Mar11th

Budget The Building So You Can Build The Budget

That statement seems quite simple to say and yet in over thirty years of home building experience I find “building a home that exceeds the budget” rated very high on customer’s fears; even though most people would choose the New Home that is sized and decorated to their liking.

When I ask what they have heard or experienced, it relates to two main areas; poor communication between the Builder and the Owner, and changing the scope of the project after it’s begun. A true Professional Builder should spend ADEQUATE time with you to explore all the expectations you have for size of home, how simple or complex of a design, it’s location on the site, how much detail in finishes, etc. along with your lifestyle and special features. Taking this information the Builder should be able to properly budget the project.

Setting up accurate budgets combined with clear, complete Plans, Specifications and Contract will start a project on the right foot. This alone is not the complete answer though. Regular communication updating costs and options desired during construction are a must. This will allow for adjustments before the Budget gets off track.

If you want to change or add something to your home during construction, a Change Order should be used before the change is made. This will keep an accurate account of where the budget stands.

Finally, using a professional Custom Builder, timely communication and good paperwork will position you to “Build the Budget” and hopefully have an enjoyable experience.

Dan Diephuis is the owner of Diephuis Builders , Inc. and winner of the HBAGGR 2006 Custom Builder of the Year award.




Mar11th

Bamboo – Self Renewing Beauty You’ll Enjoy Year After Year!

bamboo flooring Mention bamboo and most people think lucky plants and tiki torches, certainly not hardwood floors. But as environmentally conscious homeowners search for green alternatives, bamboo has become a popular flooring choice. Hold a bamboo plank and its weight and density are similar to hardwood, Yet bamboo actually is a fast-growing grass that sprouts to maturity in five to seven years. Once harvested, the plant sends up another shoot in the same spot, making it one of the most eco-friendly products on earth.

“All wood for floors is considered renewable,” said Anita Howard of the National Wood Flooring Association. “But bamboo is designated as ‘rapid renewable’ and gets higher points with LEED and other environmental groups.” And it looks good, too. Unlike traditional oaks and maple, bamboo has an exotic, tropical appearance.

Bamboo flooring comes in two basic styles, depending on the manufacturing process.
Horizontal consists of strips of solid bamboo layered on top of each other to expose the natural bamboo growth rings. Vertical is created by placing the bamboo strips on their sides and laminating them together for a linear look with more subtle markings. Some manufacturers also offer strand woven bamboo products, made by taking strips and strands and weaving them together. The product is compressed under intense pressure and heat, making it one of the hardest and most stable flooring options available.

“It’s also the most green of all products because nothing is wasted in the process,” Joe Pleune, of Green Choice Flooring International, said. Natural bamboo is a creamy blonde color. Carbonized bamboo is a smoky, caramel hue, the result of longer boiling during the manufacturing process. Bamboo also can be stained or marbled for different effects, even hand scraped to give it a distressed appearance. The cost of a bamboo floor is similar to hardwood but can vary, considerably, depending on the manufacturer.

It is important for consumers to find a reputable supplier, she said. “We discourage people from buying over the internet because they really need to look at what they are buying,” Howard said. “It’s best to go with a local business you can trust in case of any problems. Green Choice Flooring uses bamboo that comes directly from managed forests in China. Harvesting the bamboo isn’t a threat to endangered panda bears because they live at higher elevations and eat a different species of bamboo,” Pleune says. Pre-finished bamboo floors can have up to 10 layers of clear finish with scratch-resistant top coat. It’s installed in the same fashion as tongue-and-groove solid hardwood and modern laminate flooring. “Bamboo definitely has become more popular in the past few years,” Howard said. “And I think the trend will continue as long as the green movement has legs.




Mar11th

Will Using a Central Vacuum System Help You Breathe Easier?

I would never have believed I could be passionate about a vacuum cleaner- but now wonder why anyone wouldn’t install a Central Vacuum System when they are building a new home?

After pondering on this for some time, I have come up with 3 possible reasons.
#1) They had experience with or heard by word of mouth about the lack of suction in the original models.
#2) They don’t like cleaning out the dust filled canisters.
#3) You can’t take it with you.

I can’t imagine life without my Central Vac.  Oh sure, I do remember, distantly, those memories of lugging around the old Electrolux canister vacuum.  I even recall thinking that it worked pretty well.  But all that changed when a wonderful woman named Julia entered my life.

I was working at the time on a 100 home project in Toronto, Canada when I met her.  We were just at the pricing stage of the next phase of new homes, so her timing couldn’t have been better.  She sold me on the concept of the Central Vacuum System, and since we were building homes in the middle to upper price range, I thought it might be a good idea to at least rough it in to all the houses.   I have never looked back.

But even as I write this, we have just moved into a new (old) home without a Central Vac.  For the last 4 months I have been living life with the ‘8 lb. miracle’, and the dust bag has still not filled up. Now some people might think that is a good thing, but I am wondering where has all the dirt gone?  I know how much my Central Vac used to pick up, and now we are in an older, and even dustier home. Unfortunately, I think I know the answer.  While the beater brush is doing a wonderful job making the carpets look freshly vacuumed, the colour of the carpet is actually changing in the high traffic areas.

As wonderful as the incredible suction power of the Central Vacuum is, what adds even more value to me is all the vacuuming options I have.  Like the little stair beater brush attachment, and the sofa ‘duster’.  My husband loved being able to vacuum out his car in the garage by just hooking up the extra hose into the garage valve. And with the unit being installed in the garage, I can actually hear the phone ring while I am vacuuming.  I love the narrow tool attachment that allows me to dust under the fridge and around the laundry appliances.  And the brush tool for ‘dusting’ the window sills and baseboards is a real time saver.  (Well, maybe not.  It doesn’t get done very often now.)  And a personal favourite is the super-long-extension-spider-destructo-wand attachment.

We don’t suffer from airborne allergies in our family, but I have heard from users who love Central Vac’s for just that reason.  Since many homeowners install the unit in the garage, no dust particles whatsoever are returned to the air inside the house improving the indoor air quality.  While I don’t mind vacuuming, I do dislike dusting.

The Central Vacuum units of today are available with a bag option for clean, easy removal of the dust.  And while we are at it, let’s debunk another myth:  you CAN take it with you when you go!  There is one warning however about using your Central Vacuum.  When you experience such incredible suction power, it becomes easy to believe you can get rid of almost anything up that hose.  But do not vacuum up the needles from your Christmas tree.  They can get tangled up in the corners of the piping and when the dust and fiber particles build up and compact over them you will develop a blockage.  You will probably need a professional to come and clean this out.  Can you tell I am speaking from experience here?

When you consider the rising demand for Central Vacuum, how much will it cost you when you go to sell your home, and your buyer is hoping for a Central Vac? If you are not sold yet on the benefits of a Central Vacuum System, you can always have your home roughed-in with the pipes and cover plates.  The unit can easily be installed in the future.  So what’s to say no to?  Invest in a Central Vacuum System, you’ll be glad you did.




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