Archive for April, 2010

Fire Safety for Tile Roofs

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Tile is a highly attractive and non-combustible material that is popular for roofing on Southwestern and Spanish style homes. Coupled with stucco siding, this type of home has an excellent fire safety rating. However, mistakes in construction and maintenance can make a tile roof less of a barrier against flames than it would otherwise be. Basically, anywhere there is a crack or other hole in the clay material there is the potential for a fire to gain a foothold.

Consider a classic barrel style clay tile roof. Each tile is round on top and open on the end. They are overlapped to make a solid roof. However, at the edge the tile is open to penetration. Embers that are blown into these openings can catch the roof underlayment and wood structure on fire. There are caps called “bird stops” that should be used to close off these apertures as part of the installation process.

2118491433_1890f798ef_t1As the name suggests, these bird stops are intended to keep feathered intruders from creeping under the clay tiles to make nests. Since nest materials are generally highly combustible, they present an additional fire hazard. The bird stops should be checked regularly (for example, twice a year when you check your gutters). They may become dislodged and require re-affixing to restore the integrity of the clay tile roof.

Hot Tubs and Sunrooms – A Perfect Match?

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

One of the most challenging aspects of owning a hot tub is protecting it from the weather. Extreme cold can damage the mechanical parts of an outdoor spa. This means it is necessary to keep a hot tub running all winter long to maintain a safe minimum temperature. If it is snowing, a cover must be placed over the tub.

4320713761_ba91e0f090_tWhat if you could install a hot tub in a more protected environment while still enjoying an “outdoor” feel? This is an idea many homeowners are experimenting with by installing a hot tub in a sunroom. In these cases, the sunroom may be furnished and decorated more like a spa than a reading room or plant conservatory. A table for serving refreshments, a few lounge chairs, and a tile floor with a textured surface are great design elements for such a sunroom.

Special Challenges

Of course, the requirements for a hot tub room are different than those of a typical sunroom. The materials used should be resistant to moisture. The room must also be appropriately vented so steam doesn’t build up and make the space uncomfortably hot and humid (although some people like the sauna effect!) The excess moisture should be able to condense and drain to the exterior of the sunroom instead of inside the room.

A hot tub also has unique plumbing (and electrical) requirements. Such considerations are easiest to accommodate during the initial planning stage rather than as a retrofit. Putting a hot tub in a sunroom that is not designed properly for such a use may result in damage and disappointment.

Your Rights As A Purchaser Of Replacement Windows

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Although the specifics of the law vary by state, homeowners generally have specific rights when they sign a contract to have windows replaced in their home. One of the most important is the right of cancellation. This is a lot like the “lemon law” that applies to car sales. Basically, if a window manufacturer or installer comes to your home and convinces you to sign an agreement to have your windows replaced, you have 3 business days to cancel the contract. There can be no penalty or other charge assessed against you for doing this.

2047767209_1482243d63_tThe salesperson making the presentation in your home is usually required by law to inform you both verbally and in writing of your right of cancellation. He or she must also provide you with a form to use in case you change your mind. If the salesperson fails to do this, the time period for your right to cancel may be extended.

To actually cancel a contract, you would need to call the company you signed the contract with to notify them of your intent. Then, you would send them the completed cancellation form or letter within the 3 day window. The company is then required to return any signed copies of the contract to you.

Pros and Cons of Cancellation

It isn’t uncommon for a homeowner to get “cold feet” about a home improvement project as extensive as window replacement. If the monthly payments are truly outside your ability to pay, it may be best to wait until your budget isn’t so tight. That way, you won’t fall behind and damage your credit history.

However, bear in mind that high-quality replacement windows can add over $10,000 to the value of a home. Plus, energy efficient windows begin delivering utility savings immediately upon installation. This can offset some of the cost of payments on an installment plan. They also make the home more attractive from the outside and more comfortable on the inside. You miss out on all these benefits when you cancel a contract to have your windows replaced.

Kitchen Remodeling – Shaker Style

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

shakerShaker style kitchens are a popular design option for people who love rustic surroundings but want something simpler than a “Country” or “Southwestern” motif. If you are remodeling your kitchen and want an old-fashioned look with clean lines, this may be the right choice for you. Here are some of the features you can expect to see in a kitchen built on the Shaker model.

Straight Edges

A Shaker cabinet usually has a light to mid-toned finish (think maple, cherry, or white oak). The door panels may feature a recessed center surrounded by a rectangular frame of wood slats. There are no fancy curves anywhere in the wooden design of these cabinets. Everything is focused on function and sturdy serviceability.

Smooth Surfaces

Stone countertops make an excellent pairing with the plain wood of a Shaker inspired kitchen. Pull knobs, handles, and faucets in a matte finish (like brushed nickel or stainless steel) also work well. The flooring should be wood for a fully authentic look, but a muted stone or tile floor is also suitable.

Natural Accents

Any modern appliances should be tucked away out of sight so that the beauty found in the quality craftsmanship will be more apparent. Natural lighting works best with this kitchen style, so a discrete tubular skylight might be a perfect fit here for daytime use. Light fixtures can be selected in metal finishes that match the hardware on the cabinets to make it blend with the rest of the room.

Spa Style Bathroom Makeover

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

The bedroom isn’t the only room in your house that should feel like a sanctuary. Your master bathroom is a perfect location to spend a relaxing hour at the end of a long day. To make this experience as pleasant and pampered as possible, consider creating a spa style bathroom. Take design hints from your favorite spa getaway to find ways to make this room truly luxurious.

spaYour spa tub doesn’t have to be gigantic, but it shouldn’t make you feel cramped. Pick one with jets to give you a deep, soothing massage. If you prefer a shower, go for one with pulsating shower head and a filter that ensures the water touching your skin is totally pure. Remember to add a waterproof sound system so you can sing along with your favorite music – this is your time!

Invest in the Best

Temperature is one of the most critical aspects of comfort. If your bathroom tends to be chilly, consider installing an under-floor heating system. This can be laid down under tile to keep your feet toasty warm without the annoying noise created by a heater vent.

Everything that influences your senses in your personal spa should be delightful. Invest in smooth granite countertops, elegantly formed fixtures, and lush fabrics for this space. Put the bright lights around your mirror on a separate switch from softer, indirect lighting so you can choose the perfect level of illumination to suit your mood. Select wall sconces that double as candle or flower holders so you can add fragrance to your private bathroom getaway.