July 11, 2011

How to Build Your Own Outdoor Barbecue Kitchen

Category: Uncategorized — admin @ 2:34 pm

Planning ahead, consulting with experts and determining how much work you want to do yourself versus how much you want to contract out will help you design and build the outdoor kitchen that best suits your budget and needs.
Jennifer Lukus of Temecula, California, solved the problem by constructing her own outdoor kitchen — not just for the ease of backyard eating, but as a special surprise for her husband, A.J., a master sergeant in the Marine Corps who was serving in the military in Afghanistan.

“We wanted to do something like this from the moment we bought the house, but we just couldn’t get the time or money together to have it built,” Lukus said. “When I found out he was leaving for Afghanistan, I thought this would be the perfect time to get it done to surprise him.”

Lukus enlisted the help of her entire family, including uncles, cousins, her parents and her in-laws, in order to get the project done on time. And in four weekends, the kitchen was finished — including a Kegerator with a Marine Corps beer tap.

Planning the Project
The first step to the outdoor kitchen of your dreams is a careful consideration of your time, budget, space, wants and needs. Then decide whether you want to hire a contractor for some or all of the work, use frame kits and add your own special materials and touches, or build your own frames.

Fred Cann, owner of Jr’s Solutions, a New York construction management and building firm, says the first consideration is how you plan to use your outdoor kitchen.
“More times than not, people are looking to entertain without using their own home and having people traipsing in and out,” Cann said.

If you prefer to keep everything, including your guests, outside, then a full kitchen setup — grill, sink, refrigerator, storage and maybe even a dishwasher — is the way to go.
Budget is an important aspect of any home remodeling project. If you use contractors for some or all of the work, Cann estimates the cost at anywhere from $4,500 for the simplest kitchen to $100,000 for an entertaining mecca. Contractor bids for Lukus’ project ran around $13,000, without the components. Building it herself with module kits resulted in a $3,500 price tag that included a $1,500 grill.

Barbecuing vs. Grilling — The Heat Is On
While barbecuing and grilling have become synonymous in many outdoor circles, there is a difference, insists Ruff, owner of Ruff’s Barbeque Shoppe in Golden, Colorado.
Slow can mean several hours or, with a smoker, several days. Barbecue enthusiasts use wood-based charcoal or wood pellets, chips, chunks or logs in a barbecue pit or smoker that provides indirect heat to food on a grate inside. Slow cooking is ideal for large or tougher cuts of meat, and the flavor comes from the wood smoke and barbecue sauces, which can be applied over time without danger of burning.

Managing Materials
Materials depend on budget and desired appearance. Cann recommends a masonry block substructure with stucco or cultured stone –
a synthetic material that looks like stone — for the facade and granite for the countertops. For brick lovers, Cann says the cost of using real brick is not worth the return and recommends using a brick veneer. Lukus wanted a rustic finish.

Choosing Components
Charcoal is out and gas is in for outdoor kitchens, Cann says. Natural gas with a gas line from the house or liquid propane in a tank are popular options for a grill, but unless you’re an expert, running a gas line from the house is best left to someone familiar with gas-line intricacies as well as municipal codes.
If you choose a sink for your outdoor kitchen, a plumbing expert might be called for, depending on your skill level. To keep things simple and less expensive, consider going with cold water only, for washing hands or rinsing off food.
No matter which components you choose, Cann recommends protecting your whole setup from the elements with canvas, vinyl or plastic tarps or covers. Invest in customized covers to fit your particular kitchen or improvise with car covers or similar protective material.

Enjoying the Outdoors
Planning ahead, consulting with experts and determining how much work you want to do yourself versus how much you want to contract out will help you design and build the outdoor kitchen that best suits your budget and needs. For Lukus, the surprise was well worth the time and effort.
“The night I picked up [my husband] from Camp Pendleton, I had everyone else go to my house before we got there and wait in the backyard,” she said. “We had all the lights on out there, candles lit — it looked beautiful. … When he walked outside, he stopped dead in his tracks and his mouth dropped open. … My mother-in-law took pictures every step of the way and made a scrapbook of the whole project start to finish — mostly to prove we did it ourselves.”

January 27, 2011

Great Looking Kitchen Floor Tile For Your Home

Category: Flooring — Tags: , , , , , , , , – admin @ 1:15 pm


Image Via UnderFloorHeat.net

If you are planning on placing new kitchen floor tile in your home, there are a few factors you should consider before you select the tile you are going to use. You should consider factors like color, texture, and even durability before you make a purchase to ensure you will be happy with what you install.

Durability is usually one of the most important factors homeowners review before they make a purchase because they want to be certain their new flooring will withstand the test of time for many years to come. There are many tile pieces on the market that are not specifically designed to be used on the floor in kitchen areas. For this reason, you should do your best to find a tile product that is specifically designed to fend off blows from foot traffic, animals, and even heavy objects that may fall on it in the future.

Once you have found a manufacturer that is producing good looking durable tile, you should start reviewing other factors that may prove to be important, like stain resistance. While a bright white tile might look great in your kitchen, you may want to consider the amount of maintenance you are planning on applying to your kitchen floors over time before you commit yourself to these high maintenance options.

White flooring may look stunning, but stains and dirt can easily disparage the great looks this type of tile offers. If you are looking for flooring that will always look good, even if it happens to receive quite a bit of foot traffic, you may want to look into earth colored tiles. Many manufacturers offer earth colored flooring because it fends off stains and dirt very well.

Once you have found a product that satisfies all of your preferences concerning durability and stain resistance, you should review the many colors you can select from today. There are a variety of colors you can select from, but you should certainly keep the theme of your home in mind before you make a purchase.

If you have a warm colored home, you will likely want to select tiling that matches the warm color of your interiors. Light colored tiling can generally make the interior of any home look great also.

On the other hand, if you have a lightly colored interior, but you still want the stain fighting power of earth colored tiles, you should look for light beige products that will not show scuffs easily and will match your interiors fairly well. At this point, you should also be reviewing the tiling that is already present around your kitchen area, because it is important that all of the tiling in your kitchen area matches properly.

After you have taken all of these factors into consideration, you will likely know which manufacturer, and even which products, you should purchase to make your home look great. If you were to attempt to buy your kitchen floor tile through the use of other methods, you would likely end up with items that do not fit properly in your home. By taking the durability, color, and style of the tiles into consideration before you make a purchase, you will certainly be pleased with the final result.

Submit your kitchen floor tile material lists to dozens of local suppliers in one shot.

January 26, 2011

How Solar Attic Fans do it all and What They Can do for Your Building and Wallet.

By: Kristin Mattern


Solar Powered Attic Fan, courtesy of greendepot.com

We have entered into an era in construction and home maintenance where everyone is looking to move in a more environmentally direction. There are many motivations for people to do this: some are interested in helping the planet, others want to save money, than there are those that simply want the latest gadgets, and of course no one can overlook the many government incentives there are for going Green. Many of the latest building supplies and products out there make it so that home owners and construction professionals can achieve a few of these reasons, but solar attic fans actually achieve all of these and do much more!

Solar Powered Attic Fans are perfect for any home or commercial structure. Passive ventilation in attics isn’t enough to draw out harmful heat build up that can cause moisture damage, leak heat into other areas of the building, increase HVAC costs, cause ice damage in the winter due to condensation build up, and moisture damage can speed up the decay of the attic structure overtime. Solar Powered Attic Fans can help to prevent all of these issues in attics. Plus, unlike many solar powered structures that must be cut into your roof, Solar Powered Attic Fans can be attached to your existing passive ventilation vents and most can be installed in around only thirty minutes.

These Attic Fans work by harnessing the power of the sun to circulate and draw hot air out of attics. Using no electricity, these fans are a one-time investment for buyers, and many models are so efficient that the government offers a thirty percent tax credit on these energy efficient products. Furthermore, by using less electricity and natural resources to heat or cool the home or building the fan is installed on, the fan is helping to preserve the environment’s non-renewable resources by honing the renewable power of the sun.

In the summer, cooling costs are drastically decreased as the fan actively removes heat. During the winter, condensation and moisture are prevented from building up, insuring that roofs don’t ice up. The moisture pulling effects of the fan also keep harmful molds and spores from growing, improving the overall air quality in the building. However, should the owner want to turn off the fan in the winter, most models are built with a switch that allows the product to be turned off if desired. Sometimes people like to do this if they feel the fan is unneeded during the winter months.

Are you afraid that your roof is too steep or that you don’t have enough sun exposure to host such a fantastic product? Not a problem. Most companies make numerous types of models to suit any grade of roofing and provide an array of colors to blend in with most roofing tiles. Also, many provide the option of buying an extra accompanying solar panel that attaches to the fan to increase the surface area on which to absorb sunrays. Worried that these products are delicate? Not so. They are built sturdily to withstand all kinds of weather conditions such as: heavy rains, hail, excessive snow, ice storms, high impact from falling objects, and of course intense heat.

Save money, help your house or commercial building last longer, aid the environment, and improve the air quality around you with these innovative Solar Powered Attic Fans. For more information, and to look into various models, see the links below.

Jr’s Solutions LLC, owned by Frederick Cann Jr. has recently opened up a partner company called Jr’s Home Services: an HVAC and plumbing company. If you are in the New York Area, they have the experience and expertise to install Solar Powered Attic Fans, as well as other Green Materials and conventional ones. They insure that their clients receive the highest quality of service and come in on budget.

Additionally, remember that at BidForMaterials.com you can find out more information about Green Alternatives to contemporary building materials and how prices compare. Or visit the Blog to read about Green Building from construction industry experts. Plus, recommend your HVAC Specialist to this site so that you know you are getting the best price on your Solar Powered Attic Fan.

http://www.sunrisesolar.net/products.html

http://www.atticbreeze.net/

http://www.greendepot.com/greendepot/product.asp?prod_name=Solatube+Solar+Star+Attic+Fan&pf_id=SOLARSTAR&dept_id=5150&s_id=0&

http://www.eco-buildingproducts.com/articles/solar-star-the-solar-powered-attic-fan-that-keeps-you-cool/

http://www.solaratticfans.com/

http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/video/0,,20047003,00.html

http://www.jrssolutionsny.com/

Building Green Houses from Garbage

Modern Landfill Hawaii
Image via Wikipedia

According to Discovery News, “Texas home builder Dan Phillips transforms trash into artful treasures, creating intricate floor mosaics with wood scraps, kitchen counters from ivory-colored bones and roofs out of license plates.

The fantastical houses which spring from his imagination are made almost entirely with materials which would otherwise have ended up in a garbage dump.

“People have been doing this for hundreds of thousands of years: using whatever is available to build shelter,” Phillips said. “If you ponder what could be used, then building materials are everywhere.”

Phillips founded Phoenix Commotion 12 years ago with the aim of creating a new model for sustainable, affordable housing.

The 13 homes he has built so far would fit better in an art museum than the residential streets of Huntsville, a conservative town of about 35,000 people best known for housing Texas’s death row.

Living in them is a bit like living in a roadside attraction.

Read full story here…

January 25, 2011

Is Wood the Best Renewable Fuel for Heating?

Courtesy of The Apliancist


Inside a Wood-Pellet heater
Image via The Appliancist

According to Logan Ward (Popular Mechanics), “A century ago, and for about 400,000 years before that, most people burned wood to stay warm. Then the arrival of oil- and gas-fired central boilers and furnaces liberated them from the toil, mess and smoke. Today, fluctuating prices, a desire for independence and a new generation of clean, efficient stoves have attracted homeowners to a flourishing back-to-basics home-heating movement. Annual shipments of pellet stoves, which burn biomass in the form of compressed sawdust from lumber mills or managed forests, jumped from 18,360 to 141,211 units between 1999 and 2008, a 650 percent increase. Large-scale installations include Vermont’s Bennington College, which uses a wood-chip-fueled biomass boiler to heat 85 percent of its campus.

The impact of a widespread switch to biomass would be huge. Heating accounts for about half of U.S. residential energy consumption. The most popular fuel, natural gas, heats 50 percent of U.S. homes. About a third of the country heats homes with electricity. John ­Ackerly, president of the Maryland-based Alliance for Green Heat, says, “Electricity is too inefficient and too expensive to make and waste on heat.” The same goes for the 5 billion gallons of oil and 15 billion gallons of propane that are used annually to heat 20 percent of American homes. If all oil customers switched to biomass, the savings could amount to 120 million­ barrels—1.68 percent of the 7.14 billion total barrels of oil consumed per year. Pellet stove inventor Jerry ­Whitfield’s objective is clear: “We’re trying to displace oil as a home heating source,” he says.

Improved technology is also helping drive the biomass revival. New stoves designed to handle clean-­burning wood-waste pellets mean greater efficiency and lower emissions. In the past 25 years, the North American wood-pellet industry has grown from a few small outfits to well over 100 companies that produce more than 1.8 million tons of pellets per year. New systems to efficiently transport and store pellets make the fuel economically viable in more locations than cordwood. New England Wood Pellet pioneered a bulk delivery system modeled on agriculture and the heating-oil industry. “Pellet fuel flows like grain, so you can use conventional storage technology and a flexible auger tube to move the fuel around,” Charles Niebling, general manager of New England Wood Pellet, says. “It lends itself to automation.” Companies like WoodPellets.com, started in 2005 by two engineers with graduate degrees from MIT’s Sloan School of Management, are hoping to increase fuel distribution efficiencies by creating a system modeled on European infrastructure, complete with pneumatic pressurized-air trucks and satellite storage depots.”

Read full story here…

January 20, 2011

Church Construction is on the Rise

According to Jane Wells (CNBC), “It’s been a rough year for commercial contractors. Unless they’ve made a “niche” business in churches.

“Looking forward to 2011, we are forecasting to have our best year yet,” says Ryan Regina of BIG SKY Enterprises, a developer in N.J.

Regina says seven years ago, 25 percent of BIG SKY’s projects was building churches. Now it’s 80 percent. “What we see in various builders’ magazines, there seems to be a steady increase in church construction.”

One church he’s building is a brand new complex for Victory in Christ Christian Center in Deptford, N.J. “We are building a new church from the ground up,” says Pastor John Edmondson, who started the church ten years ago with 11 people.

“It’s costing us $4.3 million for what we’re doing,” he says. “Phase One will allow us to build a 500-seat auditorium, and Phase Two will add more classrooms and a larger sanctuary that would allow us to build a 1,200 to 1,500-seat auditorium.”

It’s hard to say if there’s a church building boom on a national level or if, like all real estate, it’s location, location, location. Some areas are prospering from growing attendance and growing revenues in the recession, while other churches shrink with the economy.

Read full story…

January 19, 2011

The Ecological Benefits of Polished Concrete Flooring

Courtesy of Jesse Millan at Flickr
Image by jesse.millan via Flickr

By Andrew Stevenson Ph.D.

In the recent years, there has been a great urge by people all over the world to respect the ‘green’ nature of the world and try to go for things that are in line with environmental sustainability. Most manufacturers are trying as much as possible to stay within confines of the ‘green’ revolution and it has emerged as a very difficult task. In an attempt to get this ‘green’ revolution well in process, there is need to search far and wide for alternatives that are eco friendly.

When it comes to flooring, there could be no better way to go eco friendly other than by using the polished flooring. This polished concrete flooring is simply a non-wax decorative flooring system where one does not need to have a particular set of raw materials but all they need to do is deal with the floor that is already constructed. Polishing equipment and knowledge is all that is needed for one to have a well set up polished floor and this will usually require that one gets a contractor to do the job, something which is worthwhile.

One of the ecological advantages that polished concrete floors have is that they do not create a strain on the environment like other flooring systems would otherwise do. This is simply because all that one requires is the equipment and the knowledge; no other materials are required. This conservation of environment materials is a great advantage in terms of respecting the ‘green’ revolution and it is one of the greatest reasons why people are opting for the polished concrete flooring.

Setting up homes that are green and in sync with the environment is something that everybody today has to get a grip on because it could very easily be the key to long, healthy and happy life. Various flooring systems have certain chemicals they give off either naturally or when they react with temperature or light. However, with concrete polishing, there is bound to be no such thing given off since the polished floors remain intact and nothing is released into the atmosphere. This would in turn mean that the air in a room that has polished concrete flooring is bound to be quite pure and natural, something that is very much in sync with the observance of the ‘green’ initiative. Apart from that, there is no odor that is given off by the flooring and this simply means that the air is just as clean.

Setting that aside, it is important to know that polished flooring helps to somewhat reduce chances of having airborne contaminants within a place. The manufacture of the items for concrete polishing is so meticulous and there are no Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that are used during the manufacture. This therefore means that the polished concrete floors will not emit any kind of contaminants which will end up becoming air borne and causing a problem to the environment and to the people who are within the place.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Andrew_Stevenson_Ph.D.

January 18, 2011

Chicago Sessions to Focus on Home Improvement

Category: Industry News — Tags: , , , , , – admin @ 3:36 pm

Chicago Sessions to Focus on Home Improvement

Courtesy of Flickr

According to the Chicago Tribune, “The Historic Chicago Bungalow Association will hold an energy-efficiency seminar from 6:30 to 7:45 p.m. Nov. 10 at Mayfair Library, 4400 W. Lawrence Ave.

The seminar, part of HCBA’s ongoing series of educational forums, will teach not only why it is important to take energy-saving measures in aging homes like bungalows, but also how homeowners can complete these projects themselves, where to purchase materials and how to identify areas of the home that need work.

“Older homes, such as Chicago bungalows, face unique challenges in the winter,” said Mary Ellen Guest, executive director of the HCBA. “But there are a number of ways homeowners can make their bungalows more comfortable and affordable. Air-sealing is a great way to keep warm air from leaking out, and adding insulation is a common way to improve energy efficiency,” she said.

Homes built before 1975 were not required to be insulated, meaning a significant portion of Chicago’s housing stock — and bungalows, in particular — may not be insulated, leading to colder homes, higher gas and electric bills and unnecessary expenditures.

Air-sealing is often done in tandem with insulation, sealing gaps around the home where air leaks in or out, often in attics and basements.

Leading discussions will be Carey Moore of USA Insulation, Greg Domel of Midwest Energy Audits and bungalow owners who have undertaken energy-saving measures in their own homes.”

Read full story…

January 12, 2011

Three Things to Look For in Home Design Plans

Category: Industry News — admin @ 1:52 pm

Courtesy of Wikiepedia

Home design plans are not all created equally. Thanks to the internet, it is easier than ever to find different plans and learn about the options that you have for building your new home. Everyone has different ideas and needs for their new house design, and it will be up to you to choose the design that best suits your needs.

Buying a new home is a daunting task under any circumstances, but buying a home in this economy can be downright frightening. The process can be quite intimidating, especially if you don’t know if you want an older home or a new home. New homes are a great investment, even during an economic downturn. Many builders are selling homes for pennies on the dollar, just to break even. Add this to the fact that many builders are offering free upgrades, and it’s a win-win situation for both the buyer and the seller. The builder avoids foreclosure on the property, and the buyer can customize to his heart’s content.

An example of how you can benefit is when the builder offers to pay your closing costs. Closing costs can take a chunk out of your budget, money that could be better used in customizing your home. It also keeps you from having to worry about multiple checks on closing day.

Although the used home looks exactly the same as the builder’s model, let’s examine what might be hidden from view just because the used home was built only a few years ago. The first thing, and one of the big items, is the furnace efficiency. Just a couple years ago, an 80% Efficient Furnace was considered a high-efficiency furnace. The customer doesn’t know what to look for and assumes, albeit incorrectly, that the furnaces were equal. In the builder’s model that furnace was a 92% Efficient Furnace. What that means to you, the consumer, is that for the entire life of that furnace, you will be paying higher heating bills with the used house.

The average cost of building from scratch varies significantly based on the plan and building company. It helps to discuss your requirements with a few house building companies and/or designers to get an exact estimate of what it would cost.

Next there are the aluminum windows in the used home that was made by a company that has since gone out of business versus the more energy-efficient vinyl low-e double pane insulated windows now used by the builder. Visually, both windows look nearly the same.

The best advantage of building is picking out your lot. Some lots have a higher price tag, but builders are sometimes willing to waive the extra cost just to get rid of the lot. Bargain with your builder, as it is most definitely a buyer’s market.

These are three elements to look for in any home design plans that you consider using. You will have to take the time to see what your options are and find the plans that you can appreciate. Everyone has different ideas and needs for their new house design, so it will be up to you to find what works.

About the Author:

Paul Amos is an Author living in Sydney, His latest website is about Debt Consolidation Loans and Home Refinance. California home Reverse Mortgage Specialists

January 10, 2011

Budget Kitchen Remodeling

Home Maintenance

Courtesy of Wikipedia

A lot of remodeling companies will advertise fancy kitchens with granite counter tops and appliances that cost more than some cars, but not everyone wants or can afford such extravagance. A kitchen can still look nice even on a tight budget. A budget kitchen remodel can be completed using stock cabinets, laminate counter tops, low cost ceramic tile, and high end appliances from the scratch and dent outlet. Smart shopping and flexibility in your style choices and layout can go a long way in saving you money, starting with the cabinets. Using in stock cabinets (instead of custom or semi-custom) will save you a lot of money, but you have to be flexible in your layout. This is due to the fact that stock cabinets only come in certain sizes, and most likely will not be the exact size you need to fill a space. You’ll have to be creative with space planning, but we can help with that.

The next big ticket item are the counter tops and the cheapest is almost always laminate. If you want one continuous piece of a specific color of granite you are certainly going to pay for it. However, if smaller pieces are acceptable due to your layout and you are flexible on the color, granite counter tops can be affordable if you shop for remnant pieces. Remnants are pieces that are left over from a bigger job and generally won’t form one continuous counter top. Creative spacing of your sink and appliances can help you get a granite counter top for less. Another popular option is selecting two different materials for different sections of your counter. For example, you may choose granite for your main counter and butcher block or laminate for an island.

Finally come the appliances – though some like to pick these first and build their kitchen around them. Buying new is fine, you will get the longest warranty, but not the biggest bang for your buck. There are two other options: used or scratched and dented. Used is a big gamble, no warranty but big opportunities for savings. Scratch and dent outlets offer the best value, essentially new appliances with a warranty. You can find everything from last year’s models and floor samples, to returned appliances and some with minor cosmetic flaws at a scratch and dent outlet.

Using these tips can help you get the new kitchen you dream of on the budget you can live with.

For more information on Budget Kitchen Remodeling visit PittsburghRemodelingServices.com

About the Author

Pittsburgh Remodeling Services is a woman owned, local small business specializing in home repair and remodeling. We are insured, but we maintain a safe work environment, and treat your home and belongings with the respect they deserve so we never have to use our insurance. Our team includes an electrical engineer with a degree from the University of Pittsburgh, a tile specialist with over 10 years of experience, and a green building and remodeling expert.