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Calorique Blog

Our blog is dedicated to Home improvement, Energy saving, New Energy Sources.

Why A Hail Storm Might Be The Best Thing That Happened To Your Old Roof

Hail storms are some of the most dangerous and harmful weather patterns for your roof. They can wreak havoc on your roof's structure, the top layers, as well as on the various accessories, such as gutters, chimney flashings or vents. What's more, sometimes hail storms usually come together with powerful gusts of wind and harsh rains that can add up to the overall damage, making your roof completely unusable.

On the other hand, hail storms will not damage the roof right away. Instead, they constantly pound the top layers, causing dents, divots and tears in the roofing material. These damages can evolve over time, creating ample holes in the roof with dire consequences for the whole building. To avoid these awful situations, a carefully scheduled roof inspection plan must be devised, together with your professional roofing company.

How can a hail storm be a good thing for your roof?

Especially for an old roof, surviving a vicious hail storm will come with multiple damages, so special care must be given to the inspection process. Additionally, the calm after the storm is the best period to assess damages, evaluate repair costs and establish a schedule for reconstruction. While many homeowners see the aftermath of a hail storm as a disastrous moment and a financial nightmare, some owners consider it a great opportunity for a new beginning. In essence, a hail storm can be the perfect time for a complete overhaul of your old roof and a possible redesign of the whole structure. You will be able to decide, together with a roofing specialist, the most appropriate roof materials, technical solutions and various accessories that will protect your home from a future storm.

What are your alternatives when building a new roof?

Some of the most common questions coming from homeowners after a hail storm are “How can I avoid future hail storm damages to my roof?” and “What should I do?”. Obviously, these questions come as no surprise, considering the amount of destruction a hail storm can bring even to a good roofing system.

Most roofing systems in the United States are made of fiberglass and asphalt composites that are very sensitive to hail and harsh rain. When replacing a roof, it is a good idea to avoid this roofing material if possible. Although it is one of the cheapest options available, it has a short lifespan and requires much maintenance work.

When it comes to materials, your best bet is metal roofing. Available in multiple varieties, from metal shingles and sheets, to multi-layered panels that also include thermal insulation, metal roofing systems are modern, elegant, easy to install and have a long lifespan.

One of the major advantages of metal roofs, especially when compared to ceramic tile or fiberglass shingle roofs, is the fact that they seldom suffer functional damage during a hail storm. They do suffer occasional dents and other cosmetic damage, but thanks to the elasticity of the metal, perforations or tears are very rare. On the other hand, ceramic tiles may crack or shatter during vicious hail storms. The only areas of a metal roofing system prone to hail damage are near the seams, around the ridge and at the hip caps, where improper installing may cause problems.

Metal shingles, metal sheets, and metal multi-layered panels are ideal roofing solutions for any building, from single family homes and small commercial buildings, to churches, warehouses and exhibition centers or sports arenas. They can be fashioned in any shape and are available in a huge range of colors and hues. Also, metal roofing systems can blend with almost any style of architecture and can be installed in every location across the country.

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The writer of this article, Flaviu Mircea, is a home improvement buff who does everything he can to keep his home absolutely perfect. The roof, however, is too much for one man to handle. As such, he highly recommends the services of ReRoof USA. You can learn more about Flaviu from Google+.

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How To Stay Cool In The Summer

How To Stay Cool In The Summer

During the summer, there is an increase in repairs as air conditioners work overtime in an attempt to stay cool. Central air conditioners contain two separate components -- the condenser and the evaporator. You can usually find the condenser on the outside of your house sitting atop a concrete block. The evaporator is a coil that is mounted above the furnace in your main air conditioning unit. If either of these components is not working correctly, you'll need to call a professional for repair. However, there are still several things you can do to diagnose and repair your unit if it's not operating correctly.

Cleaning the Unit
Making sure the unit is clean can help you save money and keep your conditioner running well into the summer. Before you do any work, make sure you cut the power to the unit. If your unit has an exposed plenum, you can clean it yourself. Otherwise, if it's inside of a sealed sheet metal box, don't go anywhere near it. Start by removing the foil insulation at the front of the plenum. You may need to remove the tape holding it in place. Don't destroy the tape, because you'll need to replace it. Use a stiff brush to clean the evaporator, and then clean the tray below the unit. This tray carries condensation away from the evaporator. You can also pour 1/2 tablespoon of bleach into the weep hole to prevent the growth of bacteria and mold.

Check the area around your condenser. If there are any weeds, grass or vines, cut them away so they don't obstruct airflow. Use a commercial coil cleaner to clean out the condenser. Follow the instructions on the cleaner to flush out the coil, but do not use a hose. Let the coil dry naturally. The fins on the condenser can be cleaned with a soft brush, but you'll need to remove the grille to access the fins. Be very careful, since these fins are made of aluminum and can be damaged easily. Finally, make sure the unit is level. Make adjustments to the unit until it is level to help keep it running optimally.

Avoid a Freeze Up
Air conditioners freeze up when the pipes are working overtime and become frozen. It sounds obvious, but there are certain precautions you can take to prevent this from happening. Before it gets hot, have your AC check for the proper levels of refrigerant. Low levels can cause your unit to freeze. While you're at it, have a professional check for any leaks.

Make sure the air filters in your home are changed regularly. Dirty air filters restrict air flow can can cause humidity to collect and pool around the coils. Undersized ducts are another problem. This is why you need the right size unit for your home. Getting a unit that is too large may seem like a good idea, but if it's too powerful, it can cause problems.

Don't run the air conditioner on days when the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit. This can cause your unit to freeze up. If you want to keep the filtration going in your home, then use the fan option on your units. This will also reduce the level of humidity in your house, which in many cases is all you need to feel cool.

Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Longmont, CO heating repair.

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How Does Outdoor Air Affect Your AC Unit?

One unfortunate aspect of life is that most of us have to contend with drastic changes in the external air. Temperatures sometimes get quite high and during the cold months temperatures plummet, with high humidity making the environment feel warmer or cooler than the thermometer claims. To help alleviate the problem, almost every commercial and residential building owns an AC unit. Air conditioning systems work efficiently to maintain the air within the room at comfortable levels.

What you may not know however is that heating ventilation and air conditioning systems use the fresh air from outside for providing your desired quality of air inside.  This begs the question of how changes in outdoor air affect the functioning of the AC units. Here are some of the ways your AC unit is being impacted by outside conditions.

Outside Temperature

The AC unit is made of coils that pick up heat from the outside air, but have nowhere to get rid of it. Therefore, the temperature of the system increases gradually. A heat exchanger is, therefore, required to get rid of the extra heat. A high-temperature difference between the outside air and the refrigerant will affect the amount of heat transferred with the unit and the rate at which it is transferred. Even perfect systems decrease in efficiency with outside temperature rising about 2 degrees. This drop in efficiency is quite dramatic in the real world. You will notice that your air conditioner seems to be working harder as the outside temperature increases.

Poor Air Quality and Pollution

Many factors affect the quality of air we breathe. Pollen, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide are just but a few pollutants that affect us today. With all technological advancements today meant for improving the quality of our lives, it is unfortunate that air quality is not given due attention.

Diminished air quality is bad for everyone, but it can be particularly bad for the AC equipment. Particles of polluted air such as smoke and dust accumulate in the AC unit and these particles will hinder the operation of the AC unit. After some time, the efficiency of the unit is reduced. This is why it is always important to keep on top of making sure that the AC equipment is cleaned and maintained on a regular basis. Regular cleaning removes any such dust and particles that could collect with time.

Humidity in the External Air

Since one of the primary functions of the AC unit is to remove excess moisture from the air, the process can be made much more difficult when the external humidity is high. The efficiency of the AC unit is thus affected when we approach the warm weather months. A high amount of moisture in the air can also carry a larger amount of dust that settles in the unit’s fins and coils. When the humidity is high, the AC systems have to use more energy and work harder to keep the home cool. If you have an older and inefficient system, it may not be able to handle the job quite well. It may be time to consider an upgrade to a more modern solution.

Heat, humidity and air pollution can affect the AC unit. Long and irregular run times of the unit can also affect it significantly. Since your AC unit represents a significant investment, you will want to make sure that you protect it by scheduling appointments with certified technicians that can be found at www.bobheinmiller.com on a regular basis for cleaning, maintenance and inspection. You can also clean the unit yourself using a coil cleaner so as the system can be efficient in its operation. Removing debris and dirt allows the system to work more efficiently and will lead to lower utility bills.

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The writer, Edrick Hypolite, is an Orlando resident who always strives to keep his home comfortable and keeps track of everything that could compromise that. If you wish to learn more about Edrick you can visit on Google+.

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5 Affordable Ways To Add Value To Your Home

5 Affordable Ways To Add Value To Your Home

When you start thinking about selling your house, your thoughts will inevitably turn to the value of your home. Property value can be highly subjective, and dependant on the area you live in, the state of the property market, and of course the condition of your house itself. But if you want to give your home a few inexpensive fixes before inviting an estate agent round for a valuation, here are 5 affordable ways to increase the value of your house.

1. Revamp Key Rooms

If you are hoping to sell in the near future, you understandably don’t want to spend thousands of pounds on a new kitchen or bathroom. However as two of the most important rooms of the house, a few slight tweaks such as upgraded appliances and DIY improvements can freshen up the rooms for the viewings.

2. Make Space

Clutter can really impact the value of a property, visually reducing the amount of space available and making rooms look much smaller than they actually are. After years spent in your home, you’ll no doubt have at least one room that is full of ‘stuff’, so try to tackle this before you get it on the market, to improve your asking price and make visitors see the bigger picture.

3. Light and Airy

Even the largest and most impressive rooms of the house can look dark and enclosed if the lighting isn’t right. So expose those windows and let the light flood in, or where natural light is lacking a few lamps or high wattage bulbs can make all the difference. If the walls are looking a bit dull or dirty, a quick layer of neutral paint will brighten them back up.

4. Spruce Up the Exterior

The one photo that is guaranteed to be in the estate agent window, don’t be let down by the exterior when trying to sell your property. In the run up to putting your property on the market, focus on improving the kerb appeal of your house. Tidy up the garden and brighten it up with some flowers, clear the gutters, and give the windows and doors a lick of paint to have it looking top notch for visitors. 

5. Depersonalise

Colourful walls and décor might be just right for you and your family, but don’t assume that everyone will be on the same page. First impressions count, so making your property as neutral as possible will help attract potential buyers.

You don’t need to spend a lot to make big improvements to the value of your house. And a key point to remember is that value isn’t just about the price of a property – it’s being able to sell it at that price too. So spend some time sprucing up the interior and exterior of your home before you take the next step to sell, and have a much better reception from the market when you do make the move.

This article is written by Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, a freelance copywriter from Yorkshire. You can follow her on @KellyGGrassam. This article is written with helpful information from ADM Residential.

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Glass Fireplaces

There is nothing more romantic than sitting next to a fireplace on a colder winter day...

A fireplace can most often be found in a living room and is a favorite place for the gathering of family members during the winter. Warmth, comfort and a positive atmosphere will surely keep you there during cold winter nights.

Styles and designs

fireplacesFireplaces come in many styles and designs, and are generally made from concrete or brick. From recently, in many homes fireplaces made out of glass are being used. People no longer have to think about the safety of the, because they don't have to wait for the wood to burn before they go to bed. It's a known fact that a fireplace without supervision can be dangerous. A fireplace is not an automatic device that has a timer for turning off and on. So it is best to use a fireplace that's made out of glass.

Modern technology gives us the chance to see the fire from every angle of the room, that burns on the right place in the right time. A perfect scene. The diversity of glass fireplaces will bring a feel of comfort, in your living room, your hallways or your office. The magic of this important piece of furniture can be designed in many different shapes and colors, depending on what your interior already looks like.

If you enjoy in romantic moments and you need a spiritual consolation in a pure atmosphere during the cold winter days – it's the right choice for you.

But, before buying a glass fireplace there's something you should consider. The price of the fireplace compared to your budget. Some of the manufacturers offer a life time warrantee, and some offer a limited one. The price varies depending on the material. Aluminum is the most accessible material you can find.

Harmony in the interior

Also, think about the harmony in your interior. There are many types of fireplaces, rustic, elegant, modern or traditional. Pick the one that will be fitting to your interior. Glass fireplaces look really beautiful. But they should also look beautiful when matched with your interior.

Another thing you should consider when thinking about buying a glass fireplace is lighting. It's really important. You don't want to overlook it. Think about this. If you have really big windows, that means you will get a lot of light during certain parts of the day. Well, maybe the window is facing a side which will not get a lot of light, but it will get some for sure. So, since it's a lot of glass in your fireplace, too much light will create a lot of glare. And that, if you didn't know, can be a really bad thing. Firstly, it bothers the eyes. You'll get blinded in certain areas of the room. You certainly don't want to avoid specific places in your room because you don't want to lose your sight. If this is the case, consider using some light blocking tools like curtains or blinds.

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  •  License: Creative Commons image source 
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By Milan Budimkic

Milan Budimkic is a creative freelance writer for industries that include but are not limited to the travel, sport, entertainment, internet marketing, and much more. When not blogging, Milan likes to travel and read a lot.

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4 Signs Your Stonework Needs Renovating

4 Signs Your Stonework Needs Renovating

Stonework rarely needs repointing and renovating, and properties can go decades without needing any major maintenance to the exterior walls if they have been skilfully constructed. However, it’s inevitably that eventually the constant barrage of sun, wind, rain and frost can damage your stonework. And if you spot signs of disrepair, it’s important not to ignore them, or you could face more serious problems later on. If you notice any of these signs, you should consider ringing a stone specialist as soon as possible to diagnose the issue and find a remedy. 

1. Cracked Walls and Foundations

It’s understandable that most people panic if a crack appears in the wall of the house, but not all of these faults are so sinister. Especially for new builds, this can occur naturally over the first few years as the property settles into its foundations. However a second opinion is wise, as large cracks and particularly ones caused by swelling, shrinking or subsistence can have serious implications. 

2. Damp Walls

Natural stone is porous, but problems of damp shouldn’t occur if stonework has been professional installed and sealed. If walls are damp, there could be a variety of causes for this. Failing to properly seal walls leaves the walls open to absorb moisture, which can become trapped between the pointing. However pointing itself can also cause these issues, as hard cement prevents the natural release of moisture, instead leaving it vulnerable to decay. Other causes of damp include drainpipes running onto walls and flooding.

3. Crumbling stone

The issue of trapped moisture where stonework is unable to breathe can cause more serious problems to the overall condition of your walls, such as crumbling. If your window surrounds or stonework are in such as poor state that it is crumbling, it is far better to get a stone mason specialist to completely repair the damaged area than to patch it up. Simply trying to treat the symptoms of the problem rather than the root cause itself is unwise; you will probably only delay and even increase expenses when the issue has worsened in a few years. 

4. Vandalism

A sad but very common cause of stonework problems can be vandalism, as graffiti or intentional damage to walls, statues and natural stone can leave it looking tired and an eyesore. Addressing these issues yourself can be a challenge, as each type of natural stone is best suited to different remedies. However a professional will be able to prescribe the right treatment to renovate your stonework, leaving it looking as good as new.

Maintaining the condition of exterior walls, patios and cladding is crucial for the kerb appeal and value of any property. It can also ensure that problems are addressed quickly, by someone with the necessary skills and expertise do the job properly. So please don't bury your hand in the sand, don’t ignore any of these signs if they do arise – call an expert to get peace of mind and the appropriate solution. 

Article written by Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, a Yorkshire lass who enjoys the great outdoors. She is a freelance copywriter who you can follow on Twitter @KellyGGrassam. This article was written with useful information from Henley Stone.

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Getting The Most From A Home Appraisal

Getting The Most From A Home Appraisal

One of the most important parts of the refinancing process is the home appraisal. This is because the appraisal will set the stage as far as how much you will end up paying on your refinance. The appraisal is the official estimate of what your home is worth, so the object of the game is to get as high of a number as possible.

Researching

Getting as good an appraisal as possible begins with research, as this will help you to make an informed decision about the appraiser you choose. And this can be made much easier by doing some of your own research into what homes in your area have recently sold for. Ensure the homes you are comparing are similar to your own.

Once you've noted some homes, you can create a file. The file should include categories like the amenities each home is close to, the square footage of each home, the year each home was built, and the sale price of the home.

You will also likely come across homes in your area that were similar to your own, but ended up selling for less that you expect your home to sell for. However, this may have been due to unique circumstances, such as the owners being forced into foreclosure.

The benefits of doing your own research include providing an out-of-town appraiser with an accurate look at your local housing market.                                                                                                                                                                                                         

Getting Clean

The next step is to take a good look around your home for anything that may need to be repaired. This could include items like stairs, windows or anything that could present a hazard. Chances are that your appraiser will notice these things as they do their walk through. And not attending to them before your appraisal can cost you big points on the final estimate of your home's value.

Along with ensuring any repairs that need to be made are completed is making sure your home is ready for an appraisal. This means making your home as presentable as possible. Although you may not need to put in as much effort as you might for an open house viewing, doing the dishes, putting any laundry away and ensuring the garbage has been taken out can all contribute to a positive impression.

Lay Of the Land

Did you know that you can increase your home's value by up to 15%, just by hiring a professional to update your landscaping? According to the American Society of Landscape Architects, that is a fact. Attractive landscaping adds curb appeal , which appraisers consider when figuring out how much your home is worth. Other affordable ways to improve the appearance of your home from the outside don't involve professional intervention. Even a new mailbox, or the addition of window boxes and porch planters can pretty up your property.

Being There

Experts recommend that when getting an appraisal done, the homeowner should always be present. There is no law which states that you can't be there when the appraisal is being conducted. As well, you can definitely inform the appraiser of any features in or around your home which may be unique, but which the appraiser may not see right away, such as special storage or larger-than-usual closet space.

However, experts warn against saying too much to an appraiser. Going for too much control may appear as though you're trying to do their job for them. And so if you offer your appraiser your file of researched area homes and are refused, try not to take it personally.

Aging Gracefully

Another aspect of your appraiser's job is to determine how well your home is aging. If you have taken good care of your home and made updates, your home value may be end up being higher than similar properties in your area. An example of a home that is not aging well could be one that was built only a decade ago, but is already showing signs of wear and tear via drywall cracks or a sinking foundation. Older homes are not immune, and can show their stress with features and details that are out of date, and therefore not major selling points.

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Guest author Tony Donovan writes on mortgage-related topics.  He recommends The Refi Guide, a site dedicated to helping consumers navigate the refinancing process.

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What Does A Stone Mason Do?

What Does A Stone Mason Do?

Stone masonry is a historic profession, and one that for many evokes images of medieval men chiselling away at rocks to form little bricks hundreds of years ago. With the evolution of modern manufacturing methods and availability of products such as concrete and brick, you might imagine that stone masons are few and far between in the industry nowadays. However this traditional craft is actually as important as ever for building and construction, and has a range of roles from stone fitting to graffiti removal and stone cleaning.

Stone Masons for New Build

Just because many houses are built from bricks these days, doesn’t mean that stone masons are any less popular for the construction of homes. A bespoke option that offers superior quality to any property development, stone masons use a combination of modern and traditional building methods to create impressive residential and commercial properties. This could be using natural stone, or newer materials and methods such as glass reinforced concrete, which can be manufactured to mimic any stone and shaped with a seamless finish.

For a more affordable alternative to using natural stone for the entire property, stone cladding is becoming an increasingly well-known way to increase the kerb appeal of a home or building. Stonemasons can fit quality natural stone cladding to a property, creating a façade that boasts timeless appeal. As a result, cladding can significantly increase the value of a building, without costing the earth.

Restoration and Renovation

Stone masons also have an important role in maintaining period properties and stately homes that are in need of improvement, whether this be minor repairs or drastic renovation. By choosing an experienced stonemason, renovations, extensions and restoration can be done with seamless results that will be in-keeping with the original period of the property. From porticos to panelling and cornices, a specialist stonemason can really improve the value of these buildings and give them a new lease of life, whether your property is an old farmhouse or a Georgian townhouse.

Stone Cleaning and Graffiti Removal

Some stonework has been exposed to the elements for hundreds of years, and over time this can leave it stained, dull and lifeless. Stone cleaning is a professional service that removes dirt and restores natural stone to its original appearance, making a huge difference to the aesthetic value of a property. However vandalism also poses a problem to many homeowners and business owners, especially in urban areas. That’s why many stone masons also offer graffiti removal services, to remove street art and restore stonework to its former appearance.

From new builds to period properties, and a huge variety of commercial needs, stone masonry offers a professional range of services that makes it a relevant and reliable choice for property developments, home improvements, and restoration. Preserving the timeless quality of stonework for the modern age, stonemasons offer a premium finish for any building project that makes their craft a valuable one.

Now did you know all that? 

Article written by Kelly Gimour-Grassam, a freelance copywriter from Yorkshire who loves the great outdoors and eating out. This article is written with useful information from Henley Stone. You can follow Kelly on Twitter @KellyGGrassam.

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Custom Chandeliers - How To Have The Right Chandeliers Made For Your Home

Chandeliers used to be found only in the living rooms of spacious mansions and grand hotel lobbies and function rooms. Nowadays, though, they can be installed in any home, even yours. Indeed, you can choose from many different types and styles of chandeliers and if you cannot find what you're looking for or don't want to go through the process of having to browse through various catalogues, you can always have a custom chandelier made, especially if you have an innovative modern chandelier in mind.

Indeed, custom chandeliers are offered by many lighting companies. If you opt for these, though, you will be asked a lot of questions to ensure that the finished product meets your exact specifications, so you should have a clear idea of what you need.

For one, you should know the right chandelier size that you require. Keep in mind that the bottom of the chandelier should be at least seven inches from the floor so you have to measure the height of the room from the floor to the ceiling. As for the diameter, you can simply give the area of the room to the company so they can calculate it for you. Remember that a chandelier easily draws attention so if it is too large or too small, it is a mistake people will easily notice, making the entire room less attractive.


Contemporary Chandelier Light


Once the size has been decided, it is time to describe the style of the custom chandelier that you want, which is the more difficult part. First, you have to find out if you want a traditional chandelier, a transitional one or a modern chandelier. A traditional chandelier is usually one with tiers and has a frame usually made of either antique brass or polished brass with the bulbs attached to the frame. With modern chandeliers, however, the design is more varied and minimalist. Aside from these three design types, you can also choose from other more specific chandelier designs, such as Art Deco, Rustic, Asian, Renaissance or even Tropical. There are also dozens of finishes available.

In order to choose the right style, you have to consider the style of the rest of the room, so that the chandelier will complement it rather than go against it. If you can't pinpoint the style of the room, you can just choose one element of it that stands out and use that as the basis for creating the design of your custom chandelier. If you are good at drawing, you can sketch the design of the chandelier you want and then show this to the lighting company to serve as a guide.

In some cases, you can also specify what bulbs you want the custom chandeliers to use so you should take advantage of this option. The bulbs can be exposed or enclosed in spheres or shades and they can be fluorescent, incandescent, halogen, xenon and even LED. They can also be colored or have dimming capacities to create a dramatic effect.

By keeping all these in mind, you can truly have a chandelier that is custom made to meet your needs. It will be one of a kind, as well, so when people ask you where you got it, which they surely will, you can just smile and say that there is no other like it.

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Sarah Brighley is a full-time mom and an avid blogger of home improvement ideas. She loves to share the best tips in interior design and furniture.

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How To Become A Successful Property Developer

How To Become A Successful Property Developer

Property development is a popular and ever expanding field, with more and more people giving up their day jobs to follow their dreams, with an opportunity chance to watch your hard work turn into reality and ultimately make serious profits. However balancing cost, quality and a reasonable time frame is important if you are going to avoid your dream turning into a nightmare, so following these simple rules will ensure that your project comes off without a hitch.

Build the Vision

Before you buy any land or property, or even embark upon the planning stages, every property developer should have a clear idea of their goals and why exactly they are choosing a specific plot. Are you renovating a period property to its former glory, or building a modern home in a kid-friendly area that’s perfect for families? Remember that at the end of the day you need to be able to sell your house, so avoid indulging in personal taste and have a specific market for your development.

Plan and Budget

It seems like an obvious thing to say, but you would be amazed at how many people underestimate costs and time frames in their enthusiasm to get started on a project. One of the most important things that can make or break a property developer is planning, and failure to take account for every expense, delay and potential problem might give you a nasty shock later down the line. 

Budget your project and leave a contingency fund in case of emergency, and that way you will already have factored in any unexpected costs in case they do arise. Make sure that you have all of the necessary planning permission, and where possible get quotes before you start for jobs such as stonework, scaffolding, architecture and electricity work. Have a clear vision of what you want, and know exactly what needs to happen to achieve it.

Outsource to Reputable Traders

They say that if you want something doing, do it yourself. But when it comes to property development, outsourcing is essential. However it’s also the area where you’re most likely to slip up if you don’t do your research. Whether you’re looking for a stone mason, electrician, plumber or other professional, make sure that you choose a reputable company with the necessary accreditation, a sound portfolio, and a few good references before you go ahead. Getting the best quote and the most convenient schedule might seem like a priority, but if the end result isn’t up to scratch then it could compromise your whole development.

The success of a property developer doesn’t just depend solely on hard work and determination. Of course, planning, budgeting and a vision is key, but you also need to remember that you are reliant on the market wanting to buy your house. And the construction workers who will make it happen. However if you keep your mind on the end goal and an eye on quality workmanship, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t succeed.

Article written by freelance copywriter Kelly Gilmour-Grassam, who loves fine food in interesting places. Follow her on Twitter at @KellyGGrassam. This article was written with helpful information from Henley Stone.

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Winter Is Coming: Plumbing Edition

Winter Is Coming: Plumbing Edition

As winter approaches each year, there are a lot of things to look forward to. The holiday season brings fun with family and friends, and you'll have the chance to make new memories with the people you love the most. Whether you love skiing and snowboarding or you can't wait to have a snowball fight with your kids, you don't have to wait much longer since winter is coming!
However, winter also comes with a specific set of challenges. Snow and cold weather bring plenty of opportunities for fun, but you also need to make sure that the plumbing in your home is ready before the cold weather rolls in. Frozen pipes can burst and cause a tremendous amount of damage, but you can reduce your risk by taking the following precautions.
Head Outdoors
You can start the process of winterizing your plumbing by heading outside. Disconnect all of your exterior hoses, and drain them before you put them away for the winter. If you leave your pipes attached during the winter, they can freeze with water still inside them. This could cause your exterior faucets and pipes to burst. 
It's best to store your hoses inside to keep them from freezing. If possible, shut off your outside faucets completely for the winter so they won't be accidentally turned on. 
Use a piece of cardboard or some extra insulation to protect your exterior water meter from freezing. Finally, make sure that your sprinkler system is turned off, and drain any water that is currently in the system.
Seal Cracks
Next, you can protect your pipes by carefully checking for any cracks or small openings near your doors and windows. Cold wind can enter your house through these areas, and this increases your risk of exposed pipes freezing and causing big problems. Most small issues can be corrected with a little caulk or insulation.
Add Insulation
Adding insulation is one of the most important things you can do to protect your plumbing system this winter. You need to be especially careful to insulate pipes that are located in areas that are not heated, such as your attic or basement. Pick up pipe insulation material from almost any hardware or home improvement store, and simply use this insulation to wrap your pipes. 
In addition, it's important to insulate any of your outside walls that contain water pipes. You can also keep your home at a more steady and comfortable temperature by closing off any crawl spaces or other open areas.
Stay Prepared
Even after you've prepared your plumbing for winter, it's important to stay prepared for cold weather. Don't turn off your heat when temperatures are expected to be below freezing, even if you are going out of town. If you do need to travel, shut off the main water valve to reduce the risk of a plumbing emergency.
If your pipes have frozen in the past, you can keep the water moving by allowing a small amount of cold water to continue to flow through the pipes when the weather is extremely chilly. 
By taking a small amount of time to prepare now, you can avoid many of the most common plumbing problems this winter. This means you'll get to spend more time enjoying the season and less time dealing with plumbing issues!

Charlie Teschner started MESA Plumbing, Heating, and Cooling in 1982. Charlie has a journeyman and master plumber’s license. He was raised with a strong work ethic and he now applies those values to tasks such as Boulder plumbing repair.

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Tell-Tale Signs You Need To Get An AC Repair Specialist

Your central air units are like any complex mechanical system.  If you have the basic knowledge of how to see their symptoms, you can save yourself big dollars on major repairs by proactively maintaining your system.  Monitor the performance of your system and you will know when it is time to call a specialist such as the professionals at Facemyer Air Conditioning and Heating.

Cycles

Air conditioning systems work to remove humidity from the air and thereby bringing the temperature down.  When you set the thermostat to a particular temperature setting, it will set a cyclic rate for your system to cycle on and off for a specific duration of time.  The longer the cycle, the more humidity is being removed from the air.  In converse, the shorter the cycle, the less humidity removed from the air and the higher the temperature remains.  Remember, temperature is a measure of how rapidly particles move about in the air.  By removing particles, i.e. water, from the air, the air feels cooler.  A tell-tale symptom that there is something wrong within the ac unit is a noticeably short or long cycle.  If the AC system has to work too hard to remove humidity, there is a reason for it.  The first step for you as a homeowner is to check your air filter and make sure it is not in need of replacement.  If the filter is fine and there doesn’t appear to be excess water laying in the filter area of the central air unit, it is time to call your AC specialist.  If there does appear to be water laying in the filter area, you will need to check the drain and make sure it is not clogged, which may also require a repair specialist if you are not comfortable with that level of maintenance.

If your unit cycles for extended periods of time and struggles to get the temperature down, which is one of the most common problems, it is vital to get your technician on site.  Aside from filter or drain problems, longer cycle rates can be an indicator of a more severe problem.  If your unit is getting low on refrigerant, but is not low enough to kick on the failsafe sensors, it will cause your system to cycle longer.  Think of it like your car.  If your car is low on oil it will still run, but if it loses too much oil it can cause the motor to blow.  On newer cars, there are sensors that will shut your car down in the event of a major loss of oil pressure.  On older cars, you hear a loud noise and the motor has just experienced major failure.  Your ac systems work in the exact same way.  If your unit is older or has a pressure sensor that is malfunctioning in the worst way possible, you can cause severe damage that will multiply the costs of repairs.  Not only will you have to purchase more parts, but you are more than likely going to have to wait days for them to come in and pay much more in labor costs.  Being proactive isn’t easy, but it is certainly cost effective.  When the ac coolant (Freon) gets low from a hole in the suction side of the system, it will pull in outside air or dirt and contaminate the entire system.  Replacing a compressor, the condenser, and vacuuming the lines are worst case scenario in terms of cost of repair for the outside unit. 

Noise

Sometimes the need to call a technician to your home is obvious.  There is nothing like a loud shrieking noise to say, “hey, I need some attention over here!”  Fortunately, noises in ac units are not typically expensive noises if you address them quickly.  To begin your assessment of the situation, follow your ears!  If the noise is outside of your home, there are two likely culprits.  Best case scenario, it is the fan on top of the unit with some sort of debris that is rattling.  If you hear a steady hum and the fan is not moving, call your ac technician.  There are several electrical issues that can cause engagement failure of the fan.  On the other hand, if you hear a noise in the outside unit and the noise is not coming from the fan, the only other moving part is the compressor.  Hopefully, you have a clutch assembly that can be replaced without replacing the compressor.  There is a possibility that they must be replaced as a unit and it is also possible there is a problem with the compressor itself.  In either case, if you hear a noise in the outside unit and it is not the fan, call your tech immediately.

If you hear a noise in your central air unit, most often located in the garage or a closet, there is a fan assembly that pushes the air through the duct system in the house.  This noise may travel through the house and be audible in the vent system in every room.  Do not be fooled into buying a completely new central air system over a noisy fan.  Deal with a reputable air conditioning repair company that will not try to take your money at every turn.  The fan assemblies can be replaced in most cases without replacing the entire unit, especially on newer units.  Mobile homes and specialty systems normally make up the exceptions to this rule.  Noise problems are typically one of the best problems to have to deal with.  They are easy to troubleshoot and can normally be repaired quickly.

Miscellaneous

There are a number of indicators showing you that it is time to call your ac specialist.  If your thermostat has lost power or does not reflect the actual temperature of the room, it needs attention.  If you smell electricity or other odd smells in the ventilation systems it may be a good clue, a precursor to a larger problem to come.  It is a good idea to inspect your home annually.  Make a checklist of items that you can personally inspect and make sure they are in good working order.  For a system like central air cooling and heating, doing a general walk through every quarter is not a bad idea or doing a spot check when you change the filters monthly.  You can visually inspect for any type of damage that may result from animals, kids, weather, or general wear and tear.  Keep your eyes and ears open for anything that looks like it is in need of further inspection.

As the ancient proverb goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” In trying economic times, it is even more critical to squash little problems before they become larger ones.  The AC system in your home is not like a broken window or garage door.  It is going to effect the immediate needs and attitudes of the people you live with and life can get very miserable.  While it is not always feasible to fix and know everything yourself, it is always prudent to plan for problems.  Give yourself the opportunity to get ahead of the game by being proactively engaged in the maintenance of your home and especially your ac system.  Establish a relationship with a local ac repair company that you can trust.  The smallest amount of effort will result in the largest payoff.  When you can trust your repair technician and learn how to listen to your system when it signals problems to you, the whole experience will be less traumatic for your wallet and your standard of living.

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Ray Donato, the author, does everything he can to keep his home safe and comfortable, but understands there are things he can't always do himself, and so tries to remember when he needs to call in an expert. If you wish to learn more about Ray you can visit Google+.

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Steps To Keeping Your AC Unit In Tip Top Shape

Owning a home is one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences, and highlights the degree of a person’s stability in the community.  The owning of a home, while extremely satisfying, requires a vested and acute devotion of attention by the home owner, especially into the air conditioning unit.  There are several things that both a new and seasoned home owner can do to keep their units in excellent operating condition.

Know Your System

The competitive fair market economy of the United States has created an environment that fosters technological advancement that is unmatched in the world.  The product market is always advancing, bringing new and improved products that achieve higher standards of performance regularly.  The home owner needs to make a purposeful effort to identify their specific system in in order to take care of it properly.

The first step to care and maintenance of your air conditioning system is to locate or obtain the manuals for your system.  There should be at least two, depending on the type of system you have.  If your central air has a design that incorporates the entire system into one unit in one location, it is possible to have one book that covers all of the maintenance required.  A lot of homes will have a unit outside of the home that removes the moisture from the air and a system located inside the home that will force the air throughout the home through the duct system.  It is possible and rather likely that you will be provided with two manuals in this type of setup.  There is no substitute for first hand source information created by the manufacturer that identifies the required regular maintenance for your system.  Read the manual and look for a checklist of monthly, quarterly, and annual maintenance checks that need to be executed for the preservation of your system’s operational health.  Get familiar with the components of your AC system, especially the air filter system, the external unit, and the internal central air unit.   It is not necessary to have a technical troubleshooting education to do the regular maintenance.

The Basics

Once you know where the basic components of your system are, the next step is to identify the maintenance operations you can perform yourself.  Recognize immediately that safety is going to have to take a high priority concern.  Without professional licensing and training, you need to be careful to follow the instructions in your manual.  The first step is to always turn off any electric at the power panel of the unit and make sure it is powered down.  Once the unit is powered down, depending on the maintenance you are performing, you are able to proceed carefully. 

The most basic task in routine maintenance is to change your air filter.  A clogged air filter will drastically impact your system’s performance.  There are several types of filters on the market.  Some filters are disposable and must be replaced, while other ones can be cleaned and reinstalled.  If you have a serviceable air filter, then you must make sure it is completely dry before you put it back in place.

Another routine maintenance check commonly included in a biannual inspection is to make sure the AC drain line is clear of debris and flow is unrestricted.  When water builds up in the drain system, moisture circulates through the blower assembly and renders your AC system ineffective.  Moisture in the system will also cause component damage in the form of rust and can cause more expensive repairs.  While you have the power off and the filter out, it is a good time to clean any dirt or pooled water in the drain pan.

For the more confident homeowner, there are a few other steps to take for regular maintenance.  Again, with the power off, inspect your coolant unit.  There is an item that looks similar to a radiator in your car, called a condenser.  You may have to remove a cover to get to it, but it should be inspected for debris.  As water and dirt circulate in the external unit due to its own operation or inclement weather conditions, the fins of the unit may become clogged and restrict air flow.  The fins are very delicate and require the utmost care when performing any level of maintenance.  There is a tool called a comb that literally looks something like a comb that can be used to protect the fins while you comb out the dirt.  It is a good idea to use some sort of softening agent or spray to try and loosen the dirt beforehand and perhaps eliminate the need to use a comb altogether.  The risks of damage are severely mitigated when you clean your unit regularly because it prevents significant build up that will require more direct and intense cleaning methods.

One of the last remaining maintenance checks that a homeowner can execute is to visually inspect the duct work in the attic or under the floor of the home, depending on how your home was constructed.  If there is a disconnected duct or breach in the airway, the conditioned air will be contaminated and reduce the effectiveness of the AC production.  Some rooms may be cooler than others and there may be smells or dirt inside of those rooms coming through the vents.

Third Party Maintenance

During routine maintenance, the biggest risk to the homeowner is possible damage to the fins of the condenser.  It is a good idea to delegate that responsibility to a HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) technician who is familiar with the tools and knows the delicate nature of the condenser to not damage it during maintenance.  Air conditioning is complex and poses the risk of bodily harm and property damage to the uninitiated.  There are several issues that require the paid services of a professional, such as those at bobheinmiller.com, to keep your unit in tip top shape.

Only licensed and certified professionals can purchase Freon in any real quantity.  AC units require exact amounts of refrigerant that must be installed with the proper tools and techniques.  There is  usually no dipstick to check the level of the refrigerant and it must be checked with gauges for proper readings.  Keeping the unit at the correct levels of refrigerant will prevent more severe issues to the pump and keep the air cooling operation efficient.

Air conditioning repair companies will normally offer an annual inspection to look over the entire system for nominal charges.  Establishing a relationship with AC companies and performing proactive checks will help prevent larger issues and keep major repair costs down.  The homeowner that fixes a problem only with a major repair usually discovers they have an even bigger list of things that need repairs, unlike the homeowner that performs regular maintenance.  Keeping your unit in top shape does not have to be an intimidating process, it can be one more part of homeownership that makes the house into your home.

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The author, Ray Donato, is a home improvement guru who is constantly working around the house in his spare time to make sure everything runs perfectly. If you're interested in learning more about Ray you can visit Google+.

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Floor Lighting

In modern design interior lighting is a very important element...


The lighting bodies – lamps and chandeliers – are a very decorative element that can contribute to the general feel and esthetics of the space. This element is often in the focus of designers and it attracts a lot of attention from experts, and the general public.

Some famous lamps that are the works of designers can be called true little, sometimes big, pieces of art.

But, another factor is very important when it comes to lighting and interior design, and that is the atmosphere that can be achieved by using different shapes, types and intensities of light. All these factors add to the atmosphere of the room, but they change our perception of space size and shape.

The way lighting is set and the type of the chosen light are very important factors that can, combined with the colors in the space, the size of the space and the amount of natural light, influence the atmosphere immensely.

Built in lighting

One of the favored ways of lighting spaces in the past few years has been built in lighting, because of the effects on the space and the big possibilities of combining colors and shapes, and being flexible in the space. Built in lighting can mostly be seen on ceilings and walls, but a very impressive effect can be created by placing it on the floor. In this way built in lighting becomes an element of the floors and next to lighting the space can have a decorative role.

A great to have combination lighting in your space is to let more natural light in. Have big windows, it will pay off. But, don't just have naked windows, a rookie mistake that can cost you a lot of beauty. Give yourself the ability to control the amount of light in your room. How do you do that but with blinds. Blinds give you the possibility to adjust how much light you want in your space. Combined with great artificial lighting, it will give your space the perfect ratio and great beauty.

Color and shape

Additional benefits when putting floor lighting is the fact that this kind of lighting can be white but also in another not flashy color, depending on which space it is used in and what effect you want to achieve. No matter what color and shape you choose, if you adapt this kind of lighting a bit to suit your needs, the results will be rewarding.

Not depending on shape, the color of floor lighting can vary a lot, from non intrusive white tones to strong colors. Also, there are certain lights that change color which can give a space a special character. One is certain, in whatever way it is placed, floor lighting brings luxury and glamour but also limitless possibilities for playing in a space that can give amazing results.

Elements of floor lighting placed together in the right way can turn a common interior or exterior into a flawless combination of style and functionality.

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  •  License: Creative Commons image source 
  •  License: Image author owned 

By Milan Budimkic

Milan Budimkic is a creative freelance writer for industries that include but are not limited to the travel, sport, entertainment, internet marketing, and much more. When not blogging, Milan likes to travel and read a lot.

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How Often Should You Change The Water In Your Hot Tub?

Owning a hot tub comes with some important maintenance requirements in order to keep it running in good condition for as long as possible. One of the most important maintenance requirements is changing the water in your tub at the right time in order to avoid damage to key systems and a build-up of chemicals. Proper water care is essential to enjoying your hot tub for years to come!

As a general rule, it’s a good idea to drain your hot tub at least once every 3-4 months. Any less frequently and you may have difficulty maintaining your water chemistry at the appropriate levels. Some hot tub owners will end up spending lots of extra money and time fighting with their hot tubs because they neglect to have a proper draining routine.

Adding chemicals to spa water is a necessity, but will eventually cause particle build-up and cloudiness in the water. This can be monitored using a PPM indicator or a test strip. The key to crystal clear water is using fresh water to fill your tub, then using the right sanitizer in the proper amount along with an oxidizing shock treatment. If these chemical levels are not maintained, you will experience water quality issues and the most common issue is cloudiness which will accumulate over a few months. If you fill your spa with fresh water and it becomes cloudy in just a couple of weeks, something is wrong.

Troubleshooting

If you are encountering problems with your spa, don’t despair! There are many options available for sanitizing your hot tub and no single sanitizer will be perfect for every situation. Try out a few different ones to see which one works best for your setup. Be sure to stay on top of your cleaning schedule as most problems occur when cleaning and draining isn’t performed on time. While this process can be a pain, it will be less of a pain in the long run by preventing complications and problems with your spa. It will also keep your spa in good condition for longer by preventing premature rusting or damage to the inner workings.

Another common cause of water problems in a spa is the filter. Be sure to pull it out once a month and use specially designed filter cleaning products to make sure you get is as clean as possible every time. It is often a good practice to purchase a second filter so that you can easily swap them out when one gets dirty. That way you can clean the filter when you have time and keep it in storage, making the switch much easier when it comes time.

Usage and Frequency of Draining

It is important to realize that the more often you use your spa – and the more people in it at each use – will have a large impact on how often it will need chemicals added and thus how often it will need to be drained and cleaned. If you use the spa 2 or 3 times a week, you should be safe with draining it approximately every 4 months. But if you use your spa almost daily and have more people in it each time, you will need to do drain it whenever it gets significantly cloudy which may occur more frequently. Keeping your spa covers on, when the spa is not in use will also help reduce the rate of draining the spa.

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  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: www.shutterstock.com
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: www.shutterstock.com

Being a home renovator gives me a great satisfaction. The happiness that you bring into someone’s life, just through your work, can’t be expressed in words. I have been in the home improvement industry since quite a long time and have never felt my work anything other than interesting. I consider being a part in bringing someone’s dream come true, the greatest happiness and virtue. – John Medina

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How To Remove A Cactus

How To Remove A Cactus

Techniques on How to Remove a Cactus from Your Property

When you have unwanted cactus on your property, removing them is not as easy as you would think. Cactus are very common in North America, currently there are well over 2,000 species growing in abundance. The reason they can tolerate harsh weather conditions is because of their thick and waxy stem, allowing the cacti to survive even the harshest of drought conditions. Many of these plants are not desired because they reproduce at a breakneck speed, and can be quite dangerous if your children or pets come in contact with them. The removal process may seem time-consuming and challenging, but if you do not take the appropriate steps the cactus will simply grow back and spread. Here are the appropriate techniques on how to remove a cactus from your property.

Be sure that you are always wearing thick gloves when working around a cactus plant. The spiny needles of cacti will get under your skin easily, causing you extreme discomfort. In addition to gloves, wear a long sleeve shirt and pants, and boots that cover your ankles. To provide yourself some additional protection, cover the cactus with a large blanket or cloth.

Depending on the size of the cactus that you want to remove, you can either use an axe or chainsaw to chop it down. Make sure that you cut the cactus into small pieces, then place every piece into a thick and strong cardboard box for disposal. If any pieces of the cacti remain on the ground, they can easily begin to grow again over time. As you cut a piece int a small chunk, drop it in the box to avoid it from growing again.

With the majority of the cactus cut down and into small pieces, now you have to focus on the root. The root can travel in any direction, so dig a few inches into the soil with your shovel until you have located the main part of the root. Take your axe and chop all the way through the root and then chop up the part of the cactus that you remove from the ground. Discard the pieces again with the others.

With the majority of the cactus gone, try to dig up as much of that root as you can. It might travel several feet in a horizontal path, so carefully follow it until you are confident you have reached the end. Always be aware of your surroundings because many spines on the ground have the ability to penetrate your boots. Chop up the remaining root and discard in the cardboard box.

During the removal of the cactus, if you do find any spines in your gloves or clothing, use a pair of tweezers and your magnifying glass to remove them and place them inside the cardboard box. The spines can easily tear through a plastic trash bag, so always discard the cactus and spines in a thick cardboard box for safety reasons. This is a very tenacious plant, and if you left even the slightest bit of the plant behind, it will regrow. If you see the plant return, simple repeat this process until you are successful.

Because of the dangers involved with handling this plant, it is advised you reach out to the professionals in your town who can remove the cactus quickly and safely the first time. If you have several cacti on the property, the professionals will make short work of the process.

Scottsdale Tree Trimmers is a Scottsdale, AZ-based tree trimming and removal division of American Tree Masters.

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The Benefits Of Choosing GRC In Construction

The Benefits Of Choosing GRC In Construction

The Benefits of Choosing GRC in Construction

Glass Reinforced Concrete (GRC) is a versatile and increasingly popular building material with a wide range of uses. Renowned for fantastic cost-saving and eco-friendly qualities that set it apart from traditional building materials such as pre-cast stone, more and more people are choosing this alternative for their planning and building works. 

Lightweight yet sturdy, malleable yet durable, there are a variety of reasons why you should choose GRC for your next domestic or commercial building project. But to help you get to grips with the reasons behind using glass reinforced concrete instead of other materials, let’s take a look at some of the main benefits and features.

Lightweight But Durable

Weighing an impressive 80% less than pre-cast concrete, it’s easy to see why GRC is so popular in the construction industry. However the process of manufacturing this material ensures that its lightweight nature doesn’t compromise on durability. By spraying resistant glass fibres into the cement mix, the process serves to reinforce the material with rustproof, sturdy fibres to make it a long-lasting solution for any construction needs. Plus, by offering a lighter-weight building material it makes the construction of walls, foundations, panels and cladding much easier and quicker, allowing a more rapid construction process with impressive results.

Versatile and Malleable

One of the major benefits of using GRC is its versatility to mould it into any shape or size, and even alter the colour and texture where required. In fact, it can be manufactured to replicate almost all types of natural stone. For unique and grand design projects, it is therefore a flexible choice of building material that expands the horizons of architects and stonemasons; it gives specialists far more potential to be creative in construction than is usually possible with pre-cast concrete. As such, its uses are diverse from cladding to bespoke carved stonework and much more. When completed by a specialist glass reinforced concrete contractor, the results are seamless and durable.

Eco-Friendly Building Solution

Several factors combine together to make GRC a more environmentally friendly building solution than using traditional concrete and natural stone. Whilst the latter is inevitably a limited (and therefore much more costly) resource, concrete production contributes a huge amount to global carbon emissions. The concrete composition of glass reinforced concrete is much lower, and on top of the lower emissions in production, the product’s lightweight quality ensures that transport and construction emissions are lower too. As such, it is widely recognised at the building material of the future, making it popular for use in commercial, public and domestic projects alike.

Choosing the materials for your building project, however big or small, is a crucial one that can impact the cost, time scale and even feasibility of your designs. As a lightweight, affordable, and long-lasting material that can look equally impressive as natural stone or any other alternative, it’s no wonder that GRC is growing to be the leading product for manufacturers, architects and construction companies around the world. 

Article written by Kelly Gilmour-Grassam who is a Yorkshire lass who loves travelling combined with the eating of fine food. Kelly had helpful info from Henley Stone.

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Best Places To Go For Instruction On Do-It-Yourself AC Maintenance

Tightening the monetary belt is something everyone is partaking in given the instability of the economic climate. Saving money when possible provides more opportunities for individuals to put cash away for a rainy day or invest in the future.

Some of the best ways to save money are home improvement projects, home maintenance projects, and personal lawn care. If you are a homeowner, there are many chores that can be done to lower your overall maintenance costs. Probably the most expensive of these ventures is your air conditioning unit.

Solving your own A/C problems may save you a ton of money, but if not done properly, could end up doing more harm than good. With technology and internet communication, the access to accurate knowledge is endless – here are five sources that are reliable for DIY AC maintenance.

5 Sources for DIY AC Maintenance

YouTube – Prior to YouTube and self-help videos displayed by users on the site, most AC units scared the average person because of the complexity of components. DIY repairers would have to read a paper manual 30 pages long just to get started, without even seeing the system prior to attempting work on it. YouTube has changed everything for the average DIY person because it provides visual guides and simple interpretations for many maintenance and home improvement projects. Some video posters even create channels geared towards repairing equipment or maintaining home appliances. When you are trying to understand, learn, and apply a series of steps, visual representation is usually the best route for efficient results. Just type in: DIY AC Maintenance, along with your AC unit specs, and you’ll be surprised what you can find.

Quora.com – This is a relatively new informational search engine that incorporates many aspects of specific knowledge, not just AC maintenance. In fact, Quora.com will help you answer just about any question in the world, specifically questions involving professional or modern social problems. Just post your question, follow various professionals, or browse different categories. You’ll find enough information to get you started, although most of that information will not be visual.

Visit Manufacturer’s Website – Sometimes the best way to accomplish a task is to gather information from the foundational source. Rather than searching all over the internet for various forums and chat rooms related to AC maintenance (your model/make specifically), it may serve you better just to visit the manufacturer's website. Most manufacturers’ these days provide contact information for contractors, handymen, and other various installers to better assist proper usage of the product. From the installation to repairs, you’ll be able to find a phone number for help during DIY maintenance.

Discussion Boards & Chat Rooms – Although this is not my favored option, as most information provided through these sources is unverifiable, there are a few spots where you can find answers. Quora.com is essentially a blog or discussion board, but sometimes quick answers are hard to find. By just typing your model/make in the google search bar with a phrase like, “How to maintain [your model/make goes here],” you’ll be amazed the amount of information comes up.

EnergyStar – I could not complete this list without talking about EnergyStar. This government-funded appliance certification house is one of the best resources for increasing efficiencies throughout your home. From your refrigerator to your A/C unit, EnergyStar is an excellent secondary resource to have in any DIY project – specifically projects involving maintenance. If maintenance is not done properly, the power output will be affected, causing energy bills to skyrocket each month. The website provides specs on most major A/C systems and approved manufacturers so if you are looking for information on your A/C you’ll most likely find it at www.energystar.gov.

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Matthew Hall is a freelance writer and do-it-yourself enthusiast who is always striving to keep up on home maintenance. However, he can't do everything himself, to resolve AC problems he's not qualified to handle he turns to Facemyer AC. You can learn more about Matthew by visiting on Google+.

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The Perfect Loft Conversion: 5 Things You Need To Think About Before You Start Building

loft conversion

There are many reasons a family or landlord will consider converting a loft. For a growing family, the space beneath the roof is a great area to create an extra bedroom, den or office. For landlords, loft conversions can generate a huge amount of revenue in small properties, communal rentals and student digs.

But there are a number of things you need to consider before you can start dreaming about furnishings, wall colour and a skylight view of the stars.

Here are 5 things you need to consider.

Planning permission

The horror story for any new build or extension project is to add the last, final cushion or finish painting the last wall only to find that all your hard work has to be torn down as you haven't gained the right planning permission.

Fortunately, not all houses require planning permission for internal changes, and your local planning office will tell you if you even need consent in the first place. The main problem on most occasions won't be the council but your neighbours. Let them know far in advance that you are planning a small extension and they may hear some building work for a couple of weeks.

If you think your neighbours may object to this, sweeten the prospect with a muffin basket or bottle of wine!

Leaks and damp

Hot summers, stormy weather and wintry showers can take its toll on your roof, which is an issue even when you are just storing old books and childhood toys in the loft. But if you are converting the attic space into a liveable zone, a small crack in the slate and roof tiles can result in leaks, slow damp and a chilly breeze on windy nights.

Inspect your roof on the inside and also the outside to see if there is any noticeable damage. Repairing slate tiles is easy enough and requires no more than a hammer and copper nails, but is well worth the effort.

Will you need extra storage?

Our lofts are typically where we dump the junk we cant bring ourselves to throw away but don't know what to do with. You won't want this clutter taking up space in the new room you are planning so think about where this stuff will go.

If you have a shed, garage or other external storage then no problem. Other solutions are building a storage wall in your new conversion where you can keep your possessions out of sight behind a stud wall with door access. Otherwise call your local skip company or host a garage sale!

Rising heat and uncomfortable nights sleep

In the winter, your attic conversion will be the cosiest room in the house. In the summer months however the temperature in warmer countries could reach unbearable levels, especially if you haven't considered proper ventilation.

For fire safety and ventilation reasons you will want a skylight or other small window to help provide fresh air and natural light. Another tip is to add insulation between the floorboards so that the heat rising from the rest of the house doesn't escape into the loft, keeping the new bedroom or study cool in summer and the rest of the house warm in winter.

Space planning

However excited you get about the prospect of a new room and your loft conversion, you need to plan. What you may find in the planning stage is that there really isn't any room for a loft conversion – not in the loft itself but on the landing below. 

Easy access to your new attic room means you will need to install stairs, but finding room in the hallway below to accommodate for an extra floor may be a struggle.

You can always divvy up the space, move bedroom walls slightly to one side and create the space, but this will all massively increase the cost of the conversion and need to be thought about well ahead of time.

Featured images:
  •  License: Creative Commons image source 
  •  License: Royalty Free or iStock source: http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/40/400SGreenLoft.jpg

Written by Arthur Hamilton, frequent blogger and DIY expert. 

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5 Tips For Restoring Old Properties

5 Tips For Restoring Old Properties

5 Tips for Restoring Old Properties

Property restoration can be an exciting project and a profitable investment. With so many derelict or devalued properties throughout the UK, as well as the ever-improving property market, it’s never been a better time to seek out a restoration project. Whilst many people have gained experience and skills in renovating buildings, it’s essential to understand the unique features, qualities and problems that make period properties a slightly different ball game. So here are 5 top tips to ensure that you don’t take on more than you can handle, and that your project is a successful one.

1. Respect the Roots

When renovating an old property you must stay true to the period of the building and its individual characteristics. Try to do a little research on the background and dating of the property, so that you can strive to restore it to its former glory and make decisions that are in-keeping with the building.

2. Listed? Tread Carefully

If the property in question is a listed one, tread very carefully before committing to buy. Some buildings are sold with planning permission, but this isn’t a blanket approval for any construction or renovation works – often such consent is very specific to certain improvements and changes. It can be difficult to obtain planning permission for a listed building, making it a risky investment.

3. Seek Expert Advice

Services such as stone renovation, electrics and plumbing can often be far more complicated where period properties are concerned, because often the building structure is a law unto itself. Many of these jobs won’t be straightforward, so be prepared to ask for a professional quote before you commit to buy. This can in fact be much more useful than a survey for such unique properties.

4. Be Realistic With Your Budget

It’s essential to be aware that renovation projects on period properties can quickly spiral above the estimated budget. Whilst this isn’t always the case, beware of jumping in too deep if it looks like you’ll be on a tight budget to begin with. Try to choose a project where you will have room to manoeuvre if any obstacles do arise, rather than facing compromises or cuts later down the line.

5. Enlist Professionals

Getting the help of experts in the field is not only important for pricing things up. You might consider yourself a bit of a plumber or a competent mason, but the complex layout of period properties means that it is easy to make a mistake that can affect the stability and structure of the whole building. If in doubt, hire a specialist who can ensure the work is done safely and to a high standard, using materials that are in-keeping with the property.

Renovating a period building can be rewarding and highly profitable. But make sure that you make the commitment fully aware of the nature of the project, the cost, and any possible complications. By doing so, you can avoid any risks or nasty surprises, and ensure that your project is a resounding success.

Article written by Kelly Gilmour-Grassam who you can follow at @KellyGGrassam on Twitter. She wrote this article with information from Henley Stone and enjoying the culinary delights of gods own county.

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