Archive for June 2013

Types of Room Additions

If your home is short on living space and you don’t have an attic or basement to convert, a room addition may be your only option (short of buying a new house). There are four main types of room additions:

Full-size
An entire new room, or several, is added to the house.  Be aware you are essentially building a mini-house complete with contractor, permits, wiring, and HVAC, even if it is just one room.  You can add plumbing to that list if there is a bathroom. This is the second most expensive option, rarely costing less than $60k, and normally costing upwards of $100k.

Second Story
If you are in need of a lot more space, and don’t want to cut into your yard, consider adding a second story.  A sizable renovation indeed, this will most likely make your house unlivable for the majority of the renovations.  Same deal as the full-size room addition in terms of a mini-house, and this will generally cost over $100k.

Bump Out
A scaled down addition, usually an enhancement of an existing room. Homeowners will do a bump out when they want to add square footage to a bedroom, kitchen, main room, or add a bathroom. They are much cheaper than a full-size addition, but the cost per square foot will be higher.

Sunroom
Adding a sunroom has become popular in recent years, partly in due to the invention of thermal-resistant glass and improvements in insulation.  Sunrooms don’t always need plumbing and HVAC, which helps cut down on the cost of construction.

Contact the professionals at Tip Top Remodeling for all your home improvement needs.

New Net-Zero Energy Use Laboratory

The first ever net-zero energy use biological laboratory is nearing completion in La Jolla, CA.  These ‘wet labs’ are typically very high energy use buildings, but the new building for the J. Craig Venter Institute will break that mold in style.  The new headquarters will comprise 45,000 square foot and cost upwards of $39 million.

The building will achieve net-zero use without purchasing carbon offsets, meaning all its energy saving tactics are coming from personnel and the building itself.  The builders are using concrete that contains 30% fly ash, a recycled material, which is the highest percentage ever used by the company.  The 23,000 square foot solar panel array will provide electricity for the building, contributing about 60% of the total energy reduction.

Heating and cooling will be operated by a high-efficiency HVAC system, which consists of two 25,000 gallon thermal energy storage tanks that will use water instead of air to move heat in and out of the building.  This system will cut HVAC energy consumption by 87% compared to similar buildings.

When completed sometime in October, the building will support approximately 125 scientists and staff, and will (hopefully) have a LEED-Platinum rating.  Hopefully this trend catches on and more labs are built like this in the future.  In the end they will save money, mainly because they will have almost completely eliminated monthly energy costs.

Thinking about building green?  Tip Top Remodeling does new construction with energy efficient options.

Financing a Home Renovation

Before searching for home financing options, it’s important that you set a budget.  Once the expenses start adding up it can be hard to stop if you didn’t tell yourself before what your ceiling will be.  With the average kitchen renovation costing upwards of 50-60,000, it is likely that you will need financial assistance in the form of a loan.  Here are a few of your options:

Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC)
- Low-interest, variable rate
- Uses your home as collateral by borrowing a percentage of your home equity
- Hard to get, but the best choice if you have home equity
o Home values have plummeted in recent years.  Only people who put a substantial down payment or have owned their home for a long time qualify.
- Process can take a while, and usually requires you to pay for a home inspection
- Often the best rate available

financingContractor Loan
- Borrow directly from your contractor
- Check to make sure rates are competitive, sometimes contractors get kickbacks from lending agency
- Convenient

Government Solar Incentive Programs
- Tax credits if you use eco-friendly materials/products
- Up to $1,500 credit for using Energy Star appliances, and even bigger credits for solar energy systems
- State programs offer additional benefits

Personal Loan
- Compared to credit cards, personal loans have a lower, fixed interest rate
- Check online for offers, just be careful and make sure the business is legitimate

Title 1 Home Improvement Loans
- Government provides private lenders with insurance to provide loans for up to 25k for home improvements for terms up to 20 years
- These loans can be used for anything except luxury improvements like hot tubs
- Interest rates are generally between 10-14%, which is often half of what private lenders charge

Trends in Deck Design

Deck design has come a long way in recent years.  Now an extension of the indoor living space, decks are built to flow straight from a room in the house to the great outdoors.  Deck construction is expected to grow by 2.4% a year until 2016, peaking at a value of $5.7 billion.  Real wood is still the most popular material, but due to technological advances in materials, composite wood is on the rise.  High design is now becoming affordable for budget minded consumers.

deck with treeThese days deck designers are reaching deep in their back pockets for ideas, including mixing styles and materials on the      same deck!  They are integrating the topography of the existing land into the deck, creating a natural, organic feel.  Because of this we are seeing a partnership with the landscaper.  This partnership helps create a harmonious outdoor space that your family can enjoy for years to come without having to worry about trees blocking your new deck view, but instead integrating them into the design, taking full advantage of their structural value.

As I mentioned before, indoor living is flowing into outdoor living.  Decks are an extension of the home, and people are seeking the same comfort outside as they would have in their living room.  This presents unique challenges as well as exciting results.  Decks these days are bridging the gap between a sunroom and a completely outdoor space with permanent shade structures, luxurious cushion furniture, and built-in kitchen/BBQ areas.

Who doesn’t love to entertain in the privacy and comfort of their own home?  As more and more people move to southern climates with mild nights, the need to use the outdoor space at night increases.  Because of this, lighting has become a fixture in deck installation; the single flood light just doesn’t cut it anymore.  Some designs feature inlaid recessed lighting in the boards, post lights, and lights in the rails.

Tip Top Builders will design and build a custom deck for your home.