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Category Archives: Home Improvement

Plan a Successful Playground Design

The most important advice for planning a playground is to take your time. If you are rushed into any decision-making then it is likely that the end result will not suit your individual requirements. There are so many options and designs that it is important to consider them all prior to committing to the final design.

Another element that will help lead to a successful result is the involvement of the children that are using the space. Allow them to create their own ideas of how they would like the equipment to look. This will make sure that they value their new play space and will enable your chosen playground company to tailor the designs to available products. It is well-understood within the industry that idea generation from children can be incredibly resourceful and inspiring.

Following on seamlessly from this is the acquisition of a reputable playground company. They will support you through the entire process and will be directed by the strictest guidelines in relation to safety. Their experience will allow them the opportunity of tailoring your designs to provide further benefit.

A site visit will be conducted which will allow your chosen company to determine the space they have to work with. This will allow them the opportunity to discuss possible limitations or opportunities. It may be that you need guidance with regards to the exact products and equipment available. All of this needs to be tailored to your budget constraints and individual requirements.

From this point a design will be generated. This is often the stage where there is a lot of tweaks and discussions in order to achieve the best design. At this point the imagined concept will come to life. Both you and the children involved will be able to see what the end result will look like in the actual space.

Once a design is agreed it is then for your chosen company to organise an installation date. It is often the case that best-served professionals will look to arrange this based around your existing commitments.

It is important that you are kept up-to-date throughout all stages of the design and installation process. Time invested in this process will ensure a successful finish. Look for organisations with informative websites where you can see the previous work that they have completed. Ensure that they have a positive internet presence and a range of communication methods.

Types of Foundation Cracks

It is not uncommon to find minor cracking in concrete foundations, possibly indicating a need for concrete foundation repair. This is because concrete shrinks as it cures. Curing is not just the result of water loss, it is also a chemical reaction. The amount of shrinkage that will occur depends on many factors, such as the type of concrete that was used, the temperature at the time of the pour and how much water was used.

These are usually thin, vertical cracks that appear randomly throughout the foundation. They can range in length from a couple of inches to the entire height of the wall. If the concrete was incorrectly or poorly mixed, the cracks will tend to be larger. The degree and characteristics of the cracking can also be influenced by the use (or lack) of steel reinforcements. Shrinkage cracking will typically stop once the concrete has been cured.

Foundation cracks occurring in an older building should be of more concern. In particular, be on the lookout for vertical wall cracks that become noticeably larger in a short period of time. Although the cracking may be the result of settlement, it can also be an indicator of more serious foundation problems. Cracks that are wider at the top than bottom can be dangerous as well, especially if you find them near the ends of a brick wall.

Generally, wall cracks that have a wider bottom than top are caused by settlement. If there is too much settlement, there may be underlying foundation issues that need to be addressed. Contact a seasoned foundation contractor if you have concerns about this kind of cracking, especially if they are appearing in a brick wall, to see if home foundation repair is needed.

Take note of any cracks that have a step-like pattern. These types of cracks can be caused by foundation settlement, as well as expanding and contracting soil or landscaping too close to the building.

Other causes of this kind of cracking can include:

Omitted footings
Frost heave
Shallow footings
Water problems
An inadequate backfill

Step cracks can often be seen outside as well as inside your home. You will want to have any cracks with this pattern inspected by a foundation repair expert.

Horizontal cracks in walls are often the most serious type of cracking. In most cases they can only be seen in crawl areas or a basement. Sometimes the cause of this type of cracking is expansive soil or improper backfilling. Either way, if you find horizontal cracks in either of those areas, immediately contact a foundation contractor, especially if the cracks are increasing in size over time.

Customized New Homes

Space Is Everything

Where you will live is a big decision. Ever move into a house or apartment only to complain about the size of the bedrooms, the number of bathrooms, or the amount of storage space? Obtaining a mortgage loan takes effort and commitment on the part of individuals. Buyers tend to stay in their houses longer than renters. When you purchase a property, you either have to live with its inconveniences and inefficiencies or spend the money to make the necessary improvements. Buyers should take the same time and care needed to obtain their loans and put that effort into finding residences that will match their lifestyles and grow with them. Buyers of new homes have the opportunity to pick layouts that address their own unique needs and include customized features that simplify their lives.

Desirable Features

New homes provide a number of features that can increase owner satisfaction and happiness. Customized features include a variety of options and plans for both the indoor and outdoor areas. Design plans involve the number of bedrooms and bathrooms. Additional floor plan considerations involve storage space, lighting needs, cabinet placements, and the number of electrical outlets.

Features of recent constructions encompass all aspects of a residence and all types of occupants. Owners looking to maximize outdoor space can incorporate larger yards, landscaping, decks, porches, and pool spaces to enhance the usability and function of the areas around their houses. Those worrying about safety and protection can have built-in security systems. Media enthusiasts may install wiring for sound systems and entertainment centers. Additionally, individuals can choose paint colors, floorings, and cabinets. This process saves them from spending both the time and money on renovations.

Green Technology

Energy efficiency is one of the aspects of building that attracts buyers for both its design features and cost savings. While older properties may have gaps in the doors and frames, contemporary houses contain insulation, sealed doors, and modern double-pane windows that all keep heat and cool air inside the property. These features reduce energy costs and provide the added bonus of stronger protection during severe weather. Contemporary appliances are also made energy efficient, utilizing less power than used appliances. Owners see the savings in both their energy bills and in repair costs.

Architects Versus Engineers

For anyone in construction, this may seem obvious, but it occurred to me that it may not be as obvious to everyone else. So Today I wanted to take a moment to discuss the differences between an architect and an engineer and explain why one is exceptionally qualified to lead the other.

Before I jump into the meat of this discussion, I want to share an experience I had several years ago. A higher education client was modernizing their university’s central power plant. Given the substantial engineering this project required, the Owner selected an engineer who was exceptionally skilled with the various building systems impacted by the project. The firm was hired directly by the owner and setup to lead the project. The engineer, realized that while the project was primarily an engineering project, there were several architectural elements that would also be impacted. Not having any in-house architects, the firm turned to an outside architect and hired them as a sub-consultant with the principal engineer in the lead.

The firm I was with at the time received the award to provide the architectural services. I was assigned the project and worked with the engineer to complete this project. This was the one and only project I ever worked on where the architect did not have the lead role.

It was the single worst project experience I have ever had.

I’ve got a lot of friends who are engineers. My wife is one. Many of my closest friends are engineers. This means that I have endured decades of jabs about architects and typically being the only architect in the room, I have no recourse but to laugh along. The truth is that architects do push the boundaries of engineering. Often to the point of mockery. We tend to do so out of ignorance. After all, we certainly don’t understand each system the way our engineer colleagues do.

Despite this, there is one thing my fellow engineers don’t fully appreciate. Without proper coordination and alignment between all of the engineered parts, the entire project would fail to come together.

Coordination between the various building systems is a critical part of every project. If left undone, a deficiency in coordination stands to wreak havoc throughout construction and subject the owner to change orders, additional costs, and delays.

It may surprise some to hear that architects are responsible for coordination of engineering systems.

In order to better understand this, it’s important to review the education, training, and examinations required of architects and compare that to the education, training, and examinations required of engineers.

Engineers begin their academic careers in general engineering classes but soon concentrate their education in one of several major disciplines. An engineering student may choose a major in Mechanical, Electrical, or Civil engineering (just to name a few). Each of these concentrations focuses education on a specific set of physical properties in which students specialize. After graduation, those who choose to go into construction, learn to apply those concepts to specific building systems aligned with their engineering major. When it comes time to become a licensed Professional Engineer, the examinations required by licensing boards are tailored to the engineering discipline. In short throughout an engineer’s career, the concentration they choose stays with them throughout their lives. I won’t make a blanket statement stating that engineer’s don’t know more than one discipline, but I will say that I have encountered very few who either practice or even dabble in another.

On the other hand in addition to core design and architecture theory classes, architecture students are required to attend several years of classes in structures, building systems, and construction practice. When a student graduates, one of the first duties (pun intended) assigned is detailing bathrooms (where all building systems come together). When it comes time for licensure, an architect must pass a series of examinations (seven at last count) that include building systems and structural systems.

In short, the only licensed professional in the design team that is educated in all of the major systems of a building is the architect.

On my disastrous old university project, the engineer did such a poor job of coordination, that his own people would come to meetings often uninformed of the impacts that changes in another in-house engineering discipline had on their work. Often these guys sat just across the aisle from one another.

I certainly did not know it at the time, but the Owner’s mistake of hiring the engineer as the project lead doomed that project to failure.

It seems like a reasonable assumption that on a project that is primarily about replacing building systems, the engineer would take the lead, so I don’t fault the owner for making that assumption.

I now know what a folly that decision can be and hope I’ve helped some of you avoid this mistake.

Custom Built Homes

• The home can be completely personalized, which is why many choose this type of home. The buyer can have a say in every phase of the building process so they can have a tailor-made home. You get to choose the layout of the rooms, the sizes of the rooms, how many bathrooms, and bedrooms you need, color of wall paint, countertops, appliances, and more. Although custom built homes are more expensive you will have the satisfaction of investing in a home that suits them and you do not have to deal with the choices a previous owner made. You also do not have to spend money on upgrading your home.

• If there is a new subdivision that is being built, choosing a home here will allow you to build as you want. You can also watch as other homes are built and more people move into the area. If you purchase acreage, you can build it as large or small as you want and it gives you a chance to live in a remote area with very few neighbors.

• There are also lower maintenance costs as owners of brand new home generally spend fourteen dollars less per square foot that one that bought a ready-made home for routine maintenance. For example custom built homes with two-thousand five hundred square feet, they could save an extra three hundred twenty-six dollars a year.

• Custom built homes are easier to build that are totally energy efficient than ones where you purchase energy efficient windows and appliances. There are even tax breaks you can receive when building energy efficient homes.

• Custom built homes are one of a kind. No one else in the subdivision will have a home exactly like yours because it is built according to your choices and taste.

• If there are any special needs such as planning to retire and live in your home until your death, you can have the home built on one level with minimum stairs. This will help when you are older and find climbing steps hard or you have someone in a wheel chair and need wider doorways and counters that they can work on, or lower sinks.

Waterproof New Construction

#1 – Protect Your Building’s Interior from Water Damage

While construction is underway, the site is going to be exposed to the elements. The frames, foundations, wiring, insulation, and floors will inevitably be at the mercy of the weather. If you’re using concrete and steel the hazard is less prominent, but the wooden materials is where the dangers of water really become more hazardous. Prolonged exposure to water will allow wood to begin to rot, become infested with mold, or render the entire structure unsound and unfit for use.

Waterproofing your building materials during construction will help prevent this from occurring. This will also promote a strong start to your project. As you’ll be better protecting your materials from damage, it also prevents expensive delays and replacements, as you will not need to be repairing continuous damage either during construction or after it has been completed.

#2 – Promote Long-Term Comfort and Sustainability

Waterproofing your new construction site early helps you to start sealing it off more efficiently than trying to it after building has finished. The measures taken help reduce moisture in the interior of the building, which makes it more comfortable to live in, while also providing a foundation for further work later on.

Some permeability is desirable in the building to let humidity building up inside the structure to escape, however the trick is allowing this while still keeping the moisture out. Such measures are easier to achieve as the building is being constructed. After the fact, you’ll probably require expensive reconstruction work to fit it all in properly. Thinking about this early can help prevent headaches about the matter later.

#3 – Prevent Future Flooding

Basements in particular are vulnerable to moisture seeping in. Water soaks through the soil and quickly leaks through cracks and fissures within the concrete, which can lead to flooding as well as mold and mildew. During the winter, this moisture will then freeze, causing it to expand and force the cracks open wider and making the problem worse. Eventually, the entire basement could be rendered unsafe.

As the basement is being built, it is essential to take steps to keep them waterproof and seal them off from moisture. Be sure to protect the foundations of the building as well, as doing so will promote the long-term stability of the structure.

Advantages of Design-Build

  • Faster Delivery – collaborative project management means work is completed sooner and with fewer problems.
  • Cost Savings – an integrated team is geared toward efficiency and innovation.
  • Better Quality – design-builders meet performance needs, not minimum design requirements, often developing innovations to deliver a better project than initially imagined.
  • Singular Responsibility – one entity is held accountable for cost, schedule, and performance.
  • Decreased Administrative Burden – owners can focus on the project rather than managing separate contracts.
  • Reduced Risk – contractor assumes full responsibility for all aspects of the project.

Ability to manage all aspects of home building or remodeling project means that contractor can offer more with fewer administrative burdens, better quality, cost savings, and reduced risk. Design-build services are comprehensive, keeping you in mind throughout the entire process. These kinds of services can include:

  • Pre-design Assessment
  • Lifestyle Design
  • Site Selection (owner’s or builder’s property)
  • Architectural Design Management
  • Certified Green Builder
  • Value Engineering
  • Bank / Lender Management
  • Demolition Management
  • Feasibility & Budget Assessment
  • Construction Management
  • Property Engineering Management
  • Product Selection Guidance
  • Budget Management
  • Zoning, Permitting, Building, and Governmental Approvals

Design-Build methodology provides for project delivery under a single contract inclusive of both design and construction services. The contract price is typically a fixed number based on specific allowances and options selected by the homeowner. This simple but fundamental difference saves money and time by transforming the relationship between designers and builders into an alliance which fosters collaboration and teamwork.

Structural Insulated Panels

The Panel Types

Before you get the panels, make sure you know the different types of insulated panels. The performance and lifespan of the panels will depend upon the quality of the fabric. Therefore, it’s important that you know the panels’ fabrication process and the way it was glued or bonded to the material of insulation. The performance of the panel will go down if it was glued or cured the wrong way. Given below is a description of different types of commonly used Structured Integrated Panels.

Polystyrene Insulated Panels

Most of SIPs are made with EPS, which is short for Expanded Polystyrene. This insulation type on the SIPs represents the measurement of the insulation. The final R value may be up to 5 inch thick. Usually, the size of these panels is between 4 feet and 24 feet in width.

Polyurethane Insulated Panels

Usually, these SIPs feature an R value of between R6 and R7 per inch of thickness. You can achieve the R26 with walls that measure 4.5 inches. Usually, these panels are produced in 3.5 inches of thickness for walls. For ceiling, the thickness of these panels is as much as 7.5 inches.

Moreover, these panels cost more than the ones we mentioned earlier. However, the advantage of these panels is that they are resistant to fire and water. Moreover, they offer a higher R value compared to the EPS ones.

CSCI panels

These panels are more eco-friendly than other types of panels since they are made with recycled agricultural straw and renewable stuff. Unlike the panels we talked about earlier, these panels don’t feature higher R values.

House Extensions

Are you looking forward to an extra bedroom, a new living area for the whole family to enjoy or for a home office? The first and foremost step is to verify the viability of a house extension procedure in your property, no matter whether it is a single storey extension or a two (double) storey extension. Always keep in mind that only a well-planned sensible design can be cost-effective and provide you the likely benefits. Before you proceed, it is also necessary to recognise the need of a planning permission and verify whether your property is located in a conservation area. If so, it is highly recommended to seek advice from your nearby building control authority and do a research about the legal procedures related to the extension work.

Next, take time to find an answer for “how much does an extension cost?” For this, your exact requirement has to be analysed in detail. Based on your need, you can either choose a rear extension or a side extension procedure. A single storey extension, either done on the side or rear portion, is comparatively cheaper and it requires only minimal disruption. However, if you need more ventilation, then a double storey extension is considered as more beneficial. An extra investment is often required when you adopt additional painting or interior design services. Also, make sure to implement adequate safety measures, before your home remodelling job, to avoid unexpected costs.

As there are multiple possibilities in a home or kitchen extension project, it is extremely essential to find a reputable professional who utilise highly sophisticated construction methods for a hassle free home improvement job. Such professionals inspect your site and suggest the most suitable design pattern, based on your specific requirements, budget and the building’s pre-existing conditions. Moreover, they adhere to essential quality standards and offer adequate work warranty for the job undertaken to ensure utmost customer satisfaction.

Wooden Garages

Surprising facts about wooden garages

Multi-purpose

The prime purpose of wooden garages is providing a safe place to park your car. Well, that’s not all. Wooden garages are multi-purpose and can serve other purposes other than accommodating your car. Some people use garages as a store where they keep gardening tools and other household equipment whose services are not needed regularly. There are also those who use garages as workshops. Last but not the least, some people turn their wooden garages as man caves. If the garage is big enough, why not use it as a man cave for one of those awkward nights?

Suitable for all seasons

Naturally, wooden structures are very attractive to the eye. Irrespective of what season it is, wooden garages always look attractive to the eye. Wood being a bad conductor of heat ensures that the inside temperature remains warm during winter despite the fact that it is freezing outside. A wooden garage is perfectly equipped to suit you in all seasons.

Maintenance of wooden garages

Wood is durable but there are a few things that you need to know about maintenance of a wooden garage. Wood can rot, get infected with pests and break. To ensure that your garage is always in good shape you will have to maintain it. How do you go about it?

Regular inspection- once every 6 months you should see to it that you inspect your garage. Check and see if there is any cracks or broken parts of the wood, check for rotting or any parts that are infected with pests. The best wood to use is slowly grown conifer. It is durable and doesn’t rot easily. In the inspection, also check the frames and the ceiling. If the frames started to rot and you don’t do anything about it the structure can collapse.

Replacing what is damaged. The inspection is to ensure that you identify the various problems. Everything that you found with a damaged has to be replaced. There are also those who repaint their wooden garage at least once every two years. If you can’t do it yourself seek professionals help.

Safety measures

Safety always comes first and with wooden garages, it is no exemption. Unlike other building materials wood is combustible and this means that you have to take safety precautionary measures to protect your garage in case of an accidental fire. If statistics are anything to go by then over 65% of household fires either start from the kitchen or the garage. Most of the times the fire is accidental but how well equipped you are to deal with the fire will determine the amount of damage the fire will do. Some of the recommended fire safety precautions include:

Sprinkler and fire alarms

Install fire alarms that are connected to a water sprinkler system. With a fire alarm system put in place, this means that you will be in a position to detect the fire when it is still manageable. The sprinkler system can put off the fire but even if this doesn’t work, the fact that you will detect the fire in the early stages this means that you will have enough time to react to the fire.