Heating Systems:

The transference of energy from point a (heat source) to point b (needed delivery place).  There are 4 different ways of doing so.
1. Is with moving of tempered air through large ductwork.
2. Moving of a liquid through pipes to a energy defuser of said energy
3. Radiant heat; like a heating element heating an oven or a fireplace heating a room or the sun through a window heating up the room in the wintertime.

* Forced air: This is the cheapest way to install a heating system with the poorest way of heating the objects in the house. With some manual and electrical parts running the system.  When the furnace fan turns on it blows cold air for a couple of minutes until the ductwork gets warm. Then it delivers the needed warm air for warming the ambient air in the room. Once the room temperature is reached, the air passively warms the items in the room. Starting with the ceiling and upper walls of the room working its way down to the floor.
* When it comes to cooling the forced air system works the best. I takes a powerful fan to drive the cold heavy air to the top floor allowing it to cascade downward cooling the item’s it come in contact with. This means the floor will be the first large surface to be cooled than slowly it works it’s way up to the level of the thermostat. You will still have a lot of hot and humid air at the ceiling if the heating contract did not install a high wall return air duct.
*  It’s also the best and I think the only way to really clean the air, removing air born allergens out of the air. You can use secondary air filtration units but the biggest one I’ve seen only does 1 room at a time trapping a person with allergies in 1 room or in 1 area of a house. Using a high quality air filter on your furnace (they can be Paper) about 5” thick do a great job of cleaning all the air for the entire house.

* Hot water heat: Is a good way to heat a house. With a boiler you convert fuel into hot water. With this type of system you can do multi-tasking of different types of jobs at the same time.
* Such as using radiators to heat the air, in-floor heat to heat floor surfaces such as front & back entry floors to melt the snow and evaporate the water or heat the bathroom floor and even heat the sidewalls of your shower to make your shower a better experience for you.
* With in-floor heat you can heat the basement floor that is the hardest surface to heat, while using hot air blows above the floor it will never actually heat the concrete floor. But having the pipe in the floor, the floor becomes a large radiator heating the room, making the enjoyable, instead of saying well we have a basement. Whats so nice about in-floor heat you have no moving air or cold drafts moving across the floor.
* The next area to heat with the hot water is the garage floor your car will love it the snow and ice melt off of it quickly taking with it the salt. Using a forced air blower in a garage is nice but the floor all ways stay cold and if you in your garage a lot you differ projects on till the warmer months of the year.
* And finally you can heat your driveway and sidewalks, think about you newer have to lift a shovel again.

* Steam Heat: Steam heat is the most efficient way it has the greatest exchange of energy. The only draw back is you must have a licensed steam boiler operator in house 24/7.

General Information

1. Does the contractor have liability insurance? If something goes wrong who will cover your loss. I heard of a roofing problem in the summer of 08 they tore off the roof and installed a new roofing system. It looked good it didn’t leak, but when the roofers were tearing off the old roof they inadvertently unlocked the furnace flue pipe 8’ below the roofline. When the flue pipe was re-shingled into place the pipe was 1/2 on and 1/2 off the lower pipe venting carbon monoxide into chimney chase and ultimately into the house attic. They didn’t find the problem for 5 months, thank God no one died. When Natural gas or LP gas is burned it gives off carbon monoxide and a lot of water. The water leaves the furnace at about 350 degrees; at this temperature it’s steam being forced into a cold attic with a lot of cold surfaces. When the steam touches a cold surface it changes to water or ice. In this case about 2 inches of ice crystals on under side of the roof decking, on the trusses and on the surface of the attic insulation.  A quick calculation looks like about 200 gallons of water frozen in the attic. Looking at this job after the facts all the insulation in the attic has to be removed the roof sheathing has to be checked for soundness and may have to be replaced as well as the sheetrock ceiling. You might need new flooring also if the ice melted before you removed it, because it will follow the wall stud cavities to the main floor and under your carpets, or cupping you hardwood flooring.
This is only 1 thing that can go wrong; there are many other situation I have heard about.
2. Does the contractor have worker compensation insurance?
If person falls or get hurt in any way while on your property (grass, sidewalk, inside your house, etc.) you’re at fault, unless the contractor has workers compensation insurance.

Rules for hiring a contractor:

General Information
1. Does the contractor have a state license to do the type of work needing to be done?
2. Does the contractor have liability insurance? If something goes wrong who will cover your loss.
3.  Does the contractor have worker compensation insurance?
If a person falls or get hurt in any way while on your property (grass, sidewalk, inside your house, etc.) you’re at fault. Unless the contractor has workers comp. insurance.

4. Make Sure All Subcontractors and/or Any Person Coming Onto Your Property Has Legal Workers Compensation and Liability Insurance.
5. Does this person have the brains to pull off this type of job?  Watch out there a lot of cons out there calling them contractors only wanting to separate you from your money.
6. Can he/she prove what is being said in writing; a contract that protects you the Homeowner?
7. A lot of people have go good intentions but no knowledge or life experience to draw from.
8. There are 3 classifications of quality of work
A.  Poor and well below sub standard workmanship
B.  Just Average on workmanship
C.   Excellent work- any worker just above average ends up excelling to excellent static because of the person himself, I’ve seen this time and time again.

9. 2nd Classifications of motives.
A. Money is a good motivator
B. The lack of money is a poor motivation
C. Lack of time for said job or out of on contracts personal bills
D. The only job available this one, actually scores just above average
E. Actually caring for his work and the client.

Now is the contractor your hiring going to hire subcontractor with substandard work or money problems? Remember this your project is to be a work of art not a novel of science fiction.

Kitchen countertops

6 major types of countertops; Laminate, Wood, Metal, Corion, Tile, and Stone tops.
Looking at these different types of tops, how are they going to perform for your needs?
1. Making bread or cookies the worst type of counter top is tile, it’s not the tile but the grout joints, the flour and doe get into the grout areas and you have to work hard to get it clean.
2. Cutting Vegetables, fruit on the counter; Laminates and Corion IE plastic base polymers not do go with cutting utensils will leave cut marks in surface. Metals will scratch, while wood will age and look more rustic looking, while stone and tile will dull the utensils.
3. Putting hot items on the countertop; Laminates will leave a blister mark where the hot item was set. Wood tops will leave a darker brown mark above 400° while as polymer base products will turn a different color again above 400°. Metals, and stone have no problem handling the heat. Tile above 800°depending on the finish on the tile, Metals above 1500° and Stone above 5000°
4. Spoiling of oil or juice; wood will sock up the fluid like a sponge, tile grout joints will stain, stone not sealed, will allow fluid to migrate through the stone to the underside of the countertop.

5. Cutting raw meat; the only one that is not good, are the polymer base products. A case study was done after a prolonged use study, bacteria was able to establish it’s self even with proper cleaning with dish soap. On the other hand wood counter tops had bacteria right from the get go, but after a period of time the wood built up a resistance to bacteria and was more health for you.
6. Clean up; For a Kosher kitchen I recommend stainless steel you can scrub them, they can take a lot of heat, they a durable and will last a lifetime.

Bathrooms say a lot about the people living in the home.

Are you sending the right message.
Before you remodel your bathroom,
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Think long term 5 ,10, 15 ,or 20 years and/or 2 or 3 different types of jobs or hobbies you might have in the future.
You may spend 10 minutes and up 2 hours a day in this prep room. Doing things right in this room will set your mode for the rest of the days you live in this house.
Thing to think about when you design a bathroom;
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Number of people needing to use this room at the same time; 2 or 3 kids, a couple, 2 or people staying over IE relatives and friends, room mates, etc.
With these things in mind your now ready to start answering questions.

a. Think about cleaning
B. Bathing
C. Midnight strolls
D. Getting your makeup on
1. Lighting
2. Putting on makeup
3. Storage
4. Accessibility to storage, and left or right handed people
5. Accessories- hair driers, curling
6. 6. Room accents

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A Standard Closet is a Waste of Good Space

A standard closet has one of the following types of doors; bi-fold, sliding, or standard door(s). These doors make it hard to get into the closets as well as being in the way of storing items. Doors also inhibit the movement around the doors.
Standard closet

This closet was designed for more internal storage, but it uses up 18 square foot of floor in front of the closet that cannot be used for storage and or any thing else.

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Installing Lockers in the same place where you would put a closet, it will hold more items as well as being able to organize your items or your kids.

A walk-in closet laid out right yields more and better quality storage as seen in the next 3 pictures.

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Walk-in storage
Small walk-in

Hearth & Home

Master bedroom fireplace Clip on photo to enlarge it.
The first picture has a entertainment cabinet has a 4’wide radius drawer under the hearth for DVDs and VCR movies. The hearth is being supported by a 1/4″ piece of steel so a person can stand on it to install the TV or clean the mantel.

closen-01.jpg Family room fireplace system

The cabinet right of the fireplace has the Cable box and a DVD player for the TV. We have leaded glass being made for the cabinet doors.

Flooring what is best?

I have this question asked to me a lot. Well let’s look at how the different types of flooring react to your environment.

Carpet- installation time 1-3 hour per room all you need to do is vacuum. If your family members do not like to take their shoes off this is not a good choice.

The carpet will remove any thing on the bottom of shoes and gravity will migrate it into the weaving of the carpet. Dog and Cat love to claw and chew it.

If you lay the carpet on a concrete floor and you have high groundwater the carpet will act like a breeding ground for mold and other insects. Warm to the touch, very bad for allergies.

Ceramic floor- installation time 2-4 days after 6 weeks you must seal it. Watch what type of tile you pick out

1. The glazing hardness the harder the better, and have them prove it to you as to the hardness. They will use different types of diamond scratches.

2. Next try to get a tile made of a cream color clay tile. I’m not talking about the finish you look at but the backside of the tile. This type of tile cut easier with less brakeage in installation as well as later.

3. Look for a textured tile for wet areas incase of slipping and falls. If the tile is sealed yearly it is the most durable against any type of ware cats, dogs, kids etc. Cool to the touch

Concrete floors- installation time 1 day than you have to wait 30-60 day before sealing it no paint taping compound, oils etc. until it is sealed properly.

Again it must sealed yearly it is the most durable against any type of ware cats, dogs, kids etc. Cool to the touch
Stamped (stained)
Exposed aggregate

Stone floors – installation time 2-4 days after 6 weeks you must seal it. Watch what type of tile you pick out. Look for a textured in wet and dry conditions and how the stone changes in color.

In wet areas like the back door area I recommend a honed finish, the stone is cut sanded smooth but it dull to look at, good for areas with sand and dirt will not show scratches.

A high polished finish is great if there is no sand, dirt or water. It will out last any type of wood floor you could install.

If the stone is sealed yearly it is the most durable against any type of ware cats, dogs, kids etc. Cool to the touch

Sheet goods (vinyl’s) – installation time 1-3 hours per room you will need a sponge to scrub the printing off the sheet good.

The good thing about sheet goods is that when you spill any thing it sits on the surface of the flooring.

Bad new is any thing can cut it from moving a refrigerator in to it place, to accidentally dropping a knife; a dog can claw it up. It has about 10-15 year wear life.

Wood floors-installation time 5 days for a floor of 350SF you will need to recoat the floor every 3-5 years. Sand, dirt, and dog claw will scratch the floor. Warm to the touch.