There are a number of ways to ‘green’ your garage and create a more eco-friendly place to store your automobiles, sports gear, outdoor equipment, gardening, home projects and work tools. We have come up with some simple green strategies to ensure you and your family can enjoy a safe, green garage space.
1. When deciding on building materials for your garage think green and look for energy-efficient windows and doors, renewable and sustainable materials, insulated doors, light timers and sensors and low or no-VOC paints. According to the EPA, indoor air quality is considered one of the top five hazards to healthy home living and the paints you use contribute to that.
2. An environmentally conscious way to conserve water consumption in the garage is to collect rain water from the roof of your garage in a rain barrel and use it for washing your car, your dog or cleaning your garage.
3. If you’re thinking about placing an additional refrigerator in your garage, you may want to reconsider. Refrigerators consume quite a bit of energy, especially when they are working harder to compensate for the damp temperature in your garage. Unless you have a really large family or do catering out of your home, having a refrigerator in your garage is a luxury you can live without.
4. If your garage is attached to your house, you’ll want to make sure that your garage door is insulated to cut down on energy costs. Depending on your budget, you can purchase a custom-made insulated garage door or you can do it yourself. A great way to cut down on drafts is to weatherstrip the door that leads from your garage to your home.
5. Don’t store hazardous materials your garage, because the fumes can leach through the ceiling into your home. If you seal your garage correctly, then you are trapping the fumes from the chemicals in your garage and home. The smartest solution is to store them in a shed away from the house.
A fresh lick of paint and some new furniture isn’t always enough to transform a living spaces. Sometimes, you need to think bigger, bolder and deeper.
Adding space by renovating doesn’t just add financial value to your house; it adds real value to how you experience your home. Spend a little now for a big payoff later.
Extensions: Making New Rooms
A new room can breathe new life into your home. It’s not simply a way to alleviate a crowded house: a new room is a blank canvas and can fulfill any requirement you need — workshop, guest house, bedroom, dining room, you name it.
Extensions have become the most popular way to grow a property. It’s far less restrictive than converting a loft or basement, but there are still restrictions on planning permission, depending on the type of property you own. Not only does adding the extra floor space give you more freedom and control, it could also add over 10% to the value of your home.
Reduce risks by allowing a little buffer in your budget, and make sure you’re on the right track with your neighbors — especially if you’re building on boundaries or a party wall.
Usually little more than a poky space for a dryer and a freezer, a utility room with actual utilities tends to make more sense than a placeholder.
Routing in plumbing and waste pipes for a large sink, washing machine or dishwasher can transform a marginally handy space into a room you couldn’t live without. It also relieves your kitchen of some of its duties, making it a more relaxing place to stir up your senses by freeing up more workable space.
The heart of the home should never be neglected. Remodeling your kitchen is good for so many reasons — new, super-efficient appliances, a fresh look and clever kitchen storage are an amazing boost to your house all round.
Kitchens are happy places; they’re full of food, drink, music and laughter. The hardest working room in your home deserves to be its best, and sometimes just the smallest of changes can make all the difference.
Everyone has something about their kitchen that annoys them. That might be a tiny kitchen sink, or the lack of worktop space or a dishwasher. Maybe you just hate the tiling. Whatever your main gripe is, take it out of the equation — whatever makes your kitchen easier to run makes your life easier to live.
Open-plan living isn’t just a faux-zen fad that promises things it can’t deliver. It’s a big deal — one that can add up to 6% to the value of your home. Kitchens that flow into dining and living areas, whole rooms brought together into a single, homogenous sanctuary. Limitless living.
Open-plan living isn’t always possible, though. Those load-bearing walls aren’t just there to box you in; they keep your house up. And if you live in a semi-detached or terraced property, your neighbors’ houses depend on yours to stay standing too.
There are some clever (and beautiful) work-arounds, like giant indoor windows, internal sliding doors, arches and simple internal supports — ways to add a light, open-air feel without compromising structural integrity.
When you’ve built up and out as much as your property allows, where else is there left to go? Time to think on another level. Ambitious homeowners in cramped cities are taking their homes deeper underground, making the space beneath their feet work for them.
A basement dig is no mean feat, however. It’s a complex, costly and very time-consuming operation that can put large portions of your house out of action for extended periods. The spoils of such an endeavor are well worth it, with underground swimming pools, gyms and other luxury amenities becoming a staple addition alongside the additional living space
However, there’s a lot to think about before you decide to build downwards, even if it is rather à la mode.
No, not an outhouse in the traditional sense (unless that’s what you’re after, of course); a detached, fully independent new building isn’t an uncommon sight. The most common application tends to be that of a “man cave” — a term apparently still alive and well.
Not all outbuildings have to be new or extravagant. A greenhouse or shed might not warrant any renovations works, but a garage? Now you’re onto something.
A garage conversion can turn a resting place for oily rags and old tins of paint into a glorious living space. Just think: it’s all there already, an empty shell waiting for a new lease of life. As long as you’re not expanding the structure, planning permission isn’t usually required, so a garage conversion is a relatively quick and cheap way into renovation success.
As winter has approached you’ve gotten your sweaters out of storage and found your mittens and boots, but your house needs its own ‘winter coat’ as well. Things like leaky windows and a furnace in need of maintenance can cost you money and may be hazardous to your home. Here are some tips to help you keep more money in your pocket and your home cozy and warm.
Clean Your Gutters
After all the leaves have fallen, make sure to clean out the gutters so that rain and melting snow and ice can drain. Clogged gutters can help form ice dams where water backs up, freezes, and causes water to seep into the house. After removing the leaves from the gutters, hose them out and look for leaks and misaligned pipes. While you are doing this check the downspouts to make sure they are carrying water at least 10′ away from your home’s foundation.
Repair Air Leaks
The average American home has enough leaks to add up to a nine foot hole in a wall. All of this wasted energy seeping out of those leaks can make up about 10 percent of your heating bill. To find leaks, pick a breezy day and walk around inside your house holding a lit incense stick near the most common drafty areas (windows and doors), being careful around flammable items.
You should caulk leaks where necessary but you can also use door sweeps to plug leaks under the doors. Foam gaskets can easily be installed around electrical outlets that share the home’s outer walls, where cold air can seep through. Outside you should use weather-resistant caulk or masonry sealer, which will stand up to freezing and thawing.
Make Sure You Have Enough Insulation
One way to save money and energy in the winter is to add insulation to your attic. It’s not particularly expensive and you’ll get your investment back quickly. Regardless of where you live, you should have at least twelve inches of insulation in the attic. A general rule of thumb is that if you can see the ceiling joists you don’t have enough insulation (The average ceiling joist is between 10 and 11 inches).
Give Your Furnace a Check Up
Turn your furnace on to make sure it is working before the coldest weather descends. You might notice a short-lived odor the first time you turn the furnace on, but simply opening a window should dissipate it. However if the smell persists, shut down the furnace and call your technician.
You should have your furnace cleaned and tuned annually and change the furnace air filters regularly throughout the winter. A dirty filter will impede the air flow and efficiency, and in really extreme cases could result in a fire. It is also a good idea to check and vacuum your ductwork every few years.
Install Your Storm Windows
Now is the time to take down the window screens and put up the storm windows. Storm windows provide an extra layer of protection and are particularly helpful if you have older single-pane glass windows. If you don’t have storm windows yet and your windows are leaky or drafty you need to upgrade your windows.
Now, we know that windows are pricey. If you are replacing all the windows in an older house, you can budget to replace them a couple at a time and in the meantime use an insulator kit. Insulator kits are a temporary substitute for storm windows, and while not terribly attractive they will get the job done in a pinch.
Time to Inspect the Chimney
Spring is the ideal time to think about your chimney. Your chimney doesn’t need to be swept every year but it should be inspected. Any sweep will have lots of stories about all the strange things found in chimneys. It’s worth having a look now and again.
When you get your chimney inspected, ask for a Level 1 inspection, which examines all readily accessible portions of your chimney. Certified chimney sweeps usually include a Level 1 service with a sweep.
Your woodstove on the other hand should be swept more than once a year. When it comes to woodstoves cleaning should be performed for every quarter inch of creosote buildup max, to avoid fire hazard.
One of the best preventive measures you can take for your chimney is to buy a protective cap. A chimney cap will keep out foreign objects from birds to tennis balls, as well as rain. Try to buy a cap based on durability instead of appearance.
Check Your Alarms
Now is a great time to install fresh batteries in smoke and CO detectors. Test your smoke, carbon monoxide, and security systems to make sure that they are functioning properly. Also make sure that your fire extinguisher is still pressurized and within its inspection date and that your family is familiar with the fire escape plan.
Winter can be a cold and uncomfortable time of year but with these simple steps it doesn’t have to be. Take the time to do these things now and you and your family will stay toasty, warm and safe all season long.
As perhaps the most traveled area of your home, your kitchen’s flooring needs to be carefully chosen. Not only does it need to withstand persistent foot traffic, but it should also stand up to the burden of spills and have the strength to endure dropped pots and pans. Since this is a room where strength and durability are key, you definitely want to pick a suitable flooring. With the options available today, your kitchen can feature anything from a sturdy bamboo to a majestic hardwood. Have a look at some of these fantastic floors that will hold up to your kitchen and look great doing it.
This seems like the obvious choice, but plenty of people are wary of investing in hardwood flooring for their kitchens considering the damage that can be done to them. When you choose hardwood for your kitchen, you want to try to find a species that has a higher Janka Rating, which measures its durability against wear and tear.
You can also protect your kitchen floor against water damage by making sure that it is properly sealed and finished. Prefinished flooring is especially hardy, but it can also have very small gaps between the planks compared to floors that are finished on site. Choose what you think is best for your situation, and remember that one of the great things about hardwood is that it can be refinished several times to renew its appearance.
Laminate flooring is a great solution for kitchens. With so many looks to consider, from different colors to floors with a natural wood grain detail, you will have a harder time deciding on which kind to install than you did when trying to figure out what should line your floor in the first place.
Laminate flooring is made to look like beautiful, natural hardwood, but the best thing about it is the no fuss, no muss upkeep. Resistant to scratches and stains, this might just be your perfect kitchen floor. Laminate also resists regular wear and fading, so it will look fantastic while providing the durable flooring you need.
In your kitchen, cork doesn’t have to be just for wine. Cork flooring is amazing because it is a natural, renewable product that is harvested from living trees without damaging them. It also has a cushiony feel that makes it a great choice for any room where you intend to do a lot of standing.
Cork is also a practical choice for your kitchen. It is very simple to clean in case of mishaps. Just make sure that it is properly sealed to protect against water damage, and cork will repay you with years of comfortable cooking. Like hardwood, cork can be refinished, so you can refresh the floor if it starts looking a little worn.
Bamboo flooring is very popular nowadays, and it is finding use in every room. The main reason for this skyrocketing popularity is its highly renewable nature, but it is also a great option where durability and value are concerned.
Bamboo labeled “strand” has been produced under intense heat and pressure to yield supremely hardy flooring, so it can stand up to what your kitchen has to throw at it. You can also choose handscraped and other distressed types to help disguise any damage that your floor eventually develops, but be assured that it will look amazingly aged rather than sadly worn. Bamboo is the best of both worlds—it has the natural beauty and durability of hardwood, but it is also highly renewable—so it will integrate seamlessly into your kitchen while giving you peace of mind.
Building a new home is both a rewarding and challenging venture, particularly when it comes to deciding on which windows to use. In new home construction, consumers will spend 15% or more of their home building budget on windows and doors. While aesthetics are certainly at the top of everyone’s list when searching for windows, they also provide warmth, light and energy efficiency.
Being well researched is the key to taking the stress out of selecting the right windows for your new home. You’ll want to take time to speak with window dealers, builders, architects and designers to see what they would recommend for the size and style of home you are building. Learn as much as you can about the various options, styles and energy-efficiency packages offered by leading window manufacturers.
Since windows are one of the most visible features of your home, you’ll want to make sure that the windows you select are complementary to your home’s architectural style. Work closely with your builder to select the style, size and shape of windows. Make sure that you consider what your windows will look like from the inside and outside. For added durability and low-maintenance consider fiberglass, aluminum or vinyl on the exterior and wood on the interior. If you opt for a wood interior frame, take into consideration your cabinetry, flooring and overall decor so that it matches the design of your interior.
A popular trend is to incorporate a wall of windows into the home design that mixes fixed and operable windows to maximize light, efficiency and of course, take advantage of the view. With so many styles available, take advantage of mixing and matching so you can maximize natural light and enhance curb appeal.
If you’re looking to save money you should select standard-sized windows that offer the highest efficiency and quality for your budget. However, if money is not a major consideration and you really want to set your home apart from your neighbors, try customizing your windows with some creative upgrades like interior wood frames, grilles, between-the-glass window fashions and premium screens. And don’t forget to take advantage of energy-efficient upgrades like frame construction, glass options, insulation and sealing. Almost every window manufacturer has an ENERGY STAR® rating, but make sure they include the latest energy-efficient features like triple-panes, a high R-Value (the higher the number the more efficient the window), low U-Value, low emissivity (Lo-E) coating and argon gas-filled panes to ensure maximum insulation and efficiency.
For years of peace of mind make sure that you research the warranties, which is why it is wise to purchase from a reputable window manufacturer that has solid product warranties. Be sure to read the fine print for exceptions!