Did you get some cool tech toys for Christmas? There are probably some really great sales on to step your home up a notch or two making it more convenient. What are some the latest trends in technology available to consumers you ask, where do I begin? You could look at the recent popularity of 3D and HDTVs that are becoming as thin as your new iPhone. Maybe it is the trend that all this technology out there is getting better and the prices continue to drop. Add to that the current explosion of people wanting and being able to control everything from everywhere and you have some interesting trends developing.
The days of technology being expensive and complex are steadily becoming but a memory. More and more products are coming to market, which offer the value and simplicity folks are looking for. Custom home control used to be reserved for the wealthy. Now with the help of products like Control 4 the days of needing to be a multi-millionaire to afford a control system and a rocket scientist to understand it have come and gone. With affordable home control systems like Control 4 we can enable your iPad or smartphone to control audio, video, lighting, HVAC and doors, including the garage door. And the trend toward faster cell phone networks and the growing number of Wi-Fi hot spots allow you to maintain control (no pun intended) while on the go. Now you can send a signal to turn down the thermostat, turn off the lights and lock the door – the one you forgot to lock while running late this morning – from your phone or iPad. Having the ability to send this signal just ensured your home is secure and saved you a little money on your utility bill. And I don’t know about you but I’ll take saving money, even a little bit, anywhere I can get it.
As trends in home control have changed so have trends in other areas such as controlling and listening to music. In my day the cutting edge technology for listening to music was a CD player. I am not seeing too many people buying CD players these days. Instead we use Rhapsody or that little known about company and their iTunes software. iTunes allows us to download, control and listen to all of our favorite music from a computer, iPhone or iPad. Add a company like Sonos to the mix and you have a very affordable, easy to control audio system that will work with all of these and many more.
From the way we listen to music to the way we interact with our home, the current trends in technology have enhanced our lives. A client once asked me when he would be able to have a “Jetson’s” home with all of the futuristic marvels. Well, other than having a robot for a housemaid we’re getting closer!
This week’s feature was provided by our audio, video and home control industry expert, Brian a 15-year veteran in the field. If you would like to tap into his vast array of knowledge and experience just drop us a line at email@example.com. He can also help hook-up that new equipment you got from Santa. Brian is offering free in home consultations to all HomeServicesLink client members.
When it comes how to do insulation for a basement, there are several insulating options. Rigid foam insulation provides a good floor to ceiling insulation. Using fiberglass batts in conjunction with the spray foam and with a water vapor barrier, you will have a nice, dry, warm basement.
DEAR TIM: I’m going to be remodeling my basement and want it to be toasty warm. How would you do insulation for a basement remodel like this? Would you use basement foam insulation or just the old standby fiberglass? What’s the worst thing that can happen if you do the job wrong, and how do you avoid problems down the road? Is the insulation for basement wall in new construction any different than a remodel job? Kimberly C., East Hanover, NJ DEAR
KIMBERLY: Your questions are ones that could generate probably four or five correct answers. Any number of insulation experts would probably tell you their method is the best. The good news is that I know of at least two methods that work well.
I find it interesting that you have thought ahead as to what is an unintended consequence of doing the job incorrectly. This is absolutely a concern because once you finish the walls, you hide the work and can’t see problems until they get so bad they work their way through the walls.
I feel the biggest problem you can face in a basement remodel in a climate where the basement walls can be cool or cold is mold or mildew. Most basements, especially ones in houses built before the 1960′s, have an issue with high or excessive water vapor. Water leakage into finished basements is also a huge issue. More on that in a moment.
This water vapor comes from two primary sources, water that’s working its way through the foundation walls or the concrete floor. Prior to the 1960′s, it was not a common practice to install a vapor barrier under the concrete floor, and not all houses had the minimum damp-proofing sprayed on the outside of the foundation walls before they were backfilled. Water vapor readily works its way through solid concrete.
The water vapor that concentrates and builds up inside a basement will readily condense on cool or cold masonry foundation walls. It may never get so bad that you see the beads of water. In most instances, it’s just an invisible fog on the walls much like the mirrors in a bathroom fog up after you shower. You see the fog on a mirror because it obscures reflections. A water vapor fog on a concrete wall is absolutely invisible.
This water on the walls is the needed fuel for mold and mildew growth. When you insulate a basement in order to finish it, you need to account for this water issue.
There are two ways to insulate a basement that do a superb job. The first one works well if you’re on a tight budget. The key is to create an air space between the foundation wall and the backside of the stud wall that you’ll construct for your wiring and fiberglass insulation.
The air space can be as little as one-half inch and still be effective. This air space allows for minimum air circulation should water vapor get to the cold wall. You just make sure the fiberglass batts in the wall don’t contact the foundation wall.
What’s more, it’s mandatory that you install a vapor barrier on the warm side of the stud walls before they’re covered with drywall or paneling. This vapor barrier can’t guarantee that water vapor will not find it’s way to the foundation walls, but it surely helps funnel the water vapor to rise higher into your home eventually exhausting through great roof ventilation.
Perhaps the most effective way to install basement insulation is to use both rigid foam insulation in conjunction with stud walls that also contain fiberglass batts.
The rigid closed-cell foam is installed in large sheets, usually no less than one and one-half-inches thick, over the entire surface of the foundation wall. You want the foam to cover the foundation wall from the top of the floor slab all the way to the very top of the foundation wall.
The closed cell foam insulation is an exceptional vapor barrier, and when the seams at all butt joints and the corners are taped, it will be very hard for water vapor to get to the cold walls. The stud walls are built tightly against the foam pressing it to the foundation. Fill the stud cavities with un-faced fiberglass batts for a toasty warm basement.
The foam insulation method works best if the foundation walls are smooth. If the basement is an old stone foundation, spray foam insulation companies can spray expanding foam directly on the rough masonry. It’ll be expensive, but it can be done and it will do a fantastic job.
If there are any issues whatsoever with leakage into the basement, this MUST be solved before you begin to remodel. The best method I have seen over the years is to control this water on the outside of the foundation before it comes into the house.
You can capture and divert subsurface water in a yard by using a linear french drain.
Article Courtesy of AskTheBuilder.com and Tim Carter, Ask The Builder.
Whether you’re remodeling because you’re moving or you’re sprucing up your place because you’re in it for the long haul, the best places to spend your money are in the kitchen and bathroom.
And you don’t have to spend a lot of money to get a new look, better-performing appliances and fixtures, or even the trendiest styles.
Here are 10 ways to save money when you update your kitchen and bathroom—and still get a look you love.
1. Reface and refinish instead of tearing everything out and starting from scratch.
There’s no need to tear out your dingy, old bathtub to make room for a new one. Leave your tub where it is, and cover it with a molded acrylic tub liner. It will take about a day and doesn’t usually require you to buy new faucets. Acrylic wall surrounds cover chipping tile and dirty grout without the work of retiling.
Likewise, you can spruce up old cabinets by replacing just their doors. Even easier: Refinish or paint them. Dark, chocolate browns are the “new neutral” and easily cover marks and dents. If you like brighter colors, make the cabinets the room’s focal point by painting them dark red or green. If you want something splashier, consider a faux finish that looks like marble or Venetian plaster.
You can also reface your countertops by fitting an engineered granite slab right on top of your existing laminate or tile surface—so you save the trouble and expense of having your old counters ripped out.
2. Replace appliances and fixtures that waste energy and water. They’re costing you so much to operate that even if you spend a little extra for a more efficient replacement, you’ll wind up saving more on utility bills than you need to pay for them.
If an existing faucet pushes out more than 2.5 gallons of water per minute, install a low-flow faucet or aerator. Same goes for showerheads: Older models have a “flow rate” of more than three gallons per minute. Replace yours with a low-flow version and you could save up to 37 gallons of water every day. Likewise, if your toilet was made before 1992, it’s a real water waster.
Buy fixtures with the government’s WaterSense label and look for the Energy Star label on new kitchen appliances. They might cost a little more up front, but they’ll will save you money later.
3. Get started now so you take advantage of the marketplace, which has left contractors ready to work, the products you want in stock, and the higher-end materials you dream about a bit more affordable. If granite countertops are on your wish list, for example, check out the prices now. Don’t pay full price for appliances, flooring, paint, windows or other building products. Wait for specials.
4. Do one room at a time. A great place to start: the powder room. Averaging just 4 by 5 feet, it’s the home’s smallest room so it’s the ideal spot to splurge on high-end finishes and unique, personal touches that might be “too much” for a larger room.
5. Focus on function. Select fewer, higher-function, better-built pieces over excess, frills and for-show-only fashion statements. Devote most of your remodeling budget to a few, high-quality materials that won’t need replacing for a long time. Cheap floors, countertops and even paint can wear out quicker, show more scrapes and dings, or even fade or fall apart sooner than a sturdy tile or stone surface that costs more on because it’s made well.
6. Splurge on a single, showy piece. “Furnish” the master bath with a wood vanity and cabinets in a rich finish that would be nice enough to display in the bedroom or kitchen. Go with a granite or marble countertop. Select natural stone for the floor. Texture a backsplash with stone tiles or a textured finish like troweled-on clay. One show-stopper is enough to make a room look special and new.
7. Repair, don’t replace, if you can. Nearly all chips, scratches and minor holes in fiberglass showers and tubs are fixable. It’s pretty easy to camouflage dings and cracks in kitchen countertops. Cracked, dirty grout in tile floors is removable. Investigate remedies before investing in replacements.
8. Clean and brighten. Devote a day to a thorough cleaning that includes the inside, outside and tops of cabinets, drawers and appliances; the back of the refrigerator; and the baseboards, wall and ceilings. Once you’re finished, you might see that your kitchen or bathroom doesn’t need as much work as you thought.
Brush a fresh coat of paint onto those spanking-clean walls and ceilings, and your room could look new without replacing the floor, countertops or appliances. And add lighting in layers: task lighting around the vanity or mirror in the bathroom and under cabinets above the sink and stove in the kitchen; recessed lighting in the ceiling of the shower; and ambient lighting to fill the room.
Two tips: 1. Make sure they match. If you choose a silver-toned shower door or grab bars, match them with silver-toned faucets and hardware. If you choose gold tones, stick with gold throughout the room. 2. Stay away from shiny brass and chrome fixtures. Give your room a soft, luxurious feel with hardware, racks and faucets in oil-rubbed nickel, brushed chrome or brushed bronze.
10. Go with faux. In the past, vinyl flooring and laminate countertops may not have seemed like luxury items. But newer versions of those products look so much like granite, tile and wood that it’s hard to tell the difference at first glance.
In fact, you might even prefer the faux products in the kitchen and bathroom–and not just because of the steep price savings. They’re easier to care for.
New laminate countertops, for example, come in granite looks in a rainbow of colors at a fraction of the price, yet they’re strong, require little maintenance and don’t support mold or mildew growth. Same goes for tile-look vinyl or wood-like laminate flooring.
Article courtesy of The Cincinnati Enquirer by Rosie Romero, 12/10/11.
Home Services Link, your Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky contractro connection, is here to assist you with your remodeling projects. Simply request service online and we’ll connect you with screened, qualified and reliable contractor(s) to get the job(s) done right.
The following helpful hints were provided by Peter Hotton of The Boston Globe and answer some common home improvement and repair questions. Remember, Home Services Link is your Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky connection for a quality, reliable and insured handyman. We’re here for you, 24/7! Call 513.271.1888 or request services online.
Q – My roof is 20 years old and is losing a lot of the grit on the shingles. so much so that many shingles are all black. Should I get a new roof?
A – Those 20-year shingles should have lasted longer; regardless, you need a new roof. Get a 30- or 40-year shingle that is heavier than the current ones. It will last at least five years beyond 40 years.
Q – I used a composite cleaner on the mold on my Trex brand deck, without success. Will power washing do the trick without hurting the composite?
A – Power washing will remove the mold safely. (A trained professional is best suited to assist homeowners with power washing.)
Q – I am in a row of 1938 single brick houses, all condos now. When the condo association asked for new windows, an architect and an engineer said the payback for replacement windows would be too long to afford because the brick walls are not insulated. is this true? Can the brick walls be insulated? Also my unit has five windows, and the Diamond brand came through at $12,000 and the Andersen brand at $13,000 for replacement windows.
A – If a brick wall has a plastered stud wall inside, it can be insulated. If there were no stud wall, one could be built and insulated. Since there is a plastered wall inside, I am convinced it can be insulated from the inside.
As for those windows, those prices will come to $2.400 and $2,600 each. You did not describe the windows, but in a brick house they might be steel casements, which are difficult and expensive to take out. Get some more bids. (Home Services Link has window installation and insulation contractors).
Q – I get puddles in my backyard, mostly after a heavy rainstorm. Is there anything I can do?
A – The puddles are part of the water table, where underground water fills in enough to rise the surface. You live in an area of high water and you will have to live with it. Regrading or adding many yards of earth are not worth the expense.
HomeServicesLink will assist you with any home repair or improvement need. Contact us today and we’ll connect you with screened, reliable and quality contractors in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky. If you’re not a member request a free trial referral or join today!
What is a credit union?
Simply put, credit unions are in business to help people.
Credit unions are not-for-profit financial cooperatives that are owned and managed by their members and are regulated like any other financial organization. However, credit unions are considerably different from traditional banks, thrifts and finance companies. The major difference lies in the fact that banks and other financial institutions are for-profit organizations that operate for the benefit of shareholders. In contrast, credit unions split profits among their members in the form of higher returns on savings, lower rates on loans and fewer fees on average.
Membership requirements also set credit unions apart from traditional financial institutions. As mandated by the Credit Union Membership Access Act of 1998, credit unions cannot serve the general public. Individuals typically qualify for credit union membership through their employer, organizational affiliations like churches or social groups, or by living in an area served by a community-chartered organization.
Similar to the way bank deposits are insured by the FDIC, credit union deposits are insured up to $250,000 by the National Credit Union Share Insurance Fund (NCUSIF), which is administered through the National Credit Union Administration (NCUA). According to ncua.gov, no federal tax dollars have ever been placed in the NCUSIF, and no member has ever lost money insured by the NCUSIF.
Originally chartered in 1939, Emery Federal Credit Union is a Cincinnati-based, full-service financial cooperative that is wholly dedicated to serving its membership. It is a fast-growing, progressive credit union that offers members a full range of financial products and services including deposit accounts, loan products/services and commercial services.
Emery FCU returns its excess earnings back to its members in the form of lower loan interest rates, higher-yield savings and investment accounts, and low- or no-fee convenience services, as well as friendly, comprehensive service provided by its employees.
Membership with Emery FCU can be obtained by visiting a branch office—there are five located throughout Cincinnati—or by applying online. You simply have to complete an Emery account card and deposit $5.00 to open an account.
To learn more about credit unions, or to get additional information about joining Emery Federal Credit Union, please call 513-530-9351.
As a member of Home Services Link, you are eligible to join as a member of Emery Federal Credit Union.