play. Residential architects essay a critical role in these technical aspects of designing a home, and you could get more clarity on the best windows for your home.

With that in mind, let’s look at the most common types of residential windows.

Casement Windows

Casement windows are a standard in most homes. It’s a type of window that is fixed to the frame with hinges on one or more sides. One of the most habitual locations for casement windows is over the kitchen sinks.

These are also known as crank windows because of the mechanism used to open them. This function lets a great amount of airflow whenever desired.

If considering casement windows for your home, residential architects will ensure that the windows will match the house’s sides. If you’re thinking of using window air conditioning units as the cooling method for your home, casement windows are not the ideal choice to secure them in.

Older versions of this window were a little hard to operate but the newer versions have incorporated ergonomic functions that make them easy to handle.

Pros

  • These promote airflow.
  • They exhibit an energy-efficient seal.
  • These are easy to operate.
  • They are weathertight.

Cons

  • These are unsuitable for window air conditioning units.
  • They are prone to damage if left open.

Bay Windows

This is a type of window with smaller windows grouped that protrude out from the house. Extensively popular as an aesthetic architectural feature, bay windows allow more space in smaller rooms, which results in the creation of a bay or shelf.

The individual windows in bay windows intersect at specific angles to form the bay in the interior space. Like bay windows are the bow windows, but with curves in place of angles between the smaller windows.

In a standard bay window arrangement, the central window is a picture window while the two side windows may be casement or single-hung or double-hung.

Pros

  • They are aesthetically pleasing.
  • These promote natural light in the interior spaces.
  • They add to the square footage in homes.

Cons

  • These require skillful installation.
  • They are expensive to install.

Picture Windows

Picture windows can provide the aesthetic wow factor to your homes, but at the cost of eliminating natural ventilation. The biggest drawback with pictures windows is that there’s no airflow.

But a preliminary upside to these is that the upkeep is simple and there are no operating mechanisms. Additionally, these windows come with an airtight seal.

In a time when buildings are on the path of energy efficiency, picture windows pose a drawback. These windows aren’t exactly energy-efficient. During cooler months, the heat from inside your home might escape while during the warmer months, the sunlight entering in might overheat your home.

Pros

  • They are less expensive than mechanical windows.
  • They offer an unobstructed view to the outside.
  • These offer a weathertight seal.
  • Aesthetically pleasing.

Cons

  • No ventilation or airflow.
  • These are hard to clean.
  • They aren’t energy-efficient.

Double-hung or Single-hung Windows

These are the most commonly-used residential window style that slides along a vertical channel or track to open. Although both these types appear the same, the difference is that the single-hung windows are openable from the bottom half only.

These traditional windows exhibit a top sash and a bottom sash. Only the bottom sash slides up and down in single-hung windows, while in double-hung windows, both the top and bottom sash slide in the frame.

These windows provide decent natural ventilation, are easier to replace, and offer more access for cleaning and maintenance. Double-hung windows are slightly more expensive than single-hung windows, but both are relatively budget-friendly.

Pros

  • These are cost-effective.
  • They offer high ventilation.
  • They are readily available.

Cons

  • The seal isn’t weathertight.
  • These require more physical effort to operate.

Sliding Windows

Sliding windows work just like they sound, by moving one section over another, like the sliding doors. This allows relatively good airflow.

Sliding windows are often used for basement egress windows but lack the sophistication for areas with curb appeal. These are generally found in contemporary homes.

Also known as sliders, these windows don’t possess mechanical components that help with the overall upkeep.

Pros

  • These windows are highly affordable.
  • These are a good choice for egress windows.
  • These windows are highly durable.
  • They are easy to install.

Cons

  • The view is obstructed.
  • The outer side of the window is hard to clean.

Awning Windows

These windows get their name from the awning-like protection they provide when kept open. This ability makes awning windows a good choice if you like to keep your windows open during rainfall.

Unlike casement windows, awning windows open from the top of the frame. The crank mechanism is easily operable and results in a watertight seal when not in use. When kept open, awning windows promote a natural airflow.

One of the downsides of awning windows is that they protrude outward and may cause obstruction. However, this issue can be avoided if in use on the second floor or higher up the wall.

Pros

  • These can remain open during rainfall.
  • These are weathertight.
  • They are easy to operate.

Cons

  • These can obstruct exterior spaces.
  • The mechanical parts are prone to wear and tear.

Skylights

Skylights could be a great way to provide natural light to interior spaces. These are built into the roof and function similarly to an awning window. Although skylights are not entirely openable, even a bit of flexible opening can promote natural airflow.

The biggest advantage to having a skylight is the natural light it brings along. Many residences have skylights in bedrooms or the hallways that are restricted from most sides.

Pros

  • Skylights provide natural light to dark interior spaces.
  • Skylights are aesthetically appealing.

Cons

  • With skylights, improper sealing could result in leaks.
  • These are susceptible to damage from hail.
  • Skylights could be challenging to clean.

Decorative Glass Windows

Decorative glass windows are available in a variety of styles ranging from glass blocks to stained glass. These windows serve a two-fold purpose; they offer aesthetic design and privacy at the same time. Privacy is one of the reasons why decorative glass windows are predominantly used near the front doors and washrooms.

Although they offer a certain amount of natural light to the interior spaces, a residential architect might not suggest these to be the go-to choice if natural light is your priority.

Pros

  • These offer privacy.
  • Decorative glass windows are weathertight.

Cons

  • These windows don’t offer any view of the exterior.

Transom Windows

Transom windows are always installed above another type of window or door. Their primary purpose is to let in more natural light in the interior spaces.

These windows offer aesthetic purposes as well and could add to the elevations of your home. Many residential architects suggest installing a transom window above the front entrance to add depth to the front elevation.

Pros

  • They offer more natural light.
  • They add to the aesthetics of the structure.

Cons

  • There is no natural airflow.

The Best Choice

So, as you can see there’s no best choice. It all depends on what your prerequisites are for your home. You could go ahead with the classic casement window or experiment with the awning window. And all this is based on the style of your home.

Residential architects might suggest studying your design to conclude on the perfect window for your home. What works for your neighbor’s house may not necessarily look good on your own home. And you don’t want to spend a fortune only to realize that the windows aren’t up to the mark.

Many a time, residential architects assist their clients in understanding the windows that would be practical and appealing for their homes. It generates a cycle of firm reliability, and you can be sure of your choice.

If you’re on the market for new windows for your home, consult a residential architect for some professional insight as it will go a long way in making your home a haven of natural light, privacy, and fresh air.

And who knows, you might set an example of aesthetics, functionality, and energy efficiency in your neighborhood.

And you must remember that these windows are going to be a part of your house for the coming future, so it is always best to invest in a product that would add to the value of your home.

So, let’s get cracking!

Types of Residential Windows

Windows are the openings to the outer world. Encompassed within your home is the niche of comfort, warmth, and safety that get their aesthetic touch through windows. Windows act as catalysts of a functional yet visual completion of a home.

Along with distributing load, windows promote natural ventilation and light. Deciding which windows are correct for your home begins with understanding to identify some of the common types.

There is a plethora of options, and it also depends on your choice. Factors such as how much natural light you want your home to have, or the style of your home also come into play. Residential architects essay a critical role in these technical aspects of designing a home, and you could get more clarity on the best windows for your home.

With that in mind, let’s look at the most common types of residential windows.

Casement Windows

Casement windows are a standard in most homes. It’s a type of window that is fixed to the frame with hinges on one or more sides. One of the most habitual locations for casement windows is over the kitchen sinks.

These are also known as crank windows because of the mechanism used to open them. This function lets a great amount of airflow whenever desired.

If considering casement windows for your home, residential architects will ensure that the windows will match the house’s sides. If you’re thinking of using window air conditioning units as the cooling method for your home, casement windows are not the ideal choice to secure them in.

Older versions of this window were a little hard to operate but the newer versions have incorporated ergonomic functions that make them easy to handle.

Pros

  • These promote airflow.
  • They exhibit an energy-efficient seal.
  • These are easy to operate.
  • They are weathertight.

Cons

  • These are unsuitable for window air conditioning units.
  • They are prone to damage if left open.

Bay Windows

This is a type of window with smaller windows grouped that protrude out from the house. Extensively popular as an aesthetic architectural feature, bay windows allow more space in smaller rooms, which results in the creation of a bay or shelf.

The individual windows in bay windows intersect at specific angles to form the bay in the interior space. Like bay windows are the bow windows, but with curves in place of angles between the smaller windows.

In a standard bay window arrangement, the central window is a picture window while the two side windows may be casement or single-hung or double-hung.

Pros

  • They are aesthetically pleasing.
  • These promote natural light in the interior spaces.
  • They add to the square footage in homes.

Cons

  • These require skillful installation.
  • They are expensive to install.

Picture Windows

Picture windows can provide the aesthetic wow factor to your homes, but at the cost of eliminating natural ventilation. The biggest drawback with pictures windows is that there’s no airflow.

But a preliminary upside to these is that the upkeep is simple and there are no operating mechanisms. Additionally, these windows come with an airtight seal.

In a time when buildings are on the path of energy efficiency, picture windows pose a drawback. These windows aren’t exactly energy-efficient. During cooler months, the heat from inside your home might escape while during the warmer months, the sunlight entering in might overheat your home.

Pros

  • They are less expensive than mechanical windows.
  • They offer an unobstructed view to the outside.
  • These offer a weathertight seal.
  • Aesthetically pleasing.

Cons

  • No ventilation or airflow.
  • These are hard to clean.
  • They aren’t energy-efficient.

Double-hung or Single-hung Windows

These are the most commonly-used residential window style that slides along a vertical channel or track to open. Although both these types appear the same, the difference is that the single-hung windows are openable from the bottom half only.

These traditional windows exhibit a top sash and a bottom sash. Only the bottom sash slides up and down in single-hung windows, while in double-hung windows, both the top and bottom sash slide in the frame.

These windows provide decent natural ventilation, are easier to replace, and offer more access for cleaning and maintenance. Double-hung windows are slightly more expensive than single-hung windows, but both are relatively budget-friendly.

Pros

  • These are cost-effective.
  • They offer high ventilation.
  • They are readily available.

Cons

  • The seal isn’t weathertight.
  • These require more physical effort to operate.

Sliding Windows

Sliding windows work just like they sound, by moving one section over another, like the sliding doors. This allows relatively good airflow.

Sliding windows are often used for basement egress windows but lack the sophistication for areas with curb appeal. These are generally found in contemporary homes.

Also known as sliders, these windows don’t possess mechanical components that help with the overall upkeep.

Pros

  • These windows are highly affordable.
  • These are a good choice for egress windows.
  • These windows are highly durable.
  • They are easy to install.

Cons

  • The view is obstructed.
  • The outer side of the window is hard to clean.

Awning Windows

These windows get their name from the awning-like protection they provide when kept open. This ability makes awning windows a good choice if you like to keep your windows open during rainfall.

Unlike casement windows, awning windows open from the top of the frame. The crank mechanism is easily operable and results in a watertight seal when not in use. When kept open, awning windows promote a natural airflow.

One of the downsides of awning windows is that they protrude outward and may cause obstruction. However, this issue can be avoided if in use on the second floor or higher up the wall.

Pros

  • These can remain open during rainfall.
  • These are weathertight.
  • They are easy to operate.

Cons

  • These can obstruct exterior spaces.
  • The mechanical parts are prone to wear and tear.

Skylights

Skylights could be a great way to provide natural light to interior spaces. These are built into the roof and function similarly to an awning window. Although skylights are not entirely openable, even a bit of flexible opening can promote natural airflow.

The biggest advantage to having a skylight is the natural light it brings along. Many residences have skylights in bedrooms or the hallways that are restricted from most sides.

Pros

  • Skylights provide natural light to dark interior spaces.
  • Skylights are aesthetically appealing.

Cons

  • With skylights, improper sealing could result in leaks.
  • These are susceptible to damage from hail.
  • Skylights could be challenging to clean.

Decorative Glass Windows

Decorative glass windows are available in a variety of styles ranging from glass blocks to stained glass. These windows serve a two-fold purpose; they offer aesthetic design and privacy at the same time. Privacy is one of the reasons why decorative glass windows are predominantly used near the front doors and washrooms.

Although they offer a certain amount of natural light to the interior spaces, a residential architect might not suggest these to be the go-to choice if natural light is your priority.

Pros

  • These offer privacy.
  • Decorative glass windows are weathertight.

Cons

  • These windows don’t offer any view of the exterior.

Transom Windows

Transom windows are always installed above another type of window or door. Their primary purpose is to let in more natural light in the interior spaces.

These windows offer aesthetic purposes as well and could add to the elevations of your home. Many residential architects suggest installing a transom window above the front entrance to add depth to the front elevation.

Pros

  • They offer more natural light.
  • They add to the aesthetics of the structure.

Cons

  • There is no natural airflow.

The Best Choice

So, as you can see there’s no best choice. It all depends on what your prerequisites are for your home. You could go ahead with the classic casement window or experiment with the awning window. And all this is based on the style of your home.

Residential architects might suggest studying your design to conclude on the perfect window for your home. What works for your neighbor’s house may not necessarily look good on your own home. And you don’t want to spend a fortune only to realize that the windows aren’t up to the mark.

Many a time, residential architects assist their clients in understanding the windows that would be practical and appealing for their homes. It generates a cycle of firm reliability, and you can be sure of your choice.

If you’re on the market for new windows for your home, consult a residential architect for some professional insight as it will go a long way in making your home a haven of natural light, privacy, and fresh air.

And who knows, you might set an example of aesthetics, functionality, and energy efficiency in your neighborhood.

And you must remember that these windows are going to be a part of your house for the coming future, so it is always best to invest in a product that would add to the value of your home.

So, let’s get cracking!

 

Ways to Landscape Your Backyard

Designing an outdoor space takes a lot more than a few trees or flower beds. It requires a plethora of elements that come together as a whole that appears pleasing and provides your home with the space for entertaining, relaxing, and so much more.

The visual celebration is a merger of varied materials for pathways, flower beds, and other elements. And that’s how you could landscape your backyard. Several homeowners participate in landscaping their backyards as a means of hobbies and family time. And others aspire for the professional touch.

Landscape architects or Landscape Designer could essay a critical role in developing your backyard to give your home the complete look. The process consists of a variety of materials for the paving and decking, adding texture, and employing hardscape for the flower beds just to lead the eye throughout the landscape.

Before you start creating a mood board for the backyard of your dreams, let’s put together some ways that could get those creative juices flowing. Here are some ideas that could be useful to you when landscaping your backyard.

Review the Design

The first question when landscaping your backyard is how do you want it to be? Are you looking for more architectural features or plantations? A landscape designer might suggest utilizing focal points, harmony, or symmetry through shrubs or decorative elements such as a fountain or birdbath. For more variations, the design could incorporate winding pathways and colorful schemes.

The second question is what kind of aesthetic do you want to follow for the design? The characteristics of your garden could be vital when it comes to defining the spaces and anchoring the outside with the inside.

Once you narrow down on the preliminary design, you can start thinking about features such as patios, a play area for the kids, and the trellises. Additionally, you could start looking into whether you want to incorporate fencing to create boundaries or keep it.

Zoning and Linking

Several landscape architects might suggest creating micro zones within your backyard to designate roles. That could help in creating a balance and improve the functioning of your garden.

One of the preliminary concepts of landscaping is to create a flow between the spaces. These interlinked zones could also result in a sense of curiosity and intrigue. A relationship between the house and the backyard is quite essential and could be achieved by materials that are relevant to the architecture.

While you think about zoning, it is crucial to think about lighting. Lighting is a useful tool that can make or break your garden. Sensor-based smart lighting can create a graceful aura while promoting safety. On the other hand, harsh lights might cause discomfort.

Lighting is a great way to highlight pathways and the focal points within your garden. Some homeowners prefer warm-colored lights to create ambiance. A landscape architect might suggest installing fairy lights on the trellis or pergola for that extra aesthetic mile.

Materials

If you desire a seamless flow between the interior and exterior of your home, the materials you use in the backyard need to be at par with the house. They need to be appropriate and match the existing elements in your garden.

One of the most widely-used landscaping materials is stone. The natural material is readily available and gives off a timeless appearance thus ensuring the aesthetic standards. The advantage of stone is that it also fits the neutral color palette that most homeowners look for in their backyards.

Earthy and soft grey tones showcase the landscaping and are in cohesion with the overall appeal of the garden.

Plants and Trees

The combination of plants and trees is determined by the climate, soil type, and the size of your backyard. Planting ideas could be one of the highlights of backyard landscaping. It includes outlining the flower beds and the use of compost to improve the soil condition.

For the lawn, a layer of topsoil needs to be added followed by the grass seed.

A critical element that all landscape architects insist upon when landscaping backyards is the drainage. Drainage is necessary as moisture might negatively impact the growth of plants in your garden. Hence, a well-drained environment is highly-suited.

Vertical Elements

Most landscape architects swear by vertical elements for backyards. Without them, your backyard might feel flat. These stimulate the movements of the eyes and make the garden appear larger. It’s because the eyes must travel several planes, and this will track your brain to believe that the space is bigger than it is.

Vertical elements even create interesting shadows with the position of the sun bringing in the natural aesthetic and photography zones for your Instagram. A well-placed creeper on the trellis can play with the movement of your eyes. Looking above at a canopy of greenery is such a feeling when there’s a slow breeze flowing.

Another useful vertical element is the arbor. Instead of confining it in a corner, you can position it like an entryway to your backyard with vines all around it. It adds intrigue and a spectacular design.

Vertical elements also bring with them the option of privacy. If your backyard is visible to peeping eyes, you can let the plants grow on these elements to increase privacy.

Outer Buildings

A garden shed could go a long way in providing storage for your garden tools if your backyard has the space. Creative landscape designers incorporate garden sheds as part of the landscape to maintain unity and uniformity.

A garden shed could act as a focal point that could complement the architectural style of your home. Additionally, if there’s enough space you could store extra seed sacs and the lawn-mower as well.

Another option could be developing a small greenhouse to be eco-friendlier. Greenhouses all you to create the optimum growing situation for plants and vegetables. And the best part is that they could be modest in size.

But you must ensure that you’re following the council regulations and have permits for all outer construction.

Kitchen Garden

A kitchen garden is the best way to create a microcosm of fresh air and homegrown fresh herbs and vegetables. A bonus is that it acts as an ornamental feature as well.

It can be a great way to enjoy the outside environment and you could even pick up some gardening skills while maintaining those precious herbs.

DIY or Professional?

Gardening is a skill that everyone cannot master. But landscaping isn’t just gardening, is it? A lot of thought, time, and research goes into the process.

So, you might want to hire a professional to take charge of your backyard. Like building construction, landscaping requires skill and knowledge. A landscape architect could provide you with the design for your backyard while partnering with the landscaper who is trained to act on that design.

In addition to providing the plans, the landscape designer could even manage the process from the initial stages to completion. And if you’re looking for budget-friendly options, you might employ a professional to initiate the preparatory work including the clearing, leveling the soil, drainage, and so on while leaving you to put in the plants.

Benefits of Landscaping Your Backyard

Now that you all know some of the backstories that go into landscaping your backyard, here’s why you should do it:

  • A well-designed backyard could increase the value of your property.
  • Homeowners who are looking to upsize prioritize the backyard of the property they are interested in purchasing. A property with a well-managed and aesthetic backyard might get in more offers.
  • A garden sprawling with greenery cleans the air and produces more oxygen in the area. So, you’re playing your part in maintaining the environment.
  • The grass and trees even provide a cooler temperature.
  • The outdoor atmosphere might improve the quality of life.
  • The retaining walls prevent soil erosion if your property is in a hilly area.
  • Xeriscaping is a process that requires little to no irrigation and reduces the use of natural resources.
  • Water features require little maintenance and utilize less water all thanks to the water circulating pumps.

In today’s times, the need for personal backyards is expanding. With more people choosing to reside in detached or semi-detached houses with backyards, landscaping has become essential. Couples with young kids desire the backyard to create an outdoor playing space while elderly people might be interested in gardening.

Landscaping your backyard has become a must for most homeowners and with good reason. Fresh air, locally-grown herbs, and a place to rejuvenate just outside your door is a luxury that people would want to invest in.

As landscape designers keep creating new and more sustainable ideas, backyard landscaping could reach new heights in the coming years. So, why not be part of a community that’s more environment-friendly and a little bit greener?!

You could be on the cusp of a greener and neater backyard with locally-sourced elements, sustainability standards, and a gush of pure air. Now, who wouldn’t want that?

 

10 Tips for Designing a New Home

Homeowners getting overwhelmed is quite natural when it comes to designing a new home. Sometimes a residential architect might also put in few confident-sounding words along with the design to ease the whole process.

And that helps folks! A reliable architect means you could breathe easy and watch your new home come into existence.

Most people do some inventory and categorizing before meeting with a residential architect. The process helps them realize what kind of a design do they desire for their home and how to make it happen.

But it’s easy to overlook some critical elements during this processing that could make a significant impact on the result. So, here are ten tips that could be useful to you as a homeowner when designing a new home.

Budgeting

The design of your home is under the command of your finances. In other words, your bank account is going to dictate the entire process. So, when you’re deciding on your finances, don’t just limit it to the design and construction costs.

Other aspects are a part of this process. Quite a lot of money is to be spent on elements that may seem minor but can collectively come up to thousands of dollars.

And it can be easy to forget about these aspects that need to be accounted for other than the building costs. A reminder of these extra costs could be the residential architect.

Remember to budget for:

Surveying

Landscaping

Insurance

Planning fees

Professional fees etc.

Storage/Extra Space

A huge concern for homeowners is the lack of storage space in their houses. Even large houses seem cramped if the storage space lacks efficiency. Additionally, in the preliminary stages of the design, it can be easy to underestimate your possessions and the space they will acquire.

You have minimal storage space to thank for your car being parked on the driveway instead of the garage. Most homeowners store their garages with seasonal decorations, bikes, boxes, and other stuff.

A generous amount of storage space can be incorporated into a new design for your home but it needs to be thought over in the initial stages. A few options include combining storage with the furniture, utilizing the ceiling height, or creating space in the living area, etc.

Exterior Finishes

If you think that the exterior of your house will exactly look like those software-rendered images or the architect’s hand-drawn sketches, then you need to communicate the intricacy you’re expecting beforehand.

Software’s use textures and effects that aren’t easy to replicate in practical terms. But that doesn’t mean the actual work will be anything less than pristine.

The exterior finish will define the outer aesthetic of your home and hence is the MVP! Exterior finishes could also function as a long-term investment and impact the life of your home.

Noise Control

Soundproofing is often overlooked when it comes to residential designs. Ironically, unwanted noise is a pretty common problem. That’s why is critical that the fabric of your house is as solid and well-sealed as possible.

The layout of your home could essay a crucial role in reducing the disturbance caused by noise. If you have young children, then the noise is a given. A residential architect might suggest placing their bedrooms at a distance from other spaces to reduce the noise. A decent suggestion could be placing built-in closets or washrooms between the rooms.

If you’re opting for open-plan layouts, your architect might advise putting in a niche or a smaller living room that can be isolated from the main areas for some quiet to get your work done in peace.

Home Maintenance

Sooner or later, every element of your house will require upkeep and maintenance. Predicting the general upkeep of your house will influence how the materials should be integrated into the design.

One of the materials with a long service life is brick. Bricks offer an economical answer in terms of aesthetics and durability. Hence, using brick as a primary construction material is popular globally.

A stairwell with skylights might fulfill your fantasy of residing in a dramatic house, but it’s a task for whoever must clean the glass. It’s the same with chandeliers or intricate lampshades. Another hard-to-achieve task is cleaning the gutters, especially when they are placed in the high-level valleys between pitched roofs.

As a homeowner, you need to be smart when it comes to maintaining your home. Regular upkeep requires a lot of money but can be achieved reasonably as well.

Lighting

Artificial lighting is an extensive tool that can be utilized you accentuate the features of your home. Once the sun has set, artificial lighting is what keeps your home well-lit and presentable. It can change the character of your home in different possibilities.

One example is the primary living area that’s combined with the dining and kitchen. Such a layout provides residential architects with the opportunity to play with artificial lighting and enhance the spaces.

As the hub of your home, this area is responsible for preparing and sharing meals with your family, watching tv, and even relaxing. As such, artificial lighting needs to be at par with the interior of your home.

Mess Control

This is a well-known fact that homes tend to get messy. Even residential architects will agree to this. All those spotlessly clean homes that you see on the tv, or architecture magazines are just a facade.

A well-designed house should be robust enough to withstand the stains, hits, and other abuse that it must endure as a haven for a family and walk scratch-free. The process of residing in a home involves mess, even for the most streamlined people.

However, you can reduce the mess by regular cleaning, or utilizing the excess storage space your residential architect creatively incorporated in your home.

Furniture Arrangement

House plans generally don’t indicate the actual size and shape of the furniture that will go there once it is built. In later stages, this could be an issue especially if you’re planning on using intricate furniture.

Efficient residential architects will include the symbols for furniture in their drawings, but, they are just diagrams and may not bear relation to what you have in mind. However, these symbols help understand the layout.

If you decide on keeping some unusual furniture in your home, it might not fit or not match the overall layout of your home. Hence, it is necessary to have this discussion with your architect in the early stages.

Think of the Future

If you’re planning on living in your newly-designed home for decades, then you might consider making it a bit flexible for the future so that it can evolve over the years. Consider an increase in the size of your family, whether its children, parents moving in, or relatives visiting for a weekend.

You could also incorporate your house to be more accessible in the future in case a member becomes infirm. A house designed to age in place could maintain the quality of life in the future as well and give you a sense of autonomy.

Additional Room

If your house gives you the liberty of creating an additional living space in the future, then a residential architect might suggest utilizing it to the fullest. Your children might want their separate rooms before they head off to college or your in-laws might decide to move in. What then?!

In such a case, it’s always best to have your options open. And who knows, once the additional living space is empty, you could always turn it into a bed and breakfast!

Conclusion

That’s it for the tip’s folks. 10 tips for a new home design that could make your life more convenient and the architect’s job easier. Whether you’re redesigning your current home or designing one from scratch, these tips could come in handy when you’re searching for that extra storage space or reading a book in extreme noise.

If you’re looking for some additional tips or knowledge about the process of designing a new home, then consult a residential architect and get started. You might even discover some useful tips of your own!

 

Tips for Choosing a Toilet in a Residential Project

When thinking of a residential project, toilets aren’t the first aspect that comes to mind. Your mind immediately goes to the French windows in the living room, the silky marble floors, or the decor of your room.

Sadly, toilets are way down on the priority list! But they are critical to our daily lives. So ironic, isn’t it?!

Other than being responsible for our health and a savior for the environment, a toilet also acts as the best place to browse through Facebook or Instagram, reply to emails, or just catch up on global news. A bit strange, but that’s how most people seem to start their day!

If it’s time for a bathroom revamp, you’ve come to the right place. Residential architects live for designing spaces and bringing them to life with elements. From lavish to space-saving and high-tech to simple, there’s a toilet for every bathroom.

And that’s what you’re going to find out, the A, B, C’s of choosing a toilet for your home.

What’s the gossip in the World of Toilets?

Even though toilets have remained primarily the same in recent decades, there have been some upgrades to the technology. In addition to the aesthetics and comfort, there are several choices of toilets in the market that now incorporate water jets and seat heating.

Advancements in technology might even make the toilets jump forward to being a smart toilet! But that’s decades away from now.

Types of Toilets

Knowing your bathroom requires a new toilet is the first step. Now the next question is which one? At this juncture, a residential architect could lend their expertise and save you the trouble of going in the wrong direction and probably some money!

Close-coupled Toilets

These are the most common type of toilets. They exhibit a cistern that rests at the back of the toilet bowl. One of the advantages of close-coupled toilets is that the pipework is concealed so it appears neat.

If your priority is cost-efficiency, then close-coupled toilets could be the best choice for your bathroom. A bonus is that these are convenient to maintain and clean. They are also characterized by less water consumption and a simple installation.

Wall-hung Toilets

Wall-hung toilets give off a contemporary look. The cistern is concealed inside the wall and there’s no apparent pipework. Wall-hung toilets require a wall frame for construction, which makes them a better-suited option for new bathrooms rather than retrofitting old ones.

Cloakroom Toilets

Cloakroom toilets act as space-savers and are quite useful when it comes to small washrooms. Their design can either be close-coupled or wall-hung. These are designed in a way that utilizes less space, but it could be achieved with different features.

High-and-Low Level Cistern Toilets

These give a historic appearance to traditional washrooms. In this style, the cistern is visible and wall-mounted. The flush is generally a pulley or lever design. The pan stands on the floor and the two elements are joined by the flush pipe.

These toilets are ideal for washrooms with high ceilings but can also be utilized in low-ceiling washrooms with a shorter flush pipe.

Back-to-Wall Toilets

These are floor-standing toilets. Many residential architects might suggest this option for a modern look in bathrooms. In back-to-wall toilets, the cistern is concealed behind the pan in the unit itself or the wall. There’s no visible pipework so the cleaning is mess-free.

Washlet

A washlet is an electronic bidet system that comes as a part of cleansing toilet seats. Developed by the Japanese toilet company Toto, the washlet is their registered trademark. The current models exhibit a sensor that prevents spraying water when the toilet isn’t being used by a person.

The nozzle is designed in a way that doesn’t allow the water to splash back into the toilet. This promotes the washlet’s antibacterial function.

Urinals

Urinals are sanitary plumbing fixtures that are utilized just for urination. These are often provided in public washrooms for male users. However, that doesn’t mean that urinals can’t be installed in homes.

A bit unconventional, but urinals could be highly efficient in an all-boys hostel or if you’re the proud parents of young boys.

Public urinals exhibit a flushing system that washes the urine from the bowl to prevent foul odor. It can be triggered through methods such as manual handle, door-regulated flush, timed flush, or automatic flush.

Flush Technology

Most toilets today are water-saving models in comparison to the older ones. There are three options when it comes to flush technology.

Single Flush

These toilets deliver a constant flush with every use. This type offers the widest range of designs and colors.

Dual Flush

These have a two-stage mechanism that offers a light flush or full flush for liquid and solid waste respectively.

Touchless Flush

These toilets work on a battery-powered sensor that initiates flush. Since there’s little to no physical contact, the chance of spreading germs might be less.

Key Factors

In addition to the primary tips, there are a few other considerations that you could look at when selecting the toilet for your bathroom.

Finishes

Depending on the style and design of the bathroom, it is possible to select between satin or matte finishes. The decision is yours on how you want the aesthetics of your washroom to appear.

Durability

A toilet must have a prolonged service life as it’s going to be one of the most used objects in your home. As such, it needs to be hard-wearing and built with resistant materials to ensure a long-life cycle. Hence, for practical purposes, it would be sensible to prioritize quality over appearance.

Colors

Although white is the most preferred color for toilets, there’s a range of subtle colors that could bring out the features of your washroom owing to the design scheme and aesthetics.

Efficiency

There are so many choices available in the market that it can get a bit daunting when it comes to selecting a toilet for your washroom. However, that doesn’t mean you’ll compromise on the efficiency.

The final decision should investigate aspects such as: what type of hydraulic motor does the toilet have to drove the water? How long does the toilet take to flush? Does the toilet get cleaned internally at each flush to eliminate bacteria?

Bowl Shape

When choosing a toilet, you can go for bowls that are round-front, elongated, or compact-elongated. Round-front toilets take up less space and are a decent choice if the washrooms are small. Elongated toilets exhibit deeper seating and are widely used. Compact-elongated toilets offer decent comfort while taking less space.

Toilet Traps

Toilets can either have an exposed or concealed trap configuration. In simple terms, it’s based on aesthetics. Exposed-trap toilets could be a decent choice for washrooms with a classic style, while concealed-trap toilets might give a better look in contemporary and modern washrooms.

Seat Height

Toilets with a standard height have a seat that is about 17 to 18 inches from the floor while chair-height toilets are taller at about 19 to 20 inches from the floor. Chair-height toilets are more efficient for the elderly or those with mobility issues.

Several custom-height toilets are also available in the market that can mount on the wall and be set at heights ranging from 15 to 28 inches from the floor.

Features to look out for!

Check for the size of the traps that take out the waste from the bowl. For more efficiency, select traps that are big to avoid blockages. Generally, the traps might be P-shaped or S-shaped.

Look for a toilet with a dual flush. In this case, only the water necessary will be utilized each time the toilet is flushed.

Keep an eye on the material of the toilet seat. It needs to be comfortable for each member of the family. One critical feature is that it must be anti-slip.

Not all toilets come with attached seats. So, bear this thought in mind while you’re budgeting.

Additionally, come to think of the future, you might want your toilet to age in place. It could be beneficial if your parents decide to move in or someone in the family becomes infirm. And when it comes to members of your family, you might want to think how many washrooms would be required.

A nuclear family could comfortably manage with two washrooms, but if you’re family is growing you might want your kids to have their individual washrooms. Maybe your friends decide to you for the weekend, it would be nice if they had a separate guest washroom away from the chaos of your home.

In these situations, it’s best to plan a bit and think how the number of washrooms in your home relate to the size of your family.

The End

Now that you’ve read up on some interesting and critical information about toilets, it might get slightly easier for you to select the best option for your washroom. And with some assistance from a residential architect, you could get the perfect washroom. After all, your day deserves a start as convenient as possible.

 

Remodeling Your Kitchen?! Here’s How To Find The Perfect Countertops.

If you ask any homeowner about the most widely-used space in their house, the answer will probably be the kitchen, at least in most cases.

Be it freshly-prepared warm food or concealed storage the kitchen, is the unsung hero in every household. But there’s one feature in all kitchens that bears the brunt of all the work. It’s the primary defense system against the scratches from the cutlery, the stains from the seasoning, and even the oil spills.

And yes, the answer is countertops! These countertops accommodate a decent chunk of your kitchen equipment. So, it becomes crucial to develop kitchens with the most resistant materials.

While remodeling, a residential architect might suggest paying a tiny bit extra attention to these countertops along with the aesthetics and functionality. After all, it must work for the requirements of each family.

With new and sustainable materials, the remodel could benefit your kitchen in the long run and add to the existing value of your property. Your kitchen could become more user-friendly with materials that are more suitable to your taste and the overall style of your home.

And maybe, it might even inspire the lazy members of your family to become chefs! Who knows how many ways this remodel could impact your kitchen? So exciting, isn’t it?!

Today, you’ll find out about several commonly-used kitchen countertop materials with their advantages and disadvantages.

Marble

The versatile material, after being used in architectural masterpieces all over the globe, found its way into the residential kitchens as well. Marble countertops pride themselves on being the most sophisticated out there. The hard-wearing material exhibits a long service life.

Marble countertops promise durability paired with aesthetics. Since marble is composed of natural limestone, every streak in its composition is one of a kind.

Advantages

  • Marble countertops are convenient to clean.
  • Marble countertops exhibit high aesthetic value.
  • They are heat resistant.
  • Marble as a material is resistant to wear and tear.

Disadvantages

  • Marble is an expensive material.
  • It is a highly porous material. Hence, marble countertops need to be sealed with antibacterial resin.

Granite

Granite is another natural stone that exhibits a unique set of prints and shades. Granite kitchen countertops are popular for good reasons. Aesthetically appealing and hard-wearing, this stone can accommodate a versatile range of kitchen designs to present a stunning look.

Advantages

  • Granite countertops are easy to maintain and clean.
  • Granite is highly heat resistant.
  • Owing to its cool surface, granite makes an ideal food preparation area, especially for kneading, the new art of home bread making due to Covid.
  • Granite surfaces exhibit high shine polish.

Disadvantages

  • Granite countertops aren’t always resistant to acidic food products.

Porcelain Tile

Porcelain tile kitchen countertops are the new trend that’s gearing up for the throne. They are comparatively resistant in addition to being impermeable. Porcelain offers the most finished look in materials out there and exhibits unique combinations and appearances.

The versatile material is one of the only options that can be engineered to resemble materials such as concrete or marble among others.

Advantages

  • Porcelain tiles are resistant to chemical and physical abrasion.
  • Porcelain tile countertops are easy to clean.
  • They offer a wide range of finishing options.

Disadvantages

  • While designing porcelain tile products, it becomes imperative to work with specialized and reliable companies that will guarantee the impact resistance ability of the material.
  • Porcelain needs to be incorporated with reinforcement.

Concrete

Concrete countertops offer a rustic appearance for contemporary and modern kitchens. It is an economical and highly resistant material with long service life. Several techniques can be utilized to color the concrete countertops which maximize the possibility of finishes to be applied.

Advantages

  • Concrete kitchen countertops boast a versatile appearance.
  • The material has a high production value.
  • It requires the least number of raw materials making it one of the most cost-friendly options for kitchen countertops.

Disadvantages

  • Concrete as a material is highly porous.
  • Concrete has low resistance to stains.
  • The material isn’t hygienic and the use of glass or stone tables or platforms is recommended when handling food around it.

Artificial Stones

Artificial stone countertops are made from natural minerals like quartz or marble in combination with a resin. When using artificial stones for kitchen countertops, it is necessary to work with registered companies that can verify the quality of the product.

Advantages

  • These countertops are resistant to stains.
  • Countertops made from artificial stones are easy to maintain.
  • They offer a wide range of finishes and colors.

Disadvantages

  • Countertops in artificial stones are more expensive in comparison to other materials.
  • These countertops exhibit low resistance to heat.

Wood

Wood is one of the most versatile materials to work with. It can be utilized for a rustic as well as a contemporary look.

Wooden countertops are highly functional and practical to use. They also increase warmth in the kitchens. A polished wooden countertop offers high aesthetical value along with setting the perfect environment to prepare food for the family.

Advantages

  • Wood is a highly economical material.
  • Wooden countertops offer practical and easy installation.
  • These have a long-lasting service life.

Disadvantages

  • Wooden kitchen countertops require a lot of maintenance.
  • They exhibit low resistance to heat.

Soapstone

Soapstone is seen as an alternate option to granite countertops. You can generally find this material in historic homes but has now found its way in modern homes as a material for countertops or the sink.

The material is quite stiff and highly resistant to stains. However, it will scratch over time.

Advantages

  • It offers a traditional and timeless appearance in the kitchens.
  • Soapstone kitchen countertops are impervious to heat.

Disadvantages

  • The material may darken over time.
  • It needs to be treated with mineral oil.

Quartz

Quartz is an engineered stone product that contains other minerals in partnership with 90 – 95% quartz. It is shaped into slabs and then bound with resin for strength.

Quartz was created as an alternative to marble and granite kitchen countertops. It is available in a versatile range of colors and exhibits a non-porous surface. Unlike natural stone, engineered quartz doesn’t require regular sealing.

Advantages

  • Quartz countertops are easy to maintain.
  • A DIY installation is possible for quartz countertops.
  • Custom fabrication is possible.
  • Quartz countertops have a more natural appearance.
  • These countertops exhibit low resistance to heat.

Disadvantages

  • It is highly expensive.
  • The countertops are quite heavy.

Laminates

Laminates are plastic-coated synthetic surfaces that are easy to maintain. These are developed by binding the laminate sheets to a board with an MDF core.

Laminate countertops can be custom-fabricated or purchased as post-form countertops. In recent years, laminates seem to have gained popularity, owing to the versatile range of colors and patterns available.

Advantages

  • Laminate kitchen countertops are an inexpensive choice.
  • The DIY option is possible.

Disadvantages

  • The seams are always visible.
  • The customization can get expensive.

Stainless Steel

If you’re looking for a more industrial or technical look for your kitchen, then stainless steel countertops are the way to go. These countertops offer a long service life in addition to heat resistance and stability.

Since these are constructed according to the homeowners’ specifications, the countertops could even be seamless.

Advantages

  • Stainless steel countertops are impervious to heat.
  • These are a perfect choice for modern kitchens.
  • Stainless steel countertops might even add to the real estate value of your property.

Disadvantages

  • Stainless steel kitchen countertops are expensive to fabricate.
  • The installation process is very noisy in comparison to other materials.
  • Stainless steel countertops are not scratch-resistant.

Now that you have so many choices available, it can get slightly daunting to decide for your kitchen. Do you want to go contemporary or are you a more traditional person? Or do you want the best of both worlds?!

That’s where a residential architect could lend their expertise and help you achieve the kitchen of your dreams. The creative juices can get flowing and the remodeling will become as hassle-free as can be.

A residential architect could even upcycle some of the material that won’t be in use anymore and you could end up with some creative pieces for your kitchen. Now whether you want to switch to marble from granite or invest in stainless steel kitchen countertops, the remodel is going to impact your kitchen for the better.

And think of this remodel as a long-term investment for your property. Cooking Thanksgiving dinners will get more fun, the Sunday breakfasts will be more enjoyable with your family, and the cleaning won’t look so dreadful anymore.

So, let’s get remodeling, shall we?

 

Maintenance Tips for Brick Walls

Historically, brick has been the preferred material for a wide variety of habitable spaces. Famous for providing the basics such as enclosure to the advanced feature of protection to the building framework, bricks have been steadfast and unwavering.

Brick offers an economical and aesthetical answer in terms of texture, color, and durability. The use of brick as a primary construction material can be seen all around the world.

Regardless of their practicality and immense popularity, brick may present several challenges for architects, engineers, and builders.

Conditions such as extreme sun, humidity, mold, and even usage wear on brick. These parameters gradually wear the bricks down and tarnish their practical and aesthetical appeal.

Today, you’ll get to know some tips on how to best care for your brick facade.

Begin with a Visual Inspection

An in-depth visual inspection is a first and foremost step towards the maintenance of brick. What you could do is examine the surfaces of the brick around your home and look for cracks, crevices, unusual gaps, or surface damage.

However, the one aspect you need to be on the lookout for is efflorescence, a white powder-like substance that forms on bricks. Efflorescence can tarnish the appearance of bricks and indicate their porosity.

During freezing temperatures, if bricks are holding water, the water might expand, which could cause serious damage. In the case of widespread efflorescence, it’s best to consult a professional.

Inspect the Mortar

While inspecting the your brick facade, you might want to take a closer look at the mortar that is sandwiched between them. Mortar is less durable than brick and is more susceptible to several physical stresses.

Since mortar acts as glue for the bricks, it can get complicated if there are issues with this part of the surface. The bricks could become unseated, which increases the risk of them falling out of place.

Even though mortar can be repaired, severe damage may require a professional to repair the entire section.

Check for Leaks

Before jumping to conclusions about whether the brick walls of your home require work, a residential architect might suggest checking the inside of your house for leaks. Sometimes, hairline cracks in the mortar or bricks permit small amounts of water to percolate into the walls. Even a minimal amount of water could lead to the growth of mold that might cause structural issues.

And this is one of the most serious issues that could result in lasting damages to your brick walls. And you wouldn’t want that, would you?!

Keep the Bricks Clean

Cleaning the bricks is a critical aspect of maintaining their service life. The accumulation of dust and other particles might tarnish the rustic look that you’re aiming for.

A convenient method to eliminate mold is to use a hard-bristled brush and a mixture of water and bleach. Scrape horizontally to get the best results. Ensure to use protective gear like gloves, masks, and safety goggles.

If the damage is beyond your reach, then the best way is to hire professionals.

Remove Vegetation

Many homeowners appreciate the appeal of an ivy-covered wall. These climbers can safely integrate themselves with the brick surfaces. However, if you notice other types of plants or roots growing out, then you need to remove them immediately.

Climbers don’t push their roots into the brick surfaces, but some other types of vegetation might settle into all the crevices. With time, these roots might expand and tear the mortar away from the bricks.

The issue could worsen if you don’t treat it as once the roots start to chip away the mortar, it might provide easy access to water.

Cater to the Weep Hole

A weep hole or a weep is a small opening that allows the moisture from the brick walls to escape. Usually, the weep holes are located at the bottom of the walls.

Occasionally, these weep holes may get clogged. If they aren’t cleared in due time, they might cause water damage. The best way is to keep a constant check on them and clean them at regular intervals.

Replace Loose Bricks

Loose bricks could turn out to be a huge hassle if not looked after. The process starts by removing the old mortar until the loose brick is entirely accessible and easy to twist. Once this step is over, the brick can be removed from the cavity.

Further steps include dampening the cavity and placing wet mortar inside it. It should be ensured that the joints around the brick are sealed shut to keep moisture out.

Once satisfied with the mortar, the brick can be laid into its place. The new brickwork will be stronger, efficient, and change the overall appearance of your home.

You may or may not hire a professional depending on the intensity of the work. But make sure to follow precautions if you’re going the DIY way!

Mildew and Moss

If any side of your house receives little sunlight and is near damp vegetation, you might need to be on the lookout for mildew or moss. The removal process is quite easy and can be achieved with a scrub brush and a mixture of bleach and water.

Avoid using a wired brush as it leaves traces of zinc behind that might discolor the bricks. It’s suitable to use a synthetic or natural brush for this process.

Now that’s some information…

So, how does it feel to receive new information firsthand? Now you can go and have a look at your home and see for any of the pointers that are a part of maintaining the brick walls.

Whether it’s something you can handle at your level or something that needs a more professional approach, maintaining brick walls has never been so easy. You could approach residential architects, builders, or contractors to get a clear idea of how much work the bricks of your home require.

It may even be that you could pick up a few new tricks that could come in handy in the future!

 

Storage Tips for Small Houses

Big cities indicate small and compact homes. It holds for New York, London, Tokyo, and even New Jersey. Densely-populated cities can either tend to the people or larger-than-life homes.

You might have to adapt to certain spaces that can’t accommodate all the elements you need with changing residential patterns. It means less stuff and less space. But does that work every time?

How do you accommodate boxes stuffed with holiday decorations, piles of clothes, and other homeware in small homes? Do you upsize or do you let go of your possessions? There must be a smart way to store your stuff in your small house.

What’s the secret to accommodating everything in your house? Why not look at some effective storage solutions for tight spaces?! By the time you’re done reading, you could be looking at your home in a whole new light.

The spaces might seem different, you might have new ideas about where to put the stuff and how to sculpt that space. So exciting, isn’t it?

Here’s hoping that your small home doesn’t seem so small anymore!

Combining the Storage with Furniture

A smart strategy to utilize when it comes to storage spaces for small houses is merging them with pieces of furniture wherever possible. It will allow the furniture to adapt to fulfill multiple functions simultaneously.

Now, whoever thought of this deserves an award, don’t they? And it’s the simple intricacy of this idea that makes it so perfect and useful. The fact that the answer to your storage problems lies in plain sight is just the thing you want to utilize.

It often happens that residential architects might suggest harnessing the convenience of this option as it’s affordable and conceals your stuff in plain sight. Brilliant, isn’t it? It’s a trick of the trade.

No wonder furniture seems to be the perfect hiding place in thriller movies!!

A Closet under the Bed

The bed is a critical element of a bedroom and should remain at its standard size. But, when it comes to a small room with no built-in closets, a bed can serve more than one function.

The free space under the bed can be a useful storage space in the form of drawers. It can avoid having to add new furniture that might block passage inside your bedroom.

If your room has the necessary ceiling height, the bed can be raised a bit to incorporate a bar for hangers. And this is in addition to the drawers and shelves. If you’re looking for something more discreet, the drawers can even go at the bottom of the bed and be concealed with decorative pieces of carpet.

Some residential architects might suggest experimenting with the drawers and incorporating them in a way to merge with the style of the room. The drawers could use a sliding or folding hanging opening system as well.

Storage in the Living Area

The same strategy that comes into play in the bedroom can also be useful in the living area. Living rooms exhibit a lot of furniture that can essay critical storage roles as well.

Seating structures can provide storage space underneath them without anybody having to know about it. Sofas and decorative tables with covered tops could essentially be extra storage space for your home.

Multipurpose Staircases

Staircases carry the potential to have multiple uses along with their primary use. If feasible, a residential architect might suggest creating a small bookshelf or cupboard on the side of the staircase.

Their location usually makes them useful to store household objects. If this option is utilized the steps of the staircase can function as drawers or the space below them could be purposed as side access shelves.

However, this option has its limitations and works well if the staircase is not too big and made of timber.

Uncommon Residual Spaces

It may sound weird, but sometimes you can find storage space in the most unexpected places. It could be some leftover space between two drawers or a corner between two kitchen cabinets, but storage is storage when it comes to small houses.

With some creativity and ideas, you can carve out near enough storage space for your small house.

Generally, you may not hear a residential architect suggest this option. It’s more of a storage DIY or hack that you can utilize yourself and see if it works for you.

And what’s more, is that you might just find new storage spaces along the way!

Increase the Capacity of the Drawers and Cabinets

Several times, the interior space of the drawers and cabinets goes to waste as it is not utilized to its highest potential. Now that’s worrisome when it comes to a small house with less storage space.

Designing each cabinet and drawer with precision could eliminate this loss of valuable space. You might be able to accommodate everything more efficiently, allowing you to take full advantage of the storage space.

New technologies and systems in the market allow for the efficient use of discarded storage areas such as the hard-to-reach spaces in the drawers or cabinets. For instance, some companies offer removable or revolving trays to better accommodate the products and utilize the space to its full capacity.

Utilize the Ceiling Height

High ceilings could be of great use in small houses. These high storage spaces could free up the living space and contribute to the house’s overall design.

Many residential architects might suggest experimenting with the design to make the room appear bigger and wider. It would also incorporate storage spaces that could merge with the interior of your space.

Upsize or…???

Now that you’ve learned some secrets of the trade, there’s no reason for you to upsize based on lack of storage. Your small home could very well give you some extra storage space if designed or redesigned creatively.

A residential architect or an interior designer could carve out niches large enough for all the extra stuff you want to store. And what’s more, is that it could cost you less than what you’d have to invest for a bigger place.

It Works!

Do you see it, folks?! Your compact and small homes could become a hoarder’s palace if the spaces are utilized smartly. With new and upcoming designs, home interiors and spaces have gone through a DNA change.

People who don’t want to partake in the hassle of owning large-scale properties can live comfortably in smaller homes with enough storage space because of the way residential architects utilize their creativity and come up with innovative and space-saving solutions.

So, next time you feel like a huge house is the answer to your storage problems, just look a little further and your current home could accommodate even more stuff than it already does. Take out that phone and take up the opportunity to view your small home with a new and “larger” perspective!

Where to look?

You don’t have to look far to get the storage space of your dreams. A residential architect could be in their office right now pumped up with energy and getting those creative designs on paper for clients.

So, isn’t it the right time to collaborate? It sure is!

 

What Is Your Roof of Preference?

A roof is the covering of your home. It is what makes your home a haven. And what’s more, is that you get the opportunity to select the type of roof for your home.

And there are so many choices available. Depending on the type of structure, weather, and planning permissions, your home can boast a strong roof. The work becomes easy with some inputs from a residential architect.

Each roof type serves different functions. When choosing a roofing style, you need to think about the visual impact as well. While appearance matter, so does utility and the service life.

Let’s learn about the most commonly-used roofs in New Jersey and check out which serves what functions!

Hip Roof

Source: Houzz

The primary physical attribute of a hip roof is that all the sides slope down towards the walls without any vertical sides. The pyramid-shaped roof exhibits four faces with a symmetrical pitch. Hip roofs often exhibit a continuous fascia board, which makes it easy to place gutters all around them.

The construction process for a hipped roof could be more complex and tedious. It consists of a detailed system of trusses or rafters. Hip roofs can be constructed on a variety of shapes. Each ridge holds a central position on the rectangle below it.

The triangular faces are named hip ends. The rafters are placed on an external corner of the structure and rise towards the ridge. Towards the internal corner, a joint is formed between the sloping surfaces by a valley. Hipped roofs are most found in bungalows but can be utilized in other architectural styles as well.

Hip roofs are much more resistant to winds and are more stable than gable roofs. But, in regions prone to hurricanes hip roofs need to have a steep slope of 35 degrees. Few cons of the hip roof are that there isn’t enough space for maintenance, and they are hard to ventilate.

Pros

  • They are more resilient than gable roofs.
  • They are studier.
  • They are useful for windy and snowy areas.

Cons

  • They are more expensive to construct.
  • They have a more complex design.
  • They require more building materials.

Gable Roof

Gable roofs, also known as pitched roofs seem to be one of the most popular types of roofs in the United States of America. They exhibit a striking triangular shape. Gable roofs are most used in places with cold temperatures. The construction consists of purlins or rafters. In a gable roof, the height of the gutters can vary a lot.

A gable roof exhibits three vital components. The two sides, also known as the pitch, the central ridge, and the gable itself. The gables are what give this roof style its name. Residential architects can alter and regulate the design of the gable roof according to the requirements.

However, there are a few primary types of gable roofs that you should know about. The first one is the front-gable house in which the primary entrance to the structure lies on the wall which it shares with the gable.

The other is the side gable in which the main entrance or the visual focus is on the side, which it doesn’t share with the gable. Many residential architects like to experiment with gable roofs to add more character and dynamism. It usually consists of two rooflines with a supporting pitch and gable. This is known as a cross-gable roof.

Pros

  • Gable roofs allow for more ventilation.
  • They provide more access to the attic.
  • Gable roofs allow for the structure to have vaulted ceilings.
  • They are easier and cheaper to build.

Cons

  • Gable roofs aren’t useful in hurricane-prone areas.
  • If not secured properly, gable roofs tend to collapse during strong winds.

Mansard Roof

Source: Houzz

A mansard roof is a type of roof that exhibits two slopes on each side. Out of these slopes, the lower slope is generally steeper than the upper slope. This style of roofs was widely used in the early fifteenth to sixteenth-century Italy and England.

The mansard roof is named after the famous architect Francois Mansart who used this roof style in townhouses in Paris and the chateaus in France. In earlier times, the mansard roof gained popularity because its profile was more on par with the classical roofs that were prevalent.

The mansard roof falls under the classification of curb roofs. However, it is a curb hip roof, with slopes on all sides of the structure. For water drainage, mansard roofs depict a rectangular-shaped crease, bordered by curb beams, and a low-pitched roof inside the rectangle.

Pros

  • The mansard roof makes maximum use of the attic space.
  • The roof offers a way to add a new story to a structure without requiring any masonry.
  • It often exhibits elaborate dormer windows for aesthetic purposes.

Cons

  • The cost of installation is high.
  • It can be complex to get permits for the construction process.
  • Mansard roofs are hard to maintain.

Flat Roof

Source: Houzz

Flat roofs are a feature of Persian, Arabian, and Egyptian architectural styles. A roof can be designated as a flat roof if it has less than 10 degrees incline. Flat roofs could be highly beneficial if you’re extending your structure. Flat roofs are most used in arid climates and allow the space to be utilized as a green roof as well.

In warmer climates, flat roofs are built of concrete or masonry, which keeps out the heat from the sun and is cheap to construct. In areas that are prone to rain, flat roofs may become saturated and leak.

Several types of flat roof covering are available in the market. One of the most popular flat roof covering is asphalt. High-quality asphalt is produced for long-lasting built-up roofs (BUR). There are four classifications of asphalt roof coverings, and all are made by heating oxygen.

EPDM rubber is generally used in single-ply roofing because it is easy to apply and readily available. Modified bitumen membrane is a hybrid roofing system that combines the benefits of single-ply with the authentic roofing installation used in built-up roofing.

Other materials include CPE and CSPE, cold-applied liquid membranes, PVC (vinyl) membrane roofing, flexible thermopolyolefin, TPO, glass-reinforced plastic, coal-tar pitch built-up roof, and metal flat roofing.

Pros

  • Flat roofs are highly cost-efficient.
  • Flat roofs have a small surface area.
  • They require less material.
  • Flat roofs are stronger than pitched roofs.

Cons

  • Flat roofs require more maintenance than pitched roofs.
  • These roofs absorb heat faster than sloped roofs as they are exposed to the sun during the day.

Saltbox

A saltbox house is a traditional housing style with a pitched roof that hangs down to the back, with timber framing. This type of roof covers one story in the back and two stories in the front. Some of the most recognizable attributes of this type of roof are the chimney and the flat front.

However, the most distinctive features are the asymmetry of the sides and the rear roofline. This roof gets its name from the resemblance to the wooden box in which salt was once stored.

The saltbox traces its roots back to New England and is a part of American Colonial Architecture. The roofing style is also known as a catslide roof.

Pros

  • Saltbox roofs work well in climates with mild to heavy snowfall.
  • They prevent the snow from settling on the roof.
  • Saltbox roofs are easier to maintain.
  • They can endure stronger winds than gable roofs.

Cons

  • Saltbox roofs possess interior ceilings that might reduce attic space.
  • The roofing style is complex to design in comparison to the gable roof.

Gambrel Roof

Source: Houzz

A gambrel, also known as a Dutch roof, is a symmetrical two-sided roof with two slopes on each side. The lower slope is steep while the upper slope is at a shallow level. The primary advantage of this design is that it maximizes the headroom in the structure’s upper level.

This roof is like a mansard roof but is not hipped. Instead, it possesses vertical gable ends. It also overhangs the building facade. Gambrel roofs are most used for domestic roofs and barns across the United States of America.

The roof offers a stylish design along with an aesthetic appeal. One of the reasons for its popularity is that it can be constructed within limited financial resources. The lifespan of gambrel roofs depends upon factors such as design, climate, construction materials, and installation.

Pros

  • The installation is affordable.
  • It increases the headroom space in comparison to other roofing styles.

Cons

  • Gambrel roofs are hard to maintain.
  • It requires constant care.

So, today you’ve learned new information about several types of roofs that you can utilize for your house. Some focus on aesthetics, while other highlights structural support. In all cases, it is highly recommended that you consult a residential architect to find the best options for your dream home.

And what’s more, you have a plethora of choices to choose from! So, let’s get roofing!!!

 

The Impact of Colors On Your Home Interiors

Colors portray a versatile impact even in enclosed spaces such as your home. Whether it’s their vibrance or minimalism, colors possess a lasting influence. Your living room wall could become the highlight of the space with a touch of elegant color. The wooden floors in your home might allow for an earthy feel in your house. And that’s the magic of colors.

A lot of people might spend most of their time indoors. Pleasant environments could have a positive influence on your mood and add to your well-being. On the contrary, poorly lit, and uncomfortable interiors could dampen your feelings and make you feel negative.

That’s why the art of interior design is so crucial. As residential architects, they have the power to alter the interiors of your home; they can make it or break it. You can create this magic with an interior designer as well! With assets such as natural or artificial lighting, proportions, scale, and so much more, residential architects could change the interiors of your home with a swish of their magic wand.

For the desired experience, several elements could change the appearance of your home interiors without altering the structural walls. A residential architect might suggest using varied materials, painting surfaces, or applying different coatings to get that fresh look.

Cool colors can make space appear larger, while dark colors make it smaller. The positioning of textures and materials could change the perspective and appeal of your home interiors by highlighting a particular element.

What Are Your Options?

Some residential architects like playing with the concept of space by using contrasting color schemes. It could be a creative way for your home interiors to freshen up and look lively.

Here are some choices a residential architect might present for you:

Enlarge the Space

The advantage of using light and subtle colors in your living space is that it reflects natural light and makes the room appear more spacious. The room is the original size it was last year, but the light colors are playing tricks that make you think you have more space and liven up your interiors.

You might have noticed this in many homes, that most living rooms and common areas have walls with light colors that harness this effect in their favor. Weren’t we talking about magic earlier?! Quite right!

Compact the Space

Darker colors could be an ideal choice if you want the interiors of your home to appear smaller. These stronger colors seem to work well if you’re looking for the interiors of your home to be compact.

These colors absorb most of the natural light and exhibit a feeling of enclosure. Such an option could work well for colder places where cozier and compact rooms are preferred for warmth.

A residential architect or an interior designer might suggest shades of grey or brown that are easy on the eyes and merge them with some textures to complete the entire appeal.

Extend the Space

Stretching the space is a concept that many residential architects might be trying in their projects. A simple way to execute this method is to paint the walls of the room dark and leave the ceiling with a lighter shade.

This creates an illusion to the eyes and the inhabitants might feel the height of the room to be more than usual. An off-white color on the ceiling could work wonders with slightly darker walls.

Restrict the Height

Home owners can experiment with the height of the ceiling (according to the norms and building codes). Sometimes lowering the height of the ceiling could create a pleasant environment.

A residential architect might suggest painting the ceiling dark and leaving the walls with a lighter shade or texture, which might make the ceiling appear lower than it is. Additionally, you could add floor lamps to the room for more effect.

Widen the Space

This is a technique that’s a favorite in the architects’ community. You can conveniently get a widened space with some magic tricks with colors and textures. Painting the ceiling and the back wall with the same dark shades and leaving the side walls with a lighter shade could make the space look more spacious and wider.

Highlight a Wall

Highlighting a wall provides several ways to transform the interiors of your home. It can be done through colors, textures, or even decorative elements. If you’re using colors to highlight a wall, it is recommended to keep it a lighter shade while the others have a darker appearance. That way the eyes will be drawn to the highlighted wall.

Another way is to use texture on the wall you want to highlight and leave the rest plain and simple. You can also utilize curtains or other accessories to highlight a particular wall in your home.

Narrow Down the Space

Leaving the ceiling and background in light colors while painting the opposite walls in darker shades will make the interior of the room appear narrower. It could also impact the proportions of the room making it more polished.

Room Psychology

Room psychology is a part of your daily routine and depends on the colors you choose for the living spaces in your home. The trick with colors is to choose and blend to come up with the best-looking concoction for your home.

Room colors could impact your mood and affect you in many ways. Certain colors receive the same reactions from all age groups, that’s why it’s crucial to choose colors for your home wisely.

The Best Colors

Not all colors will suit all rooms in your home. You can experiment with various shades to get the desired effect. When selecting colors for the spaces in your home, deduce what kind of environment you want to create and will the colors match the mood.

Bedroom

Your bedroom is a haven of relaxation and comfort. So, the colors you choose should bring across these feelings. You might consider colors such as pastel green, blue or lavender for their relaxing qualities.

Colors such as orange or red could be avoided as they are fierce and will contradict the relaxing nature of the bedroom.

Living Room

Living room colors should promote comfort and conversation. When asking yourself about colors for the living room, consider colors such as blue or green, or even red if you’re looking for more fun and vibrance.

Bathroom

The bathroom could have calming colors such as white, blue, or even lavender. You should avoid colors such as red or orange for the bathroom as they can become overbearing for such a small space.

Kitchen

The kitchen is a communal space that promotes happiness, communication, and harbors almost all the family members. Hues of blue, green, and yellow could improve the feel of your kitchen by promoting warmth and relaxation.

Additionally, textures in the form of curtains and small rugs could highlight the small corners with sunlight creeping in through the window, filtered by the small flowerpots.

Colors such as black and brown are too sharp for spaces like the kitchen.

Dining Room

The dining room could have classic colors such as red, purple, or yellow. Yellow is sometimes associated with hunger as well (might as well give it a shot!). Red is known to stimulate conversation while purple represents excitement.

Study Room/Home Office

A study resembles rustic woods. With wooden and earthy textures, you could transform your study into a Zen Garden of relaxation and peace. An elegant floor lamp and some cozy furniture could highly impact the interiors of your study.

When it comes to a home office, minimalist colors such as off-white or cream could create a healthy and active working environment without you feeling lazy. A worktable with some formal cabinets on the side covered with small plants could give you the ideal home office.

And in a world where working from home is the new normal, it wouldn’t harm having a top-notch home office.

Corridors/Aisles

The scheme for corridors, aisles, or foyers depends on the space your house has. For the entrance foyer, you could use light colors to create the illusion of enlarged and welcoming space.

Corridors could be extended to resemble high ceilings.

Does it work?

The interior of your home must be comfortable for you. It’s time place where you come to relax after a hectic day in the office, a place where you can sit on the sofa in the living room with some Netflix and chill. Colors do possess significance when it comes to creating an environment and mood for each room in your house.

So, when a residential architect suggests a color palette, it’s best to sit with them and throw some ideas off each other. You might end up finding out near-perfect combinations for your home. Textures and materials in different shades could add to this process and positively influence the interiors of your home.

Contact a residential architect, let your design ideas flow, and soon the interiors of your home will be serving looks to die for! And who doesn’t want to live in a home with the best features?!

 

What Type of Home Do You Live In?

Your home is your sanctuary, a haven for all your wishes and whims. Knowledge about the aspects of your home could go a long way in letting you stay in peace in your home.

Sometime down the line, if a house requires a makeover, knowing the type and its aspects could come in handy. In addition, with some assistance from a residential architect, you will be good to go.

Structurally speaking, several types of houses can be built based on the area, geography, weather, and general styles. These differing architectural styles have variations, and some might even share features.

Out of the various styles and typologies, we’ll look at some of the most used and you might get to know what type of home you live in if you don’t already.

Ranch-Style House

 

The ranch-style house, popularly known as American Ranch is a type of architectural style that has its roots in the United States of America. Famous for its open layout, the ranch-style house exhibits a close-to-the-ground profile.

The style is a fusion of Western American ideas that results in a casual living style. It appeared as a residential style in the early 1920s and gained popularity in the 1940s to 1960s.

The style is often related to tract housing, which was quite popular in the Southwest United States. Additionally, the housing demand played a critical role in its popularity as well.

The ranch-style house is generally single-storied, but some variations and newer models include two stories as well. The most prominent ranch-style house features include a pitched roof, asymmetrical design, open floor plans, vaulted ceilings, and mixed material exteriors.

The style’s popularity also made it work as a commercial version. The concept of drive-in shopping worked well with the ranch-style house as it was the most convenient to fit into the large tracts of ranch homes being built.

The late 1970s led to the decline of the ranch-style houses due to the neo-eclectic styles’ popularity. Additionally, the increase in land prices gave rise to the development of two-storied houses with more contemporary designs.

Ranch-style houses are still built in Western America, but it mainly has traditional and historical values.

Raised-Ranch-Style House

A raised ranch is a type of ranch-style house that is set on a foundation that allows habitable space below the main level of the house, usually in the form of a basement. Usually, the front door opens to a landing between the two floors where half a flight of stairs goes up and half go down.

The raised-ranch style gained popularity from the early 1960s onwards when the growing families required more space than what a typical ranch-style house offered.

The raised-ranch-style house exhibits two major benefits. It solves the issue of space without having to upgrade to a bigger house while offering more privacy since the main level of the house is above eye level.

Raised-ranch-style homes usually exhibit shallow rooflines and overhanging eaves. Few other features include vaulted ceilings, sliding doors that open to a deck, and stucco or masonry decorating the front exterior.

Raised-ranch-style houses might also offer walkout doors to the backside and if the property has a slope, the lower side of the basement could be useful as a drive-under garage. This reason added to the style’s popularity as a drive-under garage is cheaper to construct than an attached garage.

Split-Level House

A split-level house is a type of house that that exhibits staggered floor levels. Usually, it has two sets of stairs, with one running towards the upper level and the other going down to the basement area.

The split-level house style amassed popularity in the mid-twentieth century as the suburbs started to expand post-World War II and continue to remain so.

There are several types of Split-Level Houses:

Split-Entry

The split-entry possesses two short sets of stairs and a basement. The basement level is a “walk-out” type. A split-entry house has a different look than the raised ranch style from the outside as the front entry door aligns with the front windows separately.

Stacked Split-Level

The stacked split-level house possesses four to five short sets of stairs and five to six levels. The front door generally opens into a foyer, and one set of stairs leads into the basement while another goes into the living area.

Additionally, another set of stairs leads into one bedroom, located at the top of the first habitable area. More bedrooms are “stacked” on top of the second floor, which gives it the name stacked split-level.

Back Split

A back split is a type where the split level is visible from the side elevation only. The front elevation will display a single story and two stories are usually in the backside.

Bi-Level

A bi-level consists of two short sets of stairs and two levels. The front entry opens to a landing. Usually, one flight of stairs leads to the top floor and other leads down.

The top-level exhibits full height ceilings and consists of the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms. The lower floor possesses low ceilings and is below ground (partially).

Modern bi-level homes have a garage attached at the front of the bi-level and not under it. Bi-level homes boast a large front entryway with enough space for groups of people and a storage closet.

The terms split-level and bi-level are often used interchangeably wherein a split level defines a bi-level house with a split entry. This style is also termed a split foyer. It is a two-story house that exhibits an entrance foyer with a set of stairs that goes up to the living room, kitchen, and bedrooms and another flight of stairs that go down to the family room, garage, or storage area.

What Works Best?

These styles now incorporate contemporary designs to keep up with the current trends and a few of them such as the ranch-style homes are out of date. Practically speaking, a residential architect could be the best assistance for you in understanding what kind of home you have or what kind you want to build/purchase.

These homes consider space, orientation, and usability among other aspects to stand the test of time and provide utmost comfort. So, knowing what type of home you live in could be beneficial for you in the longer run.

For these types of homes, a residential architect could suggest making changes to suit your needs (pending permissions) and accommodate yourself in the best possible way.

If considering gathering information about the type of home you live in, it’s best to get in touch with your local residential architect.

 

Should I Have a Basement or Crawl Space Under My Addition?

There’s a famous architectural saying that “a house is as good as its foundation. Every house stands on a foundation, but not every house will have the same type. Residential foundations are dependent on drivers such as the design of your house, site location, soil conditions, and most importantly, your budget!

But these drivers are like a residential architect’s best friends. A residential architect and foundations are like PB&J. They go hand in hand and bring out the best for your home.

The types of foundations vary, but most likely your house or addition will have a basement or crawlspace. These are practical and flexible and seem to work for thousands of homeowners across the globe.

Today, we’ll compare these two types and see which ones could work the best for your addition. And remember that your architect for renovation has done his background study and knows his foundations.

So, it’s best to stick with the man/woman with the plan!

Basements

A basement foundation is one of the primary types of foundations. It matches either most or all the floor space above it and is generally 7 to 9 feet high. With changing times, residential architects and council rules have also changed. These days newer homes exhibit taller basements to accommodate future living space.

The preliminary advantage of a basement is the extra space it provides for living or storage. Finishing a basement could increase your living area by a high percentage. To add to it, you could also be increasing the value of your house.

Several of you have unfinished basements under your home but forget to harness the advantages that come along with it. It might not be the most ideal place to stay due to the lack of natural light and headroom, but it’s an asset that could transform into a functional space with some assistance from an architect for the renovation.

You can find some great ceiling options located at “Happy DIY Home”, these folks put together a list of 15 types of basement ceilings!

Another creative yet functional type is the daylight basement. This variation is also known as the partial basement. Usually built against a slope, daylight basements possess one or more sides that are embedded in the ground from the floor level to the ceiling level.

But, as the slope subsides, one side of the foundation is exposed and can bring in natural light through windows and doors. These types of basements are more convenient for conversions into a living space rather than full basements.

Daylight basements might even offer the possibility of adding a separate entrance, which becomes a necessity if you decide to rent out the newly-converted living space.

Why Dig at all?

In winters, the ground can freeze to several feet below the surface. When this happens, the soil will expand force itself upwards. This condition is called frost heaving. Frost heaving can damage building foundations and even contribute to the formation of potholes and cracked roads.

If the foundation of your home sits atop the heaving soil, it will also get pushed up, causing damage to itself and the superstructure. One way to prevent damage from heaving soil is to dig the foundation below the frost line where the soil is too warm to freeze at all.

In New Jersey, the rules for frost-protected foundations are listed in the Residential Code 2018. The depth of your foundation depends on the frost depth calculated for your area. Click here for more information about frost depth calculations.

A residential architect might suggest going with a basement for your addition if the soil conditions and climate are in your favor. If you’re undecided here’s something that might speed up the process: you can’t go back and add a basement later once the addition is finished!

Financially, a basement is going to cost more to construct than a crawl space. But you must realize that since most of the materials, manpower, and equipment are already on the site, so might as well take advantage of these resources.

Upside

  • There’s a possibility of constructing more living space in the future.
  • There’s an increment in the storage space.
  • The value of your property increases if you ever decide to sell.
  • More living space means you could rent it out.

Downside

  • Constructing a basement more expensive.
  • A basement requires consistent maintenance.
  • There might be issues with pipelines and leaks.

Crawl Space

A crawl space is a narrow space within a building that gets its name because there is ideally only enough space to crawl rather than stand. A crawl space is usually built when constructing a basement would be too expensive or impractical.

Its functions include providing a passage to repair plumbing, heating, and cooling systems, and electrical wiring without the need for excavation. Crawl space could even act as a buffer between the damp ground and the wooden floors of your home.

One of the advantages of having a crawl space foundation to your addition is that it might be useful to elevate the lowest floors of residential buildings located in the Special Flood Hazard Area.

Crawl spaces can be vented actively, passively, or even be closed. An advantage of a vented crawl space is that harmful gases such as carbon monoxide (from heaters or gas furnaces) can escape before they enter the living space.

But, in regions with humidity, the outside vents could also allow the moisture to come in, which could result in condensation. This would then create a damp environment, which could foster the growth of mold. Many a time, humidity in sealed crawl spaces is controlled with a dehumidifier.

To avoid the passage of air from the crawl space to the living environment and improve indoor air quality, encapsulation is utilized. The process involves the addition of a vapor barrier to the floor, which seals off all outdoor openings and adding thermal insulation to the walls, to shut any remaining cracks or gaps between the crawl space and the floor of the residence.

Cold temperatures in a crawl space could travel through the floor joists to the above living space, which means the owners of homes with crawl spaces will end up spending more to keep their homes comfortable. Even though insulation reduces the cold transfer, it doesn’t eliminate it.

In cold regions, plumbing lines that lie in crawl spaces also need to be insulated to keep the pipes from freezing and cracking.

Sometimes, crawl space doors are located inside the home, or an insulated access entryway is constructed in the perimeter boundary. A crawl space is less expensive than full basements as it requires less excavation. The materials usually consist of concrete masonry units or solid concrete.

A crawl space requires more maintenance to prevent mold infestations. That’s why crawl spaces are better suited to regions with dry climates.

Crawl space walls are also more likely to require structural repairs if located in regions where the clay content in the soil is high. When saturated, clay-type soil can swell and put lateral pressure on the foundation walls, which leads to shifts and cracks.

Upside

  • A crawl space is less expensive to construct.
  • A crawl space allows for convenient access to beneath-the-floor services such as pipelines.

Downside

  • A crawl space is hard to crawl through.
  • Crawl space could easily get infested with mold.
  • It increases the costs of thermal insulation in homes.
  • Crawl space could be susceptible to flooding.
  • Air in the crawl space might rise due to the stack effect.
  • Humidity in the crawl space could rot the wooden floor joists.
  • Crawl spaces offer less protection against earthquakes and hurricanes.
  • Crawl spaces are more expensive than slab foundations.

This or That?

After reading through, it’s quite clear that basements hold more weight over crawl spaces. However, this discussion is quite subjective. If a basement works in New Jersey, it might not be so successful in Florida and the same for crawl spaces.

Both options have their upsides and downsides. However, the job of a residential architect is to perceive what would work best for your addition following the building codes and regulations along with the soil and climate type.

If you’re looking for a long-term investment, then a basement would be an ideal choice for the addition. With a basement, you’re looking at more storage space and possibly more living space prospects in the future. The sacrifice of a sum today, could get you benefits in the future and for more years ahead.

If you don’t have the money to spend on a basement, then a crawl space would suit your needs provided the soil conditions allow for it. However, remember that you would have to invest in thermal insulation and protection against mold infestation.

Either way, an architect for the renovation is your best bet. You get to deal with reason and logic and even a bit of creativity. Get in touch to find out how your addition can accommodate not only what it needs, but what might work for it most conveniently.

 

Should Each of My Kids Have Their Own Bathroom?

A decently sized house is a luxury. Three bedrooms and two bathrooms seem like a dream come true. As is with people, everyone wants their private bathroom attached to their bedrooms.

It’s a sort of safe space, with your hair products, water temperature to your liking, and even scented candles. But like I mentioned earlier, it’s a dream.

Now, think if you have such preferences, wouldn’t your kids have the same as well? A personal bathroom?! Sometimes it’s a hassle, and at other times it’s a cakewalk.

Today, you’ll understand what has the potential to work the best, having separate bathrooms for your kids or not.

How big is your home?

The number and area of the spaces in a house depend on its size. A small house might have three bedrooms, but we all know the compromises that come along with it; cramped space and stacks of shared zones.

Young kids find it easy to share a bathroom, but you must consider alternatives with growing age. It doesn’t necessarily mean moving to a bigger property. Options are always available.

The answer to this question lies in how your kids are managing their current shared bathroom. If they’re young and have no hassles, then you’re all set. A single bathroom might suffice young children for many years before they demand separate ones.

And when it’s time for a revamp, you could always bring in a residential architect!

The What and Where

For young children, a common bathroom just outside their rooms works well. It provides easy access and convenience for them and the parents as well.

A common bathroom for your kids could be a decent way to utilize space in your home efficiently. It could even save on the hassle of adding new water and electric lines for an additional bathroom.

Is One Better than Two?

Logistics come into practice when deciding how to work out the bathroom situation for your kids. It considers reason, finances, and how much space your home has. And for good reasons:

Your kids should have a realistic sense of being grounded

In today’s world, people sharing a bathroom seems a bit silly, doesn’t it? But attached bathrooms weren’t always the case. Your grandparents and their parents had to manage with just one!

Even the kings and queens of the past wouldn’t have it so good as today.

With high-paying jobs, it’s become easier to raise a family comfortably. Comfort is more of a luxury now.

Indoor plumbing is nothing short of a marvel. As parents, you might want your kids to have all the luxuries that you missed out on. However, a personal toilet, shower, and other attached ancillary services for your kids might raise the bar too high.

A grounded home always seems to work well based on harmony and generosity.

Less work for the parents

You can’t expect young kids to clean up. Just like with their bedrooms, their bathrooms could be messy as well. Water splashed across the floor, wet sink, or even shampoo bottles lying around.

If you don’t hire someone to clean your home, you’re stuck cleaning your kids’ bathrooms well. If that’s the situation, one is better than two.

When babies grow into toddlers, as does the mess and cleaning it up. Just because you have your bathroom doesn’t mean you’re absolved of cleaning the other ones. Once your kids are at an age where they can handle their mess, individual bathrooms don’t seem so scary.

Understanding the reality

As your kids grow older, you must think of college as well. College signifies education but at a high price. Come to think of it, your kids might end up using communal bathrooms.

Dorm bathrooms won’t work for your kids if they’ve had individual ones their entire lives. Sharing a bathroom doesn’t just inculcate a sense of humility but responsibility as well.

Additionally, it might save your kids some culture shock if they’ve shared spaces before.

You can cultivate the values you want in your kids

If you’re surrounded by luxuries, developing values in your children such as tolerance and sharing could be hard. Even if it sounds crazy, it’s an easy example of inculcating the quality of sharing in young children.

How does it work?

Technically speaking, a common bathroom for your kids displays a plethora of benefits short-term as well as long-term.

Speaking of short-term benefits:

  • You could initiate an efficient use of space in your home.
  • You get a hassle-free home environment.
  • You don’t need to change any service systems of your house.
  • You don’t have an additional mess to clean other than this one.
  • You get to keep a check on your finances.

When it comes to long-term benefits:

  • You could save a bit on money to move into a bigger home with more bathrooms as time progresses.
  • If you have space, you could install another bathroom in the future.
  • It could develop crucial values in your children.

If you speak with a residential architect, you could find ways of transforming the current bathroom that your children share into something more lavish. It doesn’t necessarily need to be two separate bathrooms all the time. You could install customized sinks and patterned tiles that relate to a kids’ bathroom.

If at all your bathroom is large enough, you could consult a residential architect if a partition is possible that would leave you with two sufficiently-sized bathrooms.

Overall, it could be said that your kids do not need their separate bathrooms, but that only functions till a certain point. You can’t expect teenagers to share a bathroom out of their will!

But, for today, you’re fine.

A residential architect could be a decent way for you to understand how to make changes to your home to accommodate another bathroom in the future or at present if required according to the norms and rules of where you live.

Consulting a residential architect might bring forth more opportunities with all the technicalities looked after and you won’t have to look much ahead.

So, why wait? Each day your kids are growing and so are their requirements.

 

Uh Oh, My In-Laws Want To Move In: How Do I Create Space For Them?

In-laws are a second set of parents who you adore you. Breakfasts with them are fun and chatty, and the dinners are a big spread. What more could you ask for?!

Now imagine these in-laws want to move into your home. Yes, that’s right your in-laws are moving in!!! But do you have any arrangements in place? Is this happening for real?!

Other than making your spouse happy, you get the job of creating space for your in-laws to reside comfortably. How do you get that space? Does your home have that much scope for change or do you just up and move?

The master bedroom is your sanctuary, and the other two rooms are divided between your kids. Your three-bedroom home suddenly seems small, doesn’t it? So, where will your in-laws go?

Research, Architect, Action

Through some miracle, if you have extra space for your in-laws, then you’re all set. But, if you’re in for some struggle then better suit up. To create a new, decent, and homely cove for your in-laws, you need professional assistance.

And who better than a residential architect? The man with the literal plan! And some decent ideas for you to earn brownie points with your in-laws.

With assistance from an architect for the renovation, you’ll understand how much space is available for your in-laws to move and settle and how much you need to and can create. And the best part, you get on with the renovation that you always put off for next month!

So, let’s get going.

The What, Where, and How of the Space

This part seems tricky at first, but it isn’t. Once you understand in which part of your home, you’ll put up your in-laws, that’s half the work done.

How big is your house, is there space inside or outside? Is there any space at all? Once you sort out these parameters, moving in could become so easy.

What’s the process?

For the entire process to be convenient, designate some stages. For the first stage understand that your in-laws aren’t in the prime of their age. So, a room on the ground floor with easy access to the washroom could be a preference.

For this to work, is their space on the ground floor? Do you need to extend out? Can you alter an existing room?

If your in-laws are able enough, then a first-floor room could work as well. But do you have enough space? Locating a zone for creating that space could help you fasten the process and save time.

At times, it even works to utilize the outside space if you have the opportunity. One of the best examples of this could be converting your garage or building on top of it.

Convert the Garage

Converting your garage into a living space seems to work best if your in-laws are looking for some privacy. You already have a structure built and the cars can easily be parked on the driveway. The option appears to be practical yet convenient.

A garage conversion could cost less and allow your in-laws to have an enjoyable stay without having to compromise on their privacy. You could install an attached washroom, a small kitchen, and even a cozy living area for them to have their total package of comfort, personal space, and family time.

Converting your garage into a living space could work as a long-term investment as well. If your in-laws decide to move to a community or assisted living space in the future, you could rent out the renovated garage.

Some other future alternatives also include an office, studio, or even a living space to rent out on Airbnb!

Building over the Garage

An additional living space over the garage could be a decent way to create a room for your in-laws. It promotes individuality and privacy for those inhabiting them.

Before you go ahead with this choice, consult an architect for renovation and test the foundations of the garage. These foundations need to be strong enough to take the extra load. If not, you might need to demolish the existing garage and start from scratch, increasing the construction costs (which is probably something you want to avoid).

Another aspect concerning building over the garage is that you need to think about whether an attached washroom can be constructed in that space. How are the water and drainage lines going to be installed?

But, most of all, are your in-laws healthy enough to climb up the stairs to the top level? If that’s not the case, the option isn’t potent at all.

Mezzanine Level

A mezzanine level could work wonders if your house has enough space for a double-height. For more privacy, an architect for renovation might suggest enclosing the mezzanine space.

Mezzanine levels are also supposed to meet building regulations and a residential architect could be an asset in this process. If your mezzanine is encompassing a bedroom that results in extensive renovations or another floor, then you must cater to the fire safety regulations as well.

Additional Internal Wall

The cheapest way to come up with a new bedroom for your in-laws is to divide a double bedroom into two smaller rooms by adding an internal wall (if the room has that much space). The job requires erecting a stud wall in between the larger room.

The primary aspect for this option is to check is if the window alignment allows for the division. After the division, both the bedrooms need to have at least one window or the option of adding a new one.

Another factor to consider is that each room will require separate access, which means part of a structural wall will have to be cut and transformed into a door. So, you might need to consult an architect for the renovation to find out the feasibility of this option.

Convert the Basement

Not all houses come equipped with a basement that can be transformed into a living space. If your house has a basement, then your in-laws are in for new living space and you’re simply lucky.

However, excavating a basement for a new extension can be quite expensive as it requires extensive structural work. But several pros make it worth the money and effort. A basement conversion won’t alter the appearance of your house and there’s more room to work with.

But do remember to invest in waterproofing your basement as water percolation is quite common and you don’t want to give any more reasons to your in-laws to hate you, do you? Yeah, that’s what we thought!

Convert the Loft

A residential architect could tell you if your loft can be converted into a living space for your in-laws. However, there are critical aspects that you must consider before you take the plunge.

Does your loft have enough headroom or is the space big enough? How will you cater to the existing staircase or is there any ancillary equipment such as water tanks or chimney lines that need to be removed for safe access?

A well-constructed loft could also add to the overall value of your property, which means that the investment is worth it.

Add an Extension

Extending part of your house into a bedroom and an attached washroom is another way to create extra space for your in-laws, but you might lose out on valuable outdoor space.

To add to it, the appearance of your home will change extensively, and get ready to empty your pockets. If you’re looking for more financially viable options to create extra space for your in-laws, then this isn’t one of them.

But a benefit to choosing this option is the extra space that you’re getting. If you decide to sell your home the extension might add to the value of it and get you easy money. So, it works on the principle of sacrificing outdoor space in the present for higher returns for your property in the future.

That’s the way to go

These are some of the most promising options for you to create extra space for your in-laws to live comfortably and feel at home. There’s no need for you to purchase a bigger and costlier house when there are choices right there.

A little thought could go a long way for your in-laws to live in comfort in their new home. A residential architect might suggest providing a room for them on the main floor of your house where the kitchen and living areas are in the vicinity (preferably the ground floor).

Their age and physical fitness must be factored in when deciding on a new living space for them.

Contacting a residential architect could be the best approach for your in-laws’ new and fresh living space. After all, switching from Uh Oh, My In-Laws want to move in to Oh Yes, My In-Laws want to move doesn’t look so difficult now, does it?!

 

Where Should I Put My Laundry Room?

What’s the perfect laundry room? Is it convenient or noisy? Is it spacious enough, or does it feel like a small closet? Where’s it located?

The truth is that you can never have the perfect blend. Laundry rooms usually don’t have standard sizes. That’s why they end up in awkward places or banished to the dark basement.

The location for your almost perfect laundry room depends on your lifestyle. Whether you prioritize proximity over the constant washer noise or whether you prefer space over how much laundry you do, that’s up to you.

With that in mind, let’s explore where you can put your laundry room for the most convenient experience.

What does a Laundry Room require?

Planning how your laundry room will pan out could save you a lot of time and money. Before you finalize on the space for your laundry room, understand what goes where and what all must you prioritize. Is it the shape you should look out for or is the water supply system? Or could it be the overall layout?

Here are some pointers that could make your life easier and allow you to have a hassle-free laundry experience without having to compromise at all. This is how you could achieve that experience.

Convenience

A laundry room that’s not too far from the kitchen or the bedroom in your house works best for most homes. The floor with the main bedrooms in your home (preferable the first or second floor) is where most of the dirty clothes accumulate. A distant location is inconvenient and adds to the pile of dirty clothes.

A residential architect would suggest locating the laundry room at a realistic distance from where you work inside your house.

Space

Nobody’s asking you to dedicate a decent piece of your floorplan to the laundry room. But that doesn’t mean you must compromise on space. You should consider 35 inches for the depth and 30 inches for the width per machine.

Additionally, you should leave about six inches behind the dryer for the ventilation system.

Water Supply

Washers need hot and cold-water supply through separate valves. These valves need to be clean and resistant to rust and within five feet of the washer location.

Electrical

Electrical systems should be within four to six feet of the appliance. Washers need a 120V and 20-amp fused electric outlet, while dryers require a 240V and 30-amp electric outlet.

Drainage System

Washers need a drainage system that could be a floor drain, floor standpipe, or a wall standpipe.

Where does the Laundry Room go?

The location of the laundry room also depends on what layout you require. A U-shaped or L-shaped laundry room could provide the most space concerning the washer and dryer, working room, and storage location. However, the L-shaped room requires more space for extra cabinets.

A galley-style layout is long and narrow. It works best if you don’t want to dedicate much space to your laundry room.

Near the Bedrooms

A laundry room located in the vicinity of the bedrooms or accessed through that area is the best and most preferred place for a laundry room. Most architects would swear by this location because it’s the most convenient out of all others.

Pros:

  • You don’t need to go up and down the stairs again and again.
  • If a laundry room cannot be accommodated near the bedrooms, a small and concealed space for a laundry chute that opens into the laundry space on the lower level of your house works well.
  • You save on time and energy.
  • The laundry process is free from hassles.

Cons:

  • You might be able to hear the washer and dryer in your bedrooms. However, this can be easily avoided by having your general contractor install acoustic batt insulation in the walls!

In the Mudroom

Some homeowners prefer the option of having their washers in the mudroom. The second-best place for a laundry room, many homeowners endorse this location because of its convenience.

Pros

  • You have the opportunity of tossing the dirty jackets and outerwear into the washer as soon as you enter the house.
  • Depending on the location of your mudroom, you might not even hear the noise of the dryer.

Cons

  • This location works best if the mudroom is not located near the main entrance of your home.
  • There may not be enough space to separate the washed laundry from the dirty boots and jackets.

In the Kitchen

Homeowners with small-sized houses don’t have the luxury of separate laundry rooms. Their solution is a specific space right in their kitchens. It works well because it’s functional and practical.

A couple with a toddler might probably spend most of their time in the living area or the kitchen. So, it makes sense for a convenient washing system right then and there.

Pros

  • The process is relatively easy because the water lines are already set up.
  • You can save on arbitrary costs such as new electrical systems and other utilities required for the washer and dryer.
  • You save on time and energy.

Cons

  • Installing a washer and dryer in the kitchen will result in you losing storage space.
  • You won’t have extra space for folding the laundry.
  • You will be privy to the noise of the washer and dryer.
  • You might find it hard to keep the kitchen tidy on laundry day.

Off the Kitchen

The kitchen is probably the busiest space of any home. So, placing a laundry room off the busiest area makes sense, doesn’t it?

If the laundry room is located off the kitchen, you get convenient access to it. So, if you’re cooking or tidying up, you’re within earshot of the washer and dryer buzzer and can stay on top of the laundry.

Pros

  • You’re within walking distance of the laundry room.
  • You can multitask when you know that you’re just a few steps from the laundry.
  • It will save time.

Cons

  • If your house has more than two levels, then putting the laundry room on the level of the kitchen means that there’s a flight of stairs between you and the laundry.
  • The laundry day will end up in trips from one floor to the other.
  • Your kitchen area might be prone to the noise from the washers and dryers.

In the Basement

Basements are one of the most popular locations for laundry rooms in conventional homes as well as apartment buildings. They are out of the heavy traffic area in your homes and keep the noise at bay.

However, the viability of this option is hampered if the basement is dingy and dark.

Pros

  • Most builders provide laundry connections in the basements during construction, which makes the installation easy.
  • You have enough space to go through the entire process of washing, drying, and folding.
  • The noise of the washer and dryer won’t cause any disturbances to you.

Cons

  • Many basements tend to be stuffy, which is something you wouldn’t want to feel.
  • You might not hear the sound if the wash cycle is complete and that’s a hassle if you’re forgetful.
  • You must take multiple trips down a flight of stairs, which might be inconvenient.

In the Guest Bathroom

A guest bathroom works well for a laundry room as the space isn’t functional for everyday use and exhibits the water supply system required. An added benefit is the sustainability of utilizing a single space for two purposes.

Pros

  • A laundry room located in the guest bathroom is a cost-effective option.
  • If it’s a powder room, then the laundry room will be placed on the main level of your house where you have most of the activities.

Cons

  • You might not want to let the laundry night be at the same time when you’re entertaining guests.
  • If you’re considering switching the guest bathroom to the main bathroom, then you could be in for a hassle.
  • You’ll have to fold your laundry elsewhere as bathrooms are usually wet.

Does this work?

Renovating an existing space or adding a new laundry room to your home could become daunting if you’re considering costs, space, and efficiency. The logic is to find the most concise way to accommodate a washer and dryer that will functional practically.

One way is to select the space yourself, and another is to consult a residential architect if you’re going for a full-fledged revamp. A professional opinion could go a long way in helping you get the most proficient laundry room. And, what’s more, you get your money’s worth!

That’s it, folks!

If you’re on the lookout for the almost perfect laundry room, you don’t have to look far. You could take your Pinterest-inspired designs to the next level with a professional.

When it comes to laundry rooms, there are no hard and fast rules. A washer, dryer, a sink, a folding rack, and some storage spaces are all you need for your laundry room to be successful.

And once you have it, Wednesday night could be the perfect laundry night.

 

How to Design your Home to Age in Place?

Older residents are residents. Whether it’s New Jersey or California, designing a home to age in place is one of the best ways to maintain comfort for yourself. Design professionals such as residential architects and certified aging-in-place experts essay a crucial role when it comes to such homes.

Data from the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010 suggests that around 1,118,000 New Jersey residents are between the age group of 65 to 70 years. The estimate is that by 2030, New Jersey may have an overall population of two million.

Aging in place appears to be interlinked with the health of senior citizens. And why wouldn’t it? Your loved ones get to stay in their own safe space with better amenities and accessibility that conform to the requirements of their age group.

Subtle design ideas could have an impact on how comfortable you can stay in your home. And that too without having to compromise! Homeowners in their late fifties to mid-sixties could start to investigate aging-in-place concepts when renovating.

Aging-in-place harnesses the concept of feeling just like home and converts it into reality. So, why not?!

Here’s a look at some principles that could be useful for how to design your home to age-in-place.

Plan

Ground floor living seems to be a well-liked principle of aging-in-place. Upgrades to your home in the form of renovating the garage into an extra bedroom, reinforcing the bathroom walls with grab bars, a double shower rather than a tub to step over, and additional lights could be long-term design decisions.

The upper floor could function as a caretaker’s quarters or family that comes to visit. A residential architect could be an asset if you’re considering ways to design your home to age in place.

A step-less entry could go a long way in reducing the stress to your body by providing a leveled entrance to your home. Wider doors, hallways, and open spaces make it easy to get around regardless of whether you’re going to be mobile or immobile in the future.

All over the home

Aging-in-place means preparing your home for your future in it. That means a renovation could be on the table.

The architect for the renovation is the ideal choice for this task. A residential architect might suggest mechanisms that are comfortable when mobility is impaired.

For instance, a door lever could replace a doorknob. Similarly, awning windows could take the place of casements. They are easier to open and close.

Technology-based devices could facilitate aging-in-place. Check for a thermostat or lighting that you can access with a smartphone or tablet. The latter being the better choice as it can display larger icons. Small icons could be hard to navigate for the visually impaired on a smartphone.

LED lights seem to exhibit the potential of being beneficial for aging-in-place concepts as you don’t need to change them constantly. Many residential architects also recommend two-way switches, especially in the bedrooms, so that you can turn on the light when entering through the doorway and turning it off by the bedside.

Some general pointers include:

  • An open floorplan.
  • Larger windows.
  • An updated lighting system.
  • Wider doorways and passages.
  • Ramp installation.

Bedroom

For a multilevel home, the architect for the renovation could suggest situating the master bedroom on the ground floor with an attached bathroom. A bed with a low profile (20 – 23” from the top of the mattress to the floor) could be a decent choice for a home with a design to age in place.

Some general pointers include:

  • Bed rail.
  • A handy telephone next to the bed.
  • Decent clearance around the bed.
  • Lighting in the closet.
  • Nightstand at the same height as the bed.

Kitchen

For the kitchen, convenient accessibility is everything. Installing cabinets over your accessibility range could pose a threat to those who have issues with their balance. Instead, opting for easily openable drawers under the countertop could be a better choice.

The residential architect might also suggest leaving extra space in the floorplan to provide clearance for a wheelchair or walker. Wide and opens shelves could also prove to beneficial in terms of eliminating cupboards.

Some general pointers include:

  • Countertops with rounded edges.
  • Microwave at par with the height of the countertop.
  • Adjusting the height of the sink.
  • Large drawers.
  • Hands-free faucet.
  • Stove close to the sink.

Bathroom

Photo by: Bestbath

Bathrooms tend to have the potential of being the riskiest to navigate. Wet floors pose a threat to people with an impaired balance. That’s where grab bars come in to help you maintain balance.

The architect for the renovation will suggest the heights and placement for these grab bars.

If you’re constructing a brand-new shower, select a walk-in shower that can incorporate a seating arrangement into the design. Another safety measure is the anti-skid tiles.

Thermostatic shower controls and water temperature devices could help protect against burning from the scalding water.

Some general pointers include:

  • Adjusting the height of the water closet (WC) or installing a seat extender.
  • Installing grab bars near the toilet and showers.
  • Installing walk-in showers.
  • Anti-skid tiles.
  • Non-slip mats.
  • Shower seat.
  • Handheld showerhead.

Living Room

A simple furniture arrangement that eliminates clutter is a decent way for easy navigation. An uncluttered living room could be efficient for aging-in-place.

Like bathrooms, grabs bars play a critical role in the living room as well. You can place them on the walls next to the chair your loved ones usually sit in as they will make it easier for them to stand.

If the aging loved one uses a walker or is wheelchair-bound, make sure to leave enough space so that they can be accommodated. Their stability shouldn’t be compromised when maneuvering through the rooms.

Some general pointers include:

  • Simple furniture arrangement.
  • Open space.
  • Grab bars
  • Smooth flooring.

Flooring

A smooth and leveled floor could be a safe bet to design your home to age in place. Surfaces such as rubber and linoleum don’t pose a threat, unlike heavily padded floors.

A residential architect might recommend keeping the floor as level as possible. If changes are unavoidable, the architect could suggest signaling them with a change in texture or material.

Avoid the use of colors as it could be problematic for the visually impaired.

Some general pointers include:

  • A smooth and leveled floor.
  • Indicating a change in threshold.
  • Avoid shiny and bright colors or textures.

Laundry Room

Doing laundry for the elderly is a difficult task in itself, and a home designed to age-in-place has to cater to this issue. The design should be such that it exhibits a convenient process.

The primary design decision should be that the laundry room must be located nearby the bedroom to reduce movement and transition.

Some general pointers include:

  • Laundry room in the vicinity of the bedroom.
  • Easy to read controls.
  • Front-load washer and dryer.
  • Easily accessible cabinets.

Is it Necessary?

Aging-in-place is a concept with changing momentum levels. Those who can afford it are likely to be more interested in renovating their homes at the correct time rather than waiting.

With a plethora of aging-in-place concepts available, residential architects have become the torch-bearers of the design requirements that this principle demands.

Benefits of Aging-in-Place

Staying at home could provide you with a sense of autonomy. The result of aging in place is to maintain the quality of your life.

Remaining in a habitual setting with family and friends cold positively impact your mood and associate itself with health as well. In some cases, the cost of aging-in-place is lower in comparison to the costs associated with assisted living communities.

  • No compromise on the quality of life.
  • The transition is easy.
  • Independence isn’t lost.
  • You feel safe as you’re used to the environment.

Impact of Design Choices

Implementing even a few of the ideas could create a huge difference for you or your loved one’s quality of life. These modifications will not only let your loved ones enjoy their home, but they will also allow them to live as independently as possible.

Although the implemented changes will take some time to get used to, you will be able to move throughout the home and feel empowered while doing so. After all, a home where you’ve lived most of your life will always feel safe and familiar.

A small design choice could have a ripple effect in bettering the comfort you could receive in your home.

Where to go?

Several ways can be used to connect with aging-in-place experts. Architects in partnership with certified experts could be the best approach for you. This method can get you a design in conjunction with the technical details that are necessary for aging-in-place.

These experts include Senior Home Safety Specialists and Certified Aging in Place Specialists. They must complete training programs offered by the National Association of Home Builders before they can assist anyone with the requirements of creating a home to age in place.

Contact your local architect to get started for a comfortable aging-in-place!

 

What are Carbon Monoxide Detectors and Where Should I Install Them?

Have you ever heard of carbon monoxide poisoning? Yes, you have. Have you taken it seriously? Ummmm ….,

A carbon monoxide detector is what detects the presence of carbon monoxide (CO). Carbon Monoxide poisoning is a result of breathing in carbon monoxide at high levels.

Carbon monoxide is a silent killer and virtually unnoticeable by humans. These detectors measure the levels of carbon monoxide over time and ring an alarm before dangerous levels can accumulate in your environment.

Even though carbon monoxide detectors don’t function like smoke detectors and vice versa, combined ones are also available in the market. Some sources of carbon monoxide in your home can be a blocked chimney, water heater, open flames, etc.

Types of Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Today, several types of carbon monoxide detectors function to keep environments safe. Here’s a look at some of them.

Digital Detectors

The digital carbon monoxide detectors are an advanced version that displays the current and the peak reading. These models can read the levels below the threshold of the alarm and assess the degree of the hazard.

They are like the basic models but cost more.

Portable Detectors

Portable carbon monoxide detectors are useful for professional applications such as diagnosis or maintenance. They are more expensive than home safety detectors.

They come in two types. One is used in aircraft, trucks, or cars, and the other type is useful for first responders such as firemen.

Sensors

There are four types of carbon monoxide detecting sensors:

Electrochemical Sensor

The electrochemical sensor is one of the high-quality carbon monoxide sensors. It generates currents that display the level of carbon monoxide through a scientific system.

These devices function well in most home temperatures and exhibit a long service life.

Biomimetic Sensor

The biomimetic sensor utilizes a combination of gel-like liquids to detect the presence of carbon monoxide. The detectors that use this sensor have a lifespan of up to three years.

Optochemical Sensor

It’s the most cost-effective sensor which uses a pad that changes its color when it detects the presence of carbon monoxide. These sensors can only detect if carbon monoxide is present but not the levels.

Metal Oxide Semiconductor

A metal-oxide-semiconductor is a result of utilizing wired circuits to keep a check on carbon monoxide. The detectors that use this sensor usually have a service life of up to ten years.

Things to Consider when Choosing a Carbon Monoxide Detector

You could choose any type of carbon monoxide detector out there, but some research could go a long way in saving your life. It’s a must to understand the type of detector that will work best for your home.

Here are some things to consider before you swipe your card.

Digital Display

A carbon monoxide detector with a digital display makes it more convenient to measure the levels of the poisonous gas. An alarm will alert you if carbon monoxide levels surpass their limit.

Competence

Several choices are available. The most efficient option is what works best for you.

A battery-operated carbon monoxide detector exhibits reserve battery during a power outage while a hard-wired detector provides constant energy without the need of replacing the battery.

However, if you’re looking for the most convenient installation, the plug-in detectors could be a decent choice.

Usage

A critical point to selecting a carbon monoxide detector is the usage. Even if an area of your home goes unoccupied, a detector must be in place as a safety measure.

You don’t want to wake up one day and find your house amid carbon monoxide. Installing carbon monoxide detectors in the designed spaces in your home will go a long way in keeping the air you breathe in safer.

Certification

Before choosing a carbon monoxide detector, you must ensure that it is certified for home use by the governing body.

How to install a Carbon Monoxide Detector?

The primary logic of installing carbon monoxide detectors is that they should be in high traffic areas. One detector should be installed on every level of your home including the basement and the attic.

A decent placement for carbon monoxide detectors is at knee level, which is often the height of a sleeper’s mouth and nose. If your house has children and pets as well, then place the detectors as high as required to keep them out of their reach.

Benefits of Carbon Monoxide Detectors

A device that is so critical for home safety must exhibit benefits. Look at some of the crucial selling points of carbon monoxide detectors that will cement as to why they must be installed in every home.

Early Warning Signs

Carbon monoxide detectors can provide early signs of warning. The noise that is set off by the alarm is loud enough to be heard across your home, giving you and your family enough time to evacuate.

Protection from Symptoms

Dangerous levels of carbon monoxide can creep up and make you feel sick. Carbon monoxide poisoning causes symptoms like dizziness, nausea, and vomiting that might go unnoticed if you don’t have a detector.

Immediate Carbon Monoxide Detection

They immediately detect the presence of carbon monoxide in your homes. It allows you the time to get the malfunctioning appliances looked at.

Alert you to problems

Carbon monoxide detectors aren’t affected by temperature changes or by the presence of other gases in the air. Generally, these detectors will not confuse carbon monoxide with any other gas so you could rely on their accuracy.

Time for a replacement

Carbon monoxide detectors will let you know when they need to be replaced. They usually have an alarm that rings to alert you of their replacement.

Easy Detection

Unlike smoke, carbon monoxide is odorless and colorless. So, without a carbon monoxide detector, you can’t trace the levels in your home.

These benefits make it crystal clear why you need to have carbon monoxide detectors in your homes. Installing these detectors today could protect you and your homes from damage for years on end.

Where to install Carbon Monoxide Detectors in your home?

Today, carbon monoxide detectors are a must for every home. But you must understand where to install them and why.

According to the carbon monoxide guidelines set by the National Fire Protection Association, carbon monoxide detectors should be installed centrally outside of each sleeping area in the vicinity of the bedrooms and each detector should be placed on the ceiling, wall, or other location as specified in the installation instructions.

According to the International Code Council, for new construction, a carbon monoxide alarm should be installed outside of each separate sleeping area in the vicinity of the bedrooms in housing units within which fuel-based appliances are installed and those that have attached garages.

A carbon monoxide detector is mandatory for three crucial locations in your home:

  • Outside each bedroom or sleeping area.
  • On each floor including the basement and the attic.
  • By doors that open towards the garage.

A carbon monoxide detector shouldn’t be placed:

  • In an enclosed or restricted space.
  • Where it could face obstruction.

 

  • Above a sink.
  • Nearby a window, door, or vent.

Safety Reminders

Test the carbon monoxide detector every month

To make sure that your carbon monoxide detector is functioning properly, you must test it every month. Most detectors possess a button to signify that it’s working.

Cleanliness

You must ensure to keep the carbon monoxide detector clean from dust and dirt that may prevent it from functioning to its full potential. You could wipe it with a dry cloth to eliminate the particles.

Low battery alerts

A single carbon monoxide detector will not last a lifetime. It will run out of batteries that need to be replaced immediately. When your carbon monoxide detector is low on batteries, it will ring an alarm.

Even if it doesn’t, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends changing the carbon monoxide detector’s batteries every year when turning clocks forward for the Daylight Savings Time.

Proper Installation

Unlike smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors shouldn’t be directly placed on the ceiling. Carbon monoxide tends to mix with the air and doesn’t rise.

Stick to the manufacturer’s manual for proper installation at the correct height and remember to keep children and pets in mind during the installation.

Are you ready?

Now you know why installing carbon monoxide detectors in homes is critical. So, be sure of it!

An architect’s job also includes looking out for their client’s health and wellness along with the design of their homes. And this appears to be one of those times when a residential architect will surely suggest you install carbon monoxide detectors in your homes.

And they’re not wrong!

Get your research mode on, track down the best and most efficient carbon monoxide detectors you can find, and get discussing with your residential architect. Some professional opinions never harmed anyone.

And the sooner you do this, the better! So, what are you waiting for? The time to keeping your homes safe is here.

 

Residential Flooring Trends

Residential Flooring Trends

It’s the time for that remodeling that you’ve been pushing to the next month every month. YES! We’re talking about remodeling the flooring of your home.

Being up to date with the latest residential flooring trends might help you start the project right away. And who doesn’t love a new project?!

Residential flooring could be the result of professional opinions from an architect for the renovation. And DIY ideas!

So, brace yourselves for the hottest residential flooring trends.

The Latest Trends

Readers you’ve come to the right place. You’re bored with the same flooring that’s been in your home for the last twenty years and it’s time for an upgrade. But what to choose? What’s in and what’s out?

Today you’ll find out about the latest residential flooring trends ranging from patterns to textures to colors. So, get your palettes ready because you’re in for a long list of selections.

A preliminary study of what’s out there could help you in the following ways:

  • You know beforehand where to look and what to look for.
  • You can save on money.
  • You know whose assistance is required and how to reach them.
  • You get a remodel that’ll last for years to come.

And all you need to do is a bit of research and the job is done.

Here are five of the current residential flooring trends that you’ll want to know about:

Tile

Tile flooring is an all-time favorite. Its fame stems from its classic appeal, versatile nature, and incredibly long service life. Another selling-worthy feature is that glazed tiles are waterproof. So, you can use them from bathrooms to kitchens to mudrooms.

You name it!

Some of the most popular tile flooring trends consist of:

Designer Tile Shapes

The boring old squares and rectangles are long gone. Out with symmetry and make way for asymmetry.

Creative shapes seem to be reigning over the kingdom of tiles currently. You can expect to see more hexagon tiles, fan tiles, etc.

When discussing creative options with a residential architect, hexagon tiles will probably be at the top of the list. And why not?! They are a favorite amongst the professionals.

Marble Tile

Everyone loves marble. It’s graceful, simple, and exhibits timeless elegance. With marble-like tiles, you could get the high-end look of marble without having to splurge. Another bonus is that there aren’t any maintenance hassles, unlike with actual marble.

Now, who wouldn’t want to make use of this creative option?

Architects prefer marble-like tiles because of their durability and almost zero maintenance. These tiles add a touch of royalty to your homes that last ages.

And it feels amazing to step on them!

Decorative Tiles

Decorative tiles are growing in popularity full speed ahead. With vibrant colors and designs, decorative tiles have become a fan favorite.

From Moroccan patterns to art deco tiles, there’s a wide array of options that you can use to enhance the flooring of your homes. Decorative tiles are heavy-hitters when it comes to residential flooring trends.

These are one category that carries the potential to remain in the list of future trends as well.

A few more options for tiles consist of glass tiles, mosaic tiles, porcelain tiles, ceramic tiles, etc.

Laminate

Laminate is one of the frontrunners when it comes to wood lookalikes. Laminate exhibits hardwood imitation and is one of the most popular wood-like choices for residential floors.

Laminate displays a multi-layer design which adds to its durable nature and easy-to-maintain qualities. Laminate flooring is attractive and appears pleasing to the eyes as well.

And all this for a minimal price in comparison to hardwood floors.

Some of the most popular laminate flooring trends consist of:

Light-wood Laminate

As the name suggests, light-wood laminate boasts warm and airy shades. One of the best features of light-wood laminate is that they make your rooms feel large and open.

The architect for the renovation might suggest a light-wood laminate if you’re looking for lighter and openness in your homes.

Water Resistant Laminate

A water-resistant laminate floor is a combination of functionality and style. The option seems to work best for people who are looking for aesthetics along with durability.

A residential architect might suggest the water-resistant laminate if your priority is the service life and durability of the flooring that you’re planning to install.

Carpet Flooring

Wall-to-wall carpet flooring is the highlight of traditional and modern homes. The OG flooring trend is still one of the ideal choices for homeowners.

There’s a wide selection of carpet flooring ranging from nylon to polyester to broadloom. Some architects might even suggest exploring outdoor carpet options if you’re looking to upgrade your backyard.

Some of the most popular carpet flooring trends consist of:

Patterns

Patterns can be useful in making bold use of shapes to highlight the features of your homes. These patterned carpets are a decent choice to decorate your space in a minimalistic space, with the flooring being the focal point.

Geometric patterns are one of the hottest carpet flooring trends if you’re looking to experiment.

Rugs

Rugs or area rugs are the best and easiest way to enjoy the feel of the carpet and the hard surface. A decorative area rug placed underneath a coffee table or in a cozy corner could add a splash of color and focus to your space.

Another benefit is that area rugs are easy to clean and move around according to your mood and taste.

A few more options consist of carpet tiles, high-pile carpets, twisted frieze carpet, etc.

Wood

The texture and warmth of wooden floors are a popular choice for homeowners. Wood flooring boasts refinement and a polished appearance.

The famous flooring option is hassle-free, low maintenance, and promises a long life. A sweep once a week could be enough to clean your floors. Here come the brownie points!

Some of the most popular wood flooring trends consist of:

Engineered Wood Flooring

Each floorboard consists of three layers of wood glued together which results in a plank of about 0.6 inches. It has a layer of veneer on the top, which can be treated to restore the original finish in the case of damage.

Sometimes, the engineered wood flooring comes with a “click and local” option which doesn’t require the use of adhesives.

Engineered wood flooring works best for living rooms, bedrooms, and dining rooms. It’s best to avoid this flooring for places with humidity such as bathrooms.

Solid Wood Flooring

Each solid wood board is about 0.8 inches thick. Similar to the engineered wood flooring, it can be sanded to restore the original finish.

A positive selling point of homes with solid wood flooring is that it appeals to prospective buyers. The classic look and feel could add a rustic touch to your homes.

Bamboo Flooring

Bamboo exhibits a grain pattern that forms floorboards similar to natural hardwood. Bamboo trees grow faster than others, which makes them more sustainable to harvest.

Bamboo results in hardwearing floorboards with high density and a lightweight that adds to the value.

Reclaimed Wood Flooring

Reclaimed Wood Flooring is from the timber that has been used previously and salvaged for current use. It’s one of the best ways to increase sustainability in wood floors.

If you reside in an old property, you might discover preserved floorboards for the remodeling. And if you’re unaware, an architect could come in handy during this stage.

For a vintage touch to the remodel, reclaimed wood flooring could be the best approach.

Cork

Cork flooring comes from the bark of the cork oak tree. The bark splits naturally every ten to fifteen years and can be harvested without causing any harm to the trees.

Cork flooring is eco-friendly, sustainable, and allows for a healthy replenishment of the trees. For flooring, cork is compressed and formed into sheets with resin.

It has a soft surface which makes it a perfect choice for children’s playrooms. Cork flooring is finished with a thin layer of varnish to protect it from damage. However, if the finish isn’t applied properly, the flooring may warp and disfigure over time.

Classification of Residential Flooring Trends

Appearance

  • Decorative
  • Stone
  • Wood
  • Marble

Colors

  • White
  • Grey
  • Honey
  • High Variation

Patterns

  • Chevron
  • Herringbone

Now wasn’t that informative? So, folks, you got shapes, shades, patterns, and whatnot! And all for the residential flooring trends. Trendy flooring keeps on shuffling and what’s in today might not be tomorrow and the other way round.

These trends are nice to look at but you can make your trend based on your home and how you want it to feel and look. You could opt for something contemporary or consider rustic elements. And guess what, with vintage, you can never go wrong!

With a plethora of choices available, it can even get confusing and time-consuming. So why not hire a professional? Contact your local architect and get going on that remodel that you promised you’d do!

No more delays guys, no more delays! Your new floor is here to stay.

 

10 Ways to Give My House A New Look

Gone are the days of living in a plain and boring house. Welcome to the new age. The age of vibrant color palettes, varied shapes, and sizes, positive and negative spaces, and so much more. A new look for your old house awaits just around the corner.

And the hero of this story could be a residential architect. The know-it-all. With an accumulation of your ideas and the architect’s vision, your house might flaunt a new look that always feels fresh and unique. So, let’s get going!

Painting

You’re reading about one of the ways to give a new look to your home that doesn’t significantly empty your bank account. Selecting a color palette can become an even more interesting activity with ideas from a residential architect. The architect might suggest a complete cleaning of the outer walls to create a blank canvas for the new paint. If you’re looking for a minimalistic look, you could go with pastel shades with darker shades in some areas to highlight the features of your house.

New Siding

New siding can transform the look of a house drastically. Sidings can be of different types like vinyl, fiber cement, or composite siding. Vinyl siding comes in strips and has interlocking edges. Fiber Cement Siding comes pre-finished or primed and is available in stucco-panel styles, shingles, or beveled planks. It is extremely durable and is also resource-efficient as it is made up of recyclable materials. A siding also increases the value of the property. While replacing the old siding, the residential architect could also check for any cracks or damages and suggest consultants for repair.

Stone Accent Veneer

Stone Veneer can be used inside the house as well as outside it. Light stone accents in contrast with a dark exterior make the house stand out in the neighborhood. They come in different shapes and give modern, classic, and bold touches to space. It is a very appealing look at a fireplace mantel as well. Stone accents along with beautiful siding can give a great look to the exterior of the house. Doorways can be made dramatic by giving them an earthy look using the natural stone veneer. Dark stone accents for doorways are preferable when they lead into dark media rooms or bedrooms. This can also be added to the bathroom to give a spa-like feeling. Natural Stone Accent along with bamboo and some flowers in the bathroom gives it an appealing look. These days architects for additions seem to use a lot of stone accent veneer. Both inside and outside!

New Style of Windows

Windows are a predominant feature of any house. They add on reflections, positive and negative highlights, and an authentic outlook. Many factors are taken into account while choosing windows for example styling and ease to use. There are different types of windows like awning, casement, double-hung, bay and bow, etc. Double Hung windows are widely used due to a variety of reasons like easy to clean, proper ventilation, etc. These windows are versatile and look good in almost all types of houses. Double Hung windows are energy efficient and keep the rooms warmer in winter and cooler in summer. Casement windows open like doors and are very popularly used in Europe. Awning Window has a hinge at the top that makes it vertically mounted. Bay windows are widely popular in English homes. Along with being a predominant feature in castles, they also bring in natural light.

Roof Shape

A roof is a frontrunner when it comes to styling houses. There are different types of roofs such as the gable roof, hip roof, pyramid roof, flat roof, etc. Replacing a roof is quite expensive and it requires a lot of labor and therefore, people usually do it in the process of improving home efficiency. Low pitched and flat roofs are going out of style and people are preferring steeped roofs as it also gives space for storage. Steeped roofs also offer natural drainage in colder regions which allows snow to fall off the house and prevents any further problems. There are a variety of roofing materials and the architect for renovation chooses the material according to different factors like the roof type, the budget, etc. Some examples of roof materials are tile shingles, wood shingles, asphalt shingles, slate shingles, etc. The architects also keep in mind that the roof has a certain degree of slope for the snow to drain off. Regardless of the roof type, you will have to get the roof of your house repaired at some point in time.

Dormers

Dormer is a structure on the roofs containing a window. These are projected vertically outwards from the plane of the roof. These are usually constructed to create extra space in the roof and to let natural light enter the house. Dormers can be of different shapes like arched, flat, pointed, hipped, etc. These can also give room for an additional bathroom on the top floor. The windows used in a dormer can be the same as those used in the other rooms of a house. Dormers add detail to the house and increase the home value. An architect for renovation could give you a couple of ideas to add more detail to the dormer on your home. The architect could also suggest an appropriate gutter for the dormer as leaving it without a gutter can damage the roof below it.

New Entrance

Your house’s facade can be improved by choosing a new front door or refurbishing it. If you are living in a uniform house colony, you should try to match the door with the door’s houses around you to maintain uniformity. There are different types of front doors like:

  • PVC front door
  • The glass-reinforced plastic composite front door
  • Timber core composite front door
  • Veneered timber front door
  • Solid hardwood front door

You can choose the color of your front door from a variety of colors. Some colors that are the most appealing to visitors are purple, blue, and lilac. Some of the colors that you could avoid while choosing the color of your front door are bright pink, brown, bright yellow, orange, and green. You could also pay attention to details like the keyhole. External Lighting could also be added at the front door to improve the surrounding. This lighting should also direct a person safely down the stairs.

Shutters and Trim

Shutters cover the windows for a variety of reasons. They protect against storms or hot sun. Shutters and Trim are essential for styling your house and help to make your house stand out. Shutters should be made up of materials that can withstand different weather conditions like rain, snow, etc. These materials can be fiberglass, wood composites, or PVC. A residential architect might even have some pointers on the color scheme for the shutters and trim.

Porch Addition

A porch is a single-story structure that projects outwards from the house or any other building. Adding a porch to your house will transform the looks and provide extra space for storage. It is worth considering when the front door of your house opens into the living room instead of the hallway. The size of the porch should be proportional to the size of the house. The architect for the renovation should make sure the design of the porch does not block the natural light from entering through the front door. Adding a porch can create a draft lobby and help in reducing the heat loss from the building. When constructing the porch, an architect should use appropriate materials according to the building. Adding a porch also increases the home value.

Creating an Addition

Adding on to your house can increase the value and give a different appearance. The residential architect could suggest a side, rear, wraparound, or two storied additions. Side extensions are usually preferred when there is limited space for extension. It can be created as an extra space for an existing kitchen or living room. A rear extension is used for an easier flow from a house’s interior to the exterior. This is also used to extend spaces in the kitchen or living rooms. By using bi-fold doors in rear extensions, a continuous effect can be created. A wraparound extension is a combination of rear and side extensions. They usually result in an L-shaped extension depending upon the choice of wraparound extension. Storied extensions give extra space to both the stories of a building. This is the most efficient extension in terms of space. In this case, there can be an addition on the ground floor and a room on the next floor. Of course Zoning can impact the location of such work and must be explored while diving into this type of project.

Conclusion

So, how does it feel being bombarded with not 1, 2, or 3, but 10 ways to give your house a new look?

You could make your house look livelier and welcoming by choosing appropriate colors, new features, or go for a whole new makeover.

And if that’s what’s on your mind, contact your local architect today!

 

How Can I Make My House More Accessible?

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Enhancements in living standards have led people to pay more attention to their quality of life and comfort. When it comes to these, the design requirements are quite demanding.

These aspects come together to make a more accessible environment that meets the prerequisites of your physical and behavioral needs. As such, the home environment becomes more people oriented.

Several parameters come to life when you want to make your house more accessible. It is not just the door but what leads to the door, the height of the handle, and the opening width.

A residential architect is the best way to move forward when it comes to a more accessible home environment. An architect can guide you through these features for your additions to your home. A professional architect must be knowing of all the determinants that come along with such construction.

What’s a User-Friendly Home?

Easy movement and convenience keep everyone happy. A user-friendly physical environment might even improve the efficiency of how your home functions.

A more accessible home design means analyzing the attributes, physical properties, and other relevant information. The impending design will be the result of these needs.

Principles to Follow

When it comes to a more accessible home, you must consider some crucial principles. A residential architect might suggest some useful ideas to make your house more accessible.

Consider the Core!

User-friendly homes generally cater to the needs of all the family members. A more accessible home should create a safe, comfortable, and healthy living environment that will cultivate their personality while providing easement.

These aspects must display the conditions people require. That’s the primary consideration a residential architect may consider.

Psychological Security

Safety should also reflect in the design of the home as well. You must pay attention to the selection of materials to avoid a sharp design. The color palette and materials could play a crucial role in determining your mood for the day.

Even though many people choose to ignore this critical aspect, a residential architect might enhance it so that you understand all the versatile parameters that come along with a more accessible home.

Conform to The Living Habits

The residential design of a more accessible home should be following the habits of its inhabitants. It’s so that they feel comfortable.

For instance, your home could have easy access to chairs for comfortable seating and a wide passage so that the people could walk conveniently. It could be the most unnoticeable of things.

Take the light switches, which you could place at a more convenient height, or even some grab bars near the toilet for support. The best quality of a more accessible home is that it conforms to the requirements of the elderly and specially-abled.

So, as a result, your house becomes a haven for all the family members. (Talk about taking family comes first to heart!)

Codes and Regulations

In New Jersey residential projects are not required to follow any guidelines in regards to making it barrier free however there are guides out there that guide your architect as they make suggestions to you if this is your concern.

General Elements

Stairways

Stairways are one aspect of your home that you can easily make more accessible for your home. By making it uniform and wider, you’ll have a convenient and comfortable space.

  • All the steps in the flight of stairs must have a uniform height for the riser and a uniform depth for the tread.
  • The height of the risers should be considered if you have trouble going up and down stairs as well as the tread depth.

Handrails

The provision of handrails is only required on one side but it maybe to your advantage to install a handrail on both sides of the staircase.

  • The handrails must have a consistent height concerning the nosing of the steps and walking surfaces.

Wider Doorways

If your home exhibits wider doorways, you’re in for an accessible home. Wider doorways not only allow for free movement but also accommodate wheelchairs.

  • A 3 foot doorway is generous enough for easy access.

Stairlift

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Photo by: Priva Mobility

The mechanical device functions as a lift for people to move up and down the stairs. A stairlift is convenient, easy to use, and a heavy-hitter in the league of more accessible homes.

  • Modern stairlifts boast a variety of attractive features such as battery isolation switches, adjustable seat height, seat belt, key switch, etc.
  • The straight-rail stairlifts are the most common type in residential use. These exhibit a straight track attached to the steps of the staircase. These are the least expensive type of stairlifts.

Home Lift / Residential Elevator

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Photo by: Contemporary Entry

A residential elevator is a product that transports people in private homes and dwellings with multiple stories. These are quite compact and usually fit up to four people.

  • A home lift doesn’t need additional space for the machine room or the pit, thereby making it highly suitable for domestic use. Sometimes, the maintenance costs are also lesser in comparison to regular lifts.
  • With a home lift, you’re not only allowing for more access to your home, but you also get to flaunt your private lift! Talk about making your friends jealous.

Plumbing Elements

Grab Bars

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Photo by: Bestbath

Grab Bars are a decent way to make your washroom more accessible. They act as a support system and are a must for homes with the elderly and specially-abled.

  • The space between the grab bar and the wall should be 1 ½ inch.
  • The grab bars should be installed in a horizontal position. It must be 33 inches minimum and 36 inches maximum above the floor to the top of the gripping surface.
  • For children, the grab bars must be 18 inches minimum and 27 inches maximum above the floor to the top of the gripping surface in a horizontal position.
  • The grab bars must have rounded edges and be free of sharp elements. The bars mustn’t rotate within their fittings.

Touchless Faucets

Touchless faucets in the bathroom and kitchen sinks could be useful for people with grip problems or arthritis.

  • A useful upgrade to faucets is installing anti-scale faucets in the washrooms. These prevent sudden bursts of hot water in case the cold-water flow is temporarily redirected.

Bathroom Heat Lamp

A bathroom heat lamp could be one of the most useful objects in your washroom when it comes to making your house more accessible. With this technology, you’re doing the best in making your washroom more accessible.

  • If you replace the overhead light fixture above the tub and toilet with one that has an infrared bulb along with a regular bulb, it’ll help keep your washroom comfortable and warm in the cold months.

Roll-In Showers

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Photo by: Bestbath

Roll-in showers are an alternate for the specially-abled and the elderly and form a part of more accessible washrooms. The shower exhibits a rimless design which allows the users to experience some independence when bathing.

Usually, the shower can be a pre-made unit or custom-built.

  • In standard roll-in showers, the hand shower and controls must be located on the back wall above the grab bar. It must be a maximum of 48 inches above the shower floor. It also needs to be 16 inches minimum and 27 inches maximum from the end wall which is behind the seat.
  • In alternate roll-in showers, the hand shower and controls shall be located 38 inches minimum and 48 inches maximum from the floor.
  • If the controls and hand shower are located at the end wall adjacent to the seat, they must be 27 inches maximum from that wall.
  • If the controls and hand shower are located on the wall opposite the seat, then they must be within 15 inches of the centerline of the seat.

Are You Ready?

Now that you’ve found so much information about more accessible homes, what’s your take going to be? If you get a residential architect to look at the plans of your home, they may be able to come up with intricate details in which you can have a more accessible home.

And why not go ahead with it? A private lift, wider doorways, and more space. That’s a more accessible home.

Residential architects always try to come up with a blend of creative and functional ideas to make their clients’ homes more accommodating to their needs. And that’s your way to go.

So, to answer your question of how you can make your house more accessible, there you have it. A plethora of ways to integrate them into your home and present it with convenience and ease.

Contact your local architect, discuss the drawings, and find out how you can make your house more accessible.

 

3 Hot Options…, Wood Burning, Gas or Electric Fireplace

Everyone loves a good Christmas story. Santa, snow, and socks; hung on a vintage shelf, that’s the definition of a warm and cozy Christmas. You kids are unwrapping the myriad of gifts and the friend’s whistling some carols, sipping mugs of hot chocolate with marshmallows, taking in the warmth from the….., what’s that?

Oh yeah, there’s no winter festivities without some warmth and heat. But what are the hottest options?! It seems like the time to bring in the cavalry and some professional opinions.

A residential architect could be a decent place to start your survey. After all, architects are the ones who know your house inside out. (That’s a secret you now know!)

Hot or Not?

If you think surviving winters without any heating arrangements are possible, IT’S NOT. And that’s a big not. The temperature keeps on fluctuating while teaching you a new lesson every day.

“Oh, how I wish I’d gotten the thermostat fixed” “Honey, we ran out of logs for the fireplace” these are a few sentences you may hear yourself speaking at the peak of those winter months.

The truth is that you need the heat!

Let’s take a look at 3 Hot Options…, Wood Burning, Gas or Electric Fireplace and find out which one suit’s your needs.

Wood Burning

Today, open fireplaces serve more of an aesthetical rather than a functional purpose. When it comes to it, the design of fireplaces is inefficient in terms of energy saving.

Even though a fireplace depicts warmth, convection from the fire results in the sucking of the indoor air. It leads to the air being out of the house through the chimney. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a new generation of wood-burning appliances that are cleaner and more efficient have come to life.

Wood burning fireplaces may emit high quantities of pollutants from the compounds such as nitrogen, carbon, and others that it contains. These pollutants could harm human health.

Wood burning is a significant factor in air pollution because of which several municipalities restrict the use of these appliances when the air quality reaches its limit. Before installing a wood-burning system in your homes, you must contact the local ordinance office to find out the codes and regulations that may be applicable in your area.

A residential architect could be useful at this stage because of prior knowledge and their efficient credentials.

Advantages

  1. You could benefit the local economy by growing or purchasing the wood biomass locally.
  2. The cost of the fuel is cheaper in comparison to coal, natural gas, and heating oil.
  3. A beneficial quality of fuel from wood, logs, or lumbar waste is that it’s renewable. It’s also widely available and sustainable, thereby allowing you to add brownie points to the declining environment and eliminating some carbon footprint.
  4. The pellet stoves are relatively environment-friendly and utilize pellets comprising of wooden biomass. They also claim to have the support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  5. If engineered efficiently, wood-burning may emit fewer air pollutants in comparison to coal and gas.
  6. The utilization of forest waste could positively impact its health. Eliminating deadfalls from the forests may reduce the risk of unprecedented forest fires.
  7. Wood burning is dependable if the region you reside in suffers from constant power outages during the harsh winters. With a reliable wooden stove, you get to stay warm round the clock, irrespective of your home’s gas or electric supply.
  8. With wood burning, you have the option of flexible placement when it comes to wooden stoves. If there’s a way to run the vent pipe outside the house, a wooden stove could find its place anywhere.
  9. A well-placed wood stove could heat your house and eliminate the need for expensive central heating costs.
  10. As an extended benefit, wood fuel from woodlands under management could create a demand for skilled labor and provide the landowners with an incentive to manage the wood.

Disadvantages

  1. In comparison to conventional boiler systems, wooden ones require a much large boiler for fuel maintenance.
  2. The automated fuel equipment of today requires close monitoring to avoid shutdowns.
  3. The equipment required for the wooden systems is quite expensive. Another factor to consider is that wood is highly flammable and needs an advanced boiling system.

Gas

A gas heating arrangement is one of the most popular choices for winter globally. The gas heaters seem to perform better and are more dependable than the electric counterparts.

These gas heaters heat rooms quicker and keep them warm for a longer time. They also exhibit an economic benefit as they’re cheaper than electric systems.

Cost-effectiveness has catapulted gas heaters to the top of the heating game, and that’s why the results and market value is so convincing. Many families seem to invest in the product to enjoy the hassle-free winter seasons.

Advantages

  1. The best advantage that comes along with natural gas heaters is the affordability. Homeowners always tend to keep finances their top priority. Nobody wants to overpay for their heating.
  2. In comparison to other fossil fuels, natural gas is a better choice for the environment. Even though it’s not the cleanest source of energy, it doesn’t emit sulfur. That makes for a win-win situation.
  3. Another benefit to look forward to is the reliability. Even if your area suffers frequent power outages, it won’t affect your gas heater. HVAC and water will immediately turn off once the power shuts down. However, you can rest assured that a natural gas heater will keep on running.
  4. Efficiency is a parameter that associates with gas heaters. As a result of combustion, your house could warm up quicker and stay warmer than the performance an electric heater would provide.
  5. Natural gas heaters come across as a decent long-term investment. If your home has an existing line, you won’t have to incur any extra installation charges.
  6. As a long-term solution, natural gas heaters provide comfort, dependency, and one-time spending for a worthwhile performance in those cold and snowy winters.
  7. In comparison to fireplaces, natural gas heaters are convenient to operate and don’t create any mess.
  8. If you consult a residential architect, they may tell you that many prospective buyers question natural gas availability when looking for a new residence. So, in the long run, you’re increasing the value of your home.

Disadvantages

  1. If your property doesn’t have a natural gas line connection, you may have to incur extra charges during the system installation.
  2. Over-heating of the radiant coils may cause structural fatigue. If that’s the case, you’re looking at replacing the element entirely.
  3. The burning of fossil fuels results in the emission of carbon monoxide, which raises safety concerns.

Electric Fireplace

An electric fireplace is an electric heater that works like a fireplace that burns natural gas, wood, or coal. The electric fireplace plugs into the walls of your home and runs on a set of flames only.

It also finds its use as a heater, usually consuming 1.4 to 1.6kW, which may virtually heat a room sizing 400 sq. ft. The electric fireplace gained momentum in the early 1950s. Techniques for electric flame effects have been in existence since the 1980s.

One of the most popular commercial techniques is the Optiflame, introduced by Dimplex. Over the years, the Irish company has come up with several patents and unique flame techniques.

Advantages

  1. The best advantage of an electric fireplace is that it doesn’t release any fumes. When you turn on the electric fireplace, the light seems to create a realistic appearance of flames. Since gas isn’t part of the system, you don’t have to worry about smoke entering your home.
  2. Since electric fireplaces don’t consume actual wood and hence don’t release smoke, the maintenance requirements are significantly lower.
  3. Electric fireplaces are more reasonable to install than regular ones. The cost largely depends on the style that you select. You must factor in that you don’t have to consider the cost of installing a chimney or regular cleaning.
  4. Electric fireplaces value energy efficiency. Since these use less electricity than the primary heating system in your home, you’re lowering the energy bills.
  5. Electric fireplaces boast a long service life. Unlike heaters and fireplaces, these aren’t susceptible to corrosion or rust and hence last longer.
  6. The easy installation of electric fireplaces makes it a favorite among homeowners. You don’t have to worry about demolishing a wall to accommodate the system. However, do note that installation depends on the style that you select.
  7. Electric fireplaces come with a plethora of designs. It seems like there’s an electric fireplace built just according to the style of each individual. Whether you want a more traditional mantelpiece or something modern for your bedroom, there’s a style.
  8. A most promising advantage of the electric fireplace is that it’s safe. You don’t have to worry about children getting their hands into the fire because there’s no fire. Some systems also feature an auto-off so you can sleep peacefully knowing that the fireplace is off.

Disadvantages

  1. The flames aren’t as realistic as the companies claim them to be.
  2. The electric fireplaces can’t have any exposure to the weather.
  3. These depend on constant electricity for them to work.

Conclusion

Homeowners, if you’re in the market for a new heating option, you’ve got 3 Hot Options waiting for you. For a more professional opinion, you could always contact your local architect.

Get ready soon, because winter is here!

Everyone loves a good Christmas story. Santa, snow, and socks; hung on a vintage shelf, that’s the definition of a warm and cozy Christmas. You kids are unwrapping the myriad of gifts and the friend’s whistling some carols, sipping mugs of hot chocolate with marshmallows, taking in the warmth from the….., what’s that?

Oh yeah, there’s no winter festivities without some warmth and heat. But what are the hottest options?! It seems like the time to bring in the cavalry and some professional opinions.

A residential architect could be a decent place to start your survey. After all, architects are the ones who know your house inside out. (That’s a secret you now know!)

Hot or Not?

If you think surviving winters without any heating arrangements are possible, IT’S NOT. And that’s a big not. The temperature keeps on fluctuating while teaching you a new lesson every day.

“Oh, how I wish I’d gotten the thermostat fixed” “Honey, we ran out of logs for the fireplace” these are a few sentences you may hear yourself speaking at the peak of those winter months.

The truth is that you need the heat!

Let’s take a look at 3 Hot Options…, Wood Burning, Gas or Electric Fireplace and find out which one suit’s your needs.

Wood Burning

Today, open fireplaces serve more of an aesthetical rather than a functional purpose. When it comes to it, the design of fireplaces is inefficient in terms of energy saving.

Even though a fireplace depicts warmth, convection from the fire results in the sucking of the indoor air. It leads to the air being out of the house through the chimney. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, a new generation of wood-burning appliances that are cleaner and more efficient have come to life.

Wood burning fireplaces may emit high quantities of pollutants from the compounds such as nitrogen, carbon, and others that it contains. These pollutants could harm human health.

Wood burning is a significant factor in air pollution because of which several municipalities restrict the use of these appliances when the air quality reaches its limit. Before installing a wood-burning system in your homes, you must contact the local ordinance office to find out the codes and regulations that may be applicable in your area.

A residential architect could be useful at this stage because of prior knowledge and their efficient credentials.

Advantages

  1. You could benefit the local economy by growing or purchasing the wood biomass locally.
  2. The cost of the fuel is cheaper in comparison to coal, natural gas, and heating oil.
  3. A beneficial quality of fuel from wood, logs, or lumbar waste is that it’s renewable. It’s also widely available and sustainable, thereby allowing you to add brownie points to the declining environment and eliminating some carbon footprint.
  4. The pellet stoves are relatively environment-friendly and utilize pellets comprising of wooden biomass. They also claim to have the support of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
  5. If engineered efficiently, wood-burning may emit fewer air pollutants in comparison to coal and gas.
  6. The utilization of forest waste could positively impact its health. Eliminating deadfalls from the forests may reduce the risk of unprecedented forest fires.
  7. Wood burning is dependable if the region you reside in suffers from constant power outages during the harsh winters. With a reliable wooden stove, you get to stay warm round the clock, irrespective of your home’s gas or electric supply.
  8. With wood burning, you have the option of flexible placement when it comes to wooden stoves. If there’s a way to run the vent pipe outside the house, a wooden stove could find its place anywhere.
  9. A well-placed wood stove could heat your house and eliminate the need for expensive central heating costs.
  10. As an extended benefit, wood fuel from woodlands under management could create a demand for skilled labor and provide the landowners with an incentive to manage the wood.

Disadvantages

  1. In comparison to conventional boiler systems, wooden ones require a much large boiler for fuel maintenance.
  2. The automated fuel equipment of today requires close monitoring to avoid shutdowns.
  3. The equipment required for the wooden systems is quite expensive. Another factor to consider is that wood is highly flammable and needs an advanced boiling system.

Gas

A gas heating arrangement is one of the most popular choices for winter globally. The gas heaters seem to perform better and are more dependable than the electric counterparts.

These gas heaters heat rooms quicker and keep them warm for a longer time. They also exhibit an economic benefit as they’re cheaper than electric systems.

Cost-effectiveness has catapulted gas heaters to the top of the heating game, and that’s why the results and market value is so convincing. Many families seem to invest in the product to enjoy the hassle-free winter seasons.

Advantages

  1. The best advantage that comes along with natural gas heaters is the affordability. Homeowners always tend to keep finances their top priority. Nobody wants to overpay for their heating.
  2. In comparison to other fossil fuels, natural gas is a better choice for the environment. Even though it’s not the cleanest source of energy, it doesn’t emit sulfur. That makes for a win-win situation.
  3. Another benefit to look forward to is the reliability. Even if your area suffers frequent power outages, it won’t affect your gas heater. HVAC and water will immediately turn off once the power shuts down. However, you can rest assured that a natural gas heater will keep on running.
  4. Efficiency is a parameter that associates with gas heaters. As a result of combustion, your house could warm up quicker and stay warmer than the performance an electric heater would provide.
  5. Natural gas heaters come across as a decent long-term investment. If your home has an existing line, you won’t have to incur any extra installation charges.
  6. As a long-term solution, natural gas heaters provide comfort, dependency, and one-time spending for a worthwhile performance in those cold and snowy winters.
  7. In comparison to fireplaces, natural gas heaters are convenient to operate and don’t create any mess.
  8. If you consult a residential architect, they may tell you that many prospective buyers question natural gas availability when looking for a new residence. So, in the long run, you’re increasing the value of your home.

Disadvantages

  1. If your property doesn’t have a natural gas line connection, you may have to incur extra charges during the system installation.
  2. Over-heating of the radiant coils may cause structural fatigue. If that’s the case, you’re looking at replacing the element entirely.
  3. The burning of fossil fuels results in the emission of carbon monoxide, which raises safety concerns.

Electric Fireplace

An electric fireplace is an electric heater that works like a fireplace that burns natural gas, wood, or coal. The electric fireplace plugs into the walls of your home and runs on a set of flames only.

It also finds its use as a heater, usually consuming 1.4 to 1.6kW, which may virtually heat a room sizing 400 sq. ft. The electric fireplace gained momentum in the early 1950s. Techniques for electric flame effects have been in existence since the 1980s.

One of the most popular commercial techniques is the Optiflame, introduced by Dimplex. Over the years, the Irish company has come up with several patents and unique flame techniques.

Advantages

  1. The best advantage of an electric fireplace is that it doesn’t release any fumes. When you turn on the electric fireplace, the light seems to create a realistic appearance of flames. Since gas isn’t part of the system, you don’t have to worry about smoke entering your home.
  2. Since electric fireplaces don’t consume actual wood and hence don’t release smoke, the maintenance requirements are significantly lower.
  3. Electric fireplaces are more reasonable to install than regular ones. The cost largely depends on the style that you select. You must factor in that you don’t have to consider the cost of installing a chimney or regular cleaning.
  4. Electric fireplaces value energy efficiency. Since these use less electricity than the primary heating system in your home, you’re lowering the energy bills.
  5. Electric fireplaces boast a long service life. Unlike heaters and fireplaces, these aren’t susceptible to corrosion or rust and hence last longer.
  6. The easy installation of electric fireplaces makes it a favorite among homeowners. You don’t have to worry about demolishing a wall to accommodate the system. However, do note that installation depends on the style that you select.
  7. Electric fireplaces come with a plethora of designs. It seems like there’s an electric fireplace built just according to the style of each individual. Whether you want a more traditional mantelpiece or something modern for your bedroom, there’s a style.
  8. A most promising advantage of the electric fireplace is that it’s safe. You don’t have to worry about children getting their hands into the fire because there’s no fire. Some systems also feature an auto-off so you can sleep peacefully knowing that the fireplace is off.

Disadvantages

  1. The flames aren’t as realistic as the companies claim them to be.
  2. The electric fireplaces can’t have any exposure to the weather.
  3. These depend on constant electricity for them to work.

Conclusion

Homeowners, if you’re in the market for a new heating option, you’ve got 3 Hot Options waiting for you. For a more professional opinion, you could always contact your local architect.

Get ready soon, because winter is here!

 

5 Exterior Options for Your Home… Pros & Cons!

You’ve been residing in your 2500 sq. ft. two-story home for many years now. The interior boasts a lively living area adjacent to a quartz-clad kitchen with a must-have mudroom. The bedrooms possess features that turn them into a micro-home for each member of the family.

Your backyard plays host to an array of flowers in the form of orchids and milkweeds. A small basketball court along the side is the designated fun zone. And there’s that feeling of being a proud homeowner in New Jersey.

But what of the exterior? A close look at the outer finish of your home hits you right in the face. Cracks, algae, and dampness welcome you.

By now, you must have understood that the exterior detailing of your home is as crucial as the inside. Investing in the right type of exterior option at the right time could go a long way in prolonging the life of your home. If you consult any residential architect, they may strongly suggest a decent exterior option for your beloved home.

What are Exterior Finishes?

As the name suggests, exterior finishes act as a protective layer of outside covering for your home against weather elements, thereby adding years to its service life. These finishes also work as a decorative element for the house. Along with protection, exterior finishes may also add a smooth texture to your home.

The exterior finish will define the architectural style of your home, thereby making it a crucial decision. In simple terms, an exterior finish is the MVP when it comes to exterior home aesthetics.

Several varieties of exterior finishes are available in the market, such as brick, metal, etc. Different materials work well for unalike climates. Another benefit of choosing the right type of exterior finish may impact the resale value of your home.

Exterior Options for Your Home

Now that you know the basics; of exterior finishes, let’s get right to business. Take a look at the 5 Exterior Options for Your Home that could act as a long-term investment and influence the life of your home.

Siding

Siding acts as the first line of defense against the weather elements, thereby providing a more secure internal environment. The style and material of the siding are heavy-hitters when it comes to the aesthetics of your home. Siding is available in both natural and artificial materials, each with its benefits and downsides.

The most famous and reliable type is wood siding. It provides a natural look and is usually from pine, cedar, or spruce. Homeowners have the choice of utilizing the virgin texture of the wood or enhance it with paint.

The most recurrent profiles for wood siding are as follows:

Shingles

If you want your home to exhibit a rustic yet modern look, then shingles could be the best exterior option for you. They are eco-friendly and could provide your home with the country look you desire.

Cedar and redwood result in the most efficient wooden shingles, which are then cut into several shapes.

Pros
  • Shingles provide your home with a natural look that allows it to blend with the country surroundings.
  • Shingles cost less in comparison to other siding materials such as stone.
Cons
  • Shingles require consistent maintenance.
  • The wood may warp or curl with time.
  • Dampness may give rise to algae or mold if not maintained properly.

Board and Batten

With the board and batten, exterior finish homeowners enjoy the flexibility of using different lengths of wood for aesthetic purposes. Redwood and cedars are the most common in use for the board and batten exterior finishes.

Alternately, you could also use vinyl or engineered wood for this type of exterior finish.

Pros
  • The typically vertical installation of this exterior finish makes the houses seem taller than usual.
  • The board and batten exterior finish is convenient to install and maintain.
  • Homeowners get to choose between vertical, horizontal, or a mixed installation of the wood boards as their exterior finish.
  • The board and batten finish in vinyl doesn’t rot and has a longer service life.
Cons
  • The wood may rot over a period.

Stucco

Stucco is a material consisting of water, binder, and aggregates. The primary composition consists of cement, sand, and water. Portland cement forms a crucial component in enhancing the longevity of stucco.

Stucco has use as an exterior cement plaster finish. The exterior finish is more consistent when applied in the form of a base and a finish layer. This method is more consistent and quicker in comparison to the three-coat application.

Stucco requires stiffening through means of mesh and screws to the structural framework to avoid cracking. The most common way to conceal cracks is by applying a layer of pre-mixed acrylic finishes. These finishes enhance the appearance and prevent the formation of moisture passages behind the stucco.

The three-coat application of stucco works as follows:

  • The first layer or the scratch coat consists of cement and sand, which is allowed to cure completely before the application of the second coat.
  • The second layer is called the brown coat, which contains cement, sand, and lime. This coat is leveled smooth with help from several tools, which gives it the name of leveling coat. The curing for this coat lasts between seven to ten days, which accommodates the shrinkage.
  • The final exterior layer is called the finish coat. It can either be an acrylic-based finish up to 0.15 inches thick or a colored coat of sand, cement, and lime up to 0.12 inches thick.

Pros

  • Stucco is one of the few exterior finishes that are fire-resistant. This quality of the finish avoids the need to install fire retardants.
  • Stucco promotes insulation in homes, thus reducing the need for cooling or heating alternatives, thereby cutting down energy costs.

Cons

  • Stucco is highly susceptible to moisture and hence doesn’t function well in humid areas.

Brick

An exterior finish in brick could promote the aesthetical value of your home. Most homeowners prefer a brick finish for its timeless and classic appearance. Brick boasts being one of the traditional building materials on home exteriors.

Due to the durable nature of brick, structures built over decades ago are still standing in decent shape. Even after such lucrative properties, brick has witnessed a decline in use in contemporary construction.

However, those building new homes still consider brick to be their go-to for the exterior finish. A brick finish could provide your home with a merger of Arcadian charm and soulful elegance.

One of the drawbacks that come along with brick is its porous nature. It could result in the growth of mold or structural damage. However, it has a convenient solution in the form of drainage or weep holes.

A residential architect could guide you through the process with help from your general contractor.

Here’s how it works:

  • In the traditional manner of brick-laying, the contract will leave a one-inch gap between the bricks and the structure.
  • The contractor will then install a through-wall flashing under the course of the bricks with the taller side at least eight inches. This flashing will run the entire course of the brick.
  • The weep holes will either be in the first or the second course of the bricks. The contractor must take care to avoid the weep hole filling up with mortar.
  • Once near the roof, the contractor will use plastic vents instead of the through-wall flashing because the function has shifted to that of ventilation. The weep holes shall be at every fourth brick.

Pros

  • A brick exterior finish requires low maintenance.
  • If maintained properly, the brick finish may last up to a century or more.

Cons

  • The porous nature of bricks could cause excessive moisture build-up that may result in structural damages.

Stone

Natural stones, granite, slate, etc. are a few of the most popular exterior finishes in stone. The natural feel and appearance of the stone are why so many homeowners desire it on the exterior of their homes.

Although the initial costs are high, the service life is long and doesn’t require excess maintenance. However, several homeowners find the stone finish to be expensive and instead opt for cheaper stone veneers.

Limestone and granite are the perfect partners in crime for those who want the exterior of their home’s finish to possess a bold yet subtle texture and look. The more expensive natural stone may add somewhat of authenticity to your homes.

Natural stone is highly resistant to fire and weather conditions. Not even extreme weather can cause an inch of damage to it. (Talk about being expensive for a reason!).

Pros

  • Stone as an exterior finish doesn’t require a lot of maintenance.
  • It exhibits a luxurious appearance to the exterior of your home.
  • This exterior finish is weather resistant.

Cons

  • The cost of the material and the installation is expensive.

Mixed Finishes

The complex design of this house allows elaborate and articulate details in the form of shapes and volumes. The use of materials like metal, glass, and wood as exterior finishes in one entity adds to the enigma and aesthetic of the house.

Mixing materials to create new and unique palettes could be the genius of your residential architect. Gone are the days of sticking to the plain paint or the horizontal wooden boards for the exterior finish of your home.

The new era demands creativity through a combination of colors and materials.

Pros

  • Mixed finishes allow for creative freedom and aesthetic appeal to your home.

Cons

  • The initial cost of the materials and the installation may be higher.

Get Thinking…

Homeowners, it’s time for you to get out of your comfort zone and add a splash of uniqueness to your homes, and who better than your local residential architect to pair up with?

So think over the materials, contact the residential architect, come up with a mood board, and transform your home with the best of exterior options.

 

Why Should You Have A Mudroom?

Mudrooms are a big deal in the United States of America and for genuine reasons. Families and communities have been embracing this concept with open arms and doors.

Let’s answer the primary question, which calls for what’s a mudroom. Mudrooms function as entryways at the front or back entrance of a house while providing a transition between the interior and exterior.

Suburban American houses possess a rear entrance that works as a substitute entrance with the intent of removing and storing wet clothes, footwear, and other outerwear before entering the focal areas. These old school rear entrances lead into the kitchen or the laundry room.

A mudroom carries the potential to be one of the most convenient and practical design choices for your home as it promises cleanliness and an organized environment. Now, who would want to say no to that?!

Mudroom, More Like (Must)Room!

Source: Houzz

Is your front door a land of mismatched shoes lying around paired with a pile of coats? The children think of it as a dumping ground for their bags after school? Doesn’t the floor remind you of a hiking trail borne thanks to the soil from the shoes and the water droplets from the wet umbrellas?

These unwelcoming attributes could vanish if you had a mudroom. A mudroom is “the” place for shoes and wet outdoor clothes to live and thrive without having to drag them through the rest of your house.

It allows your home to stay relatively clean and reduces your time spent with the vacuum cleaner cleaning afterward. And the homeowners of the world do need for themselves a clean house, don’t they?! (Friends, if you know it, you know it!).

Residential architects know very well that a well-planned and efficiently designed mudroom is a bonus to keep houses tidy. In most cases, mudrooms are the entryways to homes; that the inhabitants will use regularly, it needs to create a functional impact.

So, it seems that your home MUST have a mudroom.

Benefits of A Mudroom

If you’re planning a new home, consider all the aspects that could tap into the maximum potential. A mudroom provides you with an area that could remain concealed from the guests while keeping the rest of the house clutter-free.

Freedom to Customize

Mudrooms are probably the most versatile spaces in a house. How you use it is detrimental to the size of your family and lifestyle. So, here’s how your mudroom will shape up and take on its layout and design.

Another exciting quality about these spaces is that you can customize them according to your will. Consider your spaces through the parameters such as the flooring, cabinets, plumbing, and the layout of the laundry area.

If your mudroom might be frequent to moisture from the shoes or the wet outerwear, this should be a primary factor when you finalize on the flooring. A residential architect could help you steer in the right direction.

Containment Zone

An efficient mudroom will act as a buffer to the clutter and dirt and contain it right there. Mudrooms are one of the best ways to curtail the amount of dirt and clutter around your home.

Homes that have young children or pets could highly benefit from mudrooms because they serve the purpose of being a containment zone to collect all the dirt from the shoes and other outerwear.

Now whether your children play around in the garden treehouse or your dog comes back from its playtime covered in mud, your main house is going to be a no-go zone.

Saves You Some Money

You may not think over this much, but cleaning products take out a lot of money from your wallets. With a mudroom in your house, you’ll add years to the service life of your flooring and carpets.

Additionally, you’ll save yourself the hassle of regular dusting and cleaning.

Extra Storage and More Organization

Source: Houzz

Mudrooms are a great way to incorporate additional storage in your homes. It’s such a benefit that could add more functional value as well.

Typically, mudrooms witness a greater traffic flow from the guests and family members. As such, their design prioritizes efficiency over charm. Efficiency makes your life much easier and saves you precious time.

The Perfect Mudroom

Several pointers come into action when talking about the perfect mudroom. So, let’s get reading!

Storage Needs

When you’re thinking about a perfect mudroom for your home, it’s critical to consider the current and upcoming storage needs. Conceiving the correct blend of storage choices could be a necessary mudroom tip.

Why would you want to deal with the needless dirt and clutter or trip over wet shoes when you could store them most conveniently? When it comes to storage solutions for your mudroom, most people consider hooks for coats or umbrellas and drawers for their hats and other trinkets.

Parents could benefit by creating a small niche for their young ones to dump their bags after school. And your pets don’t need to roam around the house searching for the perfect spot anymore. They could get themselves a cozy and clean space right in your mudroom.

Designate the Spaces

To avoid the early morning screaming matches between your kids, it could be a fun idea to designate the hooks to each family member. Your kids could use the hooks for their bags while others could hang up their briefcases, handbags, and such.

Don’t shy away from creativity. If you and your family enjoy outdoor activities such as sports or hiking, you could use the mudroom to store your gear. So, when the next adventure calls, you know where the necessary equipment is.

It’s A Bench, It’s A Cubby, It’s Both

A bench with in-built storage could be an ideal way for you to sit to put on or take off your shoes. Additionally, it’ll also provide you with temporary storage space for the stuff you’re carrying.

It’s the proper way to allow for the room to grow while taking maximum advantage of your mudroom.

Extra Features

Once you nail down the storage requirements, you can think about how to add features to enhance the efficiency of your mudroom. It’s a platform where your ideas could be functional yet creative.

Lighting

Some natural light in your mudroom could help create a pleasant atmosphere along with providing it with an airy appearance. The use of windows or a skylight in your mudroom could be a great way to harness the natural sunlight during the day.

However, you could also play with some artificial lighting to accommodate night time. Recessed lighting could be useful as it provides sufficient light without eating away at the space.

Flooring

The flooring is probably the most crucial aspect when it comes to designing a mudroom. Tile or vinyl are acceptable materials when considering a durable and sturdy mudroom floor.

Your residential architect may even suggest a drain inside the floor to help with the cleaning. Durability and low maintenance are two parameters to consider when choosing the materials.

You want something that will withstand years of wear and tear in one of the busiest places in your home.

Point of Entry

Most homeowners prefer a side entrance for their mudrooms for comfortable access while concealing it from the guests on their arrival. The transition space works to create a balance between the interior and exterior of your house.

A lot of families prefer keeping their mudrooms at the rear of their houses for more practical utilization. The back entrance allows for more freedom and a convenient passage to the main house through the kitchen without the hassle of carrying your shoes, coats, or other outdoor material.

Should You Have A Mudroom?

All through the article, you’ve looked at why you should have a mudroom. Now the question remains should you have a mudroom?

YES! You should have a mudroom.

As an individual in modern times, it makes sense to acclimate your house with today’s functional and essential trends. If you speak with any residential architect, you’ll get the same answers with more technical backing and proof.

Over the year’s mudrooms have become necessary features of new and upcoming homes with even traditional homeowners accommodating them with open arms. After all, who wants muddy shoes and wet umbrellas inside their main house?!

Time for A Change

The best mudrooms have an almost grand feel to them with loads of light, space, efficiency, and versatility. You could make it into a room that feels welcoming to you and brings with itself the comfort of a clean and spotless home.

If you’re geared up to get started on a mudroom, contact a residential architect for the best guidance along with serviceable yet expressive ideas.

The next time you come back to your home on a rainy day, with muddy shoes, a wet umbrella, and a drenching trench coat, the mudroom will cater to its share of the work.

And that’s why we say Mudroom, More Like “Must” Room!

 

What Is A Bedroom? Know What’s Required

The intricately detailed teak door opens, and you set foot into the space encrusted with your footprints. Off white walls, minimalistic décor, a vintage lamp on the side table that throws shade onto the floral bedspread, and long silky drapes dance about in the slight breeze. This bedroom brags of elegance.

In the same house on the opposite side of the hallway, the door puts forth a large “do not disturb” poster. Not heeding to the false seriousness of the sign, the door paves the way to an unmade bed, a chair for a closet, a broken lampshade, and dust. Dust everywhere.

Not considering the personality of the occupant, several parameters constitute a bedroom. Whether it’s the size or the placement of the openings inside, a bedroom must adhere to those factors.

These building code constraints are essential for a bedroom to receive the designation of habitable space. The International Residential Code set out these regulations in partnership with local building departments to maximize safety, comfort, and practicality.

If you’re looking for renovation or repair work on your bedroom, these regulations are a must for you to follow. In such a case, a residential architect is the best person who could guide you.

Primary Rules

Like any state, New Jersey lays out a tried and tested housing code to establish premium living standards for its people. Its basis is the degree of habitability.

Whenever there’s a platform for new construction or residential design in New Jersey, a local architect must know about these regulations to accommodate prospective clients.

 

Net Floor Area

The occupancy standards for a bedroom in New Jersey state that each room to sleep in by one occupant only must contain at least 70 sq. ft. of floor space. Each room that designates sleeping purposes for more than one occupant must have at least 50 sq. ft. of floor space per occupant. The said occupants in these cases will not count children under the age of one year.

In existing structures built before 1951, if any housing unit has no room at least 10 feet by 12 feet, two occupants shall be allowed to sleep in the largest room as long as it is nine feet in size in the least dimension.

The townships in New Jersey must strictly adhere to this principle with the intent of constructing a bedroom.

 

Maximum Occupants

The occupancy of a dwelling unit is a critical factor to consider when it comes to bedrooms. According to Article VII of the New Jersey Code of Ordinances, there’s a limitation on the maximum number of occupants in each bedroom per dwelling unit.

Occupancy of rooming units having only one bedroom or habitable room, except for those in dormitories, a hotel or motel shall be for two persons only.

 

Use of Bedrooms as Passageways

Each bedroom must have access to one lavatory and water closet without having to pass through another bedroom.

Unless the housing unit contains a single bedroom, bedrooms can’t be the only way to access other habitable spaces.

 

Minimum Height of the Ceiling

For a bedroom to qualify as a habitable space, the minimum ceiling height should be seven feet. Some bedrooms may have a sloped ceiling, but as long as one-half of the floor space possesses a ceiling height of seven feet, you’re safe.

Nowadays, most bedrooms exhibit a minimum ceiling height of eight feet. So, even if Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was to enter your bedroom, there would not be a need for him to bend his knees (except when maybe he goes through your doorway)!

 

Means of Egress

Egress windows are an essential requirement in all newly-constructed buildings in the United States of America, with each state working out its prerequisites on the sizes.

For the egress window, New Jersey primarily follows the regulations laid out by the International Residential Code. However, New Jersey has modified some of the rules to tighten these requirements.

The International Residential Code states that the minimum width and height of the window must be the minimum net clear opening area and the maximum height of the window above the floor.

The prerequisite is a window twenty-four inches high by twenty inches wide in size with a maximum sill level of forty-four inches. It must also have a net clear opening of five sq. ft. on the first floor.

According to the New Jersey Building Code, the specification for an egress window must have a minimum clear opening height of 24 inches and a minimum clear opening width of twenty inches. It is required to have an area of clear opening of 5.7 square feet and can be reduced to 5.0 square feet for windows at grade level.

Along with providing a large enough space for the occupants of a building to escape in time of a fire, the function of the egress window is to allow convenient access for a fire-fighter carrying the equipment.

The net clear area of the window is such that it prevents the firefighting equipment from being stuck or blocked.

 

Smoke & Carbon Monoxide Detection

For smoke detection, the New Jersey Building Code emphasizes the use of smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms. The installation of these alarms isn’t a precondition for the issuance of a permit for rehabilitation, reconstruction, renovation, or repair work. However, the construction official must notify the applicant that these alarms need to be installed.

When smoke or carbon monoxide alarms were installed as part of the original construction, they need to be maintained.

The prerequisites for smoke alarms are as follows:

  • Smoke alarms need to be present on each level of the housing unit including the basement and outside (ten feet) of each separate sleeping area inside the bedroom. They might be placed on the ceiling or within twelve inches of the ceiling on the wall.
  • Smoke alarms can be battery operated but can’t replace a household fire alarm system.
  • The installation of battery-operated smoke alarms in the state of New Jersey doesn’t require a permit.

The prerequisites for carbon monoxide alarms are as follows:

  • Carbon Monoxide alarms must be installed in buildings that have an attached garage or contain a fuel-burning appliance.
  • In the case of one and two-family dwelling units, carbon monoxide alarms need to be installed in the vicinity of each sleeping area in the bedroom when the building has an attached garage or contains a fuel-burning appliance.
  • These alarms could be placed anywhere on the ceiling or the wall.
  • Carbon Monoxide alarms are permitted to be hard-wired, battery-operated, or the plug-in type. The installation of the battery-operated or the plug-in type alarm doesn’t require a permit.

The smoke detectors present inside the bedrooms must be greater than three feet from a ceiling fan if one is present inside the room.

In the case of a bedroom with an ensuite, the smoke alarm needs to be three feet away from bathrooms with showers or tubs. A smoke alarm within twenty feet of your bathroom could be the photoelectric type.

Photoelectric alarms seem to be a decent choice for installations near the bathrooms. It contains a light-emitting diode and a sensor inside a chamber. These sensors are more equipped for detecting fires that generate large amounts of smoke.

 

Ventilation

Bedrooms and other habitable spaces must be ventilated either employing natural or mechanical ventilation.

Natural ventilation shall be through louvers, windows, doors, or any other openings to the outside. The operating mechanism for these shall be equipped with ready access so that these openings are controllable to the occupants.

The ventilation area required shall be four percent of the total floor area being ventilated. In the case of bedrooms without openings to the outdoors are being ventilated via an adjoining room, the opening must be unobstructed and possess an area not less than eight percent of the floor area of the adjoining room and be not less than twenty-five sq. ft.

Mechanical ventilation should be through a method of supply air and exhaust air. The amount of supply air could be approximately in the same range as the return and exhaust air.

The mechanical ventilation system must be following the duct system regulations set by the New Jersey Mechanical Code.

 

Natural Light

Every bedroom must have at least one window or skylight which can adequately light up the room along with ventilating it. The bedrooms located on the south side are privy to the natural daylight during the day.

Your residential architect may suggest you place your kitchen on the eastern side to utilize the morning sun while the habitable spaces in the southern and northern sides to harness the natural light during the day. Of course this is all contingent upon your homes orientation!

Conclusion

So, these are the preconditions that allow a space to be a bedroom. Floor area, ceiling height, or ventilation are just some of the constraints that your residential architect must have a hold over so that the construction is smooth and free from hassles.

So why not get in touch today?

And it’s always a smart idea to be updated about the changes in the codes and regulations for yourself. After all, a house might be a house but the bedroom is your home.

 

Is It Time To Replace My Roof?

Every homeowner knows that maintaining your property demands time and effort. Add to this a decent amount of money as well.

This upkeep forms the foundation of safety and maximum comfort inside your home. After all, you do tend to invest more towards maintaining your house the longer you reside; in it.

One of the constraints concerning the structure of your home that requires detailed attention is the roof. The roof plays the role of a barrier, sheltering you, and protecting your privacy.

No building is complete with a roof. A roof adds grace, visibility, and dynamism to a structure and thus demands care and concern.

Before going ahead with the decision of entirely altering your roof, you must look at a few signs that determine whether it’s the correct time for a change.

When it Concerns Roofs, Age isn’t Just A Number

The primary factor to consider before you investigate your roof for signs of deterioration is its age. Many times, homeowners forget to consider the timeline of when the roof was installed and jump to conclusions. It results in extensive spending and loss of comfort.

A roof aging over thirty years old may need a complete replacement even if it appears decent on the outside. It may look in proper shape but tells a different story upon investigation.

Older and traditional roofs are generally of materials that aren’t in use today. They may not even be as strong as the ones currently available in the market. As a result, your thirty to forty-year-old roof becomes useless.

Once your roof crosses the thirty-year mark, it may be time for a thorough investigation to find out its potency and life expectancy. In most cases, you might have to replace the entire roof.

This sign is the first you should look out for when considering to replace your roof. You may save up on a lot of money and time if your roof is still in its prime age. It may even be so that your roof just needs minor work if the number works out for you!

Issues with the Shingles

Surveying the shingles of your roof is another way to ascertain whether it’s time to replace your roof. During the inspection of the shingles, be sure to look for cracks and bent or curled shingles. Curled shingles could be a strong indication that your roof has issues.

Misshapen or cracked shingles may need further investigation to determine whether they need an individual replacement or whether you’re better off replacing the roof altogether.

Another parameter to consider is the shingle granules on the roof. Excessive shingle granules indicate that your roof is in dire need of a replacement. It also exhibits that your roof can’t perform in terms of insulation and safety.

Hail Damage on the Roof

Guys, hail is a natural phenomenon, and you can’t do anything about it. That’s a fact. Sometimes a hailstone might hit the roof shingles and puncture them. In most cases, hailstones may knock off the layer of shingle granules.

Whenever shingles are devoid of their granules, they become more susceptible to UV rays. It may also result in the loss of more granules causing further damage.

Now, here’s where your smartness could come into use. The hail damage isn’t so evident initially. Look out for a spot you think might have some issues caused by the hail, and check if that spot is losing out on granules by the day. That’s your target.

The best way for you to investigate hail damage could be to hire a roofing contractor.

Mold and Moisture are Partners in Crime

Mold and moisture are two factors that seem to pose a threat to the efficiency of your roof. If your attic doesn’t have proper ventilation, the warm air could get trapped. It leads to condensation on the underside of the roof, causing corrosion on the nails.

The rust formation due to the corrosion is what gives rise to the unruly and damage-causing mold. If mold is not taken care of at the right time, the plywood might deteriorate, and you’ll require a brand-new roof.

The issue could happen with new as well as old roofs because of over-insulation. An efficient roof requires a relevant intake and exhaust system.

If you think that your ventilation system in the attic has a lapse, you could save on the extra cost of replacing the entire roof by a simple investigation. It may turn out that the intake and exhaust system need an upgrade.

Difference Between the Attic and the Outer Temperature

You must understand the temperature in your attic needs to be on par with the outside temperature. For this to work smoothly, the attic must have an appropriate ventilation system that circulates the air.

This ventilation is crucial to prevent the formation of ice dams. Any attic that’s warmer than the outside temperature is prone to ice dams. Poor ventilation in the attic also causes the peeling of paint or plaster.

Your roof should possess a ridge vent to eliminate the excess moisture and prevent damage to the paint. It could also save on your heating and cooling costs.

Exposed Nails

Exposed nails are a clear sign of a damaged roof. If you witness multiple exposed nails in the shingles on your roof, you may need to investigate some more.

Exceedingly exposed nails could symbolize cracks or a leak in your roofing system. It also indicates poor craftsmanship on behalf of your roofing contractors.

If this happens, you could bring in a roofing contractor to have a look and investigate further if your roof needs a replacement altogether or is salvageable.

Algae Growth

Bacteria that eat away at the weatherproofing layer of the roof shingles give rise to the growth of algae on it. Certain manufacturing companies make use of filler ingredients such as limestone to cut on production costs.

The algae will eat at this limestone and compromise the properties of the roof shingles. It’s something that you want to avoid at all costs. Algae function as a silent killer and eat away at the waterproofing layer of the roof if not taken care of. Read more about this problem here!

Right Type of Flashing

The flashing surrounding the chimneys, vents, and skylights will seal off the roof seam from the weather. You must examine these points to check there aren’t any cracks, which could result in unwanted leaks.

In traditional homes, flashing is generally made of cement, but it might be useful for you to upgrade to a metal brand for prolonged service life.

What’s Your Next Step?

Every homeowner invests their blood and sweat along with their earnings to build themselves a haven that’s their home. You’ll take every calculated step backed with research to increase the efficiency and service life of your home.

At any point in time, if you do find indications in the form of the mentioned issues to your roof, it’s serious.

But what are the steps to follow during this season of change?

  • Consider a preliminary investigation yourself with all safety precautions such as a helmet, gloves, and a flashlight.
  • Regulate your findings.
  • Don’t be a handyman. Contact a roofing contractor for more convenience.
  • Determine the notes from your contractor and understand if a change is necessary.

Alterations or replacing a roof can be quite daunting and may seem like work that demands a lot. Even though it requires much time, as long as your roofing contractor is on the right track, your work will turn out to be seamless.

When it comes to roofing alterations in New Jersey, you could find more information in the New Jersey Administrative Code. Alternatively, you can find other details such as roofing materials, reroofing, roof insulation, and much more here.

Relax

Just because you found a few damaged shingles on your roof isn’t the end of the world. You shouldn’t immediately assume that you need to replace the roof. If your roof was installed some fifteen to twenty years ago, it may just require few minor repairs.

Whenever in doubt about your roofing system, it’s advisable to get a professional opinion.

Final Thoughts

There’s a reason that roofs are the topmost element of your house. The job of the roof is to protect the inhabitants of the house and add a graceful appearance.

But, what’s your job? You might think that building or purchasing a house is easy and that’s it. However, that’s where your job begins.

Your roof requires maintenance, care, and concern in terms of prolonging its life and performance. That’s what every homeowner wants, doesn’t it?

In conclusion, the possibilities are countless and your answer may lie with an architect in partnership with the general contractor. And what’s fun is that you to understand how the roof works.

 

Thinking of Converting Your Garage into A Living Space

Who doesn’t love the extra space? Whether it’s the extra legroom when you upgrade your seat to business class on a long flight or a king-sized bed in a hotel just for you, that additional space has a worldly charm.

Why stop there? You’re the proud owner of a sizable house with four bedrooms and two baths, along with an open kitchen and a lively living space.

Come to think of it; your garage is out there, vacant, longing for some thrill. Your average 1500 to 2000 sq. ft. range might begin to seem less now.

And that’s where the idea of converting your garage into a living space sprawls into action.

Man, with a Plan

For the average Joe, residential design isn’t child’s play. There are scores of parameters to factor in and a list of permissions and contractors to indulge.

Enter your local architect, the man with the plan! (Plan being quite literal!)

The architect you hire for the renovation could be a changing point for the transformation of your garage into a living space. A reliable residential architect could take your ideas and convert them into reality in the form of beautiful habitable space.

The garage could result in anything from a spare bedroom to an activity space. All this with guidance from a residential architect.

Regulations and Permissions

Regulations and codes are a must when it comes to constructions, be it internal or external. Over the years, New Jersey has come up with a set of required regulations that make the job easier.

Garage conversions also require individuals to obtain a building permit from the Building Department who review your construction documents to insure all regulations have been conformed to. They look into factors such as area, the height of the garage, flooring, ventilation, fire safety, insulation and much more.

Now, these are some factors that your local architect must know before you start with the design.

Know Thy Garage

Before you hire an architect for renovation, understand the feasibility and the structure of your garage. Ask yourself what kind of a garage do you own, and is it possible to convert it into a living space?

A single garage may add around 150 sq. ft. of extra floor space to your residence. In the case of a double garage, you could either convert the entire area or the nearest side associated with your house.

If you’re the owner of a detached garage, zoning approval might be necessary to alter its primary use.

How to Convert Your Garage into A Living Space?

You have your garage, you have your trustworthy architect for your alteration, and you possess the research and resources, so what’s next?

Before you give ignition to your let’s get a working attitude, have a look at some crucial features that form a part of residential garage conversion.

In-fill Garage Door

Your current garage door possesses the ease of accessibility for automobiles, but it may not be sufficient for your new habitable space. This door seems to be inconvenient when it comes to practical usage and aesthetics.

In simple terms, the old garage door will witness a brand-new wall to accommodate the door and window. The foundation of the garage will probably be a shallow slab and hence inadequate for the wall. So, your answer lies in replacing it with a deep foundation.

Your residential architect and site engineer must assess the soil type, neighboring structures, drainage conditions, trees, and vegetation to estimate the type of foundation suitable for your garage.

Ventilation

Ventilation is necessary for the provision of outside air, eradication of airborne pollutants, and as a provision for fuel-burning appliances.

If you’re in the process of renovating your garage into a living space, your residential architect must be well-read or bring in a consultant to determine the necessary designation for natural and mechanical ventilation.

Many times, you might want to save on expenses by cutting costs for ventilation, but that’s something you must avoid. Habitable spaces require a specific amount of ventilation that is set by the Building Department and is critical for a smooth internal environment.

Garage Roof

Unless there’s a room above your existing garage, the roof will also require an upgrade in the renovation. There are two ways you could incorporate a new roof into the converted living space.

Your architect may recommend a 5-inch gap between the insulation and the bottom side of the roof in case of a flat roofing system. In the case of pitch roofs, additional insulation could be between the ceiling and the roof.

Flooring

The original flooring of your garage will probably be unsuitable for a habitable space. Your architect might propose strengthening the concrete floor and prolonging its service life through thermal insulation, or damp-proofing, or you could construct a new timber floor on the existing one.

A floor with a layer of Damp Proof Membrane in liquid form could turn out to be a decent alternative to the original concrete flooring. Your residential architect may also suggest thermal insulation on top of the membrane and finish it with a layer of screed or wood, otherwise known as a floating floor.

If the floor of your residence is relatively high above the ground, you could go with a suspended timber flooring for your garage to match them. The gap between the original and the new floor could ideally be 5 to 6 inches.

Utilize a Damp Proof Course or DPC underneath the new suspended timber floor to avoid dampness due to moisture.

External Walls

It may so happen that one entirely new external wall will be the need for your garage renovation, as is in the case of in-fill garage doors. These walls could either be in masonry or timber.

The external wall should exhibit construction that will repel moisture from the ground and sustain weather conditions. Fire resistance must also be under consideration.

Your architect for the addition must look into parameters such as the construction meets the minimum requirements, proximity to nearby structures, among others. Another critical detail to look into is that the wall must be able to bear self-weight, the weight of other walls, the roof, and openings (including doorways, windows, or skylights if any).

Ideas for A New Living Space

If a garage conversion is on your mind, then you must have some ideas thought out. The placement of the door, new windows for more light, or an open plan, it’s your ideas and the architect’s design.

Here are some more to add to your list.

 

For a Single Car Garage, you could choose to do the following:

Art Studio

For the artist in you, a working space free from disturbances could prove to be peaceful. With help from wooden flooring, and beams, and minimalistic walls, you’ll be bringing in heaps of natural light and openness.

Small Bedroom

If an extra bedroom is your requirement, don’t jump to extensions. Instead, make use of your empty garage and transform it into a cozy bedroom for yourself or your guests.

Private Living Space

Bring out the old coffee table and a few chairs or a couch from the flea market. Set up a reading area and bask in the comfort of privacy and books.

For a Double Garage, you could go the following ways:

Home Office

If you’re someone who works from home most days of the week, working from the kitchen table can get exhausting. Instead, transform your empty garage into a home office with features such as natural light, comfortable furniture, and relaxation.

If you’re one of the smart ones, you could also set up a futon and turn the office space into an additional guest room.

Guest Room

A double garage opens up the opportunity for a full-fledged transformation into a private guest suite with an attached washroom and a small kitchen. Keep your guests happy with their private space in your garage.

Additionally, if you’re looking for some extra income, you could rent out your extra living space on Airbnb and earn a quick buck.

Children’s Playroom

Get ready for some fun playtime with your young ones in the converted playroom. Childproof your newly-converted space and turn it into an entertainment zone for your kids.

So, there you have it, a garage, an idea, a local architect, and a residential design. You won’t have to look much further if your architect matches your wavelength.

Instead of letting your empty garage stand still and become a wasted space, bring out your creative side and partner up with an architect to transform it into a lively and light-filled habitable space.

Whether it’s a makeshift bedroom for a guest, a mini library for all your books, a bakery for the baker in you, or a simple living room, there are many ideas to try out that conform to the rules and building codes.

After all, residential design has never been so easily accommodating!

 

Building a New House with Limited Space 

Trying to build a new house from the ground up can be a daunting but rewarding task. One of the biggest advantages of building new is the ability to design everything to your exact specifications. However, sometimes design plans are hindered by the amount of space you have to work with. When building on a restrictive plot of land it can be difficult to ensure that you are getting the most out of your home and your land. That’s why we’ve reached out to the experts in home design from Portland to Philadelphia to provide you with ways to optimize the design and layout of your home when working with limited space. 

Have an architectural program ready  

Right-sized homes don’t happen by accident. They come about through thoughtful planning and design. To fully realize the potential of a small plot of land it’s important to begin with a careful study of your space requirements. In the world of architectural design, this is commonly referred to as an “Architectural Program”. It’s a specific and complete list of your space requirements. In the hands of a skilled architect, this list will form the foundation of a design that’s both space-efficient and inspirational. – Harry Hunt Architects 

Make your home work smarter with dual-purpose spaces 

When you are confronted with the dilemma of limited space it requires you to be more creative with circulation and room usage. You may need to provide rooms that will provide a dual purpose such as a study/family room or kitchen with island seating which would be your breakfast area. If your kitchen is very tight you may consider a corner banquette seating. It takes some squeezing to get situated but it saves floor space. Furniture may need to be oriented to allow circulation through a room eliminating hall space. Bedroom furniture such as bunk beds or raised beds with a desk below are also space savers. An office can also serve as a guest room by providing a pull-out couch. – Aric Gitomer Architect 

To make the most of your limited space, design with a dual purpose. Most homeowners seldom use their foyer as the main entry. Instead of leaving the space unused, turn it into a functional area such as a home office. Staircases are also prime real estate that can serve multifunctions. Consider a stacked, exposed staircase, and tuck a wine cellar or reading corner beneath the stairwell, for total optimization. – John Lum Architecture 

To make your home work smarter due to space constraints, design your bathroom as a spa-experience versus a utilitarian space. Rain head showers and deep soak tubs can turn a bath into a spa. Also, rethink the sink. Ask yourself, do I really need two sinks and all that plumbing? Negative space can make a bathroom feel bigger. Combined with an open plan kitchen which extends the room while removing the boxed-in feeling, a small footprint can have maximum living (and resale) value. – Studio SHK 

First, minimize the impact of vehicles on the square footage of the lot.  Limit area devoted to circulation and combine uses when possible.  Bring in views with expansive floor to ceiling glass to increase the perception of the area by leading the eye beyond the walls. – Mark A Silva Architect 

Circulation is key 

It’s all about circulation. Old houses tend to be compartmentalized; the easiest thing is to remove doors that remain open most of the time. When I remodel an old house I look at space that is eaten by pathways. By opening the dining to the kitchen will make your kitchen more useful and bigger. – De Meza + Architecture Team 

Narrow or constrained lot sizes can be a challenge when designing a new home, but can also result in unique, carefully designed and beautiful spaces.  H2D Architecture + Design approaches space constraints with thinking about a design that flows efficiently and graciously between the spaces horizontally and also vertically between the floors.  Open floor plans which combine uses, such as living, dining and kitchen areas, help to reduce the need for extra circulation spaces, as well as utilizing open stairs between floors in the design can help create the feel of a larger space. – H2D Architects 

Let there be light 

Light is essential when dealing with smaller spaces. A well-lit space can give the impression of largeness without the actual footprint size.  Large glass walls taken from floor to ceiling to adjacent walls can allow for small spaces to open up visually and connect to the outside.  Accordion doors are a favorite product to physically open up the interior space to exterior living.  On restrictive lots, tall garden walls provide privacy and intimacy even in the face of density. – Tomecek Studio Architecture 

Natural light is key when it comes to small spaces. Pairing light colors with big windows can make a small space feel huge. Adding a mirror or two will also help reflect light and add depth, visually. – Carbon Architects 

Optimize unused space for storage 

Many times issues of space ultimately affect precious home storage. As a result, consider clever ways to maximize the space often allocated to essential design features. For example, a staircase’s rise and run create a unique storage opportunity that is often wasted. In the past, I have made each stair act as a drawer. – Larry E. Boerder Architects 

Avoid double-height rooms 

First, avoid double-height rooms, it takes up a large portion of your buildable area. Instead, go with taller ceilings throughout. Second, carve out exterior basement rooms, it creates more unique spaces and extends the basement space for those beautiful warm nights. They’re also great for direct access to and from the backyard if you plan on having a pool. – RS Mannino 

Fluid indoor and outdoor spaces 

Designing beautiful and useful homes while optimizing limited space is our core strength at D3 Architects. We always talk to clients about making sensible, connected spaces and not throwing away money on finishing wasted space. This thought process begins with the site or the outside.  Consider two things in particular: the orientation of your spaces to daylight (the qualities of daylight are different from the N, S, E, and W) and the connections to the outdoor spaces you will use. After that, the most important thing is thinking about flows of movement.  Consider how you will move around your house, say from the entry to the kitchen, and then the movement within each space, for example, how you would ideally like to prepare a meal in the kitchen, moving from the stove to the refrigerator to the sink, all while being able to keep an eye on the kids playing outside. If you map these relationships out thinking about your own family’s priorities, living in your home will always be a pleasure. – D3 Architecture 

Large covered porches, accessed by quad-slider doors (which open up 6ft in the center) can make a small home live dramatically larger.  An open floor plan with high ceilings (9-10ft) can also help make a house feel larger than its square footage.  Lastly, if we’re constrained in size, we emphasize quality over quantity – this shows up in “Not So Big House” ideas such as extra built-ins to keep everything organized and uncluttered. – Rodwin Architecture and Skycastle Construction 

Less is more  

As the partner of an architectural practice in London for many years, high property costs meant space was always a premium and forced us to become experts in designing homes with limited space both inside and out. Since returning to the US, I often rely on this knowledge. Limit material selections and the rooms will flow as one. Keep spaces flexible – double or triple their function and always design them to accommodate change in the future. Design houses with seamless transitions from inside to out, utilizing large floor-to-ceiling doors and windows and importantly if the same floor finish inside continues out to open-air spaces, i.e. patios or covered porches, the room will effortlessly extend out and feel much bigger. There are many great tricks a good designer can and will use to make limited space feel grand. – Architecture Joyce Owens 

When working with small spaces keep materials to a minimum, using the same materials on the floor throughout your rooms.  When choosing wall colors, pick colors that reflect light. Your furniture should have multiple uses and be lighter in weight where they can be easily moved from space to space when needed. – Streamline Architects 

Take advantage of 3D modeling 

It’s hard to optimize the rooms in your home without being able to visualize the spaces beforehand. By modeling in SketchUp, you can get a good sense of space in 3D, rearrange furniture to test different layouts, experiment with different materials & textures, and design for the space you have. You can also go up! See what your small footprint would look like as a two or three-story building! – SketchUp 

Build Vertically 

Build vertically! It’s not unusual to see three, or even 4-level homes that make great use of interior glass, open staircases and strategic layouts. Many companies now offer residential elevators that take up surprisingly little square footage, and the breezes and views from that top floor can be amazing! Don’t be afraid of a nontraditional floorplan. A talented designer or architect can even make a triangular room work for your lifestyle. Additionally, be sure to shop for appliances and furnishings carefully. Many top-tier brands now offer down-sized ranges, refrigerators, and furniture that fit a more compact, urban lifestyle without having to sacrifice quality. – Modern Architecture + Design Society 

Read between the studs  

It’s standard to recess a medicine cabinet between wall studs, but why not take advantage of that “free” space elsewhere? For small bathrooms, we’ll often put a tall cabinet recessed in the wall that’s great not just for medicine, but for all those other small items you want in the bathroom, or the six bottles of shampoo you bought on Amazon, but don’t have space to store elsewhere in your small house. And if your wall is framed with 2×6 studs rather than 2×4, that cabinet can even hold rolls of toilet paper. – Mikiten Architecture 

Know exactly what you want  

When designing a house with limited space, a conversation on a homeowner’s vision for efficient living needs to be had with the architect before starting the design process. This is so appropriate design goals that support this vision can be organized. A designer can use the wall cavities for storage, raise the ceilings to provide clerestory light, fabricate custom built-in furniture fit to small dimensions and employ other design tricks but if there is not the preexisting appetite for simplicity and efficiency by the homeowner then it will not be possible for the architect to turn a house’s limited space into unique design opportunities. Rooms tend to get bigger with each design review by the homeowner in a residential project if the homeowner does not hold onto a succinct vision supported by specific efficiency goals. An architect experienced in energy efficiency, construction and interior design will be able to organize appropriate design goals with a homeowner’s vision for living with less. Nick Dean Architect 

 

 

Originally published on Redfin 

 

 

 

10 Top 10 Lists According to Google

Folks are always fixing up their homes and looking for inspiration online.  I have compiled a ten top ten lists according to Google for all different categories of home improvements. This will save you the trouble of going to Google and doing your own search!  You can find the category that interests you and then click directly to the article giving you a wonderful resource for your home fixer upper needs! Start clicking away!!

Top 10 Sites for Home Improvements:

https://www.hgtv.com/design/real-estate/top-home-updates-that-pay-off-pictures

https://www.fortunebuilders.com/the-10-home-improvement-projects-that-will-increase-your-homes-value/

https://www.huffpost.com/entry/top-10-home-improvement-p_b_4612024

https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/maintenance-and-repair/repairing/2015/10-investments-to-boost-your-homes-value

https://www.supermoney.com/home-additions-return-on-investment/

https://www.moving.com/tips/6-most-valuable-home-improvements/

https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/top-10-home-improvement-projects/

https://lifehacker.com/top-10-home-improvement-tips-every-homeowner-should-kno-1656251243

https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/the-best-ways-to-improve-your-home-s-value-in-2018-51788

https://www.familyhandyman.com/smart-homeowner/diy-home-improvement/affordable-home-improvement-ideas/

Top 10 Sites for Basement Ideas Sites:

https://sebringdesignbuild.com/modern-basement-ideas-to-prompt-your-own-remodel/

https://www.bobvila.com/slideshow/life-underground-10-beautiful-basement-makeovers-47429

https://sebringdesignbuild.com/modern-basement-ideas-to-prompt-your-own-remodel/

https://www.hgtv.com/design/rooms/other-rooms/basement-remodeling-ideas-from-tv-pictures

https://www.hgtv.com/design/rooms/other-rooms/top-10-divine-basements-videos

https://www.extraspace.com/blog/moving/buying-selling-renting/finish-your-basement-with-these-19-renovation-ideas/

https://jekyllandhydemusical.com/basement-ideas/

https://www.homedit.com/10-cool-family-basement-designs/

https://www.aricgitomerarchitect.com/11-great-finished-basement-ideas-home-design/

https://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/room-ideas/g27763022/basement-remodel-ideas/

http://24cottonwoodlane.com/2016/06/06/10-finished-basement-and-rec-room-ideas/

Top 10 Sites for Attic Ideas:

https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/attic-remodel-ideas/

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/renovation/g26132379/attic-ideas/

https://donpedrobrooklyn.com/attic-room-design-ideas/

https://freshome.com/attic-design-ideas

https://www.housebeautiful.com/room-decorating/g25809111/attic-room-ideas/

https://www.diynetwork.com/how-to/rooms-and-spaces/storage-space/amazing-attic-remodels-pictures

https://www.loveproperty.com/gallerylist/70995/inspired-ideas-for-attic-bedrooms

https://www.thespruce.com/real-life-attic-remodels-4136900

http://www.viralnova.com/awesome-attics/

https://www.aricgitomerarchitect.com/11-finished-attic-design-ideas-some-lofty-ideas/

https://www.impressiveinteriordesign.com/breathtakeable-attic-master-bedroom-ideas/

Top 10 Sites for Kitchen Ideas:

white farmhouse sink
https://freshome.com/white-kitchen-ideas/?gallery=true&image=1

https://www.elledecor.com/kitchen-design/

https://www.housebeautiful.com/room-decorating/kitchens/g623/beautiful-designer-kitchens/

https://www.houzz.com/photos/kitchen-ideas-phbr0-bp~t_709

https://www.hgtv.com/design/topics/kitchen-designs

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/g1872/decor-ideas-kitchen/

https://freshome.com/kitchen-ideas/

https://www.lowes.com/n/ideas-inspiration/kitchen-remodeling-ideas

https://www.marthastewart.com/1502463/kitchen-design-ideas

https://www.architecturaldigest.com/kitchen-renovation-guide

https://www.thespruce.com/kitchen-ideas-trends-4127970

https://www.themostchic.com/kitchen-trends-2020/

Top 10 Sites for Master Bath Ideas:

Traditional Cream Bathroom With Claw-Foot Tub
https://www.hgtv.com/remodel/bathroom-remodel/master-bathroom-layouts

https://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/room-ideas/g25950227/master-bathroom-ideas/

https://www.housebeautiful.com/room-decorating/bathrooms/g942/master-bathroom-ideas/

https://www.hgtv.com/remodel/bathroom-remodel/master-bathrooms

https://www.thespruce.com/master-bathroom-design-ideas-4129362

http://nextluxury.com/home-design/master-bathroom-ideas/

https://homebnc.com/best-master-bathroom-ideas/

https://www.bhg.com/bathroom/type/master/master-bathroom/

https://www.homestratosphere.com/photos/bathrooms/master/

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/g2000/decor-ideas-bathroom/

Top 10 Sites for Man Cave Ideas:

man cave ideas
https://www.mancaveknowhow.com/man-cave-ideas/

https://morningchores.com/man-cave-ideas/

https://sebringdesignbuild.com/incredible-man-cave-ideas-that-will-make-you-jealous/

https://www.homedit.com/man-cave-decor/

https://homebnc.com/best-man-cave-ideas-and-designs/

https://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/room-ideas/g25475848/man-cave-ideas/

https://www.homestratosphere.com/best-man-cave-ideas/

https://www.homewetbar.com/home-bar/man-cave-ideas

https://www.improvenet.com/a/10-must-have-items-to-create-the-ultimate-man-cave

https://freshome.com/property-brothers-describe-ultimate-man-cave/

https://www.bhg.com/rooms/rooms/basement/man-caves/

Top 10 Sites for She Shed Ideas:

a glass she shed with a daybed and aqua and turquoise colors in decor to enjoy sunlight
https://www.digsdigs.com/personal-she-shed-ideas/pictures/120188/

https://www.housebeautiful.com/room-decorating/outdoor-ideas/g2614/she-sheds-ideas/

https://www.countryliving.com/gardening/garden-ideas/a35458/how-to-make-your-own-she-shed/

https://millennialboss.com/2018/07/she-shed-ideas-for-backyard/

https://www.hgtv.com/design-blog/design/she-shed-decorating-ideas

https://www.sandandsisal.com/2017/06/she-shed-ideas.html

https://www.apartmenttherapy.com/she-shed-ideas-258304

https://www.studio-shed.com/she-sheds/

https://www.dwell.com/article/she-sheds-design-a4fa8409

https://sebringdesignbuild.com/she-shed-woman-cave-ideas-the-ladies-answer-to-the-man-cave/

https://www.thisoldhouse.com/ideas/8-she-shed-design-ideas-staying-power

Top 10 Sites for Exterior Home Ideas:

Image result for gitomer shortino
https://www.aricgitomerarchitect.com/gallery/the-s-residence-sparta-nj/

https://www.homestratosphere.com/photos/outdoor/house-exteriors/

https://www.hgtv.com/design/topics/exterior

https://www.allurausa.com/blog/exterior-home-designs

https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/exteriors/

https://www.housebeautiful.com/room-decorating/outdoor-ideas/tips/g1967/home-exterior-design/

https://kebony.com/en/exterior-home-design-ideas

https://ablissfulnest.com/white-home-exterior-ideas/

https://freshome.com/white-home-exteriors/

https://www.thespruce.com/exterior-house-paint-colors-1821994

10 DIY Tips and Other Info You Must Know in 2020

Top 10 Sites for Interior Home Ideas:

https://freshome.com/2012/10/11/10-clever-interior-design-tricks-to-transform-your-home/

https://www.housebeautiful.com/home-remodeling/interior-designers/tips/g864/decorating-secrets/

https://www.elledecor.com/design-decorate/interior-designers/g3183/home-decor-ideas/

https://www.hgtv.com/design/decorating

https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/g1500/decor-ideas-living-room/

http://www.home-designing.com/

https://www.decorsnob.com/home-decor-ideas/

https://www.decoraid.com/blog/interior-designer-hacks-for-small-space-living-2019

https://www.homify.in/rooms

https://www.amara.com/us/home-inspiration

Top 10 Sites for Deck Ideas:

https://nimvo.com/20-gorgeous-trex-composite-decking-ideas/

https://www.housebeautiful.com/room-decorating/outdoor-ideas/g21774122/creative-deck-ideas/

http://nextluxury.com/home-design/best-backyard-deck-ideas/

http://nextluxury.com/home-design/best-backyard-deck-ideas/

https://freshome.com/outdoor-deck-ideas/

https://www.sunset.com/home/outdoor-living/ideas-for-deck-design

https://www.hgtv.com/remodel/outdoors/deck-design-ideas-pictures

https://www.backyardboss.net/wooden-deck-design-ideas/

https://kebony.com/us/wood-deck-designs

https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/deck/ideas/

11 Finished Attic Design Ideas – Some Lofty Ideas

 

Some Finished Attic Ideas and How to Get There:

Are you hunting for some unused space in your home and you are on a tight budget? Well the answer might be hanging right over your head. Following a brief description regarding attics you will discover 11 finished attic design ideas. This is not usually the case but in some older homes that have a stair ascending to that underused storage area may allow for a quick loft conversion affording you a great sitting area, retreat from the kids or maybe even a little guest suite. Sounds like a simple solution but let’s think it through… is the existing stair you have accessible directly from the hallway or is tucked in a corner of an existing bedroom? If it is directly off the hallway you have hit the jackpot! Whoa, not so fast you will need to take a careful look at the structure above, as well as the head room clearances. Typically, you have structure that will impact headroom either collar ties or the rafters themselves. There are structural solutions to increase ceiling height or you can even opt to create additional space by incorporating dormers into the attic.

Structure

Of course headroom is not the only concerns you will have. There are multiple issues to consider when taking on such a project and an architect is the person you should speak with to determine what needs to be done to make a safe space. Most likely the ceiling over your second floor, which also happen to be the attic floor structure most likely inadequate to support a room so this structure will require reinforcement. In doing so you may end up increasing the floor to floor height which in turn will impact the existing stair.

Natural Light

How about some natural light and ventilation? As per the International Residential Code Section R303 a habitable room shall be provided with a glazing area of not less minimum of 8% of the floor area of any given room as well as natural ventilation. Well if we design those dormers previously mentioned that would be a great place to install some new windows.

Stairs

Many homes do not have the luxury of a full stair up to the attic, since when new homes are constructed they only require attic access which in some cases can be just be an opening in the ceiling with a minimum opening of 22 inches by 30 inches. In these instances, you will need to sacrifice space on the floor below to create a new stair. This access may not even be in ideal location to create your stair. An architect will lay out your floor plan and show you the ideal location for a new stair based on the way you use your home.

Insulation

Most likely your existing insulation may have been installed in the attic floor so that will need to be removed and new insulation installed in ceiling.

Some Lofty Ideas…

The Bedroom

The Playroom

The Office

The Reading Area

The Library

The She Room

The Man Cave

The Music Room

The Media Room

The Exercise Space

Art Studio

Here is an example of a finished attic design and how it’s executed by master builder Matt Risinger: https://youtu.be/n6Z8E0I-q2Y

 

10 Tips for Home Improvement from an Architect

Home improvement, to me, includes not only painting, updating finishes and changing some fixtures or redoing your kitchen. I am thinking bigger picture, such as; additions, renovations and interior alterations. I am going to focus on an actual renovation project where you will be required to enroll the services of an architect. Perhaps you need more space or you want to open up some areas of your home. The following are some tips to drive you to your final destination.

Time

Photo by Kerem Yucel

Take your time! There is no rush to make such a major financial decision. Do not rush into this process without asking yourself what the end game will be. It will cost you more later to change your mind. So make a list of important must haves and a separate list of minor haves. When you meet with your architect it will allow for a great start to communicating your home improvement project.

Selection

 Photo by Jenny Kennedy-Olsen 

Prior to hiring an architect, have them come to your home to discuss your home improvement ideas. Find out how the architect works and discover how his/her process will make your visions a reality. Make sure you are comfortable with the architect and have a sense that he/she will work hard to make your renovation project a successful one. How are you going to find these architects to come out and talk to you? If you have a neighbor, coworker or friend worked with an architect perhaps they will recommend them to you. Ask them what they liked and did not like. If they had a negative experience it might help you in what to look for in your own search. Other great ways to seek out these professionals is to perform an internet search via Google, which provides a list of firms in your area. from there you can go directly to the architect’s website and learn so much more about them. Google is also an excellent place to read reviews from past clients. An additional site to go to is Houzz. Houzz is an excellent resource to discover architects in your area, read reviews and see their work.

Observe

Photo by everdred

Keep a mental or physical notebook documenting features you like around you. Whether you are at a friend’s house, driving around, looking through magazines or scouring the web, create a log of items you enjoy. Be prepared to share this with your architect so he/she understands your tastes and is able to reinterpret then into the design. Once again a great resource for images include Houzz and Pinterest as well.

Coordinate/Compromise

Photo by Asif Akbar

Are you a married couple? Then make sure you and your spouse see eye to eye on the direction you want your home improvement project to take. This is critical in progressing with your architect! Your architect is not necessarily a mediator or marriage counselor, but if needed he/she will help you in your decision making by offering a compromising suggestion to accommodate both ideas into a single solution. It is not unusual for this to happen and a fresh set of eyes can bring your ideas together and make everyone happy.

Ask Questions

questions faced by architects
Photo by Bob Smith

If you do not understand a decision your architect made then ask “why?” Perhaps the idea stemmed from a structural issue, or maybe it was just a whimsical idea he/she had. The architect wants your input and is happy to clarify any confusion. After all you are the one who is going to live with those decisions once the project is complete.

Scope

Photo by stefano franzin

Identify what you are going to do and stick to it. This will define the scope of the project and allow for a streamlined design process. Have a clear vision of your end goal. Do you want to add more space (an addition) or do your want more openness (alteration)? Those are to major different ideas and deciding what you need will help your architect guide you in what makes the most sense.

Dialogue

Photo by Hossein Fotowat Khah

Dialogue is probably the most important tool you have in making a healthy home improvement project successful. Always keep a steady flow of communication between you and your architect. This allows for an efficient development of your renovation plans.

End User

Photo by kevin van belle

Always remember, this is your house to live in! Make decisions based on your tastes and lifestyle. The architect will provide input with his/her  personal ideas and solutions. However, in the end it is important to express your will since your are the end user. Unsure of which way to go, then let your architect give you the pros and cons of each decision, maybe this will help in determining the proper answer. Is sleeping one of your favorite activities? Then check out these Zen bedroom idea here!

Be Prepared

Photo by John De Boer

Be prepared because renovation is tricky! Without a doubt when a general contractor goes to open a wall he may find something totally unexpected. With years of experience an architect can make educated guesses as to what is hidden within your ceilings and walls. However, this is never a 100% guarantee. Regardless, the unknown nature of this process certainly leaves room for miscalculation, so it is important to be prepared for the possibility of a surprise or two and an associated additional cost.

Alternative Living Location

Photo by dmitry belopolsky

If this is a major renovation, you may be displaced during construction. Whether it’s because you will be without plumbing and heat or the dust and noise becomes unbearable or it is just too dangerous, plan on making alternative living arrangements during construction. This makes everyone’s life easier and safer.

Good luck with you future home improvements and I hope it is a successful one!

Cheap Architect… Is This Your Search Entry?

Cheap Architect… The Google Search?

When you start thinking about expanding or altering your home what is one of the first things you are going to Google search? I hope you will be searching for an architect, but what will you put in the search bar? Will it be architect nearby, residential architect, great architect, I need an architect, best architect or will you type in cheap architect? Cheap architect, what does that even mean? Perhaps the correct term would be economical architect. If you do not want to sacrifice quality, but you are looking to save some money, there are options out there.

The Easy Way Out

Some people will go right to HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack, Porch, Architects-Today, Improvenet and the list goes on and on. These potential clients seem to be looking for the path of least resistance to get a bunch of quotes (many sites sending you 4 professionals) without any work on their end. When the reality is that you are just getting random architects calling you desperate for work and perhaps their quality is not that great. When the lead comes through to the architect he/she is required to pay for it so they are most likely going to contact you. I’m not sure I understand the incentive because it would be my impression if you are reaching out solely for quotes you must be looking for a good deal or possibly a cheap architect.

The Ideal Way

I think a better approach might be to actually go on Google and search residential architects nearby and start looking at architects’ profiles, reviews, what kind of work they do. In other words do they sound like someone you are looking for. Google is not the only way to search you can go on the popular site Houzz and also do a search. Houzz also is a great resource for photos and reviews. Once you have read some profiles give the architects a call and discuss your project and if they are able to help you in an economical manner.

The Difference

Some architects have extremely high fees because they will cater to a client’s every need, which includes going to a tile store with them and helping with a kitchen design. Their construction documents, for instance, consist of an incredible amount of details down to the trim around a doorway to the hinges on the door to your closet. When they are done designing your home they will help you pick out a general contractor and then come to your project every week during construction and be your advocate. So justifiably those fees get pretty high some as much as 18% the construction cost. Do you need all of that attention to get yourself an addition to your home? Of course not.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with that approach. However, I know many people do not want that much. They do not want to spend that much money. So are they looking for a cheap architect? I hope not, because when I hear that term “cheap” I think of inferior quality or worth. It also sounds like a service lacking any redeeming qualities. I think they are looking for an economical architect. An architect who cares about his work and also is sensitive to his client’s needs and budget.

Is It Luxury?

People consider an architect a luxury item but it does not have to be that way. I worked in several design firms and took the lead role in those firms as a designer. These firms benefited from wealthy clients. This allows me to take that past knowledge and incorporate it into my current work but on a scaled down version. I always provide my clients with a high quality product, but you can be sure it will not contain a coat hook detail. My clients understand this and are happy to create these little details on their own.

If a client is creating an addition with a new kitchen I send them to a kitchen design store. After all a kitchen is such a specialized space why not go to someone who has their pulse on the most current trends. Above all an architect charging you the larger fees is taking care of this for you as well as all of the finishes. I prefer to have my clients create their own palette of finishes, either on their own or with an interior designer. Being a sole practitioner I only have so many hours in my day. Keeping each client happy is a juggling act. This is why I have this business model.

Put In The Work

In addition, a homeowner is also going to save money by supervising their own project. They will work closely with their general contractor. Of course this is not for everyone but this happen to be my business model. My clients are always able to call and ask a question. If something arises that needs my attention during construction, I am available. This service is handled on an hourly basis. So instead of an architect coming out weekly, writing up a report, noting things the contractor needs to do and charging for this service a homeowner can forego this service.

The Conclusion

I have had my practice for over 25 years. My record has proven that you can get a quality product at an economical fee. However, you are going to need to be involved. In other words less work for the architect and more work for the homeowner. Therefore, I do believe you get what you pay for, which you can read about in an old blog.

The House Addition – Your Solution to Living

Is your home falling short on providing you with the space you need to live comfortably? What can you do? Some people will start searching Zillow for a new home and will need to visit many houses taking away all of their weekends to find just the right fit, that charming neighborhood, the right price and the ideal town that makes them happy. Guess what… it might not exist! If you love your current location, then there is obviously another option! Call an architect and start talking about what you want to achieve and how you can find the proper path to getting to that final destination. Architects who specialize in house addition projects can help you discover hidden spaces and where to add more!

Identify Your Needs

This house ran out of room. Solution house addition!

First thing is to identify what you are lacking. In the photo above it was obvious that this family needed more storage space. But everyone’s circumstance is different… has your family grown and you need more bathrooms, bedrooms or do you just need that space to escape to? Are your parent aging and thinking of moving in with you? Have you always wanted a big kitchen to entertain? After all this is where everyone gathers these days. Whatever the reason an architect can help you generate a design solution.

Identify Location

Where should that house addition take place?

Where does it make sense to create this expansion of your house? There are many options depending on your existing home. For instance, is your home a ranch style (single story)? Then perhaps going up is your solution. How is that even possible? It will take some reconfiguration of your existing floor plan because now you will require a stair to get up to the second floor and a stair takes up quite a bit of room. Do you have a two story house and maybe just an attached garage with no living space above? Voila, here is an ideal spot to create some more space. Of course if you are looking to make a bigger kitchen neither of these two suggestions are ideal but maybe all it takes is opening up some rooms and add a little bit to the first floor. Or maybe you are looking for an entire new in-law suite on the first floor so it might be feasible to convert your existing garage and building a new garage. The possibilities are endless… sometimes.

Impact

So you decide on the idea of a house addition, how is this going to impact your life and what is the impact of the project? Will the location of the work displace you during construction? If so you’ll need to make alternative living plans. Does your property have room for what you want to do? There is this pesky thing called zoning ordinances that could slow you down. Setbacks, lot coverage, habitable floor area, impervious coverage are just a few items to be considered when you identify the location of the project. An architect is going to guide you through this and if you want to avoid the costly delay of seeking a variance this will be a priority in determining how the project will go forward.

Integration

Once you have determined the best plan of action then the integration of the addition to the existing house is key. It is important to understand what adjacencies are important to you and how spaces are going to flow from room to room. A typical house addition will impact one to several rooms to accommodate new circulation patterns. For instance, if you built out over your garage in a typical center hall colonial you would end up eliminating a bedroom or decreasing it in size to get a hallway to the addition. Or if you are just adding on to the rear of your house an existing room may grow or be designated as something else.

Individuality

From my experience every project is different and every client is unique in what they want to accomplish. I have been creating solutions for house additions for over twenty-five years and of course not one project is the same. Some have similarities such as a second floor addition or bi-level house may have parallel solutions but in reality they are all different as are clients’ visions.

Inspiration

Modern Yankee Builders – Great Room Addition Timelapse a great house addition in progress

I tell my clients to think about what it is they are trying to achieve by having long discussions and making a list of their priorities as well as seeking out inspirational photos of how they envision their ideal house. Great resources for photos are Google and Houzz. Take a look at this great timelapse video to see how an addition  to this home manifests itself!

Interpretation

The approach to the solution is a team effort. An architect is going to listen to your needs and interpret them to best of his/her ability. The process is a back and forth discussion. I believe a good architect doesn’t want to insist on being the final say but wants to incorporate your vision into his/her design and figure out the best way to get there in this wonderful journey! So call an architect today and see how thank can help you on an amazing house addition adventure!

What Are the Five Types of Projects Residential Architects Work On?

Residential architects work on house designs for clients. But in reality, we break these projects down into subsets to conform with the New Jersey building codes. The most desirable project is a new one or two family residential structure. Townhouses also fall into this category. These projects conform to local ordinances, such as zoning, as well as the 2015 International Residential Code New Jersey Edition. This is for architects doing work in New Jersey which is where I perform all of my service. I have to believe every architect would love to start from scratch. Creating a new house design for a client is ideal. Alas, this is not always the project that comes along.

The other project types are as follows; renovations, alterations, reconstruction and additions. Let’s define these four categories!  The following definitions are provided by residential architects’ bible: New Jersey Division of Codes and Standards in their Rehabilitation Subcode:

Renovation:

This category is for work that is generally restorative in nature such as the replacement of interior finish, trim, doors, or equipment, but renovation involves the use of different materials. There is no reconfiguration of space. The regulations (NJAC 5:23-6.3) define renovation as “the removal and replacement or covering of existing interior or exterior finish, trim, doors, windows or other materials with new materials that serve the same purpose and do not change the configuration of space. Renovation shall include the replacement of equipment or fixtures.” In general, the materials used and the methods of installation must conform to the requirements found in the materials and methods section (NJAC 5:23-6). When an architect takes on a renovation work there are two Sets of Requirements that he/she must apply: products and practices and materials and methods.

Alteration:

This category of work involves a change in the layout of interior space while other portions of the space remain without rearrangement. Alteration: “the rearrangement of any space by the construction of walls or partitions, the addition or elimination of any door or window, the extension or rearrangement of any system, the installation of any additional equipment or fixtures, and any work which affects a primary structural component.”

There is a short list of materials that may not be used, as well as products or practices which must be used when alteration work is undertaken. The materials and methods requirements also apply to alteration work. To address the possibility that the reconfiguration of space could create a safety hazard, there are some additional requirements for alteration work, which specify that the work undertaken cannot create a nonconformity with the basic requirements that did not exist before the alteration began.

This is a key issue to understand. In an alteration, the portion of the building that we work on does not need to be brought up to the standard established in the basic requirements. The basic requirements are used as a measuring stick. When you do work you can not make it less conforming. The new work will match the basic requirements that exist.

So, there are three Sets of Requirements that apply to an alteration project. These are products and practices, materials and methods, and basic requirements.

Reconstruction:

This category involves extensive work to the interior of a building, floor, or tenant space. We commonly refer to this as a “gut rehab”. Reconstruction: “any project where the extent and nature of the work is such that the work area cannot be occupied while the work is in progress and where a new certificate of occupancy is required before the work area can be reoccupied.” Reconstruction includes repair, renovation, alteration in any combination. Reconstruction does not include projects comprised only of floor finish replacement, painting or wall-papering, or the replacement of equipment or furnishings. Asbestos hazard abatement and lead hazard abatement projects are not classified as reconstruction. Occupancy of such a work area is not permitted.

A reconstruction project has a delineated work area. A reconstruction project involves an entire use, primary function space, or tenancy; projects that do not involve an entire use, primary function space, or tenancy are not reconstruction projects.

Work Area:

Where the work area is an entire use, primary function space, or tenancy, a project becomes reconstruction when two conditions are met: 1) the area where the project is taking place cannot be occupied while the work is in progress; and 2) when a new certificate of occupancy is required before the area can be reoccupied.

Repair, renovation, and alteration work that make up a reconstruction project must comply with the requirements for the applicable category of work. The entire area must comply with basic requirements. Certain reconstruction projects must also meet the supplemental requirements. These apply only when the work area for a reconstruction project exceeds a specific size. Each supplemental requirement has its own threshold of applicability.

A reconstruction project includes three of the Sets of Requirements, products and practices, materials and methods, and basic requirements. It may also include a fourth set of requirements, supplemental requirements, depending on the size of the reconstruction project, and it could include new building elements, depending on the scope of work.

Additions:

Additions comply with the provisions of the technical subcodes for new construction of the Uniform Construction Code. Work in the existing building which relates to the addition shall comply with the requirements for repair, renovation, alteration, and reconstruction, as applicable, where such work is undertaken.

There are also some requirements that apply to additions. The addition cannot extend the height or area of the building beyond the limits established by the rehab subcode.

There are times when a client comes to an Architect and requests that the basement remain. Sometimes the request is one wall of their house remain to take advantage of using the Rehabilitation Code. However, this becomes a gray area. The reality is that building on an existing foundation does not qualify as an addition or reconstruction.

Take Caution!

Caution, the foundation must be sound and is able to support any new imposed loads. Shall residential architects define this house as new construction? Structures partly removed to get around conforming to the IRC will be at the discretion of the local building department. They may consider the project new construction. Recently I worked on a project where the home had a fire. Half of the house was destroyed. Zoning decided this was new construction. The general contractor jumps though hoops to complete the project. However the building department takes a different stance! We see the project as reconstruction/addition/alteration. This project falls under the categories above. Our review will be in conformance with the Rehabilitation Code. So you just never know!

Aric Gitomer Architect LLC specializes in residential construction in all five types mentioned above and we have been creating solutions and following the codes for over thirty years.

 

If The Earth is a Rockin’ Don’t Come a Knockin’!

What does Tennessee, Nepal and the Philippines have in common this week? They are all recovering from earthquakes with the Philippines suffering the most devastation and fatalities.

Every day close to 70,000 earthquakes a day throughout the world. They are not usually mentioned because they are considered microearthquakes, which are rarely felt and register as a 2 or less on the intensity scale. Tennessee, Nepal and the Philippines all felt tremors of 3.6 to 6.4! These numbers represent the magnitude that is referred to as the Richter scale, which was developed from an earlier scale know as the Mercalli Intensity Scale which was subjective and measured intensity by actual visual impact. The Richter scale is a more quantifiable measurement.

Architects in New Jersey are always thinking of earthquakes in regards to designing structures since New Jersey is considered to be in a “B” Seismic Design Category, (categories range from A to E), according to the International Residential Code 2015, New Jersey Edition Figure R301.2(2). In accordance with Section R301.2.2 this zone exempts residential structures such as detached 1 and 2 family houses as well as townhouses from seismic design. Wait, what? My house is not designed for an earthquake? Maybe I should move to an apartment building.

Scientists are predicting a major event is imminent. New Jersey is considered overdue for a moderate earthquake of a magnitude of 5 or greater. A DEP study says intense earthquakes are likely to happen every 100 years or less. The east coast is harder to predict such an event relative to the west coast due to the geological make up of the region. In the east an earthquake’s movement is transmitted much greater distances therefore impacts a larger area. An earthquake in 1783 had a magnitude of 4.9 was located just west of New York City and as recent as 1927 Asbury Park/Long Branch had an event measuring 3.9. Luckily no one was hurt on either of these occasions but had someone been standing near a chimney it could have been a different story!

New Jersey is home to the Ramapo Fault which is an ancient crack in the earth’s crust (my daughter loves pie but we are talking about a different kind of crust here). It is the longest fault in the northeast running from Pennsylvania through New Jersey and ends up in Westchester County, New York. It even runs right through my home county of Morris! Scientists believe it is approximately 200 million years old and extends up to 9 miles deeps! Another interesting fact is that New Jersey is made up of four geological regions; the Valley and Ridge, the Coastal Plain, the Highlands and the Piedmont (home of Morris County). Going back before I was born those last two regions where connected to Africa so you could have had an exit off the Garden State Parkway take you directly to Morocco! One of the cracks that eventually made this exit just a past dream is the Ramapo Fault.

Even though New Jersey’s Residential Code does not require seismic design for certain residential structures the IBC NJ Edition which covers all the other building types will keep you safe!

So the next time you are out for a walk in the neighborhood stay clear of anyone’s brick chimney, you never know when the next big one is going to hit. If you need to have that extra protection in your house be sure to ask your architect about what features can be designed into the structure to give you a little more security.

11 Great Finished Basement Ideas

Finished basement ideas – the concept

Is your home running out of space? Are your little ones leaving their toys all over the house making it a hazard to walk barefoot in your own home? Are your coat closets overflowing with all different seasonal wear? Do you wish you had more usable space to make home life more joyful? Maybe the answer has been right under your nose the whole time or more precisely right under your feet. That’s right, the basement. Many people have unfinished basements in their homes and neglect to take advantage of this wonderful resource! Your basement might not be ideal due to head room or lack of natural light but it still can be turned into some functional space as long as you do not need to crouch down to walk around.

Give your local architect a call and see what he/she can come up with to give you the finished basement you deserve! Take a look at some of the wonderful uses people have come up with to increase the value of their home, get additional living space and not spend nearly as much as an addition would cost.

The Craft Area Basement Idea:

Tired of seeing your children’s art projects throughout the house? Has your kitchen table been taken over by crayons and glue? Or worse yet have you stepped on a roll of scotch tape as walking barefoot through your home? Well how about creating a designated area for your precious ones down in the basement. Kids certainly don’t need a lot of head room and that mess (well I know your little ones creations are works of art and should not be referred to as “mess”) will be out of sight when visitors show up at your door. The craft area should include a sink, table and plenty of storage areas.

The Coveted Media room:

Need to escape the noise of the house so you watch a movie without rewinding every five minutes? Are you getting frustrated as you try to watch your favorite television show as someone else is cleaning up in the kitchen? Where is a great place to view your show in complete silence? In your newly refinished basement! You can create an open area or a closed off area. This can be set up with oversized comfortable chairs and tiered seating or it can just be a simple space to escape and watch your shows.

The Exercise Room:

This is a space everyone needs! Whether you are an exercise fanatic or just like to get on a treadmill for a half hour the basement is a great place to put that exercise equipment. You don’t need to worry about the weight of the equipment because it’s sitting on a concrete subsurface. Set up a television in this space to make the time go quickly as you burn those calories.

The Spare Office:

Need a place to go do some paperwork? The basement offer large open spaces to spread out all of your paperwork and store large heavy files. It’s a quiet area of your home to concentrate on what you are ready and making it an efficient use of your time.

The Cedar Closet:

Need storage space for the winter clothes during the nice weather? What a great place to construct a cedar closet. What’s a cedar closet? It is a closet that is lined on all walls with eastern red cedar planks. The scent of the cedar deters bugs from infiltrating your clothes especially moths. In addition the oils contained within the cedar also prevent the spread of mold and mildew leaving you with a clean smelling closet for storage for years to come. And if that was enough it just smells damn good!

The Second Kitchen:

Some folks like to have a second kitchen where the real mess is made! Or they like to have a second kitchen for religious purposes. But it is a function that would not be used daily but allows for the option to go down there and take advantage of this unique use.

An Extra Family Room:

Is your home small and needing a large gathering space for your upcoming party? The basement is wide open with limited columns. You can create your own great room down there allowing for ease of movement and no walls to get in your way!

The Spare Guest Room:

This is a little trickier because you want to make sure you have a second means of egress of this room to keep your guests safe. If you have a walk-out basement locate the room on that side of the basement and construct a new opening as required by the building code. However, if it is not a walk-out then you will need to install an egress window well. In addition, this gets involved but it is certainly a viable option!

The Man Cave/She Shelter:

Want some quiet time just for yourself? A place to meditate without any interruptions? This room, for instance, is an ideal use of some of that unused basement.

The Wine Cellar:

Well it’s right in the name! Have affection for wine and want to create an area for your collection? The basement is a perfect spot. You can even design a tasting area to bring your friends to and share the love.

The Game room:

Want to bring your buddies home for an evening of card, billiards and loud bodily noises for example? Remove yourself from the other the folks living in your home so they can enjoy their evening as well. You can even set up a bar and a little kitchenette along with a spare bathroom and never need to come up again!

Final thoughts…

In conclusion, the possibilities are endless so don’t ignore this sunken treasure. It might be just the answer to some of your spatial needs. Reach out to an architect and see what incredible ideas they can come up with for you unique needs. In addition please click on this link for some handy tools to assist you in your future projects!

 

What Everyone Should Know about Home Renovation (but afraid to ask?)

So you have decided your current living space is not allowing you to entertain as you would like or your family has grown and your home is becoming too small. What are your choices? You could start looking for a larger house, but you say to yourselves we like where we live. We like our neighbors, we like the school our children attend and the park down the street is where we have met all of our close friends. Therefore your only real option is to alter your home or put on an addition. So many clients know exactly what they need but to accomplish it is another story.

I visit many potential clients who initially went to a general contractor thinking I’ll go right to the builder and get this job done. What happens? The builder tells the homeowner drawings prepared by an architect will be required before he/she can even think about what you want and what it will cost! So what’s a homeowner to do… call an architect! You typically want to go to a residential architect who specializes in alterations and additions. These projects have their own unique problems and in order to solve these problems the architect will walk you through the process and get you that end result you are looking for. Many clients think they have it all figured out and then the architect comes along and offers a completely different solution that you may have not even considered. A typical scenario is a homeowner requesting an addition off to the side not anticipating all the disruption it may cause and the reconfiguration of rooms. An architect has a keen sense of spatial relationships and how to create appropriate adjacencies of rooms. The architect will ask key questions making you think harder about what you want to accomplish and how to reach that goal. He/she may point out things that you had not considered initially that would create minimal impact and make your home so much more livable!

Are you on a budget? Have you considered just creating more living space in your basement? Or how about grabbing some space out of your attic or over the garage? Should you go up or go out? Your architect will help you decide what makes the most sense.

Before you call the architect make a list of what works in your home and what does not. Create a wish list of major haves, and minor haves and make sure your significant other is on the same page in regard to what you want to achieve.

Every home and homeowner is unique; there is no typical way to do anything. If you can dream it then most likely it can be done! Communication is the most important ingredient in the process of home renovations. A good architect is going to listen to you and give input based on what you presented as your concerns and hopes. All architects are not like you see in the movies who are only concerned about their own ego and what they think is right. After all who is going to live in this house? The architect is a professional that is there for you to accomplish a home that will suit your individual needs.

When seeking out an architect to help with your next project look online at their work and what past clients have said about them. Reviews can give you insight as to how the architect works or if they are good listeners. If an architect’s website is just showing you mansions, upscale homes or commercial work and you are thinking of just opening up a couple of rooms and building a small addition that architect may not be an appropriate fit for your project.

Interested in creating an idea book to get your project started? Many clients create a file folder with images they print out from the internet or drive by homes and see elements they like and take a quick photo with their phone. Another great resource is Houzz.com where there are countless images that you can download to your own personal library at no cost. You can search anything and thousands of images will come up. And if your architect is on Houzz you can share that image library directly with them.

As you go through the process with your architect you may want to get a contractor on board after the scope of the project has been vetted to make sure you are not biting off more than you can chew. If you find you are way over budget this would be an ideal time to scale back the project. Once an architect starts creating construction documents any little change can snowball into hours of revisions to the drawings, especially if a new structural analysis is required.

When you are provided with drawings make sure you understand them. If you have questions do not hesitate to ask. The architect is there for you and he/she want a happy client in the end! Are you unsure of how big a space is? Compare it to an existing space in your home. You will have a set of existing drawings most likely drawn to the same scale as the schematics so you will be able to trace rooms or hold up two drawing and compare sizes to give you an idea of what works and what does not.

Some items to think about if you are creating an addition… will the siding match? Most likely not, so are you going to take on the expense of residing your home? Same issue applies to the roofing and while you are at it are the windows in your addition going to look funny next to your existing windows? Unexpected costs are the nature of renovation. The main reason is because you are never 100% sure of what is behind your existing walls. An architect can make a very good assumption but until thing are opened up or footings in your basement are explored… it’s like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get!

Ultimately it is a stressful task but in the end you will be in a house that will fulfill your needs and give you enjoyment for years to come.

The Kitchen Evolution

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Google Trends

According to Google Trends the search term kitchen is the most popular overall in regards to room names in your home and believe it or not garage comes in second. Where does the term “kitchen” derive from? It is pretty obvious room names such as bedroom, family room, dining room and bathroom are directly related to the activities taking place in these spaces however the term kitchen adds a little mystery. Over time this interesting room that has become the core of any house and a place for gathering may end up changing its name to the “ultimate family room”.

The word kitchen derives originally from the Latin term coquere defined as “to cook” it evolved into various terms depending on the region… cycene, kichene, cucina and then ultimately kitchen.

History

Historically the kitchen was a place to cook. The original kitchen was outdoors over an open fire and then someone came up with a masonry solution to bring the warmth and light indoors as a place to gather and eat. It wasn’t until the 12th century when people realized they could eliminate the smoke and soot by creating a chimney which is seen in castles from that period. It was during this time the kitchen did not even have a sink! This essential feature of today’s kitchen had its own room which was the scullery.

One hundred and fifty years ago (happy anniversary!) two sisters; Catharine Esther Beecher and Harriet Beecher Stowe (this is the same Harriet Beecher Stowe who penned the novel “Uncle Tom’s Cabin”) authored “The American Woman’s Home” Principle of Domestic Science and gave their own spin on the kitchen. This book gave a unique perspective on the working kitchen and its planning. It recommended specific work areas. Such as built in cupboards and shelving which we take for granted today but 150 years ago it was ingenious! It created a guide for the servantless home. As well as techniques on adapting to new inventions such as the refrigerator and stove. They created an independent stove room at the center of a home which doubled as a heat source for the home and contained the smells from cooking.

Today

Today’s kitchen has evolved into a place of gathering with large islands. Ideal for laying out food for guests as well as doubling as sitting areas. Clients of mine install music as well as media. These spaces are a virtual one stop shop for eating and living and life’s enjoyment. I do not think the bed will ever make into the kitchen. However, people have completely opened up their homes to have an uninterrupted flow. This flow goes directly to a comfortable couch for lounging in the adjacent space. It is truly the center of today’s home. Not only for the purpose of heating but for the purpose of the warmth of one’s company.

If you are looking for some money saving tips on your next kitchen project take a look at this site “6 Tips & Tricks”.

Contact AGA  to help with your next project to turn your home’s kitchen into the heart of your house!

A Drippy Topic

It’s Required!

Drip edge flashing is a required at the eave and rake edge of a shingled roof. This is mandated by the International Residential Code 2015 NJ Edition Section R905.2.8.5. Prior to this code a drip edge was not mentioned. Actually there was mention of it in the 2012 IRC. However adoption of this code did not occur in New Jersey. The drip edge could have been enforced under the general statement of Section R903 Weather Protection. This states the “assembly shall serve to protect the building or structure”. But I assume the code writers felt this was just not enough. It is quite vague. Let’s hear it for those code writers!

What’s a Drip Edge?

What is a drip edge? Its definition is as a metal flashing located at the roof edge. It that helps keep the water from infiltrating your roof edge. It can also protect the roof edge from insect damage. The importance of the drip edge is threefold it improves the efficiency of shedding the water away from building components, it assists and protects the structure in the movement caused by expansion between the roof deck and the fascia board and it gives your home a more finished appearance.

A drip edge is a non-corrosive typically 36 gauge piece of metal with angles to create a path for the water. This metal piece tucks under your shingles at the roof edge. Contractors mechanically fasten the drip edge directly to the roof deck. This conform to code requirements. Contractors do not adhere the drip edges, this is a no no. Then the underlayment goes above it. However, at the rake (the sloped side of a gable) of a roof the drip edge the installation is above the underlayment. The code specifies the required overlaps and minimum measurements for this critical piece of flashing.

In the past contractors believed by just extending out your shingles beyond the fascia would be sufficient in shedding the water away, but this is a construction myth and is a poor practice of creating a method that will fail in protecting your home.

Do you still need a drip edge if you have gutters? The answer is yes! The gutter will tuck behind the drip edge giving you maximum protection to your roof deck structure.

A cousin of the drip edge is the drip cap. Builders locate this item above your windows and exterior doors and serves in the same capacity of diverting water away from the underlying structure. The drip cap is more elusive in the code. For this piece of flashing the code does not specifically call it out as the drip edge. It lays down a general requirement of Section R703.4 Flashing. The burden falls on the window manufacturers’ instructions and the design professional. Many manufacturers have integral flashing built into their windows affording you the protection required.

The code requires flashing in many locations of your home. This insures weather tightness of your structure and protecting your wallet. Ask your architect and/or contractor to make sure your construction project is being properly flashed. In addition, let your local building official know of any of your concerns.

Structural Review of Your Home

What’s required while designing a new home or perhaps adding an addition or altering an existing house? Your architect is going to look at the organization of rooms how they flow from one space to the next and examines how this impacts the exterior. But designing the floor plans and exterior elevations is just part of the process. In addition to the design, your architect needs to consider how it’s all going to stand up.

Have you ever considered all the structural components of your home or any building for that matter? Your home is designed to support loads starting from the top of your roof and transferring them down to the ground below your basement. This is accomplished through the design of roof systems, beams, load-bearing walls, floor systems, columns, foundation walls and footings. But this is just considering the gravity loads broken down into dead and live loads. Live loads are considered temporary loads such as furniture and people whereas dead loads are static loads ones that do not change such as floor & wall finishes, building materials and mechanical equipment which create a continuous strain on the structure. Other items considered are snow loads, wind loads and seismic (earthquake-induced) forces. Analyses of such forces examine compression, tension, shear, uplift, deflection, torsion and bending of different structural elements supporting these loads.

Elements that can be found in an individual structure could be any of the following; walls, beams, columns, arches, trusses, cables, slabs, shells and more. In addition, the materials selected have their own unique properties which need to be considered when creating this analysis such as; wood, masonry, steel, aluminum, concrete and composite materials.

As an example a floor system in your home could be made up of conventional lumber such as 2×10’s or it could be a pre-engineered wood I-joist or open web floor trusses. There are advantages and disadvantages to materials such as a wood I-joist or a truss is going to span greater distances than conventional lumber given the depth of the member however an I-joist is going to burn much quicker than a 2×10. But the point is that these products have different values in terms of strength and when calculating spans and loads being imposed on these components they must be analyzed as such. The structural design of your home is an intense analysis and must be done in accordance with the requirements set forth by the building codes.

You may want to request the calculations from your architect to make sure they are actually running calculations on beams and columns as well as all the other components in your home to ensure you are safe. The local construction official is permitted to request these documents as well but I have never been asked to provide them.

The code has some prescriptive methods for structures however with large open spaces and interesting shaped roof structures it is hard to conform to the prescriptive method without doing your own calculations.

On occasion, I will get a phone call from a general contractor who has been building for years and complains about the size of a beam and he’ll say something like “I think three 2×10’s is more than sufficient for that header”. I’ll respond “did you do any calculations to come up with that solution?” and of course they have not, just their gut feeling or some general rule of thumb. I welcome them to hire a structural engineer to resolve the issue if they feel that strongly about it, but they never do. You do not want someone designing your home that is using their gut feelings or instincts to determine what is going to hold your house up!

Next time you work with an architect don’t be afraid to ask to see the structural calculations, even if you don’t know what you are looking at it’s reassuring to know they went through the process of calculating beams rather than just putting in a double 2×10 header over your window because it seems sufficient.

A Windy Topic

The Atlantic hurricane season of 2018 is almost over with the official end date of November 30th. After seeing the devastation of Michael, are you concerned about your own safety in your home? Does New Jersey concern itself with such intense wind speeds? Well yes and no. No one can predict the power of Mother Nature and mom seems to have a mind of her own in recent years. The International Residential Code 2015, New Jersey Edition contains the section R301.2.1 Wind design criteria which references wind speed charts and discusses how this impacts materials on your home. You can find your own home’s winds speed design requirements at Windspeed Website. If you are in Morris County that design is for 115 miles per hour for a house which is considered risk category II. In addition a wind speed of 115 mph is considered to be a category 3 hurricane based on the Saffir-Simpson Hurricane Scale and one can expect the following damage based on this assessment: homes with well-built frames may incur major damage or removal of roof decking and gable ends. Many trees will be snapped or uprooted, blocking numerous roads. Electricity and water will be unavailable for several days to weeks after the storm passes. So even though your home is built to that wind speed you may still suffer damage. The following is a breakdown of the different structures in different risk categories;

Risk Category I
Buildings and other structures that represent a low hazard to human life in the event of failure,
including but not limited to:
* Minor Storage facilities
* Screen Enclosures.
Risk Category II (your home)
* Building and other structures except those listed in Occupancy Categories, I, III, and IV
Risk Category III
Buildings and other structures that represent a substantial hazard to human life in the event of
failure, including but not limited to:
* Building and other structures with elementary school, secondary school, or day care facilities
with an occupant load greater than 250.
* Health care facilities with an occupant load greater than 250.
Risk Category IV
Buildings and other structures designated as essential facilities, including but not limited to:
* Hospitals and other health care facilities having surgery or emergency treatment facilities.
* Fire, rescue and police stations and emergency vehicle garages.
* Designated hurricane and other emergency shelters.
* Aviation control towers, air traffic control centers and emergency aircraft hangars.
* Water treatment facilities required to maintain water pressure for fire suppression.

In addition to the wind speed charts your home’s design also considers uplift resistance which is found in Section R802.11.1 Uplift resistance for exposure category B which is for regions that do not exceed 115 mph winds. This section refers to the type of connections required for your roof rafters so your roof does not blow off!

Keep in mind the IRC is designing to the minimum requirements and if your architect designs a little over the requirements your general contractor will complain and say he has never done that before! Does that make it wrong? Absolutely not but that is a financial question that only you as a homeowner needs to ultimately decide. Always remember your architect is looking out for your health, welfare and life safety. So when you decide to construct your home do not be afraid to discuss how to keep your family safe with your architect!

I Am Not Blowing Smoke Up Your… Smoke Detectors!

Every once in awhile I will go into an older home and notice the lack of smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors. It is a little frightening to see the absence of this minor fire prevention device that can save you and your family. The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has statistic from 2009 thru 2013 which found that 3 out of every 5 home fire deaths occurred in homes without smoke detectors and 1 out of every 5 homes that had a nonfunctioning detector and almost half of those were due to disconnected batteries or dead batteries. When you hear that annoying chirping sound don’t just disconnect the wires and batteries! Replace the battery it could end up saving your life. The actual death rate per 100 is doubled for those in homes without detectors. The average death rate because of this comes in around 940/year and 510/year for homes with non-functioning devices. Some people discover their smoke detector is too close to the kitchen and will go off every time they cook. This doesn’t mean you should just disconnect it! You can relocate it or get a different type of smoke detector such as a photoelectric alarm or one with a hush button.

What do these devices actually do? There are two types of detectors; ionization and photoelectric detectors. The ionization detector has a pair of plates inside that have a constant current acting within them. When smoke infiltrates the plates it disrupts the current causing the alarm to sound. The photoelectric detector has a beam of light and when that gets interrupted it disperses the light and this activates the alarm. The photoelectric type is not as sensitive as the ionization type and is designed to go off during slow smokier, smoldering types of fires. The International Residential Code requires ionization smoke detectors to be a minimum of twenty feet from a cooking appliance and only six feet for photoelectric detectors.

Construction Codes that cover the requirements of such detectors can be found in NFPA72 National Fire Alarm and Signaling Code and NFPA 101 Life Safety Code which require all new single-family homes to have a smoke detector in each bedroom, outside of each sleeping area and on every level of the home. The most effective system will have all the devices interconnected so that when one sounds they all sound. This can be accomplished with battery operated wireless devices as well as hardwired devices. The code has changed in recent years allowing for technology to play its role, however, the primary source of power for these devices must come from the house wiring. In addition, you can combine smoke and carbon monoxide detectors into one combo unit as long as they are an approved device as per Underwriters Laboratories requirements UL 268 and UL 2075. The Uniform Fire Code (UFC) requires all homes that contain a fuel-fired appliance or have an attached garage, have a carbon monoxide alarm in the vicinity of the bedrooms and all rooms adjacent to such appliances.

Final notes: The United States Fire Administration (USFA) recommends for homeowners to test their detectors once a month and change your batteries once a year. In addition, once your unit is ten years old it is time to replace it. Keep your loved ones safe! I am not blowing smoke up your ***.

Do You Know Your ABC’s?… When It Comes To Fires?

 

ABC 

I’m referring to an ABC fire extinguisher. The ABC’s refer to different types of fires. There are four types of fires and are classified as A, B, C and D. Solid organic materials such as wood, paper and cloth create Class A fires. Class B fires have a liquid source such as petrol products, oils, cooking fats and paint. Class C fires involve anything with electricity and Class D involves flammable metals such as magnesium, aluminum and titanium.

The ABC Extinguisher

To compliment all these types of fires there are five different types of fire extinguishers available; water, foam, carbon dioxide, dry powder and wet chemical. The typical extinguisher you will have in your home is an ABC extinguisher which contains monoammonium phosphate which is a dry chemical and as in the name will put out A, B & C type fires. Monoammonium phosphate is also a chemical in fertilizer.

Home Fire

The most likely sources of fire in your home would be Class A, B or C. The most common home fire is cooking related. In 2016 there were approximately 364,000 reported residential fires of which 50 percent were started in the kitchen according to the National Fire Data Center. These numbers would be much higher without a fire extinguisher in your home because the fire extinguisher is able to handle many in-home events without the necessity of even calling the fire department. Fire extinguishers put out 80% of fires according to The Fire Extinguishing Trades Association and the Independent Fire Engineering and Distributors Association!

Code Compliance

Each structure, other than a seasonal rental unit, shall also be equipped with at least one portable fire extinguisher. It shall conform with rules and regulations promulgated by the Commissioner of Community Affairs. In pursuant to the “Administrative Procedure Act,” P.L.1968, c.410 (C.52:14B-1 et seq.) For the purposes of this section, “portable fire extinguisher” means an operable portable device, carried and operated by hand, containing an extinguishing agent that can be expelled under pressure for the purpose of suppressing or extinguishing fire, and which is: (1) rated for residential use consisting of an ABC type; (2) no larger than a 10 pound rated extinguisher; and (3) mounted within 10 feet of the kitchen area, unless otherwise permitted by the enforcing agency.

Exemption

“Seasonal rental unit” means a dwelling unit rented for a term of not more than 125 consecutive days for residential purposes by a person having a permanent residence elsewhere, but shall not include use or rental of living quarters by migrant, temporary or seasonal workers in connection with any work or place where work is being performed.

Conclusion

If I had a seasonal rental I would put a fire extinguisher in there as well, I see no reason not to! If you are working with an architect they should be including a fire extinguisher on their plans!
So now you know you ABC’s and more!

What’s Up… and How Do We Get There?

What’s up is your attic of course! The real question is how you are going to get there or what are you going to use it for. Many homes need that extra area for storage but are you telling your architect your true intensions? Are you just storing some miscellaneous items like old photos and suit cases you no longer use or is it something more substantial like a couch and a refrigerator. Do you plan to sneak off up there and hang out in the future? Some of these answers could help determine the best access to this voluminous space which is typically used to store your summer heat! In addition it will determine the proper structure required to support your ceiling and how to go about insulating it.

The International Residential Code requires access to this area to be a minimum of 22 inches by 30 inches with a headroom clearance of 30 inches. The only exception to this size is if you have some mechanical equipment in the attic, the opening must allow for removal of such, so it could be required to be larger. In addition the opening is to be located in a hallway or other “readily accessible location” in other words anywhere. But is this the way you want access to your attic? Would you prefer a pull down stair or maybe even a full stair giving you the most ease of access. If your budget and space allows for it a full stair is a great option!

What else needs to be considered when creating that opening? Well if your attic floor is insulated (in other words a non-conditioned attic) you need to consider insulating the access panel or stair. This is a quite a task given the International Energy Conservation Code requirement is as follows: R402.2.4 Access Hatches and Doors Access doors from conditioned spaces to unconditioned spaces such as attics and crawl spaces shall be weatherstripped and insulated to a level equivalent to the insulation on the surrounding surfaces. Access shall be provided to all equipment that prevents damaging or compressing the insulation. A wood-framed or equivalent baffle or retainer is required to be provided when loose-fill insulation is installed, the purpose of which is to prevent the loose-fill insulation from spilling into the living space when the attic access is opened, and to provide a permanent means of maintaining the installed R-value of the loose-fill insulation.

I have been in many homes and can safely say this is an uncommon site in older homes and even home that have been constructed within the last ten years.

I have also been discovering in many instances the requirement to make your home conform to the Energy Codes ResCheck software the attic insulation is typically R-49 (this is also the requirement for Morris County in the prescriptive method of the 2015 International Energy Conservation Code) which is 14” thick and would not allow for plywood to be placed over top of attic floor joists to create a proper storage location since the batts are not permitted to be compressed. So that being said you can create a second structure above to get a floor or you can blow in closed cell insulation giving you R-49 in about 8 inches. If this is not the route you wish to take then you can always create a conditioned attic that puts the insulation up in the rafters and allows for no worries below, however this is a costlier attic so make your choice wisely. Whatever you decide advise your architect so they can properly design your home and help you make the best use of your house.

What’s Up “Width” That?

Let’s discuss width. How often do you think about how wide something is? Maybe when you are trying on some new shoes the topic of width may come up, but other than that maybe not so much. Architects think about width daily each time we are sketching a design or considering a space planning problem. Width plays a key role in decision making. Some of these decisions are mandated by the Building Code and others are mandated by the functionality of a space. When you are considering your home alteration/addition/renovation you may want to consider some of the following areas to help your architect decide what is ideal for you and your family; hallways, doors, windows, kitchen clearances, bathroom fixture clearances. Let’s start with doorways. Are you physically fit or do you have some disability which would require you to get around your home in a wheelchair? Or you may even have friends or relatives that come to visit you with special needs. Where you might normally have a 30 to 32-inch wide door you may want to reconsider that and bump the size up to a 36-inch wide doorway. The Barrier Free building requirements do not apply to single-family homes so it is up the individual homeowner to make these decisions. Other areas such as the hallways could become 42 to 48 inches wide to accommodate any disabilities. The kitchen is also another key place of interest to ensure you have proper circulation. If you are hoping for an island you need a minimum amount of space to start out with to make it happen. The minimum clear floor space you want between cabinets is ideally 42 inches and if you plan on cooking with your spouse 48 inches would be a fabulous width to make it a comfortable situation for both of you.

The bathroom is another area to think about width. In regards to a double vanity, code requires a minimum dimension of 30 inches between sink centers but do you want to be on top of the person you are sharing the bathroom with? Same goes for a toilet; code requires 30 inches clear width fifteen inches from the center of the toilet to either side. Is this enough space for a large man looking to have a relaxing experience? I would say no.

Width dimensions are found throughout the building codes, whether it be footing width or the distance between your electrical outlets. The allowable clear widths between the balusters on your stair to the required bearing width for structural members are also items to be considered. On the outside of your home even comes into play with zoning ordinances dictating lot width. You just cannot get away from it!

Make sure your architect is “width” you through the entire design process to make sure you get it right!

Blocking is More Than a Sporting Event

To be more specific I am referring to fireblocking. The definition for fireblocking given by the International Residential Code is as follows: building materials or materials approved for use as fireblocking, (yes, the IRC uses the word in the definition- circular definition!), installed to resist the free passage of flame to other areas of the building through concealed spaces. As you dig deeper into the IRC specifically Section R302.11 Fireblocking will give a more in-depth answer in regards to this important fire safety requirement. Typically you see the fireblocking between floors, soffits, between stair stringers and floor penetrations for pipes, ducts etc. Materials allowed to stop the free passage do not need to be fireproof! Some examples are two-inch nominal lumber, one half inch gypsum wallboard (not required to be fire coded), batts of fiberglass insulation and several other materials are permitted.

Fireblocking is essentially starving a fire of oxygen and prevents it from spreading and is not a recent addition to the building codes. There are references dating back to the 1905 National Building Code at that time it was referred to as a fire stop (I am going to guess it was defined as something that stopped the fire, but these were the days before codes had a definition section). It was not until the 1990’s when the term fireblocking became the proper terminology.

I have seen many people decide to finish their basements without seeking an architect’s advice which is an acceptable approach however, some of these people bypass getting a building permit as well. This is a definite no-no! When you take the proper route your local building official comes out and does inspections to make sure you are conforming to the construction codes and keeps you safe in your home. If you have some handyman or perhaps you even personally finish the basement you may have missed some key components to the International Residential Code one of them being fireblocking! It doesn’t take much for fire to spread quickly throughout your house if you do not construct your walls soffits and stairs correctly. It can take 30 seconds to a minute for a fire to engulf your entire home! I have seen General Contractors that even ignore drawings showing the proper detail for fireblocking. Sometimes they will pop in half-inch plywood or some other material they have handy and call it a day. Guess what, this is not an approved method and your building official will catch it almost every time and have the contractor remediate and do it properly.

So if you plan on doing some home projects on your own seek some professional advice and save yourself some headaches and sleep soundly at night knowing you did the right thing in protecting your loved ones! Give your local architect a call or set up a meeting with the local building department and see what you need to do to complete your vision.

It’s Baaaaacckkkkkkk!

The EPA is considering allowing for American manufacturing of asbestos products under its Significant New Use Rule (SNUR). This rule will allow manufacturers to petition for approval of asbestos-containing products through the federal government.

I think most people would have thought asbestos was banned many years ago when in fact it was not. Despite the health hazards and the knowledge that 40,000 U.S. citizens die yearly from asbestos related reasons such as lung cancer and mesothelioma, asbestos is still legal (that’s 20,000 more than die from radon/year!). Asbestos has not been produced in the United States since 2002 which means all of it has been imported. Three hundred metric tons were imported last year alone, which is equivalent to approximately 100,000 bricks! Some of the major producers include Russia and China, and China is the leading consumer. So does that mean asbestos is legal everywhere? It is not and in fact, it is banned in over 55 countries, the US happens to be one of the only developed countries that have not banned it. In the US, corporate profits outweigh the health of its citizens. The US shares the inability to ban asbestos with Russia, China, India, Brazil and Canada.

It is possible in the future, with the Significant New Use Rule, that new building products could be reintroduced into your home if the manufacturer can be persuasive enough! It’s possible.

I have read that a 2011 inventory recorded 60,000 asbestos containing products existed worldwide being produced by 600 companies. Wow!

Asbestos has been around a long time and was praised when first introduced into the building world because of its fire-retardant qualities, its insulative values as well as ease of maintenance and strength. It was first being used in building products in the mid-1800’s but it has been known to have a history going back 4,500 years where it was used in Finland to strengthen earthenware!

The American Institute of Architects responded by issuing a statement in strong opposition to SNUR, here is a snippet:

The American Institute of Architects (AIA) is committed to protecting the health, safety, and welfare of the public. Since 1857, this concern is central to all that we, as architects, do. AIA writes to raise our concern and strong opposition with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed Significant New Use Rule for asbestos. The asserted goal of the proposed rule is to create a pathway to consider new uses of asbestos. The AIA opposes this goal, even if on a case by case basis, and feels the EPA should use their existing regulatory authority to establish a blanket ban on the use of asbestos. (You can read the entire statement here).

Architects will have to be extra careful when specifying any products for your home should the SNUR go into effect. It is crazy to think this is an actual concern when it is such a problem when one discovers existing asbestos in an existing building!

The Overlay Technique

One of an architect’s strongest tool is a roll of tracing paper and a marker. The simplest and quickest way to explore options is to continuously tear off pieces of tracing paper from a roll and modify the plan with each layer. Each sketch evolves a little bit more until you find the right solution. I do this for every project no matter what size. If I’m not successful initially I can always go back to a previous version I liked and try modifying it until I get it just right. Once I’ve completed this I move on to the computer and draw it up in AutoCAD create a PDF and send it off to the client for their review.

I’m Not Likin’ the Lichen

Have you looked at your roof recently? Ever notice on the north face of your home black streaks or splotchy green starburst patches happening up there? This is the natural occurrence of algae and lichen growing on your roof. Algae loves to feast on the limestone found in your asphalt fiberglass shingle. The lichen loves moisture and humidity that’s why you’ll mostly see it occurring on the north face but if you have a shady property it could be anywhere. It is quite an eyesore going on up there. According to GAF a prominent shingle manufacturer the algae is not something to worry about in regards to the integrity of your home’s roof, it just looks bad. However lichen which can end up growing on the algae (also moss and fungus) can cause early deterioration of your roof shingles. The lichen can grow all around the shingle’s granular finish which protects the shingles from the harmful UV rays produced by the sun. The lichen will eventually dislodge the granules from the shingle causing irreparable damage.

Ouch, so it sound like you should clean that stuff off, but how? GAF recommends applying an “anti-algae solution” which according to their recipe is 4 gallons of water, 1 gallon of bleach and 1 cup of tri-sodium phosphate wait approximately 15 minutes and then wash it off. Do not power wash your roof! Problem! The Sodium Tri Phosphate is some pretty nasty stuff and I believe it is not legal for use in New Jersey. I contacted a local company, Truclean, to find out about what my options are. They informed me that in New Jersey you typically find three methods for cleaning your roof; power washing which is not recommended by shingle manufacturers so that doesn’t seem like a very good option. What happens with power washing is the spray is so strong it will take those granules off which we stated earlier protects your roof from the UV. Another method is shampooing, which is basically a giant roof polisher that sprays out chemicals on to your roof and scrubs them in with a water buffing machine. I reached out to GAF to ask them if this was acceptable and again they informed me they do not recommend this method. The last method is “soft wash” which is basically applying a legal solution of chlorine bleach and water to the entire roof with a very gentle wash. The next step is totally natural which is just wait for the rain to wash it away. This way there is no worry of the granules on the roof being damaged. This application is the ARMA (Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association) approved method for cleaning your roof. According to Truclean, the Algae removal will be noticeable immediately, however, the lichen will take time to restore the roof to its original color after cleaning and could take up to a few months.

In addition to the unsightliness of your roof, if you let it go, your homeowner’s insurance could send you a notice of cancellation if you refuse to clean it! So get out there and take a look and see what’s happening on the outside of your home.

 

Get Out

Have you ever thought about how many people you can have in your home for a party? How about a holiday gathering? Sleepover for the kids? Well, the International Residential Code 2015 New Jersey Edition does not limit you, so, have at it! The IBC (International Building Code) sets guidelines for other non-single family residential structures such as assembly spaces to dormitories but not for your home. By the way, dormitories are calculated at 50 square feet per person so you college kids out there in a 100 square foot dorm room that’s a limit of two people in your room to have a safe partying experience! The IBC standards help determine hall widths and door sizes however in the IRC the only requirement is a minimum of one means of egress from your home with a clear width of 32 inches measured from the face of the door to the stop, so that door ends up being 36 inches. There is also a clear height requirement of 78 inches and this door must be side-hinged and exit directly to the exterior. So don’t try and make your front door a slider or an overhead door.

So if you have a 3,750 square foot home and you decide to throw a party with 75 of your friends, (I personally do not have that many friends), that will give everyone 50 square feet to enjoy the party… right? Not exactly don’t forget to deduct out all of the furniture, walls, appliances, closets etc. In addition, the IBC differs from the IRC in regards to the direction of the door swing. When space exceeds an occupant load of over 50 the door must swing out however in your home this requirement does not exist and typically a residential dwelling unit’s front door swings in to make sure you don’t get snowed in!

How about those bedrooms? No requirements there except the additional requirement of an “emergency escape and rescue opening” which is a window with a required minimum size determined by its location (5 square feet first floor and 5.7 square feet second floor) that is considerably smaller than the required approximate 18 square foot door opening out of your house. This requirement is actually not for getting out but for firemen getting in. Funny how the code has no requirements for the door out of the bedroom to the living spaces of your home. However, if you want to get furniture in there your architect is going to give you at a minimum of a 30 inch wide door but as long as space allows you will most likely have a 32 inch wide door and for those concerned about being in a wheelchair a 36 inch door would be the appropriate choice. Stair widths, hall widths and one door exiting your house are the basic requirements for single-family residential homes in accordance with the IRC. Does this concern you? If it does be sure to go over these requirements with your architect, but typically even if the code doesn’t require it, since its deals in the minimal requirements, your architect will always be looking out for your health welfare and safety!

So get out and have a happy egress day!

Let’s Try to Be More Open

Have you ever thought about making your home “more open”? Older homes tend to have smaller compartmentalized rooms making it difficult to circulate and give the occupant a sense of claustrophobia. How can you gain space in your home or make your kitchen larger by not creating an addition? Well, the first step is to reach out to an architect to discuss your thoughts and desires. An architect can visualize the space and identify problems that may occur or inform you of the best approach.

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Zoning and Moaning

Are you thinking about adding on to your house? Building a new house? Are you going up or out? Where should you start? One of your starting points should be to consider the zoning requirements for your property.

Let’s start by giving a brief description and history of what zoning is. Zoning is the most critical approach to land use a municipality controls. In Morris County, each municipality creates its own zoning regulations. Each town’s structure of zones seems to be broken down into 25 to 35 different categories. Within these areas, the town regulates what you can build, how big and tall you can build and where on your property you can build. It is to protect your interest in your property and its value as well as create a harmonious planning to approach the town’s growth. All of these are considered for health, safety and welfare of each citizen.

The United States took the concept of zoning from Germany which initiated its own ordinances as far back as 1870. First signs of zoning appeared in the area of San Francisco in 1885 when the city banished the erections of public laundries. This approach was considered to be illegal one year later by the Supreme Court since it was prejudicial against the Chinese immigrants. Zoning spread widely throughout the U.S. in 1909 following the First National Conference on Planning and Congestion held in Washington, D.C. Topics discussed back then are still discussed today such as congestion in housing and adequate parks and playgrounds. You can click on the link and read the entire transcript!

Today when homeowners are thinking of a project they are required to have a current site plan to delineate their property lines and all features on the property and their location. This list includes the main structure, walks, decks, landscape features such as a pool, fencing and accessory structures such as a shed. With the site plan, your architect can determine the scope of the project by reviewing the local town’s ordinance and schedule of area requirements. Typically the schedule will determine the setbacks (this feature was created to protect your neighbors from a potential fire and being too close to their property as well as privacy), height requirements and lot coverage. Lot coverage is looked at in many different forms such as just for building and again for all impervious coverage such as walks, driveways, patios and decks. Generally, these are looked in terms of percentage of the lot and help with drainage quality of your property.

Height makes sense because you certainly don’t want a high rise built next to your single story home. There is certainly logic to all the madness in these verbose land ordinances but sometimes it seems oppressive to make a homeowner seek a variance for relief from the requirements when their impact is minimal. It creates a greater cost on their project as well as sacrificing a tremendous amount of time if the town’s schedule is backed up by months of other projects. You would think by this point a town could come up with a method for projects that are diminutive in nature. Especially when a home is already non-conforming and the owner’s addition doesn’t change the already pre-existing non-conformance, such as a second-floor addition over a pre-existing non-conforming first floor in terms of the required setback.

I believe town wants to work with the homeowner to get them the additional space they need and at times if the project is just too burdensome on the property they will request you to go back and redesign the project to make it more in conformance with the required regulations. But in the meantime, you are adding more time to your project.

The ordinances sometimes will have requirements buried deep and do not become evident until you submit your drawings and the Zoning Officer discovers it, such as an additional kitchen or converting your garage into living space can be frowned upon in some zones. The only way to make this happen is to apply for a variance, get in line and state your case.

So when you consider your next project ask your architect if he thinks it’s feasible or set up a meeting with your local Zoning Officer and discuss your thoughts to understand what might be a red flag.

In addition if you are looking for additional information regarding New Jersey’s Zoning and the process on getting approvals take a look at this terrific article penned by fellow architect William J. Martin titled:

What to expect when applying for a Building Permit. What to expect from the Building Department. What to expect from the Zoning Board.

Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter (Except for Today)

Have you ever looked up at your home’s roof edge and wondered about the history of the gutter? I am going to guess most likely not! Did you know that little feature was first being thought about way back between 1500 – 3000 B.C.E.? It started in the area we know today as Pakistan and Northwest India. At the time this was the Indus Valley. Gutters were being created out of burnt clay. It took many years to start to see more familiar features that we still see today, such as the gargoyle, that would spit or discharge the water away from a building. The London Tower, which was constructed around 1240, was the first structure to use a downspout.

When the colonist of America and started constructing homes in the 1700’s they created wood planks in a “V” shape to create their gutters. They attached them to the roof edge with wood pins or cast iron brackets.

Throughout the years gutter have been created with many materials such as; cast iron, wood, asbestos cement, UPVC, aluminum and bamboo. In the early 1900’s a metal rolling machine was invented which was the start of half round steel gutters. In the 1960’s seamless aluminum gutter machines were developed and are responsible for 70% of today’s gutters.

The popular residential gutter of today is a 5” K gutter. You would think since it is called a “K” gutter it would be shaped like a “K”. Well, you would have thought wrong. The Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors National Association(SMACNA) has a list of 12 gutter types each corresponding to a letter. The eleventh type is K (first type is A, second B and so on) which happens to have the most decorative shape and since most people like decorative things this style became the most popular.

The function of the gutter is to collect the water from your roof during a rainfall and send it to the downspouts which ultimately carry the rainwater away from your home. The gutter and downspouts are sized based on the area of roof and rainfall intensity in the location you live. Does the International Residential Code 2015, New Jersey Edition (IRC) ensure that you have gutters on your home to protect your property? It is a little vague but the intent is there. Section R801.3 Roof Drainage discusses the requirement of a “controlled method of water disposal from roofs, that will collect and discharge roof drainage to the ground surface not less than five feet from the foundation walls”. The IRC never uses the word gutter but it’s clear that they want you to use one!

Make sure your architect sizes your gutter appropriately.

Why Do I Hear My Kids Arguing?

 

The International Residential Code 2015, New Jersey Edition does not address any sound transmission requirements as the IBC does. So if you live in a townhouse or an apartment you may get a better night’s sleep than in your single family home. There are no requirements for air borne sound to be reduced between rooms such as bathrooms, bedrooms or for sleeping areas above or adjacent to a garage. Maybe it’s a good idea to address these if you are building a new home, doing some alteration work or creating an addition. The late Surgeon General Dr. William H. Stewart once said “calling noise a nuisance is like calling smog an inconvenience; noise must be considered a hazard to the health of people everywhere.” This is the same man who initiated health warnings on cigarette boxes!

Noise is around us every day and impacts our health in a multitude of ways. Some known effects are; hearing impairment, hypertension, ischemic heart disease, annoyance and sleep disturbance. For children, noise can impact language and learning development.

How can you keep your house a little quieter for studying or sleeping? There are ways to dampen sound with softer materials such as carpeting and drapes but between rooms you would really want to address the construction of your partitions. Your typical partition in a home is a 2×4 stud wall with a single ply of ½” gypsum wallboard on each side. This partition will give you an STC (sound transmission class) of approximately 34. STC of 34, what does that mean? The following is a guide of STC Values and how they correspond to what you can hear from loud talking in an adjacent room:

STC                 Audibility from a loud speech in an adjacent room

25                   Easily understood

30                   Fairly audible

35                   Audible but not intelligible

45                   Must strain to hear

48                   Barely audible

50                   Inaudible (loud music can be faintly heard)

So that STC of 34 is not bad but it’s not going help you if your teenager decides to play music while you are trying to go to sleep! So what can you do? There are many assemblies to give you a quieter wall. Adding a 3 ½” batt of fiberglass insulation in the wall will help but only give you a value of 36 so, in reality something else must be done if you believe this is a concern for your home. Adding a resilient clip to one side under the wallboard can increase the value to 50 which also happens to be the minimum requirement between attached dwelling units. Other methods are to add layers of gypsum wallboard or create a staggered stud wall.

Another point of noise entry is going to be doors and windows. Your typical interior hollow core door units have an STC rating of approximately 24 – 27 and a solid core door can get you up to and STC value of 35. Of course, you would have to have a seal at the bottom edge to get a true separation which would be very unusual in a house. In general, the windows that AGA specifies fall between 30 and 35 depending on the configuration and type.

Floor assemblies can also be addressed if you have a room below your bedroom that you are hoping to isolate. Your architect can add features into their design to accommodate a quieter separation. Be sure to let your architect know if you have noisy kids, if someone likes to stay up later than you watching television or you have a musician in your home.

Chapter 3 Building Planning is “Enheightening”

New Jersey Architects use the International Residential Code2015 New Jersey Edition on a daily basis. It guides them in many decisions made during the design and construction document phases to get their client’s end result. Chapter 3 Building Planning is especially useful for determining many design requirements for your home. I have to believe that this chapter alone out of the other 43 chapters must have over a thousand requirements! I have not counted but I think my fellow architects would agree.

Vertical measurement by itself can probably account for hundreds. This section deals with 3/8” up to 60 feet! The following are a varied sampling of some:

3/8” is the maximum amount of difference between the smallest and largest riser height in a set of stairs.

1 ½” is the landing height below a threshold when the door swings out over the landing (8 ¼” is acceptable if the door swings in the opposite direction).

8 ¼” is the maximum riser height for a stair riser.

9 ½” is the maximum riser height for a ships ladder.

<18” is the height above the finished floor that makes glazing hazardous.

24” is the minimum height above the finished floor for a window opening that opens up to grade that is greater than 72” below. (That’s a double height requirement!)

30” – 38” is the allowable handrail height above the nosing on a stair, which also applies to a ramp surface (30” – 36” for a ships ladder)

36” is the minimum height for a guard rail at an open-sided walking surface.

6’-4” is the minimum beam height (or duct height) in a basement.

6’-6” is the minimum clear height for an egress door.

6’-8” is the minimum headroom height in a stairway (so if you can get through a 6’-6” height for a door why the need for an extra 2” for the stair?).

7’-0” is the minimum clear height for a habitable room (non-habitable rooms such as the powder room, bathroom and laundry room can be 6’-8”). They may want to rethink that bathroom height I have seen people spend an incredible amount of time in there to the point where they can claim squatter’s rights!

12’-3” is the maximum run for a stair before a landing is required (in case you were wondering if you used the maximum riser that would be 18 steps until you are required to rest)

60’-0” is covered in Table R302.2(3) Height and Exposure and Adjustment coefficients for Table R301.2(2), just in case if you thought I made that number up!

This is just a small sampling of the vertical dimensions in this 44 page long chapter and does not even consider width or thickness. I wonder why the IRC is 674 pages long. Have you been “enheightened”?

It’s Still Winter for a Few More Weeks… Stay Warm for Less!

Have an old home that you have been thinking of renovating but just can’t get around to making the decisions necessary to make that happen? Are your heating bills high and wondering how you can save a few dollars until that dream project happens? Try some of these inexpensive cost reducing tips for your old drafty home to improve the looks of your monthly energy bill;

  1. 1. Check your attic and see if it can use another layer of insulation and make sure the access panel or pull-down stair is fully insulated. Many times that access opening is neglected and you can have heat escaping up and out of your home.
  2. 2. Another popular escape route for heat is your wood burning fireplace. Are you using it or is it just there for decoration. If the latter look into methods of making it more leak proof by using something like a “fireplace draft stopper”.
  3. 3. Are you like me and enjoy a nice long hot shower? Open that bathroom door while you are showering rather than turning on your ceiling fan. This will add humidity to your home which heat loves to cling to.
  4. 4. Check your exterior wall outlets! Do you feel a draft coming through them? Easy enough to unscrew the cover plate and fill the voids with an acrylic latex or a foam sealant and then add a foam gasket to the back of the plate cover and screw back on!
  5. 5. Open up your blinds covering your southern exposure windows during the day. The natural warmth of the sun will fill your home.
  6. 6. Are your windows and doors drafty? Take a trip to Home Depot, Loews or your favorite local hardware store and see what great gaskets and air seals you can get to cut down on those drafts.
  7. 7. Do any of your rooms have fans? Flip the switch and reverse the direction of the fan to blow up at a gentle speed. This will move the warm air trapped at the ceiling down to your feet making you more comfortable without turning up the thermostat.
  8. 8. Speaking of thermostats TURN THEM DOWN if you are able to tolerate a room with a little less warmth you will save yourself some green! If you have multiple zones in your home and rooms are unused double check what setting your thermostat is at. Especially at night when you can get under a warm down blanket and sleep on some flannel sheets turn down the thermostat. You might even sleep better!
  9. 9. Bundling up! Do you have a nice pair of warm socks and a sweater? Put them on so when you do turn down that thermostat it won’t even impact your day.
  10. 10. If you have a room you spend most of your time in why not just invest in a low energy space heater to keep you comfortable without heating the whole house.

These items should hold you over until you get started on the big renovation project where you will eventually get a more energy efficient heating system, brand new insulated windows and more insulation on in those exterior walls! Just because spring starts March 20th doesn’t mean the heat gets turned off!

Should I Go Up or Out? How About Both!

Thinking of adding on to your home? Many potential clients call knowing they need more space but are not quite sure what the best approach is. This is where your architect can be a valuable instrument in deciding which direction may be appropriate for your unique situation. That’s right each client is unique and your architect should treat you as such.

Your architect will first identify your spatial needs and what makes sense in terms of adjacencies by discovering about your family and how you use your existing rooms. Your architect will discuss with you what currently works and what doesn’t in terms of circulation and interaction. Then the next step is to survey your home and property to aid in determining what makes the most sense. Do you have a large enough property that will even permit a first-floor addition? At times zoning regulations will cause hurdles for you to add on (sometimes even adding up). Are the rooms you are trying to create makes sense on a second floor? Obviously, if you are thinking of a large kitchen expansion it will be on the first floor, but how about a master bedroom suite? Are you thinking of those years down the road when those stairs might be harder to manage? Is there a budget consideration? Are you okay being displaced from your home during the construction? There are many factors to be considered and an architect is your best bet to get to the ideal end vision.

Is your existing home already two stories or maybe it’s a split level and you are trying to figure out how all three levels are going to come together to give you the ideal space. Through the design process you will see your home transform into various options of which ultimately you will need to make a decision but it will be easier to see what makes sense for your family.

Some pros of just adding on to the existing house:

Most likely you will not be displaced during construction, so minimal impact on family life during the duration of the project.

If you have an existing ranch and addition will not change your existing floor plan unless you opt to make changes to the existing rooms to open up your home or reconfigure existing rooms.

Most likely your home addition would be at the rear of your house unless you have a wide lot, therefore your house may look the same. This could be a pro or a con!

Some cons of just adding on to the existing house:

You will need to do excavation and most likely re-grading of your property.

You will lose some of your backyards and if you have a deck or patio that would need to be rebuilt.

Depending on how much you open up your existing house to the new structure will determine whether or not you need a large beam which if not sized properly will drop down into the opening.

Some pros of just adding a second floor:

You do not need to do any excavation saving you money on a new foundation, which includes footings, slab on grade, masonry foundation wall, waterproofing, regrading, etc.

Your home will get a new look!

You will almost double your space.

Some cons of just adding a second floor:

You will be displaced during construction.

Your first floor will need to be reconfigured to allow for a stair.

Of course, there is no one solution but working with your architect will most likely give the best result for your unique situation! Also, don’t forget you can always do both with a two-story addition! Call AGA and see how we can help you!

I’m Just Getting Warmed Up! – HDD

HDD, what is that? Hot Diggity Dog? Hard Disk Drive? Well, those are definitions of that acronym along with a couple dozen more but this post refers to Heating Degree Days. Heating Degree Days is a measurement that is generated from the outdoor air temperature throughout the year for a given location. Annual figures vary from approximately 20,000 in Alaska to 500 in Florida and even near 100 in Hawaii. So by those figures, you can safely assume a warmer climate is going to have a lower HDD. Morris County NJ the HDD value falls in around 6,039 according to the ResCheck software. This is the software architects use to make sure your house or addition conforms with the most current energy code and guides them as to how much insulation to provide in your floors, ceilings and walls after inputting exterior surface areas, ceiling areas, floor areas along with windows and doors. According to the US Department of Energy Heating Degree Day is calculated as follows: A unit, based upon temperature difference and time, used in estimating fuel consumption and specifying the nominal heating load of a building in winter. For any one day, when the mean temperature is less than 65 degrees there exists as many degree days as there is Fahrenheit degrees difference in temperature between the mean temperature for the day and 65 degrees. So with that in mind you can understand how Florida’s calculation is so low! Not too many days below 65 degrees and not that much need for heat. In the past 20 years, the average heating degrees days have decreased but I have got to believe after this recent cold spell that calculation has changed! If you take a look at the National Weather Service you will see that in the past week alone Newark, NJ was 147 HDD which is 14% higher than last year’s norm. Brrrrrrrr!

Top 7 Ways to Avoid Ice Dams and Their Damage

What are they?

Ice dams, you want to know how to avoid them but let’s first look at what they are! Ice dams are typically built-up areas of ice at your home’s roof edge which prevents the melting snow from draining off your roof, just like a beaver’s dam but on your roof. This dam causes havoc in your home by allowing the water to infiltrate into the interior and cause damage to your walls, ceilings and insulation which can lead to mold and other headaches. If there are no beavers on your roof how are these dams being created? Weather! Yes, actually it is related to the exterior temperature and the differences in temperature between the edge of your roof and the roof’s upper portion.

A temperature difference can make quite an impact. If the temperature outside is 32 degrees or below and you have snow on your roof watch out. If warm interior air leaks to the upper portion of your roof to start to melt the snow and the lower portion down by your eave is 32 degrees or lower that melted snow ends up becoming ice at the edge causing the start of an ice dam and eventually builds up enough to give you problems. The area above the ice stays in the state of melted snow (water) and will find ways to sneak into your home.

Where are they?

In an existing home, you can identify areas of potential trouble by looking at your roof after a snowstorm. Identify areas that are melting faster than the eave. This is most likely an area where heat is escaping into the attic causing a more rapid melt than at the eave. The goal is to create a uniform temperature throughout your attic.

The 7 techniques…

  1. Provide a properly vented attic. This is enforced in New Jersey by the International Residential Code 2015 and you should make sure your general contractor pays close attention to it. In addition make sure your architect notes them on his/her drawings.
  2. Make sure you have enough insulation in your attic! If you have room to exceed the minimum do so. The prescriptive package in accordance with the International Energy Conservation Code requires R-49 in attics for homes in North Jersey. However using a software called ResCheck can cut this number down by adding insulation elsewhere to help you save money but may end up costing you more down the road in repairs.
  3. Exhausts from all appliances, such as dryers, hoods and bathrooms should all vent through a side wall or roof never though a soffit.
  4. All recessed lights that are penetrating into attic space shall be IC (insulation contact) fixtures which can have insulation placed right over them.
  5. All attic ductwork shall be sealed and insulated with a minimum value of R-8.
  6. Caulk and seal all penetrations such as wiring, vent pipes et al.
  7. Have an ice and water shield installed under your roof shingles in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions. Locations to be addressed are roof edges and valleys. A quality job will include all the penetrations as well! This shield does not prevent ice dams but it can help protect your home if it should occur.

If you see on your existing home that ice dams are forming the best thing to do is broom off the snow at the roof edge and try and melt the ice to allow the water to flow down and off the roof. Travelers, insurance company, recommend putting sodium chloride ice melt product in a stocking and laying it over the source of build up. I’m not 100% sold on this method but it looks like it could be a short-term remedy in a pinch.

Enjoy the winter and be careful!

Regional House Superstitions

Happy Halloween! We are all familiar with the perceived unluckiness of the number 13, (most high-rise buildings don’t even have a 13th floor), or opening an umbrella indoors so in honor of this celebrated day I researched some lesser known superstitions related to the home found throughout the world…

Belarus:

Do not clean your house when someone departs on a journey until that person arrives at their destination. I hope it’s not going to be too long of a trip those dishes could really pile up!

Belgium:

Do not sweep dirt out of your home (you may be sweeping out luck).

China:

One of the most important features of a home for the superstitious Chinese is the entrance way. Any objects in front of the homes entrance such as a tree for example are said to block the entrance of Chi, or positive energy, into the home.

Another important feature is an entrance way