Pages Navigation Menu

Home Design Tips

Preparing Vacant Land For Your New, Sustainable Lifestyle

Posted by on Oct 14, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Preparing Vacant Land For Your New, Sustainable Lifestyle

Buying a plot of land to build your own home and grow your own food is an exciting first step on the path to a sustainable lifestyle. Now the real fun begins – along with plenty of hard work. But before you move forward, the land must be excavated. Heavy equipment will be used to clear unwanted vegetation, move earth for proper contouring and drainage, and level the ground where the house will stand. The instructions you and your building contractor give the excavators will give you a jump-start on creating the efficient, sustainable lifestyle you desire. What to Clear and What to Keep Brambles, overgrowth, and debris all need to be removed from the property. Some trees may need to go, also, to make room a garden and orchard, the house, and other structures. If there’s a healthy shade tree or magnificent evergreens that you want to keep, make sure that the tree roots are properly protected from damage by the excavation and construction process. Identify natural features such as a pond, a meadow, or a small stand of trees that you want to integrate into your property layout. Mark these features with bright colored stakes and construction tape to prevent them from being disturbed during excavation. Grading and Topsoil Preservation The land where your house and other structures are to be built must be leveled and the surrounding areas contoured to an angle sufficient for proper drainage. The grading process is likely to displace nutrient rich topsoil. With proper planning, the topsoil may be moved to areas where you plan to grow an expansive garden. Areas where brush and tree roots have been removed, and areas where the soil has been graded are susceptible to erosion. Some excavation companies offer erosion control services, but you may also take the do-it-yourself route using ground-cover plants or temporary erosion fencing. Specific Excavation Needs Ensure that your excavation plans include grading, filling and leveling for the specific activities you’ll need to maintain your sustainable lifestyle. For example, you’ll need extra space leveled for parking a small tractor, for a workshop and garden shed, and for a barn if you expect to raise any livestock. You may also need soil cut from one area of the property and moved to another for planting an orchard. And if you don’t have a natural pond on the property, now is the time to have one dug that you can stock with fish at a later date. For more information, talk to a professional like Gerard Excavation...

read more

How To Avoid Damaging Your Custom Home

Posted by on Sep 27, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on How To Avoid Damaging Your Custom Home

After spending so much time designing your custom home to perfection, the last thing you want to do is cause damage to your home that you will then have to deal with. With careful preparation, you can move your belongings into your new home safely. Have A Floor Plan Create a floor plan that includes where each piece of furniture will go. Then, you can immediately move your furniture into the appropriate room efficiently, reducing the odds that you will bump into and damage something. Prepare For Moving Large Furniture Large pieces of furniture are the most likely to cause damage to your home. These include couches, beds, and dining room tables. Before moving these belongings, make sure to measure doorways and hallways to make sure that they will fit through. Move slowly when you are transporting these pieces of furniture through doorways. Make sure you have a lot of friends or family members to volunteer to help when moving these large items because they will sometimes be awkward and heavy, increasing the chances that your furniture will collide with something else and cause damage. If possible, dismantle large objects both so they are not so heavy and so they are easier to fit through doorways. Use Blankets And Cardboard An easy way to move furniture is to slide it across the floor. However, a problem with this approach is that sliding furniture across the floor can cause it to become scratched. Placing blankets underneath your furniture can help you avoid damaging both the furniture and the floor and will also make it easier to move your furniture. If you have extra blankets, drape them over bannisters and other exposed, hard objects that your furniture might bump into. Cardboard is another alternative for protecting the floor. Perfectly Pack Your Boxes Make sure that all moving boxes are perfectly packed. Even if a box seems harmless, if it suddenly comes open, your belongings might spill onto the floor and damage it. Make sure that you use an adequate amount of tape to hold your boxes closed. Use enough padding within the box because this not only protects your belongings, but also protects the floor if the box is dropped onto the floor. Many of your belongings, if they become damaged in the move, can easily be replaced. However, some damage that you may have done to your custom home can be expensive to repair, so make sure to follow these...

read more

Concerned About The Rising Cost Of Groceries? Edible Landscaping To The Rescue!

Posted by on Sep 2, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Concerned About The Rising Cost Of Groceries? Edible Landscaping To The Rescue!

If you shop for groceries on a regular basis, you have no doubt noticed that food prices are rising. In fact, according to data from the Consumer Price Index (CPI), food prices have risen 31.5% nationally in the ten year span between 2005 and 2015, and the trend is continuing. In an attempt to hold the line on family food budgets, many consumers have begun to take advantage of sales and bulk pricing to stock up on staple foods while continuing to struggle with the rising cost of fresh foods, such as vegetables, berries and fruit. If you are one of these families, adding edible plants to the landscaping in your yard can be a great way to offset these costs while enjoying more healthy, delicious produce. Here’s what you need to do to get started. Design a plan that fits your space Edible landscaping is a great option for most households and especially for those who lack the space or time needed to till, plant and care for a traditional garden plot. To get started, first look at your existing landscaping and determine the amounts of sunlight and shade for each area and what plants you might want to remove to make more room for food-producing ones. Using graph paper to make a rough drawing of your yard and both your current landscaping and the plants you want to grow is a great way to help you determine where to plant and what changes might need to be made before you begin planting. Choose the right plants for your space and your family In order to succeed with turning your current landscaping into edible landscaping, it is best to start with a modest number of plants and add a few additional ones each year. Choose a mix of plants that are both easy to grow from seed each year (like greens, radishes, beans, squashes and melons) and plants that will continue to produce delicious food year after year from a single planting (like berry bushes, grape vines, apple trees, Egyptian onions, herbs and edible greens such as dandelion). When planning the location for each type of plant, remember to use the information you collected while studying the amount of sun and shade your yard gets in order to locate them where they will grow best. And always remember to focus on planting the vegetables, fruits and berries that your family likes instead of wasting precious space on those that may be pretty or easy to grow but will not be eaten. Find ways to add even more food value to your landscaping If you are having trouble deciding on which edible landscaping plants to grow or how to locate them correctly in your yard, it may be time to contact a landscaping professional for advice. They can help you make necessary changes to address problem areas and help you understand how to group certain plant species together to make them more productive in your...

read more

Understanding The Key Components Of A Condensing Furnace

Posted by on Aug 16, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Understanding The Key Components Of A Condensing Furnace

When you set out to buy a furnace, you need to make sure that you choose the most efficient model that you can buy. This is the only way to make sure that you save as much money as possible on your monthly heating bills. When it comes to choosing the most efficient furnace that money can buy, it helps to know what components to look for.  The Variable-Speed Blower A traditional furnace has a fan motor with one setting—full blast. This means that your furnace comes on at full capacity and pumps air into your home until it achieves the target furnace setting, at which point it turns off. This is akin to racing your car through stop-and-go traffic; to put in plainly, you waste a lot of electricity gunning the motor. A highly efficient furnace will have a variable speed motor which allows it to come on at full capacity when necessary but to then run at a lower setting to maintain the temperature in your home. Just as motoring along at a consistent, low speed is the best way to save money on motor fuel, it is always the best way to lower your electricity bills.  A Second Heat Exchanger The second key that you should look for is a unit with two heat exchangers. This is important because even modern mid-efficiency furnaces will only have one heat exchanger and will have the need to vent fumes out of your house through a vent pipe. Thus, the heat exchanger is designed to leave just enough heat in the exhaust created by burning a fuel to allow that exhaust to rise out of a vent pipe. The heat left in the exhaust is simply wasted. A second exchanger allows a condensing furnace to condense the water vapor created by burning fuel so that the other gases can dissolve into the water. The exhaust can then drain out of your furnace through a drain tube and a drain cut into your floor. This design allows a condensing furnace to achieve efficiency levels of up to 98%.  When choosing a furnace, it is important to remember that it must use both electricity and fuel efficiently. Not every furnace with a variable-speed motor will also be a condensing furnace, and the reverse is also true. Thus, it is important to sit down with a heating contractor and make sure that you are actually getting a furnace that will help you save on electricity bills as well as natural gas...

read more

3 Reasons To Sealcoat Your Driveway

Posted by on Jul 28, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 3 Reasons To Sealcoat Your Driveway

Investing in a new driveway is an expense that many homeowners are unable to bear. Unfortunately, a driveway that isn’t pristine can negatively affect the curb appeal of your home. If you feel that your driveway needs some attention, but you can’t afford to invest in new asphalt, then sealcoating could be a great option. Here are three reasons to sealcoat your driveway in the future. 1. Sealcoating can extend the life of your driveway. The asphalt used to pave your driveway can begin to crack over time. When water gets into these cracks, serious damage can occur. Water expands when frozen, so any water inside small cracks in your driveway will begin to enlarge these cracks. By making the choice to have a sealcoating applied to your driveway, you introduce a waterproof barrier to your asphalt. Preventing water from seeping into the cracks of your driveway will help extend the life of your asphalt well into the future. 2. Sealcoating can prevent contamination. The same waterproof barrier that allows sealcoating to keep water out of the cracks in your asphalt can also be beneficial in reducing the amount of contamination to the soil beneath your driveway. Fluids like antifreeze, gasoline, and motor oil can leak out of your car and onto the surface of your driveway. Without a protective coating, the asphalt of your driveway is porous. Contaminants from spilled liquids can seep through the pores of the asphalt and into the soil beneath your driveway. Making the choice to have your driveway sealcoated will eliminate potential contamination in the future. 3. Sealcoating minimizes maintenance. Rainstorms, high winds, or melting snow can leave your driveway looking dingy. Applying a sealcoat to the surface of your driveway’s asphalt can provide you with an easy way to keep your driveway clean in the future. Since sealcoating creates a smooth surface, running water can easily wash away dirt and debris from your driveway. Without a sealcoat, the porous surface of the asphalt can cause dirt and debris to accumulate on your driveway, requiring you to manually remove it. If you are looking for a simple way to reduce the amount of maintenance required to keep your driveway looking nice, invest in sealcoating, Taking advantage of the benefits that sealcoating can provide will help your breathe new life into your driveway without incurring the expense of installing new asphalt. Sealcoating will extend the life of your driveway, prevent contamination, and reduce the amount of maintenance required to keep your home’s curb appeal intact. For more information, consider contacting companies like LSC Construction Services,...

read more

Solar Shingles: A New Way To Harness The Power Of Sunlight

Posted by on Jul 12, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Solar Shingles: A New Way To Harness The Power Of Sunlight

Are you looking for a way to reduce your electricity bills while also being more kind to the environment? Solar panels are an option, but an even better option for many homeowners is solar shingles. Here’s a closer look at these shingles and the benefits they offer. What are solar shingles? Solar shingles are similar to solar panels, but instead of being mounted on large stands, they are incorporated into your roof in place of regular shingles. They are flat and have a slight sheen to them. From close up, you can tell that they’re not regular asphalt shingles, but from a distance, you’d have to really be paying attention to tell the difference. How do solar shingles work? Simply put, solar shingles harness the sun’s energy and convert it into electricity. This electricity is fed back into the electric grid. In most cases, your electric company will keep track of how much electricity your solar shingles feed into the grid and also how much electricity you use. If you use more than your solar shingles produce, you’ll receive a bill. If you produce more than you use, you’ll get a check from the electric company instead. Some homeowners decide to go completely off-grid, detaching their homes from the electric company’s lines and only relying on their solar shingles for power. This may be a viable option if you live in an area that’s sunny and warm year-long, but it’s not feasible if you have a cold, cloudy season. What are the benefits of solar shingles over solar panels? Though alternative energy is becoming more prominent, solar panels are still not common among homeowners. On most streets, if you mount solar panels on your home, your home will become instantly known as “the home with solar panels.” You’ll stick out – and that’s not a good thing in some neighborhoods. Solar shingles, on the other hand, are less obvious. People may notice that your roof looks a bit different, but your home won’t really stand out, so your neighbors won’t be likely to complain that your home’s odd appearance is harming their property value. Solar panels are also quite heavy, which means they’re not an option for most older homes with roof supports that aren’t as strong as they could be. Solar shingles weigh about the same as regular shingles, so they’re safe to put on most any roof. To learn more, talk with a roofing contractor from a company like Bosworth...

read more

5 Ways To Get Greater Energy Efficiency From A Central Air Conditioner

Posted by on Jun 27, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on 5 Ways To Get Greater Energy Efficiency From A Central Air Conditioner

Do you avoid using your central air conditioning system as much as possible because it always causes your energy bill to skyrocket? If you are ready to start enjoying your central air conditioner with better energy efficiency, there are several things that you can do. Take a look at the list of tips that are in this article to learn how you can get more energy efficiency from your central air conditioning system. 1. Get the Air Ducts Cleaned Clean air ducts are crucial when it comes to having an energy-efficient central air conditioning system. No matter how good of shape the other parts of the system are, energy efficiency will be low if air is unable to fully flow through the ducts. You must get the ducts cleaned for dirt, mold, and possibly even rodent removal. 2. Prevent the Sun from Shining Through Windows If there are shades, blinds or curtains hanging at your windows, make sure that they are closed during the times that the central air conditioner is running. It is ok to leave the window treatments open if the sun is covered by clouds. Just make sure the sun does not shine inside of your house, as it creates heat that interferes with the coldness of the air conditioner.   3. Get the Blower Fan Inspected The blower fan to your central air conditioning system is important because it sends air through the air ducts. You might want to get the blower fan inspected to find out if it fully functions to produce a sufficient amount of air. A problematic blower fan can be repaired or replaced. 4. Make Sure Your Home Windows Are in Good Shape It is wise to invest in new home windows if the ones that you have are not in good shape. You want to make sure the windows are able to fully close, and that there are no cracks in the glass that allows air to seep in or out. Getting energy efficient windows installed can help with saving money when your central air conditioner is on. Opt for multiple panes of glass and argon gas for the best level of efficiency. 5. Get the Evaporator Coil Cleaned You must understand that the evaporator coil is the area of your central air conditioning system that creates cold air. However, the air can stay warm if the evaporator coil is dirty. The reason the coil must be cleaned is because warm air has to touch the metal in order for cooling to take place, but dirt creates a barrier. Hire a contractor to inspect your central air conditioning system and find out if any repairs are necessary. For air conditioning repairs, contact a company such as Aggressive Mechanical...

read more

Monitoring The Safety Features Of Your Garage Door

Posted by on Jun 7, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Monitoring The Safety Features Of Your Garage Door

During the installation of your garage door, three safety features were included to make sure that no one gets hurt should there be a failure. These features are easy to test, which is something you should periodically do. By spending just a few minutes each month doing these checks, you can ensure that you and your family are safe if the garage door fails to work properly. Inspect the Garage Door Spring Safety Cables The large springs that are part of the garage door mechanism are under a lot of tension. They counterbalance the heavy door so that you and the small electric motor can lift the door easily. If one of these springs breaks or comes disconnected at one end, it could fly through the garage, hurt someone, and damage property. Safety cables are installed to make sure that doesn’t happen. Locate the large coil springs running parallel to and just under the garage ceiling. Look for a thick braided steel cable passing through the center of each spring. Check that one end of the cable is connected securely to a metal plate or bracket in the center of the ceiling. Check that the other end is connected to a bracket on the wall next to the garage door opening. Look for any twists or fraying in the cable itself. If you spot any issues with the cable or its connections, contact a garage door service company to correct the problem. Do not attempt any repairs of the safety cable yourself. Working around the high tension springs is dangerous and must be done by a technician that knows how to work with them safely. Test the Motion Sensors Motion sensors detect when there is movement through the garage door opening while the door is coming down. When triggered, the sensors cause the door to stop immediately and reverse. Testing these sensors is quick and easy. Raise the garage door. Locate the two small motion sensors on either side of the garage door opening. They should be slightly off the floor and pointing at each other. An invisible infrared beam runs between the two sensors when they are working properly. Find a small object that rolls easily, such as a ball. Push the button to close the garage door. While the door is moving down, roll the object through the garage door opening so that it interrupts the infrared beam between the two motion sensors. The garage door should stop and reverse. If the door continues moving down, examine the following: Check that the wires are connected to the back of each sensor. Check that the sensors are pointing right at each other with no obstacles in between them. Follow the wires from the sensors up to the back of the garage door opener motor and make sure they are connected securely. Correct any wiring problems and line up the sensors, then repeat the motion sensor test. If the door still doesn’t stop and reverse, call the service company for help. Test the Pressure Sensor Built into the garage door opener motor is a device that senses resistance to the door coming down. Should something be in the way of the door lowering, the door should immediately stop and reverse. This is to catch something in the way of...

read more

Enjoying Crisp, Cool Nights With Your Own Custom Fire Pit

Posted by on May 19, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Enjoying Crisp, Cool Nights With Your Own Custom Fire Pit

If you enjoy spending time outdoors with your family, you may want to consider adding a fire pit to your back yard to keep warm during nighttime activities. This will add a relaxing aura to your property that you will be sure to use on cooler nights. Here are some instructions to follow in creating your own custom fire pit. Materials You Will Need Measuring tape Spray paint or chalk Four stakes Shovel Crushed gravel Cement blocks Masonry cement Metal grate Lawn furniture Prepare The Area For Fire Pit Placement Take a look at your property to determine the best location for your fire pit. Pick an area where there are no tree limbs or electrical lines dangling overhead. It is best to create this spot far away from your home so there is no risk of the spread of flames.  Decide how large you would like the pit and plot a square or rectangular shape on the ground to use as a guideline. Use spray paint or chalk to make the dimensions visible. Place stakes along each corner so the area is visible as you work at constructing your pit. Add A Base Layer To The Designated Area Dig out the ground within the middle of the stakes you had placed. Dig out several inches in depth so you have adequate space to add a base layer for the fire pit construction. Fill this hole with pieces of crushed gravel. Jump on top of the gravel to help compact it inside the hole. Add more gravel if needed and tamp it into place again.  Build The Fire Pit Walls Using Cement Blocks Visit your local home goods store and purchase cement blocks to use for the fire pit walls. Place these around the perimeter of the crushed gravel to create the bottom tier of your fire pit. Use masonry cement to glue each cement block to the one next to it so they do not shift. Allow this cement to dry over night. The next day, add the second tier by centering a cement block over two blocks on the bottom tier. Continue around the perimeter and use cement to adhere the blocks to the bottom tier. Continue in this manner, cementing and allowing drying time overnight, until you have three or four tiers of cement blocks in place.  Finish The Area So It Can Be Utilized Set a metal grate over the top-tier of cement blocks. It will need to be large enough to cover the blocks without the risk of falling into the hole in the middle. Place several lawn chairs and a lawn table or two around the fire so your family or friends can sit back and enjoy the warmth of the fire. You can place logs on top of the gravel in the middle of the fire pit to use to start the blaze. Sit back and enjoy the new addition you just created! Contact a contractor, like, for more...

read more

Tips For Dealing With Old Residential Heating Oil

Posted by on May 4, 2016 in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Tips For Dealing With Old Residential Heating Oil

If you are going through an old house that you have either purchased or inherited, you might find an old heater in the basement that runs on heating oil. There might still be heating oil in the heater. You might not know if the oil is still usable or if you will need to get rid of it. You might not even know how to get rid of it. Here are some tips for dealing with old residential heating oil. 1. Get More Information If You Know the Manufacturing Company If you can ascertain who the manufacturers of the oil are, then you can call them to find out more about the oil. If you can find out how old the heating oil is, then you will be able to provide that information to the people at the heating oil company and will be able to ask them if additives were put into the oil that would extend its life to the length of time that it has been sitting, unused, in the heater. If you are unable to figure out how old the oil is, you will be able to talk to the manufacturer to determine if you can add any substance to the heating oil, such as a restorative product, to make the heating oil usable again. The manufacturer is going to be your best source of information about whether or not the oil is still usable. 2. Get Rid of It If You Don’t Know the Manufacturing Company If you are not able to find the company that manufactured the oil, then your first step is to call the company that is supplying you with the oil and ask if they would be willing to pump it out. Make sure that you provide the last date of delivery so that you know that the company will not accidentally try to sell this oil to another customer and have it not work. Call all of the heating companies in the area until you find one that is willing to provide you this service for a fee. They will know best how to dispose of the oil. Once you have the tank drained of oil, you can decide to either restore it or get rid of it. For environmental reasons, you should never dispose of a tank that still has oil in it. For more information, talk to a company that specializes in heating oil, such as Cash...

read more