Greenbacks: Attic

‘Tis the warming season!  Leaky ducts = an easy fix.  Last time you put boxes in the attic, did you feel the cool air leaking from the ductwork?  You could be feeling 30% of your air conditioning right there!  When the weather cools, buy a can of goopy mastic, and take an old paint brush up to the attic with you.  Apply to any seams, over any silver tape, and to any rips in the ductwork.  What about the light you saw coming through a crack from the room below?  Your best friend is called “Great Stuff” and it comes in a spray can in the insulation aisle.  Pull back the insulation from the crack, spray and wait for it to dry, then push back the insulation.  Cheap and easy!

Hiring Professionals: Design

What does it mean to design something, anyhow?  When people say design, they usually mean one of many different words: decorate, engineer, create, develop, intend.  When an architect designs, it means they have taken into consideration a multitude of complications and devised a simple solution to everything.  Although the homeowner wants to “just add-on”, the architect in fact may come up with a more creative or custom solution to the dilemma of an old house with small rooms.  By using an architect, you should expect more than one solution, which, when completed, will seem effortless.  You are paying for the services of someone experienced in thinking in 3-dimensions, thinking about space, materials, color, details, putting in all together in a coherent, pleasing way, and doing this all before the first block is set in place.

Energy Efficiency Is Not Sexy But It Works

“Green” is the word of the decade, and is applied to all sorts of items.  We are urged to keep greening our lives, our homes, our purchases for the good of the planet.  But let’s step back a minute, and recognize that “green” today is just the “energy efficiency” of yesterday, and the “don’t throw it away you might need it again” mentality of years past.  Your parents and grandparents knew what they were talking about.  And today, we can again choose wisely before we purchase.  Choosing quality, durable, long-lasting materials was green before they colored it.  And making smart decisions concerning energy efficiency will save you money long after the purchase.  In fact, it may even cost you less money in the long run.  Windows that don’t leak air, that don’t face the sunset and build up heat in the home, will also let you buy a smaller air conditioning system that won’t run as often.  Money in your wallet.

Design Smart: Best Practices

Don’t be satisfied with “built-to-code” construction.  Although all buildings permitted are built to code, the Florida Building Code is only a minimal standard of building.  You should request your remodeling be built using “Best Practices”.   Found in many trade journals and construction books, this quality construction practice is based on a true understanding of building science, and will ensure beautiful and long-lasting details, and fewer call-backs.  Build with the same pride of craftsmanship like they did in “the good ole days”.

Design Smart: The Drawings

One of the key ways to a great project is to have the drawings before contractors start giving you estimates.  And the better and more detailed the drawings, the closer the estimate will be to the true cost.  A great way to help you choose your designer is to look at their drawings.  You don’t have to read the drawings, understand the project, or even like it.  But you have to recognize what might be missing from the drawings.   The more items the designer has specified, the more entrenched in your project they will probably be.  And the closer the contractor’s bid will be to the final true cost.

For example, deos the bathroom remodel drawing just say “toilet” or does it specify which manufacturer, model, and color?  The contractor might be thinking about the $100 toilet on sale at the hardware store, and you may be thinking about that $500 dual-flush toilet in the magazine, or the $300 model with a little added height at the seat.  Even more important, do the drawings state the exact toilet because the designer has weighed the different options based on cost, water savings, flushing efficiency, and warranty?  Looking over the drawings with your potential designer gives you more opportunity to find out which things your designer values, and also what it would be like working with the designer.